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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Icebreaker Rush or Ace Crewe > Test Report by Kathleen Waters

ICEBREAKER RUN SS RUSH CREWE
TEST SERIES BY KATHLEEN WATERS
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - May 02, 2012
FIELD REPORT - July 07, 2012
LONG TERM REPORT - September 11, 2012

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
AGE: 61
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)

Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado. Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Icebreaker New Zealand Ltd.
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.icebreaker.com
MSRP: US $80
Listed Weight: 11 - 12 oz (0.3 - 0.35 kg)
Measured Weight: 4 oz (113 g) *** Big difference between listed and reported
Sizes Available: SX, S, M, L & XL
Size Tested: Medium
Colors Available: Tropic (blue), Panther (black), Cerise (red) & Metro (gray)
Color Tested: Metro (gray)

Construction: Body - 96% merino wool, 4% elastane; Eyelet Sleeve & Side Panels - 99% merino wool, 1% elastane
Made in China

* "Love it or send it back, under our 100% comfort guarantee."
Rush Crewe
Picture Courtesy of Icebreaker

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

First impression? "Wow!" The Icebreaker GT Run SS Rush Crewe (hereafter called the "Crewe") totally blew me away with its powder-puff lightness and texture. Before I received the Crewe, my interest in this product prompted me to keenly devour the Icebreaker website, searching for any and all information that would prepare me to best understand and utilize the Crewe. I did gain a fair idea of what the Crewe would look like and what features it would have, but reading pages of facts about merino wool and how it could work for me on the trails did not prepare me for this sensuous fabric. Again - Wow!

While I'm gushing about the merino wool, I'll start there - the fabric constructing the Crewe. On the Icebreaker website, it's stated that the Crewe is made from 96% merino wool and 4% LYCRA®. On the left side seam fabric care tag - which, by the way is the longest tag I have ever seen - the construction is broken down to the body (96% merino wool and 4% elastane) and the eyelet sleeve and side panels (99% merino wool and 1% elastane). The wool is further described as "150" which is ultra light wool and gets the number from the 150 grams per square meter of fabric (1.2 square yards).

I did a bit of research to satisfy my curiosity over the difference between "LYCRA®" and "elastane" and found elastane is the generic term for the fiber used in stretch fabrics. The largest producer of the fiber is DuPont and the registered brand of their product is LYCRA®. Mystery solved. The wool is further described as "150" which is ultra light wool and gets the number from the 150 grams per square meter of fabric.

My Crewe is a heathery gray color similar to old-fashioned sweatshirt material. Raglan sleeves are set into the Crewe using a same-colored (gray) decorative coverstitch. An interesting 2.8 inch (5 cm) bit of reflective piping is sewn into the top section of the right shoulder seam. The neckline is a moderately (not ridiculously low) scooped version which provides fuller coverage than I would expect from the Icebreaker's website description of "wide, scoop neckline" - no worry about even the widest sport bra straps peeking out. There is a neat small opening at the back of the neckline for earbuds cords to pass through to my ears from under the Crewe. (More about that below).
Reflective Strip
Reflective Strip on Right Shoulder
Cord Management Loop
Back Neckline Cord Management Loop

Two "eyelet" woven panels form the sides of the Crewe and are attached to the front and back panels via a contrasting coverstitch on the curved seams. The side panels use the same material as the sleeves. The eyelet weave has tiny openings to promote venting.

To go along with what Icebreaker refers to as the "cord management loop" at the back center of the neckline, sewn into the seam on the right back side panel is a small, almost un-noticeable stash pocket, barely big enough for my Sansa Fuze mp3 player which is 3.25 x 2 inches (8 x 5 cm). When first searching for the pocket - it's listed as a feature on the website - I (and my husband) couldn't figure it out! It took us a minute or two to find how to insert my mp3 player as the pocket initially appears to be upside-down. Light-bulb moment! The upside down flap is just an oversized cover flap.

Anyway, with my mp3 player safely lodged in the stash pocket and with the ear buds in place in my ears, I can thread my earbuds through the cord management loop, down my back, and through the interior access hole. Then with some interesting contortions, I wiggle the connector into the mp3 player and I'm wired for sound without having to worry about the cords getting tangled or caught on my backpack, branches, whatever. Oh, I almost forgot. Due to the tight fit of the pocket to the mp3 player, I must turn the player on and set it to the proper volume and genre/artist/album BEFORE putting the player into the pocket. Otherwise, the player has to be removed from the pocket to do so. It's a very tight fit.
Back Right Slash Pocket
Ear Bud Opening
(Left) Slash Pocket / (Above) Interior Cord Opening

The Crewe is devoid of big, blaring logos (thank you, Icebreaker people). I actually had to take the Crewe off to find the gray stamped Icebreaker logo on the left chest.

Lastly, a bit of trivia. Again, curiosity got the best of me and I e-mailed Icebreaker customer service - what exactly does the "GT" in the style stand for? Within minutes, I had my answer!

Wanna Guess?

"Go, Tiger!" Fun!
ILogo

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

On that really long side tag I mentioned earlier in this report are washing instructions in English, French and the usual international care symbols. Basically, they are the usual caveats - machine wash warm with similar colors, no fabric softeners or bleach. Line dry in the shade, no machine dryers. Warm iron (Iron? Yeah, sure) - but don't iron the labels and do not dry clean. Not a problem there!

As I said, pretty much standard for all of my technical clothing. However, in reading care instructions on the Icebreaker website, I stumbled across some additional, more interesting tips. Such as "use regular detergent, not wool detergent". Apparently merino wool is different from "regular" wool and wool soaps will actually harm merino wool clothing. Also, of note is the advice to occasionally wash the Crewe with "denim jeans with the zipper closed" or other coarse fabrics. This will remove any loose fibers from the merino wool. Lastly, it's recommended to wash the garment by itself after the first 2-3 wearings. Again, to remove any loose fibers.

TRYING IT OUT

Before I ordered my Rush Crewe, I visited the Icebreaker website to check out their size chart. They have women's "medium" defined as a women's size 8-10 which translates to chest measurements of 35¾ - 37¾ (91 - 96 cm) and waist measurements of 28¼ - 30¼ (72 - 77 cm). My corresponding measurements of 37 and 28 inches (94 and 71 cm) respectively, put me at the top end of the medium in the chest and slightly below the lowest waist number. Icebreaker recommends when this sort of disparity occurs to go with the chest measurement. So, I crossed my fingers and ordered a medium size Crewe.

When it arrived, with just a tiny bit of anxiety, I pulled the Crewe over my head and after smoothing it over my torso was delighted to find the Crewe fits me just the way I like it. Not as tightly as some of my heavier winter base layers, but still slim enough to permit me to wear another layer without wrinkles or bulk. And while the Crewe is slim enough to be neat when worn solo, it's not so form-fitting as to make me feel - ah - exposed!

Once on, the merino wool reminds me of the soft, soft blankets I had for my kids when they were newborns. It's that soft! Everything about the Crewe offers comfort. I didn't even feel the seams thanks to the way Icebreaker uses a coverstitch on the seams to flatten them and prevent rubbing. I immediately noticed the raglan sleeves and side panel seams are positioned in such a manner that seams will not come in contact with actively moving backpack shoulder straps or with the undersides of my actively moving arms.

Thankfully there the tag at the neckline is a stamped tag, so that's one less thing to irritate, however, the stamped tag feels rubbery and I have to wonder if in the heat of summer when I'm sweating like the dickens, if that tag will stick to the back of my neck. Time will tell, I suppose. Of the two tags on the side seam, one is a very silky material and the scratchier very long care tag actually fell off while I was reading it, so no problem there!

Lastly, I was quite happy to find the finished rounded hem of my Crewe comes down a good 7 inches (18 cm) from my waist so there is plenty of material to tuck into my pants should I want to do so.

SUMMARY

I like "green" products! Say something is recyclable, sustainable, etc., and I'm impressed. Wool is sustainable. My Crewe is wool. Yay! The plastic shipping bag which Icebreaker even apologized for, saying they wouldn't use one if they didn't need it to protect the garment, is made from recycled plastic and is biodegradable. Yay, again!

While those features are neat "hooks" for me, Icebreaker got me "hook, line and sinker" with the quality and feel of the Rush Crewe! Great construction, fabric and features have already moved this Crewe to the front of my gear closet. Oh and did I mention, the Crewe feels wonderful against my skin? Well, it does!


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

MT. Elbert
On Colorado Trail at Twin Lakes
All of my backpacking and hiking time while wearing the Icebreaker Crewe during these past two months took place in Colorado. Though I never left the state, the terrain varied from high alpine mountain trails to high desert foothills and valleys.

Over Mothers' Day weekend in May, I wore the Icebreaker Rush Crewe on three separate day hikes in the Twin Lakes, Colorado area, one being a hike on part of the Colorado Trail to the Dexter House at the ghost resort of Interlaken, elevation just about 9200 ft (230 m). That day started at 44 F (7 C) and ended up with a high of 69 F (21 C). We had a brief shower on the trek back. (In photo, Mt. Elbert is in the background.)

The second hike was at Independence Pass, Colorado and onto the town of Independence, a mining ghost town.

Lastly, that weekend, we hiked trails in the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness past Maroon Lake and onto the Crater Lake Trail.
Temperatures ranges on the latter two hikes were from 40 to 44 F (4 to 7 C) with it being a dry, though cloudy day. We did see quite a bit of snow at the Pass - 12095 ft (3687 m).

John and I spent the last week of May in Breckenridge, exploring the Ten-Mile Range. Three day hikes included the White Falls Trail, the Quandary Peak Trail from 10979 to 13424 ft (3346 to 4092 m), and the 11481 ft (3499 m) Boreas Pass trail which climbs to a saddle 12159 ft (3706 m) and separates Bald and Boreas Mountains from Hoosier Ridge. Despite the higher start elevations (all over 10000 ft/3000 m), the temperatures were mild from 40 to 69 F (4 to 21 C). It was very windy though on Quandary Peak - so windy we turned back before summiting. Otherwise, the weather was partly cloudy, no rain.

On the last of the past two months' overnights (June 15-17) where I was able to get out and use the Rush Crewe, my hiking took place in my local BLM (Bureau of Land Management) playground of the Cooper Mountain range that abuts the north boundary of our property in Canon City, Colorado. This is a wilderness area with no developed trails just a lot of juniper, pinon pine-covered hills which alternate with granite slabs and rocky shale gullies. Elevation is roughly between 5300 ft (1600 m) and 9100 ft (2770 m). Temperatures during the daytime saw a very steaming high of 90 F (32 C) and a low at night of only 67 F (19 C).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

My initial positive impressions of the Crewe have been borne out over the last two months. I've worn the Crewe on over 9 hikes and 4 overnights (2 separate trips). Unlike many of other gear items I have tested, I have not worn the Crewe casually - I've been hoarding it jealously for more serious outdoor activities.

Because of the different elevations I've been in, I have had occasions where I've worn the Crewe as an actual base layer with a light synthetic mid-layer and a wind or rain shell over the top. But for the most part, it's been hot and I've worn the Crewe solo. Even when it has been cooler, after any real exertion on the trail, I have generally stripped down to just the Crewe at some point in the hike as seen in the above picture which was taken in early May on the Colorado Trail while on a lunch break at Twin Lakes, Colorado.

The Crewe is chameleon-like as far as warmth is concerned. When it's cool out, the Crewe retains my body heat and keeps my core toasty. Conversely, when the outdoors' and/or my body's temperature rise, the Crewe wicks away the resultant sweat and I don't overheat. With even the slightest breeze, any slight dampness seems to act like "air conditioning" and the Crewe not only cools down my torso, but it dries quickly - way more quickly than some of my other tops and way more quickly than I expected. Nice!

Since it has been so exceptionally warm - no, that's not the right word...it's been down right HOT - anyway, since it's been so exceptionally hot, I'm pleased to report, the Crewe's wool has not ever felt scratchy, stiff, or in any way uncomfortable even when wet and/or dirty. And it has been both! On our recent attempted assault of Quandary Peak near Breckenridge, Colorado, I was not "glowing", not "perspiring", I was SWEATING. Due to the extremely windy conditions above tree line, I had to wear a wind shell over the top of the Crewe. The exertion of climbing a trail that at one point involved stepping up onto knee-high boulders had me dripping! At no point did I want to scratch my skin off because of itchy-wool-syndrome!

Check out the Quandary Peak Trail in the pictures below. The Peak is visible and looks oh-so close. It isn't.
Mountain Goats
Quandary Peak Trail Mountain Goats
Resting on Trail

And while I'm on the subject of sweat, that brings up body odor or the notable lack thereof. I've deliberately worn the Crewe 3 days in a row on three separate trips involving both day hikes and backpacking. On the backpacking trek, I not only wore the shirt during the day, but I continued to wear it at night for the sake of testing - I usually change into something clean to sleep. Under those conditions, with other tops, I have noticed a distinct aroma which kept me mindful of the day's activities and of my need to shower - desperately. However, the Crewe while it had a slightly damp wool smell was not obnoxious. I can't testify as to how the Crewe would deal with campfire smoke as fire bans have been in effect since I can't remember when!

Now that I've discussed sweat and smells, I guess I should talk about how wonderfully the Crewe cleans up! In 3 gentle wash cycles with other hiking-type clothing and a tech wash detergent, the Crewe has survived beautifully. I've always let it air dry on a plastic hanger outdoors and the shape has been retained - no stretching, no shrinking, no twisted seams. I haven't yet tried washing it with my jeans, maybe next time and unless I quickly get a whole bunch of Crewes, washing it solo isn't going to happen. (I try to conserve water whenever I can.) Despite my carelessness in following instructions, the Crewe is none-the-worse for it and folded in my gear closet, ready to go again.

SUMMARY

We are really in the heat of summer here in Canon City, Colorado. In the past I would have never considered wearing a wool top in the summer - heck, anything wool would have been packed away by April! However, the Icebreaker Crewe has changed all that for me. I love the way the Crewe feels against my skin even when it is hot. I love the way the Crewe wicks sweat from my body. And I love the way the Crewe doesn't retain foul odors. I guess I just simply am in love with the Icebreaker Rush Crewe! (Shhh. Don't tell my husband!)


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 1
Zipping Along the Arkansas Valley
As in my Field Report, all of my backpacking and hiking time while wearing the Icebreaker Rush Crewe was in southern Colorado except for casual wear on a trip to Utah for the annual Outdoor Retail Summer Market.

While in the backcountry, the terrain varied but was primarily alpine mountain trails in the high desert foothills and valleys of the Cooper Mountain range in Fremont County.

On two different overnight trips and several (4-5) day hikes, my hiking took place in the Royal Gorge BLM (Bureau of Land Management) District which abuts the north boundary of our property in Canon City, Colorado. Elevation is roughly between 5300 ft (1600 m) and 9100 ft (2770 m). This summer, we broke all sorts of temperature records here in Colorado and temperatures during the daytime very often exceeded 90+ F (32+ C). While it has been said that our heat is a "dry" heat - it's still been very hot. I've often remarked that an oven is "dry" heat as well! Thanks to our desert climate, we usually reached a low at night 70 F (21 C) or slightly lower for comfortable sleeping.

I also wore the Crewe for some casual wear outings such as ziplining near the Royal Gorge (see picture at left). Between the zipline platforms there was some rough terrain totaling a couple of miles (3 km) of hiking along an old mining road. I was certainly glad to have on good hiking boots and my wicking Crewe!

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

This has been a season of extreme heat where I live and there have been times I've considered going the "naturalist way" of "clothing optional" - anything to be cooler! However, in the interest of not scaring small children and to spare the expense of the gallons of sunscreen I'd need to buy, I've opted instead to wear the lightest, most efficient-at-wicking shirts and shorts I could find. It would probably come as a surprise to most that my wool Crewe is among those select few tops.

I can't say enough good about how the Crewe absorbs the sweat from my body and keeps it from dripping down my spine. Even when the top is wet, I don't feel overly uncomfortable to the point of wanting to rip the Crewe off my back. Most of the time, I actually don't notice the wetness until I take off my backpack and realize it's clammy wet. Then by the time I've finished my snack or whatever break on the trail I've taken, the Crewe is almost dry. This is the number one attraction of the Crewe for me.

While a synthetic tank top covers less skin and therefore might be cooler than the wool tee shirt-styled Crewe initially, I've found that the combination of the rubbing shoulder straps of my backpack and the less breathable tank material to be way inferior to the Crewe. Actually, there is no comparison at all.

The Crewe has been even more comfortable and softer as time has passed and I'm happy to say it stays that way even when I have worn the top for a couple days running in the backcountry. I've noticed that some other fabrics become stiff and unpleasant from dried dirt and sweat, but not so the Rush Crewe!

After 4 months of wear - an estimated 160 hours - and at least 5 machine washings, the Icebreaker Crewe looks as good as new. I never did try washing the Crewe with my denim jeans though - actually I haven't worn jeans for months due to the heat!

There are no pulls or pilling, even on the shoulders where my pack straps constantly rub and on the back and waist where a lot of my other tops get grungy from pack friction. No stretching or out-of-shape seams or pulled or torn stitches, either. Based on my experience this far, I think this Crewe is a keeper that will be going strong for quite some time!

SUMMARY

I'm very pleased with the fit and function of the Icebreaker Run SS Rush Crewe! It is a great base layer but is not so form-fitting that I can't wear it solo as well. I've come to appreciate the feel of wool in the summer heat and the stellar wicking ability of this garment. Wool will no longer be relegated to my winter wardrobe but will be a year round staple fabric I'll wear in comfort.

My sincere thanks to Icebreaker and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Rush Crewe..

Kathleen (Kathy) Waters

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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