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73856FR: Columbia - Omni-Freeze Top - Kurt

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  • Kurt Papke
    Aug 31, 2012
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      Gail: I don't know how you are going to edit this as I believe you are
      on the JMT, by maybe you are back soon.
      I am also on a 9-day OOP, so no rush on the edits... I will have my
      work laptop with me while travelling, so will be able to make minor
      changes directly in the HTML, but if you find anything major it'll
      have to wait for me to get back.

      URL: http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/TESTS/FR%20omni%20freeze%20-%20Kurt/#Field_Report
      or: http://tinyurl.com/9bf9b6s

      Field Report
      Field Conditions
      Date Location Trail Distance

      Terrain/ trail type Weather Altitude range
      May 28, 2012 Santa Catalina Mountains in the Coronado National Forest
      near Tucson, Arizona

      Finger Rock

      6 mi
      (9.7 km) Very steep high desert canyon

      Sunny, 62-84F (17-29 C), 7-15% RH 3100-5465 ft
      (945-1666 m)
      June 3, 2012 5.1 mi
      (8.2 km) Sunny, 62-74F (17-29 C), 11-19% RH 3100-5200 ft
      (945-1585 m)
      June 15-16, 2012 Santa Catalina Mountains in the Coronado National
      Forest near Tucson, Arizona Samaniego Ridge 8 mi
      (13 km) Sky Island ridgeline Sunny, 60-85 F
      (16-29 C), 5-25% RH 5000-7100 ft
      (1520-2160 m)
      June 21-23, 2012 San Francisco Peaks in the Coconino National Forest
      near Flagstaff, Arizona Mt Humphreys 25.6 mi
      (41.2 km) Forests to mountain peak tundra Sunny, 50-80 F
      (10-27 F) 8050-12562 ft
      (2450-3830 m)
      July 27-28, 2012 Santa Rita Mountains in the Coronado National Forest
      near Tucson, Arizona Vault Mine 5 mi
      (8 km) Sky Island canyon Partly cloundy, 60-85 F (16-29 C), rain at
      night 5500-7300 ft
      (1675-2225 m)
      Finger Rock Trail
      This was a morning conditioning day hike up one of the most
      challenging canyons in the Tucson area. I didn't want to get a
      sunburn, so I wore the shirt as a baselayer beneath a long-sleeved
      nylon hiking shirt. The combination worked quite well. I noticed the
      cooling effect primarily on my low back when I would stop for a break
      -- the air is so dry this time of year, that sweat only accumulates
      between my pack and my back. I was not too warm despite wearing two
      layers, it will be interesting to see how this combo works out as the
      temperatures rise.

      I did a slightly truncated version of this hike the following weekend.
      This time I was at the trail head early enough (6AM) that I figured I
      would be in the shade most of the time so I did not wear another shirt
      over the top. This felt a little cooler, especially when I stopped
      for my break at the midpoint of the trek. I did notice it got snagged
      a few times, but from what I could tell no permanent damage resulted.
      Samaniego Ridge
      On Samaniego RidgeThe Samaniego Ridge trail is one of the less-used
      paths in the Catalinas, as it is poorly maintained and has a
      reputation for difficulty which is well-earned. The northern
      trailhead is also notoriously hard to get to as a high-clearance 4WD
      vehicle is required. Fortunately my Jeep Wrangler is up to the
      challenge, and I arrived at the trail hard late Friday afternoon.

      It is now approaching the summer solstice, and here in southern
      Arizona the sun is extremely intense - the skin can get a serious burn
      in just 15 minutes. Since this hike had a little altitude the
      situation is even more serious, so as can be seen in the photo I wore
      the shirt beneath a long-sleeved hiking shirt. Only a very little bit
      of the shirt neckline is visible.

      The shirt worked well in this warm-weather baselayer configuration.
      When I arrived at my campsite I peeled the long-sleeved shirt off and
      set up camp in short sleeves, as the sun was getting pretty low in the

      The shirt performed well: it wicked sweat, did not get soiled at all,
      though it did get a bit crusty with salt from evaporated perspiration.
      The crust washed out nicely when I did laundry on my return.

      I had a reasonably heavy pack, just under 40 lbs (18 kg), but had no
      problems with chafing at the pack strap areas. The shirt is smooth,
      and so far does not cause abrasion problems.
      Mt Humphreys

      This was a 3-day 2-night backpacking loop hike consisting of the
      Kachina, Mt Humphreys and Weatherford trails in the San Francisco
      Peaks, including a summit of Mt Humphreys. As in my prior hikes, the
      shirt was worn beneath my hiking shirt, so I couldn't get a good
      picture of it.

      Once again it performed excellently as a baselayer. On the long drive
      home (5 hours) from the trailhead, I took off my hiking shirt and just
      wore the baselayer in the car. I had the air conditioning turned off
      for quite some time due to the mountain driving, and external
      temperatures were hovering at around 100 F (39 C). Though of course
      in Arizona it is a "dry heat", I was still comfortable in my vehicle
      at this temperature with the baselayer.

      I have washed the shirt after every use, this last one being no
      exception. I was surprised when I returned from the hike how clean it
      looked, despite the dusty conditions. It does wash up nicely, though
      I am careful to put it in with the "whites", and air dry it.
      Vault Mine Trail

      Columbia ICE on the Vault Mine Trail

      Finally, I had a chance to wear the shirt on a backpacking trip
      without a long-sleeved shirt over the top. I left late in the
      afternoon, and hiked back in the cool of the morning. The weather was
      exceptionally humid for Arizona, and I arrived at my campsite on
      Friday night with the shirt dripping wet with sweat. As is visible in
      the photo above, the trail is on a substantial grade, and the climb up
      to Agua Caliente Saddle was relentless.

      I hung the shirt overnight from a suspension rope on my hammock, but
      it did not dry completely because it rained quite hard that night.
      When I put the shirt on in the morning after breakfast it was a little
      damp, but my body heat seemed to dry it out within minutes.

      The shirt got snagged a number of times on branches that obstructed
      the trail, but no damage was sustained.
      Non-Hiking Usage

      I wore the shirt on several morning road bike rides and 45-minute
      runs. It performed very well as an ordinary athletic shirt, though
      all such uses were early enough in the morning that sun protection was
      not a factor. The humidity has been quite high for Tucson during the
      second month of use, and especially on my runs I was literally
      dripping sweat when I finished. I continue to be impressed with the
      quick drying times for this shirt.


      The Omni-Freeze short-sleeve top has been an excellent performer in
      situations where I have not needed sun protection, or where I was
      willing and able to wear it as a baselayer beneath a garment that
      provided sun protection. It wicks exceedingly well, is smooth to the
      touch, and keeps me as cool as I have been in a shirt. For a bright
      white shirt worn in dirty, dusty conditions it has cleaned up

      I cannot say objectively how much the Omni-Freeze technology has
      contributed above and beyond the natural evaporative effect. If I can
      figure out some what to measure it during the Long Term test period, I
      will do so.

      This concludes my Field Report. Stop back in about two months for my
      Long Term report from the backcountry. Many thanks to Columbia
      Sportswear and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this
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