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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Sitka Gear Core Zip T > Test Report by Andre Corterier

Sitka Gear Core Zip T

Test Report by André Corterier
Initial Report 30 November, 2008
Field Report 03 February, 2009
Long Term Report 31 March, 2009

Sitka Gear Core Zip T worn Personal Biographical Information:
Name: André Corterier
Gender: M
Age: 37
Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight: 80 kg (175 lb)
Email: andreDOTcorterierATfreenetDOTde
Home: Bonn, Germany

Backpacking Background:
I mostly dayhike and sometimes overnight by myself or in the company of one or both of my little daughters. I am getting started on longer hikes, as a lightweight packer and hammock or tarp camper. I’ve been 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.

Year of manufacture: 2008 ?
Manufacturer: Sitka Gear
MSRP: 89.00 USD
Colour: Mothwing Mountain Mimicry (also available in "stone")

listed weight: 12 oz (340 g)
measured weight, size XL: 10.9 oz (310 g)

The Sitka Gear Core Zip T (henceforth Zip T) is a thin, tight-fitting, long-sleeved garment made of Polartec Powerdry. As the name implies, it has a zipper at the throat, running down to just below my sternum. With the zipper all the way up, it has a turtleneck which ends right underneath my jaw. The material is stretchy and soft.

Polartec Powerdry is supposed to be good at wicking moisture and drying quickly. It also stretches. In the case at hand, it has also supposedly been treated with "micro encapsulated pure silver", which I'm told inhibits germ growth and therefore reduces odour. I guess that's of particular importance for hunters (who appear to be the manufacturer's main target group), but is also a benefit for long-distance hikers. I'll be paying attention to this.

All zipped up Fit:
The Zip T fits loosely. Of course, I usually wear size "L" clothing, "M" when I want a snug fit on a T-shirt. However, with long-sleeved shirts I've resorted to size XL before, due to the fact that my arms are apparently somewhat longer than the clothing industry believes they should be, given the dimensions of the rest of my upper body. The sleeves on the Zip T cover my wrists, so I'm happy with the shirt I received.

With the zipper all the way, up, I'm wearing a turtleneck top which comes up to just below my jaw. I do not find its top or the zipper scratchy underneath my jaw, nor do I foresee any issues with my beard. It fits just right in this regard.

Zipper at max ventilation

With the zipper all the way down, I feel nearly naked. That may be because the manufacturer designed the size XL for someone with a larger chest than mine. But I'm fine with that - should be good for ventilation. I'm happy.

It was nice and smoothly comfortable from the very beginning. I've worn it at night straight out of the package and it felt good.

I have also worn it for a spot of jogging, and it did a good job of wicking moisture from my skin. I didn't do anything hardcore with it (yet), but am happy with the first trial.

I've found that it is easy to slide the sleeves up my arms to the elbow or so. The sleeves are stretchy enough to stay there of their own accord, but without restricting blood flow to my lower arms. Another thing that makes me smile.

Well, that's what the pictures are there for. I'm not quite sure yet what to think of it. I'll probably like it once I spend time in the woods in it with it as an outer layer, though that won't be until late spring. My wife has a firm opinion on it and it appears as though I'll be testing it without her around. Not a problem, she thinks walking is overrated, anyway. ;-)

I'll be appending my field experience with the Sitka Gear Core Zip T to this report in about two months or so.


Field Experience:
I have worn the T a dozen times or so during the days and a few times at night, though on only one extended overnight trip so far (camping on New Year's Eve with my daughter). Temperatures have been around freezing, with the lowest temps encountered being -6 C (21 F). Elevations were between 100 and 300 m (330 and 1000 ft), often quite windy, though with little precipitation. Of course, given the conditions, I've been wearing the T under other layers exclusively - except in my sleeping bag.

I've worn the T by itself at home a few times (though not much, as my wife still hasn't gotten used to the colour scheme) as well as in my sleeping bag. It is quite comfortable on my skin. I do not recall ever having felt a scratch from the zipper or anything of the like. It has also felt quite comfortable to sleep in, both on a mattress and in my sleeping bag on a cold night out.

It layered well underneath a fleece. I was surprised not to see a lighting storm inside my fleece when pulling it off over my head in the dark after having worn it over the T - somehow a synthetic base layer led me to expect more static. It hasn't clung to the outer layer in any other way, either, so it seemed well suited to layering.

It's been cold lately (in relation to the temps I'm acclimatized for), so I haven't worn it much underneath a hard shell without an intervening insulation layer, but the few times I have brought nothing negative to report.

Unsurprisingly, I've worn it mostly as I usually wear base layers in winter, under an insulation layer and a shell over that. The T works very well in that configuration and with its tall neck (when zipped up entirely) even gives me some residual temperature adjustment options without having to partially undress. I appreciate this.

On the other hand, getting to that pocket on the arm is darn hard with two layers over it. That hasn't bothered me much - I'm not used to pockets on my base layers (none of my others have any), so it's never occurred to me to put something in there.

The T just visible under fleece and shell, hiking out on New Year's Eve
Rocket Man and his trusty sidekick
The T by itself has felt rather cool. I attribute this to its very loose fit due to it being somewhat oversized for me. This has been less noticeable with an insulation layer over it. In that (its primary) function, it seemed to behave, temperature- wise, much like other base layers of a similar weight.

Moisture Management:
The transfer of sweat away from my body has been excellent so far. I've been sick for a while twice during the test phase, so I haven't been active in it as much as I would have liked to (and plan to do for the Long Term Report phase). Nevertheless, I've been out jogging in it and have to say that it does an excellent job of transferring moisture away from my skin. Not only that, it really does dry very quickly. Having taken it off right after my return and letting it hang off a hanger in a warm, dry room for my cool down phase and a quick shower afterwards (call it 45 minutes) had it feel dry to the touch even where I had obviously gotten it quite moist. I am much impressed.

It also helped a little to alleviate the oppressive feel of the sweats brought on by fever, another scenario in which the fact that it does not begin to smell quickly was appreciated.

Odour (or lack thereof):
So far, the T has dealt with odour very well. I was quite happy to be able to use this test as an excuse when I took this base layer along on a week-long business trip to Strasbourg (France), wearing it on my way there and jogging in it twice while there without washing it in the interim. It was only beginning to smell just a little after it dried after that last jog. If I myself had been out hiking in it (rather than appearing in a conference room spiffy clean every day), I don't think I would have noticed it. So high marks in the odour control department so far - there may be a stress test for this still coming up.


Field Experience:
I've worn the Zip T on a handful of dayhikes, three overnighters and numerous occasions of jogging. We've still had frost on the ground this morning, so it's always been worn as a baselayer underneath one or two other layers (usually either fleece and a hardshell or just a softshell). Temperatures ranged from about freezing to 15 C (60 F) or so, with precipitation not a factor for the baselayer. It's been worn inside both my light three-season down bag and my (slightly) heavier winter bag (also down), each time on a down air mattress.

The comfort of a base layer is still its primary selling point in my opinion, and the Sitka Core Zip T did not disappoint. It is soft and smooth against my skin, and apparently also on its outside (a fact remarked upon by one of my daughters, who does not share her mother's aversion to its colour scheme).

More importantly, that comfort did not change whether I moved around in it a lot or stayed still. This means that I continue to be happy with its moisture management - it never got clingy wet, even on my more aerobic runs. That's good.

It has also largely remained in my olfactory comfort zone. Two days of moderate exertion (without sweat beading up on my brow) and the night in between did not create any noticeable smell. However, when I wore it to run in and hung it up to air dry only to do so again (and again and again), smell became noticeable after the third time and sufficiently so that I felt compelled to wash it after the fourth. In a thru-hiking scenario I am sure I would have been okay with it for a little longer, but in the recent past overnighters were the best I could do.

The Sitka Core Zip T has a pocket on its left arm that I still haven't used, as I've still worn it underneath other layers. I remain puzzled what someone might want to put in there. It seems to me that doing without that pocket would reduce its complexity, possibly its price and certainly its weight, likely putting it into the weight range of comparable base layers sans pocket.

The T also features a long zipper from the throat halfway down to my navel. I am very happy with this. Particularly in my sleeping bag, it has provided a welcome means of fine tuning my body heat that I found easier to adjust than the zippers or drawcords on my sleeping bags. This was especially true in my heavier, warmer bag which features only a center chest zipper.

The zipper was also nice to have in very windy situations (which I unfortunately only encountered when running). I heating up and was loath to open the zipper on my softshell due to the severe winds - being able to really open up my baselayer while keeping the wind-resistant softshell closed provided the thermal equilibrium I was hoping fore. Nice.

Usually the last point in a long term report, though I have no durability issues to report. I've been jogging sort of regularly, which is the only reason this base layer has actually spent about a dozen cycles in our washing machine. It still looks like new. Due to its mothwing mountain mimicry, I have also found that grass, earth or other dirt spots on it are also next to invisible. I quite like that.

Good overall base layer. Smooth and comfortable, transmits moisture well, doesn't stink. Doesn't need its pocket.

This concludes my test report on the Sitka Core Zip T. I'd like to thank the manufacturer and for allowing me to participate in this test.

Read more reviews of Sitka Gear gear
Read more gear reviews by Andre Corterier

Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Sitka Gear Core Zip T > Test Report by Andre Corterier

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