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Reviews > Clothing > Underwear > Duofold Mid Weight Dri-release Pant > Test Report by Larry Kirschner

Duofold Men's Mid Weight Dri-release Wool Pants

TEST SERIES BY LARRY KIRSCHNER
Duofold 390B Ankle Length Pants
(Image Courtesy of Duofold)


INITIAL REPORT - November 12, 2008
FIELD REPORT - January 21, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - March 25, 2009



TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Larry Kirschner
EMAIL: asklarry98 at hotmail dot com
AGE: 43
LOCATION: Columbus, OH
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I've been an intermittent camper/paddler since my teens, but now that my kids are avid Boy Scouts, I've caught the backpacking bug. I typically do 8-10 weekend hikes per year, and have spent time over the past 2 years backpacking at the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico and canoeing the Atikaki wilderness in Manitoba. I like to travel "in comfort", so I used to pack heavy, but I've progressed down to medium weight, and continue to work toward going lighter and longer. With all of my investment into these ventures, I expect my wife and I will continue to trek long after the kids are gone…


INITIAL REPORT
November 11, 2008

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Duofold
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Country of Manufacture: China
Manufacturer's Website: www.duofold.com
Model: Duofold Varitherm 390 Series Men's Mid Weight Dri-release Wool Ankle Length Pants (Model 390B)
MSRP: USD $39

Size tested: Men's Large
Listed weight: Not provided
Measured weight: 178 g/6.3 oz
Color: Black (Other colors available: None)


ITEM DESCRIPTION

The Duofold Series 390 garments are mid-weight wool-based baselayers designed to provide significant warmth for athletic activities during cold weather.

These are single-layer mid-weight garments constructed from 84% polyester, 11% merino wool, and 5 % Spandex. Duofold calls this mixture "dri-release" wool, and claims that it dries 4 times faster than regular wool, providing "optimum moisture control". The fabric has Spandex throughout, so that all parts of the pants are equally stretchy. The fabric also contains the FreshGuard odor protection system, but I was unable to locate any specific information about this product.

flatlock seams The Ankle Length pants (or the 390B) are baselayer leggings, i.e. long underwear. Like other Duofold items, these pants have no tags. Instead, the Duofold logo is printed with the size and washing instructions on the inside back of the pants, in the location where a tag would normally be found. The pants are made with 'flatlock seams' which is a manufacturing technique in which the various pieces are joined without a visibly redundant piece of fabric, as might be seen in a typical seam. A photo of example flatlock seams from the Duofold Zip Mock Shirt is shown at right, but the seams on the pants are essentially identical. Unlike other long underwear bottoms I have owned, this one has a string tie at the waist. Although the pants are tight enough that I really don't need to worry about them falling down, this is still a nice feature. The Duofold logo is placed unobtrusively near the left ankle, as shown in the photo at the top.

drawstring waist drawstring and label

INSTRUCTIONS

Washing instructions for Duofold are printed both on the pants and on the packaging. This item can be machine washed in cold water and tumbled dry on the low setting. No-no's for the pants include bleach, fabric softener, and ironing.

Duofold label

TRYING THEM OUT

I tried on the pants to make sure that I had the correct size. They are form-fitting, much like other types of long underwear I have worn in the past. They are a bit stretchy due to the Lycra, but are quite comfortable. They have a drawstring band at the top of the pants, which, according to Duofold, provides moisture wicking. I think that any larger size would start to get baggy, so I feel comfortable that this is the proper size for my build. The fabric itself is rather soft to the touch, and I could definitely see wearing this as a baselayer on the trail or in my sleeping bag.

Due to some fortunate timing, I have already had the chance to test out the Varitherm pants on the trail. I took them with me on a weekend trip to the Clifton Gorge, located in Clifton, OH. I hiked about 7.5 miles on the gorge trail carrying a day pack with food, water, a rain shell and an extra heavyweight fleece. The temperature started out around 40 F (4 C) and reached a high around 48 F (8 C) during the day. I wore the pants under a pair of lightweight hiking pants while on the trail and the rest of the day as well. With this combination, I found that my legs were plenty warm without overheating. Even when stopping for a break, I never had any problems with my lower body feeling cold. At the end of the hike, the pants were cool and dry. I wore the pants the rest of the afternoon and evening because they were comfortable and kept me warm. As soon as I woke up the next morning, I put the pants back on, as the temperature had fallen back to around 40 F (4 C) and the stove in the cabin had burned down.

EXPECTATIONS FOR THE DUOFOLD VARITHERM MID-WEIGHT PANTS

Having worn Duofold long underwear in the past, I expected a comfortable and warm pair of baselayer pants that will last on the trail. So far, I have not been disappointed.


TEST PLAN

The timing of this test is perfect, as I will continue to take the Duofold Varitherm Mid-Weight Ankle Length Pants on my upcoming winter camping trips. It is already in the low 40's F (4-6 C) here in Ohio, and I hear it will be a cold and snowy winter, which will be perfect for testing. Given how comfortable these pants are to wear, I am looking forward to wearing it again on the trail, and at other times when I just want to be warm!

THE STORY SO FAR:

Impressive:

  • Comfortable
  • Provides good warmth
  • Stretchy without being overly tight or clingy
Concerns:
  • None at the moment

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FIELD REPORT

January 21, 2009


FIELD CONDITIONS

Over the course of the Field Report, I have worn the Duofold Varitherm Mid-Weight pants for a total of about 6 days, in addition to the days I described during my Initial report. I wore the pants on a weekend trip in mid-December to Dayton, Ohio. I spent most of the weekend in a cabin, but did have time for a 3 mi (5 km) hike in about 2 inches of snow in temperatures around 30 F (-1 C). I have had two outings in January, both of which involved some cabin camping and some hiking. The first was a weekend at a Boy Scout camp in Newark, Ohio which included about 2-2.5 miles (3-4 km) of hiking. It was snowy and cold, with temperatures around 25 F (-4 C) outside most of the weekend. The cabin in which I stayed was rustic with heat provided by a fireplace on either end of the cabin. Although my pack thermometer is currently out of commission, I estimate it was probably about 50 F (10 C) in the cabin the first night, with indoor temperatures on the second day in the low-60's F (16-18 C). This past weekend, I was out again in Ray, OH. The temperatures were quite cold, with temperatures as low as 1 F (-17 C) and as high as 18 F (-8 C) outside. This also involved a modest amount of hiking, probably in the range of 3-4 miles (5-6 km). I was again sleeping in a heated cabin, but the electricity went out overnight, and I estimate the temperatures got down to the mid 30's F (2-4 C) by the time the electricity returned.

In addition to these outdoor experiences, I also wore the pants underneath lightweight wind-resistant nylon pants to a football game (American football) I attended in Cincinnati, OH. This was a cool day with temperatures in the low 50's F (10-12 C) during the day. I spent about 4 -5 hours outdoor that day, including lots of walking around to get to the stadium. I have also worn the pants while shoveling snow in my driveway, an exercise which typically takes an hour or two, in temperatures in the 20's F (-6 to -1 C).


FIELD EXPERIENCE

Over the past two months, I have worn the Duofold pants as a baselayer under other pants in conditions ranging from cool to sub-freezing. On my trip in December (outside temperatures around freezing, inside temperature >65 F/18 C), they were great when I was outside. However, when I came inside, my legs eventually got too hot, so I took them off and did not sleep in them. The second weekend on which I wore the pants was colder. Again, the Duofold did a great job as I was hiking through the snow. The cabin where I stayed was cool, so I wore the pants when I got into my sleeping bag. I was sleeping near the fireplace, and eventually got too hot, exchanging the Duofold for a pair of lightweight cotton pants. When I was not physically in my sleeping bag, it was cold enough in the cabin that I wore the pants the entire weekend, and they did a good job of keeping me comfortable. Even though I probably would have been warm enough without them, they were comfortable and I did not feel as though my legs were overheating. On my last two trips, it was substantially colder, and I wore the pants around the clock for the weekend, including while sleeping. I was especially glad I had done this when the power went out over night and the cabin temperature dropped overnight. When I wore the pants to the football game, they kept me comfortable despite the cool weather and the fact I was not moving around all that much.

The pants fit snugly, making it easy to tuck the bottoms into my hiking socks. In the colder weather, they are quite nice for sleeping, and it saves me the worry of jumping out of my bag with nothing on my legs. I confess that I have not tried them when the temperatures were expected to be over 50 F (10 C), as this is almost warm enough for me to wear shorts.

Overall, I have found the pants quite comfortable, and I am perfectly happy to wear them all day, except when I feel my legs getting too warm. When I am exerting myself in the cold weather, I do not feel that my legs are overheating to the point of sweating, which is something I was concerned about. I do not feel any noticeable perspiration, which suggests to me that the pants are wicking well. Even after wearing them for 2-3 days straight, I have not noticed any significant odor, which is always a plus.


WEAR AND TEAR

With the wear that the Duofold has gotten, I have washed it about 4 times now. This has had no adverse effects on the pants. They still fit properly with a good amount of stretch, and I have not noticed any loose threads, pilling, or any other significant signs of wear.


SUMMARY OF THE FIELD REPORT

To date, the Duofold Mid-Weight pants have shown themselves to form a high-quality baselayer for the cold weather. They keep me warm on the inside without making me overheat, and they are comfortable enough to wear for sleeping when the weather is cool. Now that I am somewhat used to them, I will continue to wear them for sleeping and see if the warmer weather bothers me less.


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LONG-TERM REPORT
March 25, 2009

FIELD CONDITIONS

During the Long-term report phase of the test, my backpacking and camping has been pretty limited, as February was an extremely busy month for non-backpacking activities. I did manage to get out for a 2-day/1night trip to Newark, OH, which involved spending time outside with the Boy Scouts, and a small amount of backpacking. I spent the night in a heated cabin. The temperatures during the day ranged from a low of 30 F (-1 C) to a high of 45 F (8 C). The cabin where I slept was about 60 F (15 C) overnight.

This brings my usage of the Duofold Varitherm pants up to a total of 10 days during the course of the test. As noted, most of these were weekend trips on which I wore the pants the entire time from when I left home until I returned.


FIELD EXPERIENCE

When I was outside trekking around during the day, I wore the Duofold pants under a pair of lightweight zip-off pants. Despite the fact that it was rather chilly out, I was plenty warm under those conditions. I did not change when I was inside the cabin, and remained comfortable without overheating. As on previous winter trips when I wore the Duofold pants, I slept in them, using my Slumberjack Vertex sleeping bag (see my review of that item for a discussion of the temperature rating for that bag). I slept with the zipper open most of the night, but even with the moderate outside temperatures, I was really too warm. I like being cool when I sleep so I was a little uncomfortable. However, I was also too lazy to get up and take the pants off, and ended up sleeping reasonably well despite this. Overall, I wore the pants non-stop for the 2 days.

On returning home, I washed the pants again, making for about 5 trips through the washer/dryer during the test. I re-checked the pants before I wrote this report, and although they are showing a little bit of stretching to meet my body shape, there are no other obvious defects. I am unable to find any pulling of the fabric, and the seams are in pristine conditions.

SUMMARY

Overall, I really liked the Duofold Men's Mid Weight Dri-release Wool Pants. They are quite warm and comfortable enough to wear non-stop for a weekend. Like the corresponding top, these pants have an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio. I also like the fact that I can crush them or roll them into a corner of my pack without any problem. I expect that the Duofold pants will become a staple of my backpacking kit in the fall and winter. Because they are comfortable and durable, I can also see them getting a fair amount of use for other types of outdoor activity during the wintertime, such as skiing, shoveling snow, and so forth. I will probably not sleep in them unless it is nice and chilly outside.

Things I liked about the Varitherm pants:
  • Warm and comfortable for cold-weather activities
  • Excellent durability
  • Good odor resistance
  • Good warmth-to-weight ratio
Things I disliked about the Varitherm pants:
  • Too hot to sleep in unless it is quite cold outside

This concludes my report on the DuoFold Men's Mid Weight Dri-release Wool Pants. My thanks once again to Duofold for providing this equipment for testing, and to BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in the evaluation process.

-larry kirschner

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