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Reviews > Clothing > Underwear > Duofold Mid Weight Dri-release Pant > Test Report by David Wyman

Duofold Varitherm Mid Weight Dri Release Wool Bottom
Test Series by David Wyman

Image from manufacturers website
Image from manufacturers website



Test Phases:

Initial Report - November 17, 2008

Field Report - January 20, 2009

Long Term Report - March 23, 2009



Tester Information

NAME David Wyman
EMAIL wyman(AT)wymanhq(DOT)com
AGE 30
LOCATION Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
GENDER Male
HEIGHT 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT 175 lb (79.40 kg)


While I've been camping for years, I've only been backpacking for a short time. I'm trying to find the right equipment, alternating between tent and hammock. My dog usually comes along on the longer hikes, and my wife and toddler join me on the shorter ones. I tend to carry more gear that I need resulting in a heavier pack, but I'm working on that. When I hike with my dog and/or my wife and son, we take it a bit slower, stopping frequently to enjoy the forest. I rarely hike fast unless I'm trying to make up time.



Initial Report - November 17, 2008

Product Information

Full view of bottom

Manufacturer Duofold
Website http://www.duofold.com
Product Varitherm 390B Mid Weight Dri Release Wool Bottom
Size Medium
Year of manufacture 2008
MSRP US $39.00
Weight Listed: Not available
  Measured: 6.2 oz (176 g)
Color Black (only color available)
Fabric 84% polyester/ 11% merino wool/ 5% spandex


The Mid Weight Dri-release Wool Bottom is a mid-weight, ankle-length pant designed for use as a base layer. This bottom is part of their Varitherm collection which emphasizes moisture management, odor protection, and heat retention. The 390 series is the only one that features a fabric containing merino wool, specifically Dri-release® wool with an embedded FreshGuard® treatment. Dri-release® wool claims to be as soft as cotton while wicking moisture away from the skin. The FreshGuard® embedded in the yarn is designed to "virtually eliminate" odor. As I tend to sweat more than average, I'm very interested in seeing how well both the moisture and odor control work as well as how they hold up after being washed.



The waistband contains the drawstring, which is a solid loop of slightly elastic, braided material. The waistband is formed by folding the top of the pants down, over the drawstring, and then stitching both above and below the drawstring. The seams are sewn flatlock and are very well done with no loose threads or stitches. The fabric is billed as 360 degree stretch for maximum flexibility and optimum fit.

Closeup of waistband and seams

The bottom is tagless and screen printed inside is the size, logo, fabric composition, washing instructions, country of manufacture (Made in China), and company information. Washing instructions are to machine wash cold with like colors, do not bleach, no fabric softener, tumble dry low, remove promptly, and do not iron. The left leg has the Duofold logo screen printed on the outside of the ankle.

Initial Impressions

This bottom seems to be very well made, with no problems with any of the seams, stitching, or the string tie in the waistband. Since it is designed to be used as a base layer, I ordered a Medium rather than my normal large - I followed the instructions on the website which indicated a Medium for a men's waist between 32 and 34. The Medium bottom fits very well - it's snug but doesn't feel clingy. The fabric is softer than I anticipated and, after wearing it around the house for a bit, it seems to hold heat fairly well without feeling itchy.

I will be doing several day hikes as well as at least two multi-day backpacking trips this winter and I will be looking to see:
  • how well the moisture control and odor protection work, both while hiking and after several trips through the washing machine
  • does the bottom remain comfortable and continue to fit well over time and does it restrict movement at all
  • do the seams work well under other layers
  • does the waistband really control moisture as well as advertised
  • does the material stay in place or does it slide up the legs while hiking



Field Report - January 20, 2009

Field Performance

Winters in Southwestern Pennsylvania are always interesting and this one is no different. With temperatures ranging from highs near 70 F (21 C) to lows around -10 F (-23 C), the Duofold pants have received quite a range of testing. I was able to squeeze in three day hikes in the Laurel Highlands (mostly Ohiopyle State Park) and a two night trip in Raccoon Creek State Park.

The end of November found me on a 4 mile (6 km) hike in the Laurel Highlands. The temperature hovered around 40 F (4 C) the entire time and the trails were in decent shape - very little mud considering the random rain and snow that the area received. The Duofold pants were used as a base layer beneath my hiking pants and I had expected to be a little on the cool side which would have been perfect for the quick pace I was planning on setting. After 30 minutes though, I was noticeably warmer than expected and I actually paused to swap my hiking pants for the rain pants I had in my backpack. This cooled me off just enough to stop the sweating and the rest of the hike was incredibly comfortable.

With Christmas falling on a Thursday, I had a nice 5 day weekend and took full advantage of it. My dog accompanied me on a 3 day, 2 night trip to Raccoon Creek State Park. We did the 20 mile (32 km) Raccoon Loop trail along with several small off-trail hikes. The weather was excellent: Friday was a bit chilly and damp, ranging from around 50 F (10 C) during the day down to 20 F (-7 C) at night while Saturday and Sunday were dry and temperatures were closer to 65 F (18 C) during the day and 50 F (10 C) at night. While hiking, I wore the Duofold pants under very lightweight hiking pants and I was tempted at times to take the hiking pants off - the Duofold layer kept me warm enough on its own. I left them on just to protect the Duofold pants from catching on brush while I was hiking. Overnight found me wearing the Duofold pants to bed and I ended up only needing my sleeping bag as a quilt. After three days of hiking and sleeping, the pants still didn't feel itchy but, despite the FreshGuard treatment, they were starting to pick up a slight odor.

I was able to fit two day hikes in during January, both in Ohiopyle State Park. The first one had similar temperatures and weather as the November hike with consistently good performance by the Duofold pants. The second hike was a colder and wetter hike with temperatures around 20 F (-7 C) and 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) of snow. I layered the Duofold pants under warm hiking pants and rain pants. I was actually too warm during this hike and, unfortunately, I wasn't able to remove any layers as they were needed for warmth and moisture protection. I found myself sweating quite a bit but this wasn't as much of a problem as the Duofold pants kept wicking the moisture away and keeping my legs feeling dry and comfortable.

Summary

Despite containing only 11% wool, the Duofold pants worked remarkably well under the various weather/temperature ranges and they actually kept me warmer and drier than anticipated. The spandex kept them snug against my legs and prevented them from sliding up as I walked - they did feel a bit constricting, but much less so than other base layer pants. Despite several trips through the washer and dryer, the spandex stayed elastic and they didn't seem to lose any of their moisture or odor control. Hopefully this will continue as I plan on wearing these quite a bit over the next two months.



Long Term Report - March 23, 2009

February and March found me busier than usual which meant that, unfortunately, I was only able to get in one overnight trip. A five mile (8 km) hike out on Saturday and then back on Sunday. The weather was warm, temperatures ranged a bit above and below 55 F (13 C) and, while there was little precipitation, the wind was pretty intense. I'm glad I brought my tent rather than my hammock. The Varitherm pants worked out well and kept my legs from feeling clammy or sticky and the drawstring wasn't noticeable, even under a heavy, shifting pack.

In addition to the one overnight trip, I was able to get away for quite a few day hikes (at least 10 - I lost count) in North Park, a local park with many miles of wooded trails. Several of them were just me and my dog and they were usually a bit chilly - temperatures were usually in between 30 and 40 F (-1 and 5 C) - and mostly sunny weather. For these trips, I left the pack at home and wore the Varitherm pants either by themselves or, if it was cold enough, under mid-weight pants. This seemed to be the ideal environment for the pants - no rain gear meant that the sweat that the pants wicked away wasn't trapped and, as a result, the outer layer stayed dry as well.

Summary

After numerous hikes covering 18 days and 3 nights, I'm very happy with the performance of the Varitherm pants. They are very comfortable while hiking and especially nice with a pack. The drawstring works well under a hip belt and doesn't feel uncomfortable. After several trips through the wash, the pants' odor protection has held up and they do not have the typical retained odor that I've come to expect after this much use with other base layers. I have noticed that the spandex has stretched a small amount but, considering that it felt a bit too tight at the beginning, I am happy with this change.

The only real "dislike" (if it can even be called that) is that the moisture-wicking works almost too well. I could wear the pants all day (and I have) without feeling clammy or sticky, but if I'm wearing them under a second pair of pants and a rain layer, then the rain layer traps more moisture, leaving the middle layer pants wetter than I'd like. This means carrying an additional lower layer to wear if I take the rain layer off and it is still cool out. This isn't an issue for me as I'm not a light-weight backpacker and I usually have one complete change of clothes with me.

I will continue to use the pants and I'm hoping and expecting that they will last for many hikes to come.


Thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Duofold for this opportunity.


Read more reviews of Duofold gear
Read more gear reviews by David Wyman

Reviews > Clothing > Underwear > Duofold Mid Weight Dri-release Pant > Test Report by David Wyman



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