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Reviews > Clothing > Base Layers and Undies > Duofold Mid Weight Dri-release Top > Test Report by David Wyman

Duofold Varitherm Mid Weight Dri-release Wool Zip Mock Shirt
Test Series by David Wyman

Image from manufacturers website
Image from manufacturers website

Test Phases:

Initial Report - November 10, 2008

Field Report - January 20, 2009

Long Term Report - March 23, 2009

Tester Information

NAME David Wyman
EMAIL wyman(AT)wymanhq(DOT)com
AGE 30
LOCATION Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
HEIGHT 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT 175 lb (79.40 kg)

While I've been camping for years, I've only been backpacking for a short time. I'm trying to find the right equipment, alternating between tent and hammock. My dog usually comes along on the longer hikes, and my wife and toddler join me on the shorter ones. I tend to carry more gear that I need resulting in a heavier pack, but I'm working on that. When I hike with my dog and/or my wife and son, we take it a bit slower, stopping frequently to enjoy the forest. I rarely hike fast unless I'm trying to make up time.

Initial Report - November 10, 2008

Product Information

Full view of shirt

Manufacturer Duofold
Product Varitherm 390C Mid Weight Dri-release Wool Zip Mock
Size Medium
Year of manufacture 2008
MSRP US $44.00
Weight Listed: Not available
  Measured: 8.3 oz (235 g)
Color Black (only color available)
Fabric 84% polyester/ 11% merino wool/ 5% spandex

The Mid Weight Dri-release Wool Zip Mock (the shirt) is a mid-weight, long sleeve shirt designed for use as a base layer. This shirt is part of their Varitherm collection which emphasizes moisture management, odor protection, and heat retention. The 390 series is the only one that features a fabric containing merino wool, specifically Dri-release® wool with an embedded FreshGuard® treatment. Dri-release® wool claims to be as soft as cotton while wicking moisture away from the skin. The FreshGuard® embedded in the yarn is designed to "virtually eliminate" odor. As I tend to sweat more than average, I'm very interested in seeing how well both the moisture and odor control work as well as how they hold up after being washed.

Closeup of zipper and collar The mock turtleneck collar is 2.5 in (6.35 cm) high and is a double layer of material. The half-zip zipper extends from mid-chest to the top of the collar and is backed by a 1 in (2.54 cm) wide storm flap which also prevents the zipper from contacting the skin directly. At the top, the storm flap wraps up and out to form a small enclosure for the zipper when fully zipped. The sleeves end in cuffs with thumb holes which keep the edge of the sleeve right about mid-palm.

Closeup of seams The seams are sewn flatlock and are very well done with no loose threads or stitches. The shoulder seams run up the very edge of the shoulder and I'll see if they fall outside of normal pack straps for added comfort. The fabric is billed as 360 degree stretch for maximum flexibility and optimum fit.

The shirt is tagless and screen printed inside the collar is the size, logo, fabric composition, washing instructions, country of manufacture (Made in China), and company information. Washing instructions are to machine wash cold with like colors, do not bleach, no fabric softener, tumble dry low, remove promptly, and do not iron. The left sleeve has the Duofold logo screen printed on the outside of the wrist.

Initial Impressions

This shirt seems to be very well made, with no problems with any of the seams, stitching, or zippers. Since it is designed to be used as a base layer, I ordered a Medium rather than my normal large - I followed the instructions on the website which indicated a Medium for a men's chest measurement between 38 and 40 in (97 and 102 cm.) The Medium shirt fits very well - it's snug to my chest but doesn't feel clingy. The fabric is softer than I anticipated and, after wearing it around the house for a bit, it seems to hold heat fairly well.

The mock turtleneck is a bit tighter around my neck than I prefer but I will hopefully grow accustomed to it after a few uses. The half-zip zipper is very comfortable and, when unzipped, allows for very adequate ventilation.

I will be doing several day hikes as well as at least two multi-day backpacking trips this winter and I will be looking to see:
  • how well the moisture control and odor protection work, both while hiking and after several trips through the washing machine
  • does the shirt remain comfortable and continue to fit well over time and does it restrict movement at all
  • do the seams work well under other layers and under a pack
  • does the storm-flap keep cold air out and prevent irritation from the zipper
  • do the thumb holes work as advertised
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.

Field Report - January 20, 2009

Field Performance

Winters in Southwestern Pennsylvania are always interesting and this one is no different. With temperatures ranging from highs near 70 F (21 C) to lows around -10 F (-23 C), the Duofold Zip Mock (shirt) has received quite a range of testing. I was able to squeeze in three day hikes in the Laurel Highlands (mostly Ohiopyle State Park) and a two night trip in Raccoon Creek State Park.

The end of November found me on a 4 mile (6 km) hike in the Laurel Highlands. The temperature hovered around 40 F (4 C) the entire time and the trails were in decent shape - very little mud considering the random rain and snow that the area received. The Duofold shirt was used as a base layer beneath a mid-weight fleece and I had expected to be a little on the cool side which would have been perfect for the quick pace I was planning on setting. After 30 minutes though, I was noticeably warmer than expected and I actually paused to swap my fleece for the rain jacket I had in my backpack. This cooled me off just enough to stop the sweating and the rest of the hike was incredibly comfortable.

With Christmas falling on a Thursday, I had a nice 5 day weekend and took full advantage of it. My dog accompanied me on a 3 day, 2 night trip to Raccoon Creek State Park. We did the 20 mile (32 km) Raccoon Loop trail along with several small off-trail hikes. The weather was excellent: Friday was a bit chilly and damp, ranging from around 50 F (10 C) during the day down to 20 F (-7 C) at night while Saturday and Sunday were dry and temperatures were closer to 65 F (18 C) during the day and 50 F (10 C) at night. While hiking, I wore the Duofold shirt under a loose fitting rain jacket which I eventually took off - the Duofold layer kept me warm enough on its own. Overnight found me wearing the Duofold shirt to bed and I ended up only needing my sleeping bag as a quilt. After three days of hiking and sleeping, the shirt still didn't felt itchy but, despite the FreshGuard treatment, was starting to pick up a slight odor. Three other points I noticed were:
   1) that the seams along the shoulder worked very well under my 18 lb (8.2 kg) pack and, even when sweaty, didn't scratch or chafe my shoulders,
   2) the zipper wasn't annoying when fully zipped due to the storm flap preventing it from contacting my skin, and
   3) the thumb holes in the sleeves were invaluable and kept the ends of the sleeves tucked nicely inside my gloves.

I was able to fit two day hikes in during January, both in Ohiopyle State Park. The first one had similar temperatures and weather as the November hike with consistently good performance by the Duofold shirt. The second hike was a colder and wetter hike with temperatures around 20 F (-7 C) and 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) of snow. I layered the Duofold shirt under a light-weight fleece, a mid-weight fleece, and a rain jacket. I was actually too warm during this hike but, unfortunately, I wasn't able to remove any layers as they were needed for warmth and moisture protection. I found myself sweating quite a bit but this wasn't as much of a problem as the Duofold shirt kept wicking the moisture away and keeping my upper body feeling dry and comfortable.


Despite containing only 11% wool, the Duofold Zip Mock worked remarkably well under the various weather/temperature ranges and actually kept me warmer and drier than anticipated. The spandex was a bit snug but prevented the sleeves from sliding up as I walked - they did feel a bit constricting, but much less so than other base layer shirts. Despite several trips through the washer and dryer, the spandex stayed elastic and the shirt didn't seem to lose any of its moisture or odor control. Hopefully this will continue as I plan on wearing it quite a bit over the next two months.

I expect between one and three overnight trips in the next two months, so please check back in March for my long term report.

Long Term Report - March 23, 2009

February and March found me busier than usual which meant that, unfortunately, I was only able to get in one overnight trip. A five mile (8 km) hike out on Saturday and then back on Sunday. The weather was warm, temperatures ranged a bit above and below 55 F (13 C) and, while there was little precipitation, the wind was pretty intense. I'm glad I brought my tent rather than my hammock. The mock turtleneck came in very handy with the wind - it helped block the wind very well and definitely cut down on the chills that usually happen during sudden wind gusts. My pack was a bit heavier than normal (I was carrying food and water for my dog as well) and the shirt continued to be comfortable. The seams weren't noticeable, even under a heavy, shifting pack, and the thumbholes were helpful in preventing the sleeves from riding up as I walked.

In addition to the one overnight trip, I was able to get away for quite a few day hikes (at least 10 - I lost count) in North Park, a local park with many miles of wooded trails. Several of them were just me and my dog and they were usually a bit chilly - temperatures were usually in between 30 and 40 F (-1 and 5 C) - and mostly sunny weather. For these trips, I left the pack at home and wore the Varitherm shirt under, depending on the temperature, a mid- or heavy-weight fleece. This seemed to be the ideal environment for the Varitherm - no rain gear meant that the sweat that the shirt wicked away wasn't trapped and, as a result, the fleece stayed dry as well.


After numerous hikes, I'm very happy with the performance of the Varitherm shirt. It is very comfortable while hiking and is especially nice with a pack. The flat seams work well under pack straps and don't chafe my shoulders, the mock turtleneck works at blocking sudden wind gusts, and the thumbholes have proven themselves time and time again. After several trips through the wash, the shirt's odor protection has held up and the shirt does not have the typical retained odor that I've come to expect after this much use with other base layers. I have noticed that the spandex has stretched a small amount but, considering that it felt a bit too tight at the beginning, I am happy with this change.

The only real "dislike" (if it can even be called that) is that the moisture-wicking works almost too well. I could wear this shirt all day (and I have) without feeling clammy or sticky, but if I'm wearing it under a fleece and a rain layer, then the fleece tends to be wetter than I'd like which means carrying an additional fleece to wear if I take the rain layer off and it is still cool out. This isn't an issue for me as I'm not a light-weight backpacker and I usually have one complete change of clothes with me.

I will continue to use this shirt and I'm hoping and expecting that it will last for many hikes to come.

Thanks to and Duofold for this opportunity.

Read more gear reviews by David Wyman

Reviews > Clothing > Base Layers and Undies > Duofold Mid Weight Dri-release Top > Test Report by David Wyman

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