APPLICATION TO TEST Icebreaker Men's Tops
- Please accept my application to test the Icebreaker SKIN 200: Oasis
Crewe and BODYFIT 260: Tech Top. I have read the BackpackGearTest.org
Bylaws v. 0609, the Appendices, and the BGT Survival Guide., and I shall
follow all requirements. This test will not conflict with any of my
other current tests (listed below) nor impose too heavy a report-writing
burden. I've always submitted my test reports on time and I shall do so
with this test. I have a signed Tester Agreement on file. If I am
selected for the Gramicci Henley and Long Johns I shall withdraw this
Male, 60 years old
6' 4" (1.9 m) tall, 200 lb (91 kg)
Dallas, Texas USA
rlyon AT gibsondunn DOT com
Personal Information and Backpacking Background: I've been backpacking
for 45 years on and off, and regularly in the Rockies since 1986. I do
a weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips. I'm
usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 13000 ft (1500 -
4000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips
from camp, but I do my share of forced marches too. Though always
looking for ways to reduce weight, I'm not yet a lightweight hiker, and
I usually choose a bit of extra weight over foregoing camp conveniences
I've come to expect.
Background Applicable to This Test: I'm a natural fibers guy and a big
fan of merino wool as a base layer, and I'm always eager to try new
products that use it. (See my reviews of two Ibex products, the Outback
and Qu T.) I wear merino tops as sole upper body garments even in warmer
weather (it's not at all unusual to get to 85 or 90 F/30-32 C in North
Texas in January), and as a base layer when hiking, backpacking, or
skiing in the mountains in fall and winter. Long underwear is my normal
backcountry sleepwear year-round. I don't know this manufacturer and I
always like finding a competitor for my regular sources. For merino
tops those sources are Ibex and Filson, both of which sell great base
layer tops, giving the Icebreaker products high standards to meet.
Test Environment. I have one backpack and three ski tours in the
Rockies planned between November 13 and March 1: a three-backpack around
Bozeman, Montana in mid-November, work permitting, or Thanksgiving
otherwise; and ski tours in Utah in mid-December and February and a week
in the Jackson Grand Teton area (Wyoming/Idaho border) from
January 8-15. The January and March trips will include nights in a hut
or tent. Utah and Jackson venues have an altitude of 9000-11000
feet/2700-3400 meters, and the Bozeman hike at about 7000 feet/2100
meters. Even in winter the weather can vary wildly in the Rockies, but
I anticipate daytime temperatures between -10 to 45 F (-22 to 8 C) in
December-February, and possibly as low as -25 F (-32 C) at night. On
the November trip I expect temperatures about 20 degrees F (11 degrees
C) warmer. Ordinarily winter weather in these places is "dry cold." If
chosen I'll wear the Tech Top for these adventures unless weather on a
cross-country ski day is unexpectedly warm, in which event I'll
substitute the Oasis Crewe.
For the Oasis Crewe, I have a number of possibilities: A fishing/camping
trip to Oklahoma or Arkansas during Christmas week; day hikes around
Dallas; and a possible weekend backpack in the Texas Hill Country to the
south. Below-freezing temperatures are possible in these Southwestern
venues but low 40s F (~5 C) is a more likely nighttime temperature;
while it can get up to 90 F (32 C) even in winter 60-70 F (16-21 C) is
the normal high. The Oasis Crewe looks lightweight enough to wear to
the gym if additional testing is needed.
I'll wear both tops as weekend casual clothing, mostly as a sole upper
body garment but under a sweater when it turns chilly. The Tech Top
should be perfect for my daily 5 a.m. walks with my dogs.
Size: XXL for both.
Preferred Color: Baltic for the Oasis Crewe, Diesel/shingle or
Molasses/Dune Black for Tech Top (though only black is now available for
Test Plan. I shall look for the following in these base layer garments:
Wicking and warmth. The critical tests for any base layer. Does each
keep me warm and in fact wick sweat away from my body? Does the Oasis
Crewe have enough heft to keep me warm as sleepwear in temperatures near
freezing? Will the Tech Top prove to be too insulating during vigorous
aerobic activity such as skiing or hiking up a steep grade?
Comfort. Is each merino wool fabric comfortable against my skin under
pack straps, under a sweater, under Gore-Tex, and under various
combinations of these? Is it comfortable as sleepwear? Does either
fabric become itchy when I'm sweaty, or smelly after several days of
hard use? Will the Tech Top be as versatile as advertised, with its
three-way turtleneck? Is this truly adjustable to allow airflow when I'm
hiking uphill but prevent it when zipped up? Low long is the turtleneck
when zipped up? Will the zipper chill my neck when it's zipped up?
Fit. I've found some variation in size among my shirts, especially in
sleeve and body length. (I may be especially sensitive to this because
of my long arms.) Will I find the Oasis Crewe's body-hugging style too
constraining? Is the collar too large (an occasional problem at larger
sizes)? How is the fit of each shirt across the shoulders and in the
chest? How far down my arms do the sleeves come? And my pet peeve: Is
each shirt long enough in the torso to stay tucked in when I want it
tucked in? Does either of these garments have any latex or nylon at the
cuff? Whether yes or no, is that good or bad?
Special Feature. How useful are the thumb holes on the Tech Top? Do they
fit my long arms naturally or will I be left with unusable extra length
that's bound to get wet in the snow?
Durability. (The following applies equally to both tops.) Is the weave
tough enough for regular abuse in the backcountry? Is the weave flat, to
avoid giving branches and briars a good grip? Will the wool pill after
repeated exposure to sweat and repeated washings? Will use under a pack
cause tears or distortion of the shape of the shirts? How robust is the
stitching at the collar and sleeve seams?
Care. (The following applies equally to both tops.) Are the tops truly
machine-washable? After the first wash, can I wash them with other
woolen items, or is a separate wash required (Icebreaker does recommend
washing with "like colours")? Do I need a special soap? Does a field
washing with camp soap clean each shirt effectively? Underwear must be
washed more frequently than other garments; will regular laundering
affect shape or functionality? How long will it take to air dry these
garments at home or in camp? Will washing affect color?
Appearance. Are these tops stylish enough to wear on the street, or is
front country use limited to home and athletic endeavors?
Pending Applications: Patagonia Down Sweater; Gramicci Henley Top and
Long Johns (see note above).
Tests Completed: Thorlo Level 1 Wool Blend Hiking Socks; Atsko
WaterGuard and Sport-Wash; Atsko Sno-Seal; Ibex Men's Qu T.
Tests in Progress: Industrial Revolution Play & Freeze Ice Cream Maker
(Field Report completed; Long Term Report due November 7); Kamik Chase
Trail Shoes (Field Report completed; Long Term Report due November 28);
Tamarack Habilitation ENGO Blister Prevention Patches (Test Report
initial phase completed; Field Report phase due November 21).
Owner Reviews: 2006: Backcountry Access Tour System Shovel and Probe
(October 2, revised and awaiting edit); Nunatak Gear Back Country
Blanket (October 15), Nunatak Gear Skaha Plus down sweater (August 20),
Black Diamond Skylight tent (August 14), BullFrog Quik Gel Sunblock
(July 17), Outdoor Research Nimbus Sombrero (March 26), Ibex Outback
Long-Sleeve Shirt (February 27), Jetboil Pot Support and Stabilizer
(February 1). 2005: Kifaru Field Chair (November 4); Bibler Bombshelter
Mountaineering Tent (September 25); Just Tomatoes, etc! Products
(September 12); Filson Heavyweight Merino Wool Socks (August 26);
Jetboil Personal Cooking System (July 27); Mystery Ranch BDSB Backpack
(June 30); Bibler Ahwahnee 2 Tent (May 31).
My reviews are collected here
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