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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Icebreaker Skin 200 and BodyFit 260 Mens > Test Report by Jason Boyle

Icebreaker Oasis Crewe and Tech Top

Test Series

Last updated June 5, 2007

Tester Information:
Name: Jason Boyle
Age: 28
Gender: Male
Height: 5' 6"/ 1.68 m
Weight: 170 lb/ 77 kg
Chest: 42"/ 107 cm
Neck: 16"/ 41 cm
Sleeve: 28"/ 71 cm (from the middle of my chest to my wrist)
Email address: c4jc "at" hotmail "dot" com
City, State, Country: Snoqualmie, Washington, U. S.

Backpacking Background:
I have been camping and backpacking for about 18 years. My introduction to the outdoors started with the Boy Scouts of America and has continued as an adult. I have hiked mostly in the Southeastern and Northeastern United States. I am generally a lightweight hiker, but will carry extras to keep me comfortable. I have recently relocated to the Pacific Northwest and spend most of my time hiking and backpacking in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, but I can be found exploring the other wild areas of Washington!

Product Information:
Manufacturer: Icebreaker
Model: Skin 200 Oasis Crewe
Body Fit 260 Tech Top
Size: Oasis Crewe Large
Tech Top Extra Large
Color: Oasis Crewe Mars (red)
Tech Top Black
Year of Manufacture: 2006
URL:www.icebreaker.com
Fabric: 100% merino wool, both shirts
Listed weight: None Listed

Wearing the Icebreaker Tops in Umtanum Canyon
Measured weight: Oasis Crewe 8.7 oz/247 g
Tech Top 13.15 oz/373 g
MSRP: Oasis Crewe $59.99 US
Tech Top $89.99 US

Country of Manufacture: Designed in New Zealand, Manufactured in China

Product Description:
Oasis Crewe – The Oasis Crewe is a very soft, thin, long sleeved base layer. All of the seams are made with a flat sewn construction to reduce irritation. Icebreaker says it has a “higher neck” to trap in heat, but it doesn’t look any higher than any other shirt when I have it on. Another cool thing is that the shirt is sewn so that there is not an underarm seam. The seam runs down the side of the sleeve, and will help prevent potential irritation under the arm.

Oasis Crewe

Tech Top – The Tech Top is a soft, long sleeve shirt with a quarter zip. When the zipper is zipped all the way up the shirt is a turtle neck and when it is unzipped the collar can be folded down to make a collar. It is much heavier than the Oasis Crewe in the Icebreaker Skin 200 series. It only weighs 5 oz/142 g more, but it is a much more substantial shirt. The Tech Top also has thumb loops to keep the sleeves down. The shirt also has a raglan construction, but unlike the Oasis Crewe the seam for the sleeve meets underneath the armpit. It is hardly noticeable, but there is a small black Icebreaker symbol over the left chest.

Tech Top Thumb Loop

Initial Report – February 14, 2007:

The first thing that I noticed when I opened the shirts is how soft they are. I have worn other high end merino wool products but these are some of the softest shirts that I have ever worn. I immediately put on the shirts and both of them fit well with no irritation. I examined both shirts and they appear to be well constructed with no loose stitching or unraveling seams. I purposefully asked for a large on the Oasis Crewe and an extra large on the Tech Top and I detail my reasons why below.

Based on the information on the Icebreaker website, I determined that the Oasis Crewe is supposed to be worn as true base layer, snugly, next to my skin. The large I received fits me snugly as I expected it to. The shirt hangs down to the bottom of my bum and the sleeve are almost perfect for me with only a slight bunch at the end of the sleeve. The cuff of the sleeve does not have any elastic but seems to be small enough that it won’t hang over my hand. As I mentioned before it is also comfortable!

Since I knew I would be wearing these shirts as a layering system I wanted the outer shirt, the Tech Top, to have a more relaxed fit, therefore I asked for and received an extra large top. This shirt also hangs down to the bottom of my bum, and the sleeves are definitely longer than my arms, but the excess is made up by the thumb loops. The thumb loops allow the sleeves to fit over my hands without causing the excess fabric to be uncomfortable.

The care instructions are fairly simple: machine wash in warm or cool water, lay flat or line dry, warm iron if needed, but do not tumble dry, no softener or bleach. One tip I have used with other wool garments is to wash them in Ivory Snow powder detergent which I will do with these shirts as well.

Field Report – April 6, 2007

A misty day in the northwest

Summary:
I am very pleased with both of these shirts. They have provided good warmth, even when soaked with sweat or rain, and are proving to be durable and stink free. Initially, I had wanted to layer them but that provides too much warmth for me as a very warm hiker. My normal mode is to wear the Oasis Crewe while hiking and using the Tech Top as a dry shirt in camp or as a layer if the temperature plunged.

Field Conditions:
I used the shirts for a total of 11 days over the last two months. My trips included a 3 day car camping trip in Central Washington, 6 day hikes in the Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, and 2 overnight trips in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Precipitation ranged from rain to slushy snow and winds were mostly light until I reached exposed ridges where they could be blowing steady. Temperatures ranged from 25 F to 60 F (-4 C to 16 C) and elevation ranged from sea level to 4700 ft (1433 m). Most of these trips included hiking on and off trail with significant elevation change.

Report:
I have been very happy with the way these shirts fit. I specifically ordered them two different sizes to make sure they would layer well. The Oasis Crewe is a size large and as I mentioned in my initial report, it fits snugly, but not too tightly. It has proved to be very comfortable and soft even when I am all sweaty and nasty from trail grime. The Tech Top is an extra large and it easily fits over the Oasis Crewe and underneath my outerlayers. It is also very comfortable even when worn next to my skin.

One of my initial thoughts was that I would be able to layer these shirts while hiking and backpacking. Experience has taught me that this is not a realistic expectation for me, as I become a serious heat generating machine while hiking on trails with elevation. I find that in temperatures near freezing with little wind all I need to wear is the Oasis Crewe. If it is windy or precipitating I find that a simple wind shell provides the protection I need without overheating too much. I did layer the tops when I was sitting around in camp and found them to be comfortable to wear together. On my car camping trip in Central Washington I wore them layered the entire weekend and was very comfortable. I did some hiking on this trip but it was all flat and with little carried in my daypack. Lately I have been using the Tech Top as my dry shirt when I have returned from my hikes. I like having something dry to put on and the Tech Top helps trap some of the warmth that I have generated while hiking to keep me from getting chilled on the ride home.

I have found that the shirts breathe fairly well, the Oasis Crewe better than the Tech Top which is to be expected since the Oasis Crewe is a lighter shirt. Like I mentioned earlier, I generate a lot of heat while hiking and usually soak the front and back of my shirts while hiking. I normally wore the Oasis Crewe and I found that it provided pretty good balance between breathability and warmth on my hikes. If I was getting warm I would push up the sleeves a bit, and if I was cold I would pull them down. The weave of the shirt is definitely not windproof, and I needed to put on a shell of some sort when I was on a windy ridge or peak.

The shirts are proving to be pretty durable with no fabric issues. One of my trips was entirely off trail in a pretty open Ponderosa Pine type of forest. I did rub up against some brush but with no problems. I know wool is not supposed to trap smells so I put the tops to the test and I have not washed them yet. Even after all my trips they are not smelling bad yet. They don’t smell fresh but I am not knocking out people on the trail with my stench either. I will wash them after this report is finished and report on it in my Long Term Report.

My only issue so far is that I believe the neck on the Oasis Crewe is stretching out. With the marvelously wet spring weather we have had here in the Northwest, I have worn the shirt while it was completely soaked with rain. I believe that this contributed to some of the stretching. At this point it is just noticeable, and only a minor annoyance. I will monitor this to see if it develops any further.

I will continue to examine these tops over the next two months looking for durability issues and additional uses as summer approaches the Pacific Northwest.

Long Term Report – June 5, 2007

High Camp on Whitney, our 2 hour window of sunshine

Summary:
These shirts have continued to perform well over the second half of the test series. The shirts remain comfortable, and I am thoroughly impressed with the shirts ability to shed smells! I have noticed some loose threads and pulls but I have also been doing some serious bushwhacking on my trips this spring. I have continued to use the Oasis Crewe as my hiking shirt and the Tech Top as my layer/camp shirt.

Field Conditions:
Since the Field Report, I have worn the shirts on a mountaineering trip on Mt Whitney in Sequoia National Park, California, a car camping trip on the Icicle Creek and 6 dayhiking/spring peak bagging trips in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The conditions on Whitney were challenging with elevation up to 11,500 feet (3505 m), temperatures down to 12 F (-11 C) and 2 days worth of blowing Sierra snowstorms. Things were a little better in Washington with mostly partly cloudy to sunny days, elevations ranged around the 5700 feet (1737 m) and temperatures ranged from 30 F to 60 F (-1 C to 15 C). Most of my travel included off trail bushwhacking until I reached snowfields then booting up snowfields in an attempt to reach the peaks. One of the dayhikes included a trip on Mt Rainier, in Mt Rainier National Park. Unfortunately most of my trips ended before I actually reached the peaks.

Overlooking Lone Pine on the way up to our first camp on Whitney

Report:
The shirts have continued to fit very well and I continued to wear them in the manner stated in my Field Report; Oasis Crewe for hikes and backpacks and the Tech Top as a layer during breaks and in camp. I was concerned about the neck stretching on the Oasis Crewe and it has remained stretched but it has not bothered me. It doesn’t look grossly stretched and I am probably the only one who would notice that the neck has stretched. The cuffs on the sleeves have also stretched a bit as well, but that is because I have worn the shirt so often with the sleeves pushed up. It is a minor inconvenience but I still wanted to note it. The shirts continued to remain super soft and I continued to sleep in the Tech Top. I was never irritated when wearing either next to my skin.

The shirts have also shown good durability. The Oasis Crewe has some loose threads at the sleeve cuffs. I attribute this to the hook and loop fastener on my liner gloves. The hook and loop fastener would set against the cuff and I believe it could have pulled loose some of the threads. At this point they appear to be mostly cosmetic. The shirts don’t show any signs of wear where my shoulder straps, sternum strap, or hip belt rest against it.

I still maintain that the Oasis Crewe is best used for me at temperatures below 50 F (10 C) with no wind and below 60 F (15 C) if there is any wind. For me the temperatures would have to be below freezing to consider layer the shirts while hiking. I like to layer the shirts in camp to trap some of my body heat to help dry out the Oasis from wearing it all day. However as evening approaches I would take off the Oasis Crewe and wear only the Tech Top.

On Mt. Rainier

So far I have found the shirts to be very easy to maintain. They have done a great job fending off smells and I wore them 9 total days before I washed them and did not feel that I was killing any small varmints while hiking from the stench none of my hiking parnterns complained either. Washing them is very easy, I wash them like I wash all my merino garments with Ivory Snow and then I let them air dry over the back of a chair.

This has been a great test. The Icebreaker shirts have performed admirably and I will continue to use them in the future. Thank to Backpackgeartest.org and Icebreaker for allowing me to participate in this test.

Read more reviews of Icebreaker gear
Read more gear reviews by Jason Boyle

Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Icebreaker Skin 200 and BodyFit 260 Mens > Test Report by Jason Boyle



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