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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Outdoor Research Womens Essence Tee > Leesa Joiner > Test Report by Leesa Joiner

Initial Report
Outdoor Research
Women's Essence
Long Sleeve Tee shirt

Personal Information: 
Leesa Joiner 
Southwestern Maine 
45 years old                                                                     Orchid color Long sleeve t shirt
5'7" (1.7 m)
160 lb (73 kg)


    My camping, hiking and backpacking experience has included trips varying in length from one-day hikes to two-week trips.  My experience hiking began with my father when I was about six years old. We hiked along the river pathways in northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.  
    While enjoying the outdoors with my friends and family, I spend time hiking, geocaching, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and camping.  Although I am not a lightweight backpacker, I am trying to ‘lighten up’.  I spend almost as much time outdoors during the winter as I do during the summer.

Product Information:
Women's Essence  Long Sleeve Tee shirt
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Advertised Weight: 5.3 oz (150 g) Size medium
Measured Weight: 5.3 oz (150 g)
MSRP: $42.00 US


Manufacturer's Description:

Merino wool fibers give this comfortable long sleeve the ability to manage moisture and dry quickly. Active styling makes it feel more like a comfortable cotton shirt than a technical piece. The odor neutralization allows you to wear it for days on end without developing a permanent scent.

Initial Impressions:

The Essence L/S Tee is advertised as having the ability to manage moisture and dry quickly. It also boasts odor neutralization that allows continuous wear without the shirt developing a permanent scent.   I am curious as to how that will play out with frequent and prolonged use.

I tried the Essence on soon after it arrived.  It fits well the raglan sleeves allow plenty of range of motion for my arms.  I like that it is long enough in the torso to tuck into my pants, and it stays tucked in, even when I bend over.  I was also happy to see that the tag that usually is at the back of the neck on a shirt, was not a sewn in tag, but is actually printed on the fabric.  There are two sewn in tags on the bottom side seam that explain care of the shirt and advertise the  Dri-release® FreshGuard feature.   The care tag is the larger of the two, and is somewhat stiff and scratchy.  There is also a small OR tag on the bottom hem of the shirt.

The shirt is unnoticeable under other layers as it is fairly close fitting (but not fitted).  I like that it stays in place and doesn't ride up while I am wearing it under another shirt.

The seams are neatly finished, and do not rub on my skin.  Because there are no seams on the shoulders, there shouldn't be any uncomfortable rubbing when worn with a pack.   The collar is a high scoop neck, which lies flat along my lower neck.

The shirt has a very smooth feel - not slippery, but almost like an old t-shirt.  I am not very familiar with wool blends, but find the texture of this 12% wool, 88% polyester very comfortable.  I am curious as to how it will do after a few washings.  

Test Locations, Conditions and Time Frame:

Living in Northern New England, I have the good fortune of being able to experience at least 4 seasons (sometimes within days of each other!) and some of the best outdoor areas around.  During the nest four months our temperature range will run from the current average of 42 degrees F (5.5 C) down to about 0 degrees F (-18 C).    During the months of January through the beginning of April I spend a good deal of time snowshoeing and ice fishing.  Both activities present different challenges.  While ice fishing, it is often windy, so I need a good windbreak layer.  While snowshoeing, I warm up and cool off depending on the level of exertion.  At these times I need easy to add and remove layers, with a base layer that wicks perspiration away from my body to keep me from getting chilled.
While hiking in northern New England, many of the trails are unimproved, meaning that I spend lots of time climbing over rocks and brush.    We also tend to camp in remote, unimproved areas, as opposed to ‘camp grounds’.

Picture is taken from the Outdoor Research web site:
This ends my Initial Report,  I will amend it in two months to report on my field information.

Field Report
Outdoor Research
Women's Essence
Long Sleeve Tee shirt
March 6, 2007

Field Information:

The Essence Long Sleeve Tee has become an integral part of my outdoor wardrobe.   The shirt fits just about perfectly and is extremely comfortable.  I have long arms and find it annoying when my sleeves either ride up, or are too short.   The sleeves on this shirt are long enough that they sit just over my wrist bone.   I have worn the shirt under different types of layers, and the sleeves never ride up.  One less annoyance!  

I have worn the shirt a couple of times while snowshoeing and found that even when I was exerting myself and perspiring, the shirt did not 'cling' to my skin. The first two times I was snowshoeing, it was about 25 F (-16 C), the third time it was 16 F (- 17 C).   On the coldest trip, I think I perspired the most.  It was rougher terrain, and I felt like I had to work harder, just to walk. The snow also had a very hard, slippery crust, so I was probably working harder unconciously to maintain my balance.   I didn't feel chilled after cooling down, which is a big plus.  Each time while snowshoeing I left the shirt on until I showered in the evening.  There was no noticable scent to the shirt at the end of the day.  I had heard such horror stories about wool smelling when it gets wet or is worn for long periods of time.  I have also worn the shirt while hiking in somewhat strenous areas and had the same results as when snowshoeing - no cling and no chilling.  I've also noticed that the shirt itself never feels cold to the touch.   I have not had the need to wear it for more than a day at a time while backpacking or snowshoeing.  

I did wear it for 3 consecutive days while touring Washington, D.C. with my son's NJOTC group.  We stayed at a Marine Base, where the showering facilities were not great. The weather was very cold, averaging 28 F (-2 C).    At night, I threw a fleece over the Essence and put on sweat pants to sleep.  During the day, I put a heavy sweater over it and wore jeans.  I stayed comfortable while we walked around D.C., but I felt bad for some of the others who weren't prepared for the cold.  Being from Maine, D.C. is 'south' and people expected it to be warmer.  I was extremely thankful that I had the Essence - I was fighting a bronchial infection and getting chilled would not have helped.   The shirt helped keep my body temperature steady.  Thankfully, the shirt didn't smell after I changed out of it - I had to put it in my bag for the trip home.  

On most occasions, I wore the Essence layered with a medium fleece pullover.  While hiking and snowshoeing I also wore a down coat.  The coat came off and went back on many times throughout the day and was stuffed in my pack.  Around the house, I've worn the Essence alone or with a lightweight shirt over it.  

The OR Essence's shirt has held up well.  I notice no pilling or loose threads.  The orchid color is still bright and has not faded, even with repeated washings.  I really like the fact that the shape of the shirt has not changed.  Some shirts that are 'fitted' lose the fit after washing, this one has kept the shape very well.    One thing that I wanted to comment on is the feel of the material, at first glance I thought it was going to be one of those shirts that felt rough.  The type that if my skin is dry, it 'catches' and just feels rough.  To my surprise, this hasn't been the case.   During the winter I am always fighting dry skin, most likely due to our wood stove and the dry, cold weather.   The fabric has a nice, smooth feel to it.  

During the next two months, I will continue to wear it whenever possible.  I am curious to see how well it holds up to washing and wearing.  Since our weather will be warming up (hopefully), I am also looking forward to seeing if it performs as well when the weather isn't quite so cold.   Will I overheat?  Will the shirt become 'stinky'?  Stay tuned, my Long Term Report will be posted in about two months.
This concludes my Field Report.  The Long-Term Report should be completed by [date].  Please check back then for further information.

Long Term Report
Outdoor Research
Women's Essence
Long Sleeve Tee shirt
May 8, 2007


    Over the last two months, I have worn the Essence on two - three day trips, and on more than ten day hikes.   The multi-day trips allowed me to wear the shirt continuously for three days.  One trip was to western Maine. That trip was supposed to include sleeping out, while other adults and most of the kids slept in a cabin.  The adults backed out of going at the last minute, so I ended up needing to sleep in the cabin with the kids. During the day the temperatures ranged from 25 to 45 F (-4 to 7 C), nights 
were in the low 20's (-6 C).  Inside the cabin there was a small wood stove, so early in the evening it was fairly comfortable. After the fire died, the room cooled enough that ice formed on the inside of the windows.  I remained warm throughout the night.  I wore the Essence all the next day while hiking and later hanging out around the campfire.  At times during the day I definitely worked up a sweat. Thankfully, the shirt was able to wick away moisture from my skin.  The shirt itself would feel 'damp' for a bit, then be dry again.  Because of areas of snow and ice, with the ice being buried beneath the snow, I had to either work my way around the slippery areas, or carefully climb over them.  The sun was shining very brightly and it was a very warm hike of about eight miles (13 K) the first day.   I was happy that on rest and food breaks, I did not get chilled.  After lunch I removed my outer fleece layer and hiked in just the Essence and a wind break layer.  I stayed very comfortable and didn't over heat.  I can deal with being a little chilly much more easily than being hot.  I did notice that while just having the Essence and windbreaker on, that I could feel the shoulder straps of my backpack and it did get irritating.  The straps seemed to slide around more, most likely due to less bulk on my shoulders.  I did take the pack off and try adjusting it, but didn't have much luck.  The problem was not bad enough to cause chaffing, just irritation.  I continued to wear the Essence the next day, not removing it until arriving home and showering.   The last full day of the trip consisted of about fourteen miles of hiking and a few stops for food.  It was breezier on this hike - which kept the perspiration to a minimum.  The shirt was very good at blocking the wind also.  Again, I stayed comfortable all day and through the night.  I also solved the irritation from the pack straps - I used a different pack with has straps that are less bulky and they didn't slide around as much.  I have fairly small shoulders, so the straps seem to fit better.  
    I was able to wear the shirt while in Northern New Hampshire, during a weekend with similar weather conditions, although slightly less wind.  Once again the Essence performed above my expectations.  I was able to maintain my body temperature fairly consistently.  The shirt wicked away moisture, keeping me from chilling.
    On many occasions I wore the Essence while snowshoeing and day hiking.  While snowshoeing I tended to exert myself more and perspire more.  Again, I didn't get chilled, I believe due to the shirts ability to wick moisture away from my skin.  I stayed warm enough, without overheating.  On day hikes I found that while I didn't perpsire as much, I still stayed comfortable.  The shirt seemed to block a good amount of wind, which helped on a few of the hikes - it kept the wind from causing me to get chilled, if it worked its way through my outer layers.
    Early in May, I wore the shirt in much colder conditions
while backpacking in Northern Maine. Daytime temperatures were in the mid 30's F (-1 C) and night temperatures were in the low 20's F (-6 C) at night.   The first night I was a little chilly when I got into my sleeping bag (inside my tent), and it took about 30 minutes for me to warm up enough to go to sleep.  The bag is a -20 degree bag. While hiking, I was definitely burning some calories to keep warm!  The winds were fairly strong and cold at times.  The shirt helped to keep my body temperature steady.  Most impressive about this shirt, aside from its ability to help me maintain my body temperature and wick moisture away from my skin, is its amazing ability to not 'stink' after continuous wear.  I wore the shirt for 3 days straight on more than one occasion and was impressed that when I removed the shirt, it did not smell bad.  I could smell a slight wood smoke aroma, but that was all.  The shirt has been washed on at least 6 occasions, and still retains its ability to not hold on to smells, especially body odor.  It also still looks good - the color has remained sharp, the stitching shows no sign of breakage and the fit is still almost the same as when new.   It does have a more 'relaxed' feel to the fit now though.  It isn't stretched out, it just fits more like a broken in tee-shirt.  It is softer, like it has less 'starch' to it.  
    Overall, I am extremely impressed with the OR Essence L/S Tee Shirt.  It fits well, is extremely comfortable, even for multi-day use, and it helps me to maintain body temperature.   The fact that it (and I) don't stink after wearing it for three days is a huge bonus.  I will continue wearing it, and will probably add another one to my hiking clothes drawer.  
    Thanks to and Outdoor Research for the opportunity to test this shirt.  It has been a real pleasure!

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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Outdoor Research Womens Essence Tee > Leesa Joiner > Test Report by Leesa Joiner

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