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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Icebreaker Rush or Ace Crewe > Test Report by Gail Staisil

Icebreaker Rush Crewe
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan

Page Contents:

Initial Report:author
May 8, 2012

Tester Information

Name: Gail Staisil
Age: 59
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 152 lb (69 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman 2001 AT yahoo DOT com

For the last 20 years, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan and Canada. My pack weight varies considerably but my base weight is below 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.

Product Information

Manufacturer
Icebreaker
Website http://icebreaker.com
Model Rush Crewe
Color 
Tropic (blue) -Also available in Panther (black), Metro (gray) and Cerise (bright pink)
Size
XL (XS-XL available), A men's version (Ace) is also available in different sizes and colors
Manufacturer  Weight
0.3-0.35 kg (10.7-12.3 oz)
Tested Weight  4.6 oz (130 g)
Model Year 2012
MSRP $80.00 US

Initial Impressions and Product Description 

Icebreaker Rush Crewe
The Icebreaker Rush Crewe is a lightweight wool crew-neck shirt with some smart features. It arrived in great condition in the color of Tropic which is a bright aqua blue. I requested the Crewe in the size of women's extra large (XL) even though I more often wear a size large (L) in many clothes. This was based mostly on the fact that I like a looser fit in this type of garment plus I was at the top end of measurements for a size smaller. That said I am happy with the fit as it hangs nicely with no areas of tightness on my not-too-trim body. Although the Crewe is designed for performance wear it could also be worn as casual wear.

 

Design and Technical Features
 
The Crewe has a feminine neckline being scooped in shape. Although I normally prefer a higher neckline in my active wear clothing (to help with limiting sun exposure) it is not too low. It is more scooped in width than height. The neckline is finished with matching fabric casing and is double stitched.

The majority of the Rush Crewe is fabricated with very soft 96% merino wool and 4% elastane. The latter makes the material stretchable. The short sleeves and side panel inserts are made with reportedly breathable eyelet material that is 99% merino wool and 1% elastane. The inserts are wide and sewn in place with overlocked stitching in a contrast color (in this case it is white).

According to the manufacturer the Crewe belongs in the "high performance stand alone" layers category for active sports. The ultralite 150 material (150 grams per square meter fabric weight) is good for warm and cool conditions. The rating is the lightest that the manufacturer offers. Reportedly in warm weather the fabric helps keep skin cool by transporting moisture away from the skin and in cold weather the fabric uses moisture from the environment to generate heat by locking in body heat in the fabric fibers. The GT Technology reportedly is naturally anti-bacterial and highly breathable to regulate temperatures. The manufacturer suggests that it is no stink and fast drying. Even though the material is really light it is not see-thru in appearance.

The raglan sleeves are short and not too tight. The interlocked seams are sewn with a matching thread color. The seams can be stretched when tugged at to likely prevent popping of stitches.
I also really appreciate the length of the Crewe. I can bend over and not have it ride up my back.
Stash pocket on lower back corner
One unique feature on the Crewe is the addition of a cord management loop located at the top center on the back of the shirt. Even though I had previously read on the website that the Crewe had a cord management loop it didn't occur to me what it was for. It kind of looked like a hang loop.

I had also read that it had a stash pocket. Normally this means to me a place to stash my car keys on a trail run! This pocket however is purposely designed to hold an iPod Nano or similar and then the cord from it could be threaded through a small hole in the back of the pocket and up through the cord management loop at the neckline. Because I never use any musical electronics while I do anything outdoors I will have to find another use for these features.

The stash pocket is understandably small (approx 2.5 in/6.35 cm square) to prevent movement of the small electronic device and has a small flap over the top of it to likely help keep it in place. At the left the picture shows the height of the pocket itself compared to a lip balm. Although I wish the pocket were larger, it hopefully will work for a small item or two.

There is a strip of reflective piping on the right shoulder of the Crewe measuring not even 3 in (7.5 cm). There is also a decal with the words "Icebreaker GT" on the top back of the shirt under the cord management loop. These words are reflective but small. A reflective symbol decal is also located on the left front chest.

I found the care instructions on a removable tag inserted into a lower side seam. The Crewe can be laundered at warm temps in a washing machine and line dried. I have already done that once and it looks great. The manufacturer suggests washing with similar colors, no softeners and no bleach. Also no ironing nor dry cleaning.


The manufacturer offers a Comfort Guarantee that if it is not comfortable it can be returned within 90 days.

 

Summary

The Icebreaker Rush Crewe is a women's performance garment made out of the lightest wool offered by the manufacturer. It has several design features that add to its function. I look forward to wearing the Crewe for a variety of outdoor activities.
 

 
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Field Report:
July 1, 2012

USA Locations and Conditions

During the field test period I have worn the Icebreaker Rush Crewe during four different backpacking trips for a total of ten days (six nights). It has also been my shirt of choice for many dayhikes and trail running. Location of the backcountry trips were in Michigan and ranged from hilly deciduous forest to open non-deciduous communities. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2000 ft (610 m).


Late May Backpacking Trip

Location: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Trail 
Distance: 31.2 mi (50 km)
Length of Trip: 3 days/2 nights
Pack Weight: 22 lb (10 kg) without water
Sky and Air Conditions: Sunny, windy and cloudy
Precipitation: 0.27 in (0.69 cm) rain
Temperature Range: 42 F to 78 F (6 C to 18 C)

June Backpacking Trip

Location: Grand Island National Recreation Area, Lake Superior, MichiganGrand Island Evening at camp
Type of Trip: Trail/Off-Trail
Distance: 27.8 mi (45 km)
Length of Trip: 3 days/2 night
Pack Weight: 22 lb (10 kg) without water 
Sky and Air Conditions: Sunny, Cloudy, Thunderstorms 
Precipitation: 1.67 in (4.24 cm) of rain
Temperature Range: 44 F (7 C) to 73 F (23 C)

Late June Backpacking Trip

Location: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 10.5 mi (17 km)
Length of Trip: 2 days/1 night
Pack Weight: 19.5 lb (9 kg) without water 
Sky and Air Conditions: Sunny, Cloudy
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 63 F (17 C ) to 84 F (29 C)

Late June Backpacking Trip

Location: Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 10 mi (16 km)
Length of Trip: 2 days/1 night
Pack Weight: 19 lb (8.6 kg) without water 
Sky and Air Conditions: Sunny
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 64 F (18 C) to 78 F (26 C)

Dayhikes/Trail Running

Location:
Noquemanon Trails, Harlow Trails, Nubs Nob, North CountryTrail, Old Mission Peninsula, all in Michigan (both Upper and Lower Peninsulas)
Distance: Normally 5 to 10 mi (8 km to 16 km)

Temperature: Up to 88 F (31 C)

Performance in the Field
Tester wearing the Rush Crewe with an overshirt
I have worn the Icebreaker Rush Crewe at least three days a week since I received it. I have worn it alone or in combination with a nylon long-sleeve button-down trail shirt.

Since most of the time the mornings start off cool I have worn it in combination with a long-sleeve shirt until I get too hot. Depending on the humidity this most often happens fast. The Rush Crewe is very comfortable and non-itchy to wear and I like the fact that it is not tight or binding.

During the first backpacking trip of the field test period, I wore the combination of shirts together most of the day. When I arrived at camp each night I took off the overshirt and instead layered the Crewe with a long-sleeve wool shirt. This combination became both my evening and sleeping wear.
 
During my second backpacking trip the weather became quite humid as 1.67 in (4.24 cm) of rain fell during one of the days. I h
ad to don a rain jacket and found that I was very comfortable in just the Rush Crewe underneath. On the second and third days I wore the Rush Crewe mostly as a single layer due to the humidity. It was very comfortable to wear under my backpack harness and waist belt. I love the length of the shirt as it does not expose my skin when bending over.

My third and fourth backpacking trips were during very hot weather. I wore the Rush Crewe without any overlayers. I was extremely hot and the shirt wetted out mostly on the neck area and most of the back that was covered by my backpack. During breaks the shirt really didn't have a chance to dry out until I ceased backpacking for the day.

I have also worn the Crewe for trail running. Although it certainly gets sweaty and wet in some areas it is still comfortable without being clammy. That is highly important to me as I dislike the clammy feel of many polyester or similar shirts. I've noticed that the mesh areas are slower to wet out and are more breathable than the rest of the crew shirt. It might be nice to have the whole crew made out of the mesh instead of just certain areas.Self portrait of tester on a very hot backpacking trip
Neckline is wetted out
Like I suggested in the Initial Report, I was interested in using the stash pocket to hold my car keys when I got out for a trail run. I normally don't take any extra items other than my cell phone and keys when running (no pack). Luckily my choice of running shorts usually has pockets to save the day as I'm not able to use the tiny pocket on the Rush Crewe which is disappointing.

Since I normally am wearing the Crewe I really don't have a lot of experience "packing it". After several days of use without being washed the shirt hasn't retained any detectable odor. I have backpacked in temperatures up to 84 F (29 C) with humidity up to 100 percent (normally 70 percent or more). I have also worn it on much hotter days for running and day hiking (about 10 degrees hotter).


So far, the Rush Crewe is holding up perfectly. I have washed it regularly with my other trail clothes and let it hang dry. I haven't noticed any pilling, staining or odor.



Summary

To summarize, the Rush Crewe has not only a comfortable fit but it is also non-clammy to wear after sweating heavily. It can be layered nicely with other clothing without being bulky.

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Long Term Report:
September 3, 2012

USA Locations and Conditions

During the field test period I have worn the Icebreaker Rush Crewe during two different backpacking trips. Although the first trip was only three days the second trip was over nineteen days. I have continued to wear it for other sports activities. Location of the backcountry trips were in Michigan and California and ranged from hilly deciduous forest to open mountainous terrain. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to 14,508 ft (4422 m).


Mid-July Backpacking Trip

Location: Grand Island National Recreation Area, Lake Superior, Michigan
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 13.8 mi (22 km)
Length of Trip: 3 days/2 nights
Pack Weight: 21 lb (9 kg) without water 
Sky and Air Conditions: Mostly sunny
Precipitation: Trace of rain 0.08 in (0.20 cm)
Temperature Range: 57 F to 75 F (14 C to 25 C)

August Backpacking Trip

Location: John Muir Trail, Sierra Mts, California
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 230 mi (370 km)
Length of Trip: 19 days
Pack Weight: Varied with food drops (carried anywhere from four days to ten days of food at a time approx 24 to 35 lb/11 to 16 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Mostly sunny but had seven episodes of rain
Precipitation: Rain (7X) and hail (2X), Approx: 0.43 in/1.09 cm total
Temperature Range: 95 F to below 40 F (35 C to 4 C)
 

Dayhikes, Trail Running, and Mt Biking 

Locations:
Michigan and Wisconsin
Distances: Up to 15 mi (24 km)
Temperature Range: 85 F to 70 F (20 C to 21 C)
  

Performance in the Field
You can bet that I was wearing the Rush Crewe underneath the outer layers for my early morning summit of Mt Whitney
I have continued to wear the Icebreaker Rush Crewe for a variety of activities. During backpacking I have worn it mostly with a long sleeve shirt covering it. That was due to the intensity of the sun for prolonged periods of time. During shorter events such as trail running it has been worn alone for the most part. 

During my backpacking trek to Grand Island I wore the combination of shirts the whole time. The weather was mild and comfortable so this worked well during the duration of my hike.

My last backpacking trip was an extended one including 19 days on the trail. It also included several more days before and after the trip. I only include this information as I left Michigan by airplane with only a few garments and wore them before, during and after the backpacking trip.  I had no place to stow extra items (no rental car) so everything had to be versatile.

Since the California sun combined with high altitude was extremely harsh, the Rush Crewe was never worn alone. It became my base layer underneath a long sleeve button-down shirt during the morning hours. I removed the short-sleeve Rush Crew when it became too hot to wear both shirts (I needed the sun protection of the long sleeve button-down shirt). It also was worn every evening and throughout the night for sleeping with a long-sleeve wool shirt over it for more warmth.

The shirt continues to wet out in Michigan's high humidity environment (minimum of 60 percent RH) but it remains comfortable regardless.
It does wet out especially around the neckline but it doesn't affect its performance. I still think the mesh areas of the shirt breathe better and I would like to see the whole shirt made out of the perforated fabric. During my California trip high humidity wasn't a problem. That was a good thing as my shirts only occasionally were rinsed out (twice) during the long trip. There was simply no extra time at the end of a day and I needed it to be dry to sleep in it. That said I could detect no funky odors after almost three weeks.

The Rush Crewe has held up perfectly. It is a bit heavier than some of my micro-weight wool shirts but seems less prone to losing its shape or stretching out. It has remained easy to wash and dry (on hanging rack). I can't detect whether the color is a brilliant as it was when I got it but I believe it is the same hue.


Summary

In conclusion, the Rush Crewe is a comfortable shirt with a nice fit. It is easy to wear even if it is wet from high humidity. It layers very well with other clothing.    


Pros

  • Non-bulky women's-specific fit
  • Mesh areas are cooler or more breathable
  • Comfortable and non-itchy

Cons

  •  Would be nice if the whole shirt was fabricated with the mesh material instead of limited areas


Tester Remarks 

Thanks to Icebreaker and BackpackGearTest.org for this opportunity to test the Rush Crewe. This report concludes the test series.

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