FR: Columbia - Omni-Freeze Top - Kurt
- 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.
Date Location Trail Distance
Terrain/ trail type Weather Altitude range
May 28, 2012 Santa Catalina Mountains in the Coronado National Forest
near Tucson, Arizona
(9.7 km) Very steep high desert canyon
Sunny, 62-84F (17-29 C), 7-15% RH 3100-5465 ft
June 3, 2012 5.1 mi
(8.2 km) Sunny, 62-74F (17-29 C), 11-19% RH 3100-5200 ft
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Nice job on the FR. I like how you included the RH readings on some of your treks..what a different world from here! I am back from the JMT..it was a great trip although I may say it was the hardest trip I have ever done. No problems though..thank goodness!
I have only one EDIT and comment:
Comment: I noticed in your chart that the first entries for the Santa Catalinas does not line up to the left like the other entries below it (this appears to be the case across the entire line). This is a minor thing but you may want them all to line up.
Fortunately my Jeep Wrangler is up to the
challenge, and I arrived at the trail hard late Friday afternoon.