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Reviews > Clothing > Underwear > Coldpruf Eco Terra Base Layers > Test Report by Brett Haydin
ColdPruf Eco-Terra Base Layers
Test Series by Brett Haydin
Initial Report - December 19, 2012
Field Report - March 19, 2013
Long Term Report -May 28, 2013
I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips in rough, mountainous terrain, although I have extensive experience in the upper Midwest as well. I take one or two longer trips each year, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.
Product Information & SpecificationsManufacturer: Indera Mills Co.
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: www.coldpruf.com
Listed Weight: N/A
Crew Shirt: 7.8 oz (221 g)
Pants: 7.2 oz (204 g)
Size Tested: Large ( available in S/M/L/XL/2XL/3XL)
Color: Loden (green)
Fabric: 30% merino wool; 70% recycled polyester
The ColdPruf Eco-Terra base layer is a 30% merino wool & 70% recycled polyester blend base layer suitable for very cold and high aerobic activity, according to the manufacturer. The base layers come in tops and bottoms and can be purchased separately. They come in a plastic bag (pictured below) with various information printed on the bag.
The Eco-Terra uses a raschel knit, which look like wavy lines when I look really close. This knit creates air pockets to help trap in warm air as part of a layering system. For the crew (top), the collar has a 0.5 in (1.25 cm) ribbed hem that has attractive beige stitching that complements the color of the fabric. The seams are all flat, which I likely will find helps with chafing while wearing a pack. The seams do lay right on top of the shoulder. The cuffs are approximately 2.5 in (6.4 cm) and are made of the same material. They are not especially elastic. One nice touch is that the back of the crew is cut lower than the front; the manufacturer calls this an extended tail! I like this because it will tuck nicely into my pants and likely keep the snow out when I fall snowboarding!
The crew also has an imprinted label on the inside, near the nape of my neck. It states that the product is assembled in Mexico, while the manufacturer's website explains that the materials are all made in the USA. There are instructions on care; most notably that fabric softeners should not be used. Fabric softeners can “impede antimicrobial properties.” The Eco-Terra uses Microban, but I was never aware of this, so it is great to know!
The pants are similarly constructed using the same materials. There is a gusseted crotch and flat seams for comfort. The waistband is elastic and has the ColdPruf name and logo woven into the band. The cuffs are ribbed and are approximately 3 in (7.6 cm) long. Like the crew, there are care instructions imprinted into the interior of the pant. I did find a random, loose thread (pictured at right) next to the imprint.
The fabric is billed as a sustainable one, using recycled PET bottles to make the polyester fiber. The manufacturer also uses a nifty ThermaChoice System to assist consumers in selecting the right product. Each product is labeled according to the warmth and activity level appropriate for its use. In the case on the Eco-Terra it is suitable for very cold and extreme cold while also good for medium and high activity.
It has been a slow start to the winter in Colorado. While it is cold up in the mountains, we have had relatively little snow to kick off the winter season. Still, I was excited to get the layers when I did. I ordered the large sizes based on the sizing chart and they fit perfectly. They are snug, but not restricting.
The pants have a slightly odd fit at first for me. The crotch seems to ride low, but over time it becomes less noticeable. I think that this may be because I have really large calf muscles that make it difficult to pull the legs up all the way. The shirt fits perfectly! The manufacturer labels the sizing as a “True Fit” and I would agree.
I am generally pleased with the craftsmanship. While I did find a loose thread, everything else seems to be good. The intersections of seams are pretty much lined up. The fabric is nice, even against my skin. I don’t like most wool against my skin and prefer merino wool or a blend as a base layer. That said, this is a great product for me and I like the way it feels. It isn’t silky smooth, but it’ll keep me warm, I hope!
Field ConditionsSince receiving the ColdPruf base layers, I have been on four backpacking trips, all of them in Colorado. I have also worn the base layers while snowboarding on four different occasions; one of which involved backcountry snowboarding. The layers have accompanied me on seven day hikes and a number of runs in addition to three mountain bike rides.
My first trip was an overnight hike to summit Shawnee Peak in the Lost Creek Wilderness in Colorado. This 13 mi (21 km) hike, round trip, took me to the top of the 11,917 ft (3,632 m) peak where I camped at 10,660 ft (3,250 m). Elevation gain was a little over 3,000 ft (900 m). I experienced strong winds, some good snowfall of 6 in (15 cm) and temperatures between 10 and 40 F (-12 and 4 C). I wore a jacket over the base layer top, another shirt and occasionally a fleece jacket. I wore a pair of synthetic pants over the pants, with a shell at times because of the wind.
I also went on a two-night hut trip near Leadville, Colorado. We skinned/snowshoed 6 mi (10 km) to Uncle Bud’s Hut and spent the second day backcountry snowboarding, leaving by the same route. Temperatures were anywhere from 5 to 30 F (-15 to -1 C) and we had a mix of sunshine and snow with some moderate to heavy winds. While snowshoeing, I was able to enjoy wearing just the base layer at times.
My final trip was a short overnight up towards Pikes Peak via the standard Barr Trail. I enjoyed staying at the Barr Camp the last trip I took, but this time I slept indoors rather than out. The weather was snowy, and temperatures hovered around 20 F (-4 C). Barr Camp is approximately 6.5 mi (10.5 km) from the trail head in Manitou Springs. Elevation gain is 3,800 ft (1,160 m), and the camp elevation is 10,200 feet (3,109 meters).
My many other activities for the most part took place in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Temperatures and conditions mirrored the conditions I experienced throughout the test.
ObservationsOverall I am pleased with the Eco-Terra base layers. They have done an incredible job keeping me warm despite some frigid nights. Surprisingly, I don't mind wearing them in moderate weather, and was comfortable up to about 40 F (4 C), provided I was not engaged in highly-aerobic activity. For example, on my trip up to Uncle Bud's Hut, I was able to wear just the top without any insulation. I had to take off my fleece vest, even! And when the weather was foul, wearing the base layer underneath an insulated shell (pictured above) was all I needed with windy, snowy and cold weather: 20 F (-4 C). However, along the Colorado Trail, with warmer temperatures, there were times that I simply shed the Eco-Terra's and went with a short sleeve synthetic top!
Generally speaking, after getting to camp and getting the tent set up (when I slept in a tent), I would take the base layers off to dry. I like to sleep in my base layers, so it is important that they dry out. I was a little concerned after my first trip, because they did not dry out all the way before I put them back on. However, I was just fine after crawling into my sleeping bag. The temperature dipped to 10 F (-12 C) and I slept in a sleeping bag rated to 0 F (-18 C). Sometimes in weather like this I have to add a layer at night, especially my legs, but I was actually quite cozy. I think that I may have kept my shell on a bit too long which trapped in a little bit more moisture. On subsequent trips, I allowed my body heat to let the moisture evaporate before taking the top off. It is kind of fun watching the steam, by the way!
So far the base layers are quite durable. I haven't seen any signs of them wearing too quickly. The seams appear to be intact. The Eco-Terra is living up to the odor resistant claims as well. I've taken special notice when I get back from a trip and after I clean myself up, I give the layers the "sniff-test," and they smell just fine (to me). Once laundered, they are good as new.
I mentioned that the pants fit funny from the crotch to the waist. To some extent, this problem hasn't gone away. The fit is fine once I get moving, but like the itchy-factor, I notice it just about every time I put them on. Maybe I just like to pull them up farther than the need to be!
Field ConditionsOver the past two months, I have been on another three backpacking trips, two of them overnights with a two night trip as well. This brings my total use to ten nights in the backcountry, along with a dozen day hikes. Nearly all of my trips were in Colorado in the Rocky Mountains.
My first trip over the past two months was to the Colorado Trail, section 3. I hiked in a short ways - just over 1 mi (1.6 km) - and camped. From there, my hiking buddy and I hiked about half the segment before hiking back out to our cars. The conditions were altogether quite nice with sunshine, clear skies and temperatures from about 40 to 65 F (22 to 36 C). Our elevation was between 7,850 and 8,100 ft (2,390 and 2,470 m) along easy subalpine terrain, which means rocky!
My second trip was near Green River, Utah hiking through some slot canyons. We hiked about 17 mi (27 km) over two days through some rugged terrain at times. The conditions were great with low temps only at 45 F (7 C). The terrain here is rocky, sometimes sandy, and the surroundings very peaceful!
My final trip was an overnight to Lake Como, Colorado to hike Little Bear Peak. My friend and I hiked 3 mi (5 km) in to the lake before settling in for the night near the lake at 11,750 ft (3,580 m). Overnight temperatures dipped to about 25 F (-4 C), but the day heated up nicely to about 55 F (13 C), especially by the time we hiked back down to my car! Little Bear Peak tops out at 14,035 ft (4,278 m) and is one of the most challenging "fourteeners" Colorado has. We traveled jeep roads, snow, rock and ice to get to the top but most importantly we made it safe and sound!
ObservationsThe ColdPruf Eco-Terra base layers have proven their worth to me over the past four months. I was a little concerned that the "itchiness" factor would get to me, but it really hasn't bothered me as much. Perhaps the fabric has softened up some after repeated use and washing. There are still moments when I notice the fabric, but most of the time I am quite comfortable.
Durability has been excellent. The base layers are still in great shape with no tears, thin spots or other defects. The seams look like they have a number of hikes left in them as well. They also smell good too! Seriously, there are no lingering odors after washing which is a plus. I've laundered them after each trip, so they have seen the inside of a washing machine enough. They haven't shrunk or faded that I can tell. In fact, one of the only signs of wear is that the labeling that is printed on the inside has started to peel away. I generally expect that of these types of labels.
The ColdPruf Eco-Terra base layers have been incredible companions. I think I will keep them for my winter activities next season. While not the softest fabric I have worn, I really like how they keep me warm compared to other base layers I have used.
Pros: Snug, comfortable, odor resistant and durable.
Cons: A little itchy at times, bottoms fit a little funny.
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