Terramar Body-Sensors Elite Silkweight Crew
By Raymond Estrella
October 13, 2008
Orange County, California, USA
6' 3" (1.91 m)
200 lb (90.70 kg)
I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.
|Image courtesy of Terramar Sports|
Manufacturer: Terramar Sports
Web site: www.terramarsports.com
Product: Body-Sensors Elite Silkweight Crew
Size: Large (also available in S, M, XL and XXL)
Year manufactured: 2008
Weight listed: N/A
Actual weight: 5.6 oz (159 g)
Color reviewed: Prussian Blue, also available in Black, White and Cypress.
The Terramar Body-Sensors Elite Silkweight Crew (hereafter called the Elite or shirt) is a long sleeve shirt positioned by the manufacturer as an ultra lightweight frictionless base layer, or as a stand-alone shirt. It is made of 100% Microfiber Polyester Jersey EC2 fabric, trade named Visa Endurance.
The EC2 refers to Terramar Sport's proprietary EC2 Qwik-Dri electrostatic technology. It is designed to actually pull moisture away from the body. They claim that the "Electrostatic Evaporation" out performs conventional wicking.
Here is what they say about the Visa Endurance fabric. "Visa Endurance fabrics are made from microfiber polyester that has been embedded with Silver Ions. These Silver Ions prevent the growth of bacteria. No bacteria. No smell. Garments made with fabrics incorporating VisaEndurance technology provide: odor control for the life of the garment, superior moisture management, quick-drying, and soil release for easy care" The fabric is very silky feeling and smooth. It is almost shiny.
The shirt is constructed using flatlock seam construction. These seams not only sit very flat, they are some of the strongest I have seen. A picture of the seam is to the right.
Terramar says that they use a "saddle shoulder for enhanced freedom of movement". But I like the fact that it also keeps the shoulder seams off of any spot that my backpack's shoulder pads would put pressure on them.
The microfiber rib trim collar is 0.75 in (1.8 cm) high. The same material is used for the 2.25 in (5.7 cm) cuffs at the end of the sleeves.
Another thing that I like is something that is missing. The tag. Terramar has used a screen-printed label inside the Elite with the size, material information, and washing instructions sitting at the back of my neck. Here is a picture of it.
The washing instructions are pretty nice. Machine wash warm, tumble dry low. I can handle that.
Here are some of the backpacking trips I have worn the Elite on.
I wore it two times for winter overnighters in Minnesota. The temps there were between -3 and 8 F (-13 to -19 C) in snow from 5 to 12 in (13 - 30 cm) deep.
I used it in San Jacinto State park for a two-night winter trip that saw us hit by storms each night. The lowest temperature we saw was 22 F (-6 C) and had winds to 50 mph (81 km/h). Both nights were spent at the same location at an elevation of 8900' (2713 m). The terrain consisted of packed snow that was about 5 ft (1.5 m) deep.
The next two weekends Jenn and I went for winter over-nighters in the same Park. We stayed at Round Valley at 9100' (2774 m) elevation, on snow again and with temps down to 25 F (-4 C). The second trip saw the temps climb to near 50 F (10 C).
And lastly Jenn and I went to San Jacinto for an overnighter in spring and set up camp in Lower Chinquapin at 9000'. The low was 38 F and the high was 54 F (3 to 12 C) but felt warmer because of the bright sun. There was still a lot of snow with the trails being about 50% covered.
I also wore it on some winter day hikes and carried it for use at night on a few other spring trips.
I have been wearing long base layers since I was 18 years old and my parents moved to Idyllwild, California at 5300 ft (1615 m) elevation. This is where my love of mountain backpacking began. Then in 1993 my snow-addicted brother-in-law Dave got me into winter backpacking and made them even more of a necessity.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
I have used all types and weights from many different manufacturers. In the early years they were all synthetic as I could not afford silk, and cotton thermals were useless for me. Two things stood out about them all. One, I had to baby them when washing. (Cold water, air dry. I ruined many a piece forgetting to separate them.) But the worst thing was the way they smelled. Some would not only stink when I was in the field, but still retained the funk after washing. And winter is the worst time of year for funk as far as I am concerned.
So I have been at the forefront of trying new anti-bacterial schemes. (For the record, I love the newer soft wool products best of all.) The use of silver (a natural anti-bacterial material) has intrigued me since I first read of it. So I was very interested in Terramar Sport's use of this technology.
I loved the way the Elites felt as soon as I put them on. They are very silky, or satin-y feeling. They slide on my skin very easily. I see why they describe them as "frictionless".
The Elites are very well made. I like the flat seams. They are very strong. I tend to pull apart the seams on my base layers because of the long, hard days I put in. My backpack shoulder straps or my sled's belt help pull them apart. But after a winter and spring of use the Elites are still show no wear at all.
While my wool pieces tend to pill under my shoulder pads and hip belts the Elites have not shown any wear there either. Nor have they shrunk at all during the past year. The durability has been excellent.
They provide excellent warmth for this weight of base layer. As I am a very hot hiker I tend to use my lightweight items much more than the mid or heavy weight pieces. So the Elite sees a lot of use. I wore it alone many times with nothing over it.
I really like the low weight of the Elite. I carried it on some of my 3-season trips just as a sleeping bag temperature extender should the need arise. Or I would wear it in camp while my hiking shirt dried after rinsing it out.
But how did the silver technology work out? I will say, "Fairly well". It is not as good as my wool shirts.
It did better than most of the silver fabrics I have used. Only one has been better. So I consider that a plus for the Terramar Sports Elites. And the fact that it was much better than pieces costing three times as much makes it even more attractive.
Only on one trip did I really notice a lack of odor control to a large degree. It was a trip with my wife (of course…) and we both noticed that I was very, um, well, stinky. My shirt reeked from the first day, and continued to all the way until it got washed after the trip.
Strangely the shirt did better on other longer (both duration and distance) trips that I took after that. So maybe I had some radioactive sweat that trip.
For the whole season it was still much, much better than any other synthetic shirt I have ever used. And because of the low weight, it is going to keep a spot in my gear drawers.
Read more gear reviews by Ray Estrella