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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Sitka Gear Traverse Shirt > Test Report by Nathan Kettner

SITKA GEAR TRAVERSE SHIRT
TEST SERIES BY NATHAN KETTNER
LONG-TERM REPORT
March 14, 2009

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Nathan Kettner
EMAIL: kettnernw "at" yahoo "dot" com
AGE: 31
LOCATION: Colorado Springs, Colorado
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 1" (1.85 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79.40 kg)

I'm a medium weight backpacker, meaning my pack usually weighs 30-35 lb (13-16 kg), and I generally hike a moderate pace and mostly in mountainous terrain. I almost always use a tent (lightweight when backpacking, wall tent when hunting). I'm a weekend backpacker and make lots of day trips and single night outings, plus a few week-long backpack trips. All of my outings have been in the beautiful and rugged Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming since I started backpacking in 2004.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Sitka Mountain Gear
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://sitkagear.com
MSRP: US$ 99.00
Listed Weight: 9 1/8 oz (269 g)
Measured Weight: 9 1/2 oz (260 g)
Size Tested: Large
Color Tested: Ash (also available in Mothwing Mountain Mimicry)

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The shirt arrived in a box of ample size with a clear bag containing the shirt. There was also a shipping form and a return form with instructions and a cut-out return label in case a return was necessary. In my case, I was able to try this shirt on at a local dealer before ordering, so I was confident the shirt would fit and was already familiar with the feel of the fabric, which is very soft inside and out, and comfortably stretchy.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The typical advertisement/information cards were attached to the shirt, but were easily removed. They contain some useful information such as the intended use of the shirt, which is as an insulation layer between a "core system" and the Nimbus Series, which is Sitka's outer layer.

The care instructions say: "Machine wash warm, do not bleach, tumble dry low, do not iron, do not dryclean, do not use softener. Wash separately." Which all seem pretty standard and easy to follow, except for the washing separately part.

TRYING IT OUT

I wore the shirt with nothing under it around the house, but quickly became too warm. I got the feeling that if I wore an undershirt, it would have to be really cold and/or windy outside before I would be comfortable in this shirt. I tried wearing the shirt with my thumbs in the thumbholes provided, which is almost certainly a good way to keep from losing my body heat, but I'm not sure I'll get used to that feeling of tension on my palm.

The chest pocket is rather small - too small for a wallet, but big enough for some cash or a couple credit cards or some other small items that I want to hold close.

There is a piece on the bottom of the back that is the same stretchy black material as the cuffs, but I'm not sure exactly what the intended purpose is. Maybe it will become apparent after some use.

IMAGE 1
Traverse Front

IMAGE 2
Traverse Back

TESTING STRATEGY

I intend to test this shirt on my upcoming elk hunting trip in northern Colorado's Routt National Forest and on a snowshoeing hut trip in Colorado as well. The average temperature will vary significantly, from lows
near 10 Degrees Fahrenheit (-12 Degrees Celsius) to highs near 70 Degrees Fahrenheit (21 Degrees Celsius), with elevations from 6,300 - 13,500 Feet (1,920 - 4,100 Meters) above sea level. I will wear the Traverse Shirt while hiking up to 12 miles (19 km) over broken terrain (I don't spend too much time on trails while hunting) each day of the hunt and my snowshoe trips usually cover about 5 miles (8 km) each day.

SUMMARY

So far, I like the feel of this shirt and can't wait to put it through its paces.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I wore the Traverse shirt over a base layer of polyester for five days of hiking around Independence Mountain in northern Colorado in mid-October. Base camp was at 9,000 ft (2,400 m) and most of my hiking was slightly below that altitude. Temperatures were unusually warm, reaching the upper 50's F (10 C) during the day, but dipped to about 20 F (-7 C) on two of the colder mornings. Since I spent most of my time hiking cross country. I can't say for sure how many miles I covered, but it was easily 5 miles (8 km) each day and possibly as much as 12 miles (19 km) on my more ambitious days.

Since then I've worn the shirt for 2 one-day outings; once to go sledding with my kids and once to go cut our Christmas tree. Both of these days saw temps hovering around freezing, although the sledding day was much windier.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I think the Traverse shirt performed very well. During my 5 day hunting trip I did not have a washing machine handy, of course, and although I changed by undershirt each day, I was pleasantly surprised to have never caught a scent of myself. As for warmth, it was great. Once the temperature was above freezing, I stuffed my parka in my backpack and wore just the Traverse shirt with my baselayer and was comfortably warm as long as I was moving.

During the sledding outing, the wind was stiff enough, maybe 15 mph (24 km/h) that the Traverse shirt would not have been sufficient with just a baselayer. However, a parka was required just to keep the snow out, because the Traverse shirt is not waterproof.

My only complaint, and a minor one at that, is that the Traverse shirt did have some pilling (that's the correct word according to my part-time seamstress, ie wife). It is somewhat difficult to pick out in the photo below, but it is a close-up of the top of the shoulder and you can see where some of the fabric has balled-up on the surface. It was most noticeable in the areas where the shirt was rubbed by my backpack straps.

IMAGE 1

Lastly, I wanted to mention that I'm still not a huge fan of the cuffs that come up over my palms and are held in place by the thumb hole. The design seems to keep heat in well and prevents my wrist from being exposed to the cold, but the extra bulk and tension around my hand, especially inside gloves, is mildly annoying.

SUMMARY

I like the Traverse shirt so far because of its scent blocking and its warmth. On the downside, the pilling makes the shirt slightly less attractive and I'm still undecided about the cuffs.

This concludes my Field Report. The Long Term Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Since I filed my Field Report, I've had the pleasure of wearing the Sitka Traverse shirt on many cold days around town, but most interestingly, I wore it on two snowshoeing trips. The first trip was in the Lost Creek Wilderness of central Colorado where the trail starts at about 8,000 ft (2400 m). A friend and I ascended just over 2,000 ft (600 m) in 5 hours of steady climbing in nearly untouched snow and temperatures in the 20's F (-6 to -1 C). We took turns breaking trail, but the sweat factor was high whether I was in the lead or not.
IMAGE 1
Lost Creek Wilderness, Colorado


The second snowshoe trip was an overnight hut trip near Aspen, Colorado. That trailhead was at 8,700 ft (2650 m) and we climbed 2,600 ft (800 m) and covered 6 miles (10 km) in about 7 hours. That hike was a real challenge, not only because of the elevation gain, distance covered, weight carried, and steep sidehills, but because the warm temperatures (40's F, 4-10 C) made the snow stick to our snowshoes, making every step a real workout.
IMAGE 2
Near Aspen, Colorado

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

On my snowshoe trips, the only time I realized how much I was sweating was when I took my backpack off and the wind could get to my sweat-soaked back. The rest of my upper body stayed pleasantly dry and relatively warm because of the wicking properties of the Traverse shirt combined with a long-sleeve polyester undershirt. During a good workout in near-freezing temperatures, the Traverse shirt provided the ideal amount of insulation and a moisture wicking material to keep me dry and comfortable.

I also came to appreciate the small zipper pocket on the left breast. It is ideal for keeping my small digital camera or a pair of sunglasses handy. My only regret is that there isn't another one on the right breast.

As I reviewed the instructions while writing this report I have to admit that I did not follow the "Wash Separately" directions. I machine-washed the shirt along with the rest of my laundry. That may account for some of the pilling, which has only gotten worse in the past two months, but I think most of the pilling is due to being worn frequently with a backpack and getting scratched at by tree branches along the trails. Again, this is a very minor complaint for me, as I care little about my appearance while enjoying nature and the pilling has very little or no impact on the functionality of the shirt.

Lastly, I find it difficult to measure the odor protection qualities of clothing, so I will only say that the Traverse shirt is at least as good at preventing unwanted odor as any other garment I've used.

SUMMARY

The Sitka Traverse shirt met or exceeded all my expectations for comfort, warmth, and odor protection and except for the pilling, it seems to handle many cycles of wearing and washing very well. I'm not crazy about the cuffs with the thumbhole as they are not very comfortable for me, and I never really did figure out what the patch of material on the bottom of the back of the shirt was for, but it certainly did not detract from the shirt's overall comfort and utility.

CONTINUED USE

I expect that I will wear the Traverse shirt on many hiking, hunting, and backpacking trips in the future. It's light weight and comfort make it ideal for anytime I expect to encounter cool temperatures.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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