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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Malachowski Koszulka Guide Pro > Test Report by Andre Corterier

Malachowski Base Layer Shirt (Koszulka 1st Layer) Guide Pro

Test Report by André Corterier
Initial Report: May 2007
Field Report: August 2007
Long Term Report: October 2007
Malachowski Logo
Material Mix

Personal Biographical Information:
Name: André Corterier
Gender: M
Age: 35
Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight: 80 kg (175 lb)
Email: andreDOTcorterierATfreenetDOTde
Home: Bonn, Germany

Backpacking Background:
I have started out with backpacking slowly – single-day 24 km (15 mi) jaunts by myself or even shorter hikes in the company of my little daughter. I am getting started on longer hikes, as a lightweight packer and tarp or hammock-camper. I’ve begun upgrading my old gear and am now carrying a dry FSO weight (everything carried From the Skin Out except food, fuel and water) of about 9 kg (20 lb) for three-season camping.

Initial Report

Year of manufacture: 2007?
Date received: 14 May 2007
Manufacturer: Adam Malachowski
MSRP: 125 PLN (the English website version lists 31 EUR, currently roughly 42 USD)

Weight (size L): 300 g (10.6 oz)
(as measured - no listed weight given)

Initial Impression:
The Koszulka worn The Koszulka (which I’ve been told is Polish for shirt) arrived in good condition. It looks like a sweatshirt with an athletic, somewhat snug cut. The material has two distinct surfaces - a bright inner surface which the manufacturer tells me is a cotton/wool mix, and a coloured (in my case burgundy) outer surface which, according to the manufacturer, is a mix of polyester and viscose (rayon). The material is stretchy throughout and comfortable to the touch. The seams aren’t flat in and of themselves, but because of the soft material they lie down flat. As the inner surface is quite smooth and soft, I would not have noticed any of this if I hadn’t made a point out of checking (visually). The sleeves are relatively long, which makes me happy because I have long arms and sometimes sleeves are a little short for me. The manufacturer’s label is quite subdued, which along with the Koszulka’s general look contributes to an impression which is more like that of expensive casual wear than decidedly outdoorsy apparel. I found this a pleasant surprise - while I value functionality over chic, I also see no need to advertise how outdoorsy I am.

Trying out:
The Koszulka tucked in Another surprise was that the Koszulka feels like a sweatshirt, too. I was surprised by this, because I expected a “base layer” to be cut in a way which hugs the body - and thinner, too. At 300 g (10.6 oz), the Koszulka’s weight is right between the base layers hitherto occupying my gear drawer and the fleece insulation layers or jackets I wear. While the picture on the manufacturer's website hadn't formed a clear expectation in my mind, it was the label "1st Layer" which had me expecting something thinner. Pulling it over my head, its bottom hem easily falls over the top of my pants. With what I consider my base layers, they tend to bunch up at the top of my pants and I thus tuck them inside without conscious thought. The Koszulka falls down over the top of my pants just as my sweatshirts do. That is also how I wore it for the remainder of the day it arrived. Wearing it like that, of course, occasionally allows a draft of air underneath. I can stick the bottom of it under my belt, of course, and that works also. It doesn’t look (or feel) weird, but doing so doesn’t make it feel like a base layer, either. In fact, on the third day that I had the Koszulka, when shrugging into clothing in the morning, half asleep and in the dark (so as not to wake my wife), I layered a T-shirt underneath it without thinking about it.

I have tried all my other base layers underneath the Koszulka, and they fit just fine, as though they were meant to go underneath. This was true both for lightweight and medium weight base layers. I don’t have any decidedly heavyweight ones - unless the Koszulka counts. I’m not yet sure if it does. It does fit underneath the more roomy of my insulation layers - like jackets. Which, so far at least, reinforces my notion that what I received is a sweatshirt. Though, I’ve been referring to it as “Koszulka” in my mind ever since I read the test call and will probably stick with that.

Sleeve Detail So far, the Koszulka promises to work just fine. I seem to be able to wear it by itself as well as over and/or under another layer. I can even wear it to the office. Its stretch is welcome - I like pushing my sleeves halfway up my arm, and these not only allow me to do this, they stay there (so far). This stretchiness also accommodates movement in a way I find pleasant. Plus, it’s soft to the touch. Nice.

The seams seem to be impeccably made; the fabric (particularly the outside) appears tough. I have no worries in this regard.

Initial Summary:
I seem to be looking at a general purpose hiking shirt - and a well-made one, at that. The temperatures aren't likely to allow testing it as a heavyweight base layer, but I'll likely be testing it above a lightweight base layer, by itself and underneath a (rain) jacket.

Field Report

Field Experience:
I have worn the Koszulka around the house, dayhiking in the local hills (elevations between 100 and 450 m / 330 and 1500 ft, temps between 10 and 25 C / 50 and 75 F, little or no precipitation, wind not much of a factor) and on an overnight trip in the Jebel an-Sariyah mountain range of Nothern Syria (elevations between 300 and 650 m / 1000 and 2200 ft, temps between 20 and 45 C / 70 and 113 F, in both very high and very low humidity, though no precipitation).

I have worn the Koszulka both over a SmartWool T-shirt and by itself. There has not been an occasion to wear it underneath another layer.

I mostly wore the Koszulka when I wanted a bit more warmth than the T-shirts I am otherwise often wearing provide. In this, the Koszulka has funtioned flawlessly. On dayhikes, I often found myself wearing it in the morning, only to take it off as both I and the day warmed up. The warmth has also been welcome after nightfall, when the evening got a little cold and wet.

Moisture Management:
I haven't been wearing the Koszulka much while sweating. The reason for this is that circumstances usually made it easy to simply take it off when I was generating too much heat to be comfortable in it. When I did sweat inside it, this was usually due to having miscalculated the outside temperature from inside, going grocery shopping or something like it with the Koszulka as my only layer. Being able to slide the sleeves up helped there, though it was in circumstances like these that a small zipper or something of the like would have been welcome at my neck. I was not sweating overly much, but could tell that the Koszulka continued to provide a good amount of (in this case, unwelcome) warmth.

The Koszulka dries reasonably quickly and exits my washing machine (1600 rpm spinning cycle) very nearly dry. I can put it right back on without any problems and what little moisture remained is quickly driven out by body heat.

I once put the Koszulka on inside a cloud. I had spent the night camped out across from Krak des Chevaliers in the Jebel An-Sariyah range (Syria), when a cloud rolled in the next morning. I had been comfortable all night very nearly naked in my hammock and now it suddenly got somewhat cold (and wet). Being inside a cloud meant being inside the thickest fog I had ever been in (it was broad daylight and the castle, not 200 m /650 ft away, was totally lost in it). It was a good thing that I was testing the Koszulka, because I would not have brought something to wear in addition to my T-shirt otherwise (temps had reportedly been at 45 C / 113 F in the shade as I hiked through the valley and up to the Krak, only there had been no shade!). The Koszulka provided the requisite warmth and significantly reduced my "felt" wind exposure. When I exited the bottom layer of the cloud an hour or so later, the warmth and humidity inside the Koszulka had reached uncomfortable proportions, and it felt clammy on its outside, apparently from moisture taken on from the cloud. I took the Koszulka off and affixed it (rather badly, as I was to find out), to the back of my backpack to have it dry in the sun. I hope one of the local boys riding a donkey which I overtook can make good use of "my" Koszulka...

The shirt still fit me well (by the time I lost it). I liked wearing it, it felt good on my skin. I continue to feel that it looked more like expensive casual outerwear than something decidedly outdoorsy. I did not feel out of place wearing it in the lounge of the Four Seasons in Damascus, Syria (dress code being "smart casual").

Washing the Koszulka did not seem to shrink it one bit. There were no other durability concerns during the time we had together, either.

The manufacturer was gracious enough to provide another shirt so that I could continue testing, though this means I am now testing a light grey Koszulka in size "50" ("M" equivalent).

Long Term Report

The new Koszulka is one size smaller than the other one was. It fits snugly and still has enough length in the sleeves to accommodate my long limbs. Its weight comes out to exactly 250 g (8.82 oz) on my gram scale. I can still wear a T-shirt underneath it if I so choose.

It's gotten colder now in Germany. Temperatures rarely reached 20 C (70 F) and mostly varied between 5 and 15 C (40 and 60 F) during the last bit of the Long Term testing phase. I have come to appreciate the warmth generated by the Koszulka much more during this time than I had so far. It only weighs about 100 g (roughly 3 oz) more than a lightweight T-shirt, yet provides considerably more insulation. During the warm days of the year, my hand naturally gravitated to T-shirts or the like in my gear drawer, the Koszulka saw wear mostly because I was supposed to be testing it. Now, in the shoulder season (fall - or spring), I am sometimes disappointed when reaching for the Koszulka and finding that it's still in the laundry hamper. Which reminds me ...

I have often worn the Koszulka by itself in the 10 to 15 degree C (50 to 60 F) range. It is entirely adequate by itself for easy day hiking or similar pursuits at the upper end of this range. At the lower end, I found it necessary to move more quickly, in order to generate some additional heat through exertion. Of course, this easily leads to sweating which then made some kind of shell helpful in order to prevent excessive evaporative cooling when stopped.

I have often worn the Koszulka directly on my skin with a jacket over it (hardshell or softshell). This gave me a broad comfortable temperature range when taking into account such options as putting the hood up or down, closing or opening the jacket and sliding up the sleeves (the sleeves of the size M Koszulka still fit over my lower arms, though they now do an even better job of staying up - just this side of uncomfortably tight).

During a long outdoor training camp with cool rainy weather on the first two days, I wore the Koszulka as my base layer underneath a thick fleece jacket and a hardshell jacket. It had been at or below 10 C (50 F) for 48 hours in which I had been outside non-stop, and raining much of that time and I was exhausted from several Martial Arts training sessions and other activities during the day. This combination still kept me warm and dry into dusk and nightfall.

I am now very happy with the warmth provided by the Koszulka. I particularly like how well it combines with a hardshell jacket (which I tend to have with me in the shoulder season anyway, because some degree of precipitation is so likely). On top, the hardshell adds another thin layer and traps a bit of air right on top of the Koszulka and adds wind resistance. Underneath, the Koszulka makes the hardshell jacket more comfortable, particularly as it covers my entire arms.

During our last outdoor camp, one of the tasks I gave our group was an improvised river crossing. One of the suggested ways was via rope and we actually managed to span the 40 or so meters (130 ft) with a static rope. Of course, I had to try this as well, even though the rope, despite our best efforts, sagged to make a dunking all but inevitable. It was an impulse that made me take off the Koszulka along with most of my other clothes because getting more clothes wet than unavoidable seemed stupid. I realized later that, in the interest of a complete test, I should have left it on. This might also have helped to reduce the bruising on my sternum from the 10 mm (0.4 in) rope - I crossed most of the way on top of the rope. As it was, the Koszulka served as a towel after my return - I had not managed to stay on top of the rope for the entire stretch and had to pull myself through the water for part of the span. The Koszulka made for a very decent towel. I managed to get myself entirely dry without the Koszulka becoming entirely wet. In a pinch, I would have put it back on thereafter, sure in the knowledge that it would still provide some residual insulation and wind protection and feeling certain that this would counteract any evaporative and/or conductive cooling due to the wet fabric. The Koszulka was not, after all, thoroughly wet.

The Koszulka itself air dried reasonably quickly in the environment of the one heater in our camp - I was gone from the hut most of the time, so I cannot say exactly how long it took.

The Koszulka on the water I have also worn the Koszulka when paddling, and the few drops of water I regularly splashed on to it evaporated away fast enough that water did not accumulate in it. I was happy about that.

I am happy with the Koszulka's durability so far. Of course, I'm on my second one so I have to admit this one hasn't seen enough use that I would expect to see wear. In addition to this, it has spent much of my wear time with it underneath another layer, reducing the wear and tear it was exposed to. Nevertheless, nowhere on the shirt can I find something which would prevent me from selling it as new. Not that I am going to - the Koszulka has earned itself a place in my standard shoulder-season wardrobe.

Likes: Good insulation for the weight. Comfy. In combination with a hardshell, good for most weather though Spring and Fall.
Dislikes: None, really. I've become used to the fact that it does not feel like a base layer and have had no other issues.

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