Hi Carol, here is the field report. As always, thanks for any edits or comments. Enjoy!
Field Report: May 28, 2009
p4 day hike
Long Term Testing Conditions and Locations
With the arrival of spring and warm weather the Prime has seen lots of use. I wore it on several day hikes, 2 kayaking trips and one overnight campout. I wore the shirt by itself anytime the temperature got up to around 60 F or above and under a long sleeve synthetic shirt in cooler weather and even under the synthetic shirt and a light jacket on one overnighter when it dropped to 43 F (6 C). I did use my Mountainsmith Day on most of the day hikes and this pack covers more of my back than most waist packs. I also have the optional shoulder straps installed on the Day because I like the way it carries my pack when I am bringing lots of water.
One particularly cool day hike was in early May when the high only reached 51 F (11 C) but it was 47 F (8 C) by the time I got back home. This hike covered 5 miles (8 km) but included a lot of steep climbing and off trail use. On other day hikes the temperature ranged from around 51 (11 C) to around 85 (29 C) but it was nearly always very humid and several times I walked in some light rain. I also wore it on 12 recumbent bike rides which averaged around on hour each and covered 8 (13 km) to 22 (35 km) miles for a total of 131 miles (211 km). On the 2 kayaking trips I liked the Prime because it did not hinder my paddle stroke and just felt good to wear. Both trips were about 6 miles (10 km) long each and lasted around 3 hours.
p5 used as a paddling shirt
Long Term Test Results
I am very pleased with the performance of this shirt. In fact, I wish I had a dozen more. It is more snug fitting than I would have liked but it feels so comfortable when wearing it that I have to say the snugness only effected the looks of the shirt. In other words, it showed my fat a little more than I preferred. I did find the shirt did not dry out as fast as a synthetic shirt but even when wet the shirt is comfortable to wear. For example, several of the recumbent rides consisted of going down the mountain and back up. This 600 ft (183 m) climb always brings on a full sweat even in winter so it was no surprise that I completely soaked the shirt each time I did this ride. The shirt just could not wick away my sweat as fast as I produced it but I found it did dry out a lot if I rode easy for a few miles after topping the mountain. On the 22 mile (35 km) ride it was a nice cool 63 F (17 C) day with bright sun and low humidity. The ride was almost completely flat and I didn't push it. The Prime felt great and what little I did sweat was almost immediately wicked away. I stopped at the mid point of the ride and noticed the under arm area was slightly damp and again at the end of the ride.
When hiking (even uphill) I sweated less than when climbing the mountain on the recumbent but the results were similar. And by this I mean when sweating heavily the shirt remained wet until I stopped for awhile. On the early May hike I mentioned, I wore the Prime under my DAKINE Ridge Crew (a full synthetic shirt) and I did overheat some, especially when going up a slope that required getting on all fours (hands and feet). I had to stop several times to catch my breath and I was soaked by the time I made it to the top. I even removed the shorts I had on over my sweat pants but left both shirts on just to see what happened. I found the synthetic shirt did dry out faster then the Prime but partly because the Prime was on the inside where it was not exposed to air. Anyways, after the long climb I rested about 30 minutes, then walked back down the mountain. When I stopped at a spring for another break I found the outer shirt was almost dry while the Prime under it was still quite damp.
On the overnight hike when the low dipped to 43 F (6 C) I had the Prime under the Ridge Crew but needed a light jacket over both to stay warm. I could have made it without the jacket but I like to be comfortable if I have the option. I slept without the jacket but kept on both shirts and with my sleeping bag I was fine. I really could have done without either but this was the first time I tried the Prime as a sleeping shirt so I was wondering how it would do. It did not bind at all and I slept great.
The Prime is still in good shape. It has been washed numerous times and does not appear to have shrunk any and the color is still about the same. One thing that may have helped was getting a front load washer recently and the shirt never saw a top load washer. I always air dried the shirt, sometimes inside and sometimes outside. I did notice the drying time was about twice as fast as a cotton tee but about twice as long as a synthetic but what really got my attention was the smell of this shirt after washing. I won't say it was a bad smell but this shirt definitely has an odor when wet, even right out of the washing machine. Once dry the odor mysteriously disappears
Like as said at the beginning, I like this short a lot and wish I had several. It just feels so good worn next to my skin and even when wet it does not cling a lot. I say this because I checked while doing pushups on a guard rail on the side of the road. I had to suck in my gut slightly to check because without doing so it is skin tight regardless of what I am doing.
The Prime is not really all that warm but it is so thin I would not expect it to be. On the other hand, in hot weather it felt great whether I was taking it easy (not sweating much) or doing something like hiking or riding uphill (sweating like a pig).
If I could change one thing it would be to make the XL a little bigger. If I were trying it on in a store I might have passed thinking it would be too small. The fact that it worked even though tight fitting makes me think a slightly looser shirt would be even better. OK, make that two things, Even though the tags (back of the neck and the one on the side) never bothered me, I would prefer not to see them.
This concludes my Field Report for the Prime Merino Crew. I would again like to thank Backcountry.com and BackpackGearTest.org for letting me test this shirt. I hope my findings are beneficial to all who read the report.