44447FR - SmartWool Zip-T - Derek
- May 1, 2008For your editing pleasure!
in my tester page.
# # #
## FIELD REPORT
The Zip-T has been my constant companion for the last few months. In
fact, glancing at my arms, it appears that I am still wearing it as I
write this report.
### Testing Locations and Conditions
Most of my backpacking, hiking, and outdoor adventures have been with
the Boy Scouts during our regular monthly adventures. I have worn the
Zip-T on all of these activities which have been in and around the
Northern Virginia region, including the George Washington National
Forest and Shanendoah Valley. Elevations have been from sea level and
about 100 ft (30 m) to about 1000 ft (305 m). I have experienced
temperatures from around 15 F (-9 C) to just over 80 F (27 C).
Unfortunately, it has not snowed very much this year in Northern
Virginia and it has seemed unseasonably warm at times.
![photo - Scout hike]
_While backpacking, the Zip-T kept me warm with temperatures in the
upper 30s F to lower 40s F (-1 to 4 C)._
Most of the hikes with the Scouts were about 5 miles (8 km) with a few
day hikes thrown in as part of the program.
In addition to my Scout backpacking adventures, I have worn the Zip-T
on family hikes, and during my regular bicycling commute to work,
which were along the Mount Vernon Trail (about 20 miles, 32k round
trip). Temperatures dipped to the 20s and 30s F (-7 and -1 C).
### Field Performance
#### Comfort, Fit, and Function
The Zip-T is very comfortable to wear. I have worn the shirt alone as
an outer layer and as part of a base layer and the shirt performed
well as both. It is not too tight and has been comfortable without
being too restrictive. During my treks with the Scouts, I really
pushed the layering and warmth limits to the test.
One of the coldest trips was on a trek into the George Washington
National Forest, where temperatures dipped down in the teens at night
(15 F or -9 C). I wore a down flight jacket over my Zip-T and was very
cozy standing around, while the Scouts struggled to keep warm huddled
around a campfire.
At another event included several other Scout troops at a camporee
where we backpacked about 3 miles (4.8 km) into Bureau of Land
Management (BLM) land to practice and learn Leave No Trace principles.
The early morning temperatures hovered around 40 F (4 C)--a very
comfortable range for the Zip-T. However, by 10 a.m., the skies
cleared and the temperature rose to 70 F (21 C) and by the afternoon,
it was well over 80 F (27 C). I quickly abandoned the Zip-T early in
the morning for it was far too hot for that layer. We had a few day
hikes equalling over 5 miles (8 km) that helped keep the body
temperature high. Way too hot for April and much too hot for the Zip-T.
![photo - camporee]
_Wearing the Zip-T under a long-sleeve activity shirt in the morning._
This was a good experience because I had to remove the Zip-T as a base
layer. The shirt has a good stretch to it, so it was easy to pull off,
but it was a little inconvenient to take off all my outer layers
(decency, you know). I've decided to wear a loose, light, silk-weight
under shirt under the Zip-T (for modesty with the Scouts) in cases
One thing that I am glad to report on is the fit and feel of the high-
collar zipper. I was initially worried about the Zip-T high-collar
because of experiences with other shirts with similar designs. I was
worried the collar would be too stiff and poke into my neck and
throat. Happily, this has not been the case with the Zip-T.
![photo - bull-run]
_Photo courtesy of my children. Wearing a light rain jacket over the
Zip-T kept the water and wind out and helped keep me warm._
On a day hike on the Bull-Run/Occoquan Trial with my family, I was
wearing the Zip-T as my base layer with a fleece jacket on top. The
weather was cloudy and it soon began to drizzle constantly.
Temperatures were in the low 40's F (4 C), but the rain made the
ambient temperature feel a bit cooler. One of my children was getting
cold, despite wearing a coat. I took off my fleece and gave it to my
daughter and then I put on my rain jacket for protection from the wind
and rain. I eventually decided to zip up the Zip-T collar to help keep
the heat in. I was amazed at how warm I felt with that slight change,
and I barely noticed the Zip-T's zipper in my throat. In fact, after a
few washings, the "stiffness" I worried about has all but vanished and
I find the collar very comfortable to wear zipped up.
#### Care, Cleaning, and Durability
One of the first things I noticed after I washed the Zip-T for the
first time was slight piling or "rippling" across the shirt. It looked
a lot like sand ripples under water. To be honest, I was a little
freaked out, worrying if I hadn't followed the care instructions
properly. I am not sure what caused the rippling on the fabric, but
over time it has relaxed a little, although you can still see it
slightly on the sleeves. I haven't tried ironing yet, but that may
work in smoothing out the fabric again (although, ironing seems
overkill). I've stopped worrying about the rippling; it has not
affected the comfort, fit, and function.
I've washed the Zip-T a number of times over the past few months and
the fabric holds up nicely. I've tried wearing the shirt for a few
days in a row to test the "smelliness" factor, and I noticed a little
funk after about a week of wear. I purposely took the Zip-T during
some bicycling commuting and left the sweat-soaked shirt to dry
overnight and then put it on again the next day. The Zip-T does pull
the moisture away very well, but after about five days of heavy sweat,
the shirt needed a wash.
To date, I've been lucky not to spill anything major on the Zip-T,
despite eating with the Scouts. I may try to purposely spill something
on a corner--just to test--but I hope I never spill anything on the
front. I am kind of fond of the bright orange color: it takes good
- - -
This concludes my Field Report. The Long Term Report will be added to
this report in approximately two months from the date of this report.
Please check back then for more information.
I would like to thank BackpackGearTest and SmartWool for the
opportunity to test the Zip-T.
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