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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Sitka Gear Core Zip T > Test Report by Jason Boyle

Sitka Gear Core Zip T

Test Series

Initial Report – October 21, 2008
Field Report - January 19, 2009
Long Term Report - March 14, 2009

Tester Information:
Name: Jason Boyle
Age: 31
Gender: Male
Height: 5' 6"/ 1.68 m
Weight: 180 lb/ 82 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: Kodiak, Alaska, U. S.

Backpacking Background:
I have been camping and backpacking for about 20 years. My introduction to the outdoors started with the Boy Scouts of America and has continued as an adult. I have hiked all over the Southeastern, Northeastern, and Northwestern United States. I am generally a lightweight hiker, but will carry extras to keep me comfortable. I currently reside on Kodiak Island in Alaska home of some of the worst weather and most beautiful scenery around. I look forward to putting gear through the paces here on the Emerald Isle.

Product Information:
Manufacturer: Sitka Gear
Model: Core Zip T
Size: Medium – 3XL available, XL received
Color: Mothwing Mountain Mimicry, Stone
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Listed weight: 12 oz/340 g (don’t specify size)
Measured weight: 11.2 oz/318 g for an XL
MSRP: $89 US
Fabric: Polartec Powderdry
Country of Manufacture: Made in China

Front view
Back of the shirt Product Description:
The Sitka Core Zip T is a midweight baselayer shirt made of Polartec Powderdry fabric. It has a smooth outer and inner surface with a deep chest zip and a welded pocket on the left shoulder. Both the chest zip and the zipper on the pocket have small zipper pulls that can be grasped while wearing liner gloves. The shirt has three visible Sitka Gear logos – an embroidered logo just below the pocket on the sleeve, a screened logo on the right shoulder and a screened logo on the cuff of the left sleeve. The fabric is supposed to have a special Odor Resistant technology with micro encapsulated pure silver that is supposed to inhibit human scent. The shirt has raglan shoulder seams, which means the seams are positioned in such a way that they won’t be directly underneath the user’s shoulder straps and potentially dig into the user’s shoulders. The neck creates a mock turtleneck when the shirt is completely zipped up. All the seams are flat sewn. The shirt in general has a little bit of stretchiness to the fabric. The shirt has a hemmed cuff in the sleeve.

Initial Impressions:
I think that one of my most important layers in any season is my baselayer. It will determine whether I stay cool in the summer or in this case warm in the winter. I want a shirt that is comfortable to wear, wicks moisture away from me and dries quickly. Hopefully the Sitka Gear Core Zip T will be able to do all three things well. It has actually already accomplished my first concern – comfort. The shirt is super comfortable. I have already worn it several times and the inner fabric is feels good against my skin. It is not scratchy or rough at all. All of the seams are flat and I have not noticed any of them while wearing the shirt. The XL fits my body style in a relaxed manner it isn’t too tight and it doesn’t swallow me up. The sleeves are a little long but with the hemmed cuff the sleeves hang nicely at my wrists.

All of the seams appear to be well constructed with no loose threads or pulls. I am a fairly hot backpacker and I hope that the deep chest zip will help me blow off some steam while I am hiking the hills and mountains here on the Rock. The care instructions for the shirt are pretty simple – machine wash warm, do not bleach, tumble dry low, do not iron, do not dry clean, do not use softener, and wash separately.

We are entering the cold, dark and wet months of winter here on Kodiak Island. I expect to use this shirt while backpacking and day hiking here on the Rock. I expect temperatures to range between 45 F and 25 F (7 C to -4 C) over the next four months and an average of 8 inches (20 cm) of precipitation a month. The shirt should get to experience some pretty fun weather.

Field Report – January 19, 2009

I am very pleased with the performance of this shirt. It does a good job of wicking moisture away from my skin and the long half zip gives me plenty of venting options. The shirt is very comfortable and has done a good job keeping the stink down to a minimum even when I have worn it for multiple days without washing. Right now, I don’t have any negatives to say about the shirt.

Field Conditions:
I have used the shirt on two overnight backpacking trips, a car camping trip, a day hike, and an afternoon of sledding where I drug my 3.5 year old daughter up the hill probably a hundred times. Most of these trips took place in the Monashka Bay region of the island. The trails in this area are basically game trails that have been used by the natives and hunters on the island and are in fairly poor shape. There is some elevation change in this area of Kodiak, but nothing more than several hundred feet at a time since the trails stay fairly close to the shoreline. The temperatures on Kodiak have ranged from 10 F (-12 C) with a -2 F (-19 C) windchill to the upper 30’s F (3 to 4 C). Winds experienced have been from calm to 70 mph (113 kmph). I also used the Core Zip T during a snowshoeing trip to Hatcher Pass in the Talkeetna Range outside of Anchorage on the mainland of Alaska. During this trip, I climbed Skyscraper Mountain, elevation of 4500 feet (1300 m) and the temperature stayed at 20F (-7 C) with winds around 10 mph (16 kmph). In addition to my backpacking trips, I wore the shirt during my 2.6 mile (4.2 km) roundtrip walks to work and during my numerous wood cutting adventures. Overall, I have worn the shirt for a total of 23 days since the Initial Report. I have experienced light and steady rain, snow, high winds, and the occasional clear and sunny day.

I have enjoyed testing this shirt, especially with how comfortable and well the shirt fits me well. The sleeves on the shirt are a little long if pulled all the way down, but the cuffs are small enough that they stop the sleeves naturally just a little past my wrist. The shirt has gotten a bit softer since I have washed it and worn it so much. I have especially enjoyed sleeping in it since it is so comfortable.

I am a sweating machine when backpacking and the shirt has done a good job of wicking moisture away. The only area where I have been able to wet the shirt out is my back while wearing a backpack. I find this to be a common issue with all of my base layers. The long half zip has allowed me to adjust my venting to the climate. When it is windy, I keep the zip almost all the way up, but if I get hot or if the wind is calm I find that I like the zip halfway down or even all the way down to allow more sweat to escape. I have been able to wear the shirt dry by putting on additional layers when I get to camp and it has usually been dry by the time I have went to bed at night.

The shoulder pocket is pretty small but I find that it is the perfect size for me to put my drivers license, a couple of credit cards and my money while hiking. These items fit easily in the pocket and are small enough that I don’t notice them while hiking. I could also fit lip balm or other small items in this pocket if I needed to. The fabric of the shirt seems to be fairly durable. I have worn it busting through brush while backpacking and while carrying and splitting wood for my wood stove with no problems.

One area that I think it has excelled is that it doesn’t trap smells. When I wore it on my walks to work, I wouldn’t wash it for at least a week or sometimes longer and it never retained any body funk. I also wore it for multiple days while splitting and hauling wood which caused me to sweat quite a bit and didn’t have any problems with stink. I haven’t done anything special to wash the shirt. I have just tossed it in with my other laundry for washing and drying and have not had any issues.

As I said in my summary, I am pleased with the shirts performance and don’t have anything negative to say about it. I look forward to continued use during our challenging winter conditions here in Kodiak. This concludes my Field Report.

Long Term Report – March 14, 2009 

Pillar Mtn Snowshoe Trip

Summary: I have been very pleased with the performance of the shirt. It is soft, quiet, comfortable and quite durable. The anti odor function of the shirt works well even when not washed for days at a time and the half zip does a good job of venting heat. The only drawback to this shirt is the cost, $89 is a high price to pay for a base layer. 

Field Conditions: Since my Field Report, I have used the shirt on two day hikes at Ft Abercrombie State Park, a day hike in the Monashka Bay region, a snowshoeing trip on Pillar Mountain and a two night snow camping trip near the base of Pyramid Mountain. In addition to my outdoor experiences, I have worn the shirt for an additional 5 days while walking to and from work. This brings my total days of use to 35 or so. Temperatures ranged from just above freezing to 12 F (-11 C) with wind chill dropping the temperatures to the 4 F (-16 C) range. Winds experienced have been 40 mph (64 km/h) or more with a few calmer days thrown in. I have experienced snow, a winter mix of snow, rain and sleet as well as some normal light rain while wearing the shirt. 

Report: This shirt has been great to test. The best feature to me is how comfortable the shirt is. I feel like I am broken record because I mentioned the comfort of the shirt in my Field Report as well, but it is really comfortable. Another thing I have noticed since my FR, is how quiet the shirt is. The soft fabric doesn’t make any noise while I am moving which may not be important to me when I hike, but it is important to me while hunting. 

I am fairly hard on base layers and I was no different with this one, but unlike some of my other base layers, the Core Zip T looks brand new. The breathability of the shirt has continued to be good. The fabric is light enough that it lets sweat out and lets wind through. As expected it doesn’t provide any significant protection from the elements, but has proven to be durable. I have worn this shirt by itself while busting through brush and carrying wood with no negative results. I have also washed the shirt probably 10+ times since I received it and the shirt still looks good. The color still looks new and the washings haven’t caused the shirt to pill or fray. All of the seams are still in good shape with no loose threads or fraying. 

Based on my experience with the shirt, I find that I can wear the shirt by itself while hiking and backpacking in temperatures close to freezing as long as there isn’t much of a breeze. If the wind picks up, I need to add a shell to block the wind. If the temperature drops below freezing then I find that I need to add some sort of light insulating layer to keep warm. 

The only negative thing that I can come up with for the shirt is the cost. Eighty-Nine dollars is a bit steep for a baselayer, even a real nice one. This concludes my Long Term Report. Thanks to and Sitka Gear for allowing me to participate in this test.

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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Sitka Gear Core Zip T > Test Report by Jason Boyle

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