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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Hot Chillys Micro Elite Chamois T > Test Report by Will Rietveld

Hot Chillys Micro-Elite Chamois Zip T

Test Series by BackpackGearTest.org

| Initial Report | Field Report | Long-Term Report |

Tester Information
Name:
Will Rietveld
Age: 65
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft (183 cm)
Weight: 170 lb (77 kg)
Chest Girth: 41 in (104 cm)
Sleeve Length: 34 in (86 cm)
Email: (willi_wabbit at bresnan dot net)
City & State: Durango, Colorado 81301
Location for Testing: Southwestern US (Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico).

Backpacking ExperienceI have been an avid backpacker for 49 years. Backpacking is my passion. I backpack the year around in the Southwestern United States (
Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico).

Backpacking Style—I have been a lightweight backpacker for many years and an ultralight backpacker for 8 years. My wife and I give presentations on lightweight and ultralight backpacking in our local area, and have developed a website called Southwest Ultralight Backpacking (http://home.bresnan.net/~swultralight/) to share information.

Initial Report (November 4, 2007)

Product Information
Manufacturer: Hot Chillys
Manufacturer Website: http://hotchillys.com/
Product Tested: Men’s MTF Micro Elite Chamois Zip T (solid color)
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Colors Available: Charcoal, Red, Blue, Grey, White (Charcoal tested)
Sizes Available: S to 2XL (size L tested)
Weight: Measured weight 12 oz (340 g) size Large; manufacturer weight not given
MSRP: $65 US

Hot Chillys Micro-Elite Chamois Zip T. (Photo from Hot Chillys website).

Hot Chillys Micro-Elite Chamois Zip T. (Photo from Hot Chillys website).

Product Description
From the Hot Chillys website:

Fabric
Bi-component blend of 29% Bio-Silver® polyester, 60% polyester, 11% Lycra.

Finish
Moisture transport to keep skin dry and to promote warmth and inherent anti-microbial properties to eliminate bacteria and odor. Lightly sanded face for softness and warmth.

Features
Contoured body fit. Flat seam construction for seam strength and to eliminate abrasion. UPF rating of 30+. Warmth Factor = 8.

Initial Impressions
The Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T does indeed feel like chamois cloth. The fabric is tightly knit and feels soft and warm. The garment is unusually heavy (12 oz/340 g) because of its tight knit, zipper, and high Lycra content (11%).

Materials and Construction—The fabric is a blend of 29% Bio-Silver® polyester, 60% polyester, and 11% Lycra. The Lycra content gives the fabric a two-way stretch, which is about equal horizontally and vertically. Bio-Silver is tiny silver (the element, not the color) threads woven into the fabric to provide anti-microbial properties. The garment is smooth on the outside and sanded (brushed) on the inside to give it a soft texture against the skin.

All seams are sewn flat to minimize abrasion against the skin. The sleeves are set-in, meaning there is a seam at the shoulder. I could not find any flaws at all in the fabric or the construction.

Size and Fit—I normally wear a size Large, and the Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T fits as expected. The garment has a “contoured body fit” to make it fit closer to the skin, but it is not skin tight. The body is adequately long and extends 6 inches (15 cm) below my belt. For me, the sleeves are barely long enough; I normally wear a 34 inch (86 cm) sleeve length, and I measured the sleeve length on the Chamois Zip T to be 33.5 inches (85 cm).

The shirt’s articulation is good, but not excellent. When I bend over and cross my arms or raise my arms above my head, the sleeves withdraw about 3 inches (8 cm) above my wrists. I feel some binding in the upper arms and shoulders, but the shirt’s stretchiness easily accommodates that.

Garment measurements (size men’s Large): body length 27 inches (69 cm), girth 42 inches (107 cm), sleeve length (measured from the center of the back) 33.5 inches (85 cm).

Features—
Flat seams, 9 inch (23 cm) front zipper with red chili pull, two-way stretch fabric, silver fibers in fabric to suppress odor-causing bacteria, contoured body fit, stand up collar, brushed inside surface for softness and warmth, smooth outside surface to allow other clothing to easily slide over it. UPF (sun protection) rating is 30+. Hot Chillys warmth factor of 8 (on a scale of 10). The garment does not have any pockets.

Test Plan
Test Period—
November 2007 through February 2008.

Test Locations—Southwestern US (Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico).

Activities—The Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T will be tested in the following activities: 1) snow camping in a tent and igloo, 2) snowshoeing, 3) backcountry skiing, 4) backpacking, 5) ice fishing, 6) winter car camping in Southern Utah, 7) day hiking, and 8) casual wear.

Testing Conditions—My first trip with the Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T will be a nine day car camping/day hiking trip in Zion National Park in Utah. I also plan to wear the Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T during high elevation winter camping trips where I will camp in the snow at high elevations in below zero temperatures. Every winter we build one or two igloos in remote areas where we backcountry ski or snowshoe, and we camp in the igloos for 1-2 nights on each trip. I spend a lot of time snowshoeing and skiing above 12,000 feet (3658 m) in the winter, and love to winter camp to enjoy the winter splendor. The highlight of this coming winter will be a 10-day winter camping trip in the Yellowstone National Park backcountry in February, where we will be traveling a 35 mile (56 km) loop on skis and building four igloo base camps. I will also wear the Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T on numerous day trips from home, which will include day hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, and ice fishing. Expected extreme conditions (for all trips) include: high elevations with strong winds and high wind chill factors, snow storms, sub-freezing temperatures, and deep snow. Elevations will range from 5,000 to 13,000 feet (1524-3962 m) and temperatures will range from sub-freezing to about 70 F (-22 to 21 C).

How the Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T Will be Used—On the two longer trips described above, I will wear the shirt continuously for the entire trip to evaluate its odor suppressing properties. I will wear the Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T as either an outer layer or base layer, depending on the temperature, wind, precipitation, and exertion level. Many day hikes will be high exertion, where I can test the garment’s ability to transport and disperse moisture and evaluate its comfort range when worn as a single layer. When I stop, I often don a windshirt or light insulating jacket to keep from chilling, and I will note how quickly the Zip T dries out. When wearing the Zip T as a base layer, I will evaluate its warmth, breathability, and moisture transport qualities when worn with other performance clothing. An important part of the test is to report on its versatility, comfort range, and the activities and conditions where it is best suited.

I will be testing the Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T in a range of activities and conditions over the next four months, and will be reporting on its performance in my Field Report in two months and my Long Term Report in four months. This concludes my Initial Report. My Field Report will be appended to this one in approximately two months.

Field Report (January 6, 2008)

Type and Amount of Use
During the first two months of testing I wore the Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T on 24 trips totaling 40 days, as detailed in the table below:

Activity

Number of Trips

Number of Days

Car camp/day hike

1

10

Day hiking

2

2

Snowshoeing

8

8

Cross-country skiing

2

2

Backcountry skiing

7

7

Igloo Camping

2

4

Mountain Cabin

2

7

Totals

24

40

 

Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T, worn without a pack and not tucked in to show the body length. The color is “charcoal”.
Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T, worn without a pack and not tucked in to show the body length. The color is “charcoal”.

Test Locations and Conditions
All testing was done in southwestern Colorado, southern Utah, and northern Arizona. Early in the test period (November), I wore the Chamois Zip T while day hiking as a single layer hiking shirt in warmer temperatures (50-75 F/10-24 C). Elevations ranged from 6000 to 12,000 feet (1829 to 3658 m). On a 10-day car camping/day hiking trip in Zion National Park in Utah and in northern Arizona, I wore the Chamois Zip T continuously without laundering.

In late November and early December I wore the Chamois Zip T on additional day hikes and one trip to a friend’s mountain cabin. On these cooler weather hikes, with temperatures in the 40’s F (4-9 C), I wore the Chamois Zip T as a baselayer under a shell jacket or windshirt.

With the advent of heavy snows in our local mountains in mid-December, my outdoor activities switched to cross-country and backcountry skiing and snowshoeing. Elevations on these trips ranged from 9000 to 12,000 ft (2243 to 3658 m) and temperatures ranged from -16 to 35 F (-27 to 2 C). On all of these trips I wore the Chamois Zip T as a baselayer under an insulating layer and/or shell jacket.

I wore the Chamois Zip T on three cold weather camping trips in December. Two trips were overnight stays in an igloo I built in the mountains at 9000 ft (2243 m), where the outside temperature dropped down to 5 F and -11 F (-15 and -24 C), respectively. Daytime temperatures were in the 20’s F (-7 to -2 C). The third “camping” trip was a ski-in to our friend’s mountain cabin for four days over New Year’s weekend. We skied in the area in daytime temperatures ranging from 10 to 25 F (-12 to -4 C). Nighttime lows dropped to -16 F (-27 C). On these trips I wore the Chamois Zip T as a baselayer under an insulating jacket and/or a shell jacket.

Testing Results to Date
Over the wide variety of activities and testing conditions described above, the Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T performed extremely well in terms of wicking moisture away from my body. When worn as an outer layer (hiking shirt), the top stayed dry, even in conditions where I was sweating quite a bit.

I found Hot Chillys’ Warmth Factor of 8 (on a scale of 10) to be to be valid - the top is quite warm. While hiking uphill carrying a day pack, I was comfortable wearing the top as a single layer down to about 35 F (2 C) if there was no wind. The Zip T is somewhat wind resistant, down to a wind chill factor of about 30 F (-1 C), for me. In cooler temperatures, or with a wind blowing, the Chamois Zip T worn as a baselayer under a breathable fabric windshirt or shell jacket was a very comfortable combination. While skiing or snowshoeing in much colder temperatures, the Chamois Zip T worn as a baselayer under a synthetic insulating jacket and a shell jacket was a comfortable combination.

I wore the Chamois Zip T for extended periods, without taking it off, on three occasions for 10, 3, and 4 days, respectively. After each trip I gave the top a sniff test at home, and invited my wife to do the same (which she reluctantly did), and we found the top had very little smell. This was rather remarkable, especially after wearing it for 10 days straight! My sample Chamois Zip T is a dark grey color, and does not look dirty, even after wearing it for days. Since it didn’t look or smell dirty, I tended to wear it many times between washings - over two months and 40 days of use, I only washed the top three times.

I did a fair amount of bushwhacking while wearing the Chamois Zip T as a single layer hiking shirt, and found it to be quite durable, with no snags so far. Its durability is much better than other polyester hiking tops I have worn, which snagged quite easily. However, the top did develop some pilling on the top of the shoulders where the shoulder straps of my pack contacted it (see photo).

I found the Hot Chillys Chamois Zip to be very puncture and snag resistant, but not very abrasion resistant. The pilling shown was under the shoulder straps of my backpack, after six days of use.
I found the Hot Chillys Chamois Zip to be very puncture and snag resistant, but not very abrasion resistant. The pilling shown was under the shoulder straps of my backpack, after six days of use.

Fit – As I mentioned in my Initial Report, the Chamois Zip T has a fairly loose fit on me and the sleeves are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) shorter than I would like. The loose fit doesn’t bother me, but I would definitely like to have longer sleeves. The body length is adequately long to stay tucked into my hiking pants.

Fabric – The Chamois Zip T’s fabric (29% Bio-Silver® polyester, 60% polyester, and 11% Lycra) is unique compared to many other hiking shirts. It has a two-way stretch and is quite soft (it does feel like chamois). Although the overall color is dark grey, the fabric is actually a very fine tweed (see photo above). The fabric is a bit on the heavy side (12 oz/340 g for size large) because of the high Lycra content. Lycra is said to absorb moisture and dry out more slowly, but I did not observe that to be a problem in the Chamois Zip T; in fact it stayed quite dry. The outside of the fabric is fairly smooth, so it is easy to don other clothing over it. The inside of the fabric has more of a fleece texture to it.

Features – The only real feature on the Chamois Zip T is its 9 inch (23 cm) front zipper. I found it very handy to open the zipper to regulate my temperature while hiking in warmer weather. The top’s flat seams made it comfortable to wear under other clothing and while wearing a backpack.

Assessment to Date
The Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T has performed well in a variety of activities and conditions. It performs equally well as an outer layer or a baselayer. I found it to be quite warm, somewhat wind resistant, very odor resistant, and durable with respect to snag or puncture resistance. However, the fabric does not appear to be very abrasion resistant. The top has developed significant pilling on the top of the shoulders due to abrasion by the shoulder straps of a backpack.

Long-Term Report (March 9, 2008)

Additional Use
Since my Field Report I have used the Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T on 13 additional outings totaling 31 days, as detailed in the table below.

Activity

Number of Trips

Number of Days

Snowshoeing

3

7

Cross-country skiing

1

1

Backcountry skiing

2

7

Skate Skiing

3

3

Igloo Camping

2

6

Mountain Cabin

2

7

Totals

13

31

My total usage during the four-month test period is 37 outings totaling 71 days, which is new record for me. It’s easy to test a baselayer because I can wear it on most of my outings.

Test Locations and Conditions
All of my testing during January and February was in my local area (southwestern Colorado). Elevations ranged from 7,000 to 12,000 feet (2134 to 3658 m). Daytime temperatures ranged from 20 to 30 F (-7 to -1 C) and nighttime temperatures when I was camping ranged from -6 to 10 F (-21 to -12 C). My daytime aerobic level was moderate to high in most of the activities listed.

In most of my winter activities, my preferred way to wear the Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T was as a baselayer under a shell jacket. By opening and closing the jacket’s pit zips and front zipper, I was able to adjust my temperature and stay comfortable.
In most of my winter activities, my preferred way to wear the Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T was as a baselayer under a shell jacket. By opening and closing the jacket’s pit zips and front zipper, I was able to adjust my temperature and stay comfortable.

Description of Use
During my daytime activities I wore the Zip T as a baselayer with a shell jacket over it, which was a comfortable combination as long as I was actively moving. When camping, which is colder and less active, I wore the Zip T under several insulation layers.

Test Summary
I don’t have anything new to add to the performance information in my Field Report on the Hot Chillys Chamois Zip T, so I will conclude this report with a summary of my findings from the entire four month test.

  • It does indeed feel like soft chamois cloth against the skin. The fabric is tightly woven and has a lot of two-way stretch.

  • The sizing and fit are good. A men’s size large normally fits me fairly well, and the Chamois Zip T is consistent with that. The fit is relaxed and the body is adequately long, but the sleeves could be a little longer.

  • Because of its tight weave and Lycra content, the Chamois Zip T at 12 oz (340 g) weighs a little more than a similar thickness wool zip top (about 10 oz/283 g) or pure polyester top (about 8 oz/227  g).

  • It is quite durable for use as a baselayer, but when I wore it as an outer layer I found that the fabric abrades under the shoulder straps of a backpack (see photo in my Field Report).

  • It is quite warm as claimed. When worn as an outer layer while hiking, I found it to be warm down to about freezing (0 C) under calm conditions. Worn as a baselayer under a shell jacket, I found it to be comfortable down to about 20 F (-7 C).

  • It is nearly odor free as claimed. I wore the top for extended periods on several occasions, and it had little odor when I took it off.

  •  It effectively transports moisture away from the skin. In my warm weather testing I found it to be quite dry and comfortable to wear.

  • Even after wearing it extensively in the field, the Chamois Zip T still looks good and can still be worn for casual wear.

Acknowledgement
I would like to thank Hot Chillys and the BackpackGearTest Group for selecting me to participate in this test.

Will Rietveld



Read more reviews of Hot Chillys gear
Read more gear reviews by Will Rietveld

Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Hot Chillys Micro Elite Chamois T > Test Report by Will Rietveld



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