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

Duofold Mid Weight Dri-release Wool Zip Mock Shirt

TEST SERIES BY LARRY KIRSCHNER
Varitherm 390C Zip Mock Shirt
(Image Courtesy of Duofold)


INITIAL REPORT - November 11, 2008
FIELD REPORT - January 20, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - March 25, 2000



TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Larry Kirschner
EMAIL: asklarry98 at hotmail dot com
AGE: 44
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 backpacking at the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico and canoeing the Atikaki wilderness in Manitoba. I like to travel "in comfort", but I've progressed down to mid-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 Mid Weight Dri-release Wool Zip Mock Shirt (Model 390C)
MSRP: USD $44

Size tested: Men's Large
Listed weight: Not provided
Measured weight: 216 g/7.6 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 shirt 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 Zip Mock shirt (or the 390C) is a combination of a ¼-zip T shirt and a mock turtleneck. The zipper has fine teeth, so that when the zipper is all the way up, the zipper track is barely noticeable. Like other Duofold items, this shirt has no tags. The Duofold logo is printed with the size and washing instructions on the inside back of the shirt, in the location where a tag would normally be found. A close up of this is shown under the 'Instructions' section. The shirt is 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 the seams at the shoulder is shown at right.

Zip Mock Collar closed and open

Consistent with its use as winter wear, the shirt has long sleeves which end in thumb loops. The Duofold logo is also printed on the outside of the left sleeve near the wrist, which can be seen in the photo at the top of the report. The shirt is also reported to have a drop tail, which means it is slightly longer in the back than in the front. It is also reported to have "a storm flap", although I am not sure exactly what this means.
bottom of DuoFold shirt

INSTRUCTIONS

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

TRYING IT OUT

I tried on the 390C to make sure that I had the correct size. It fits much more snugly than my older Duofold shirt, consistent with the use of Lycra in the fabric. Even though it is rather form-fitting, it was not uncomfortably tight. I think that any size larger 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. The thumb loops are kind of cool and prevent the fabric of the arms from bunching. I normally really dislike wearing anything on my neck, but even when the 390C was fully zipped, it was not uncomfortable. The mock turtleneck comes about half-way up on my neck, so there is a free area above it. The zipper moved easily up and down, even when I had the shirt on

Due to some fortunate timing, I have already had the chance to test out the Varitherm on the trail. I took the shirt 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 shirt the rest of the day, although I did not sleep in it because the cabin where I was staying had warmed up quite nicely from its wood stove. When I woke up the next morning, I put the Varitherm back on, as the stove had gone out, and the temperature had fallen back into the mid 40's F (4-8 C). As can be seen in the photo below, I wore the Varitherm shirt under a t-shirt while on the trail. When I started out, I wore this under a lightweight fleece, but as the hike progressed and the temperatures went up (a little), I found I didn't need the fleece. I started out with the neck zipper all the way up, but as I warmed up, I unzipped it so my neck could breathe. I didn't use the thumb loops because I was warm enough without them. Each time we stopped for more than a few minutes, I put the fleece back on as I cooled off rapidly. At the end of the hike, the shirt remained dry and I felt no rubbing from my pack. I wore the shirt the rest of the afternoon and evening because it felt nice and kept me warm.
DuoFold shirt on the trail

EXPECTATIONS FOR THE DUOFOLD VARITHERM MID-WEIGHT ZIP MOCK SHIRT

Having worn Duofold shirts in the past, I expected a comfortable and warm shirt that will last on the trail. So far, I can say that 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 Zip Mock shirt 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 this shirt is 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
  • Zip neck allows easy adjustment of warmth at the neck
Concerns:
  • No major ones at the moment, although I wish the shirt came in other colors

This concludes my Initial Report on the Duofold Men's Mid Weight Dri-release Wool Zip Mock Shirt. Please check back in about 2 months for my Field Report on this item.

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FIELD REPORT

January 20, 2009


FIELD CONDITIONS

Over the course of the Field Report, I have worn the DuoFold Varitherm Top for a total of about 8 days, in addition to the 2 days I had described during my Initial report. I wore the shirt 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). Next, I had a business trip in mid-December to Half Moon Bay, California, and was able to arrange an extra day of the trip, which I spent hiking up the beach and back, covering about 7 miles (11+ km) all together. It was sunny and just a little cool, with temperatures that day near 60 F (15 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 closer to 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 shirt 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 spend about 4 -5 hours outdoors that day, including lots of walking around to get to the stadium. I have also worn the shirt 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 shirt as my baselayer in conditions ranging from mild to sub-freezing. In general, when I have worn it, I have kept it on for the entire weekend, including hiking, hanging around, and sleeping. I have found the Duofold to be exceedingly comfortable, and I have actually gotten quite used to sleeping in the shirt. Even when I am scrunched up in my warm sleeping bag, I do not feel that I am overheating.

Contemplaint my next Report As to how the shirt functions in the outdoors, I found it quite comfortable to wear by itself while hiking in temperatures above the mid-40's F (8 C), and I did not feel overly warm, even with temperatures near 60 F (15 C) at Half Moon Bay (shown at right). I take these observations to mean that the Duofold is good at wicking. When temperatures were between about 35 and 45 F (2-8 C), I wore the Duofold comfortably with just a fleece on top. Below that required 2 fleeces or a fleece and a winter jacket. Anyway, my point is that the Duofold provides good warmth for a baselayer. I also did not feel like I was overheating when I was exerting myself in the cold weather, such as the cold weather hiking or while shoveling snow.

Although I like having the zip neck, I rarely use this feature, preferring to keep the zipper open most of the time. I also find that I usually wear the sleeves at regular length, without using the loops for my thumbs. I find that I don't need the loops because the shirt stays in place on my wrists even without them. On the one occasion when I used the loops, it kept the bottom of my shirt anchored beyond my wrist, but I didn't really notice much of a difference.


WEAR AND TEAR

With the wear that the Duofold has gotten, I have washed it about 5 times now. This has had no adverse effects on the shirt, and I have not noticed any loose threads, pulling, or any other significant signs of wear.


FIELD IMPRESSIONS

To date, the Duofold Mid-Weight zip mock shirt has shown itself to be a high-quality baselayer for the cold weather. It keeps me warm on the inside without making me overheat, and is warm enough to be worn as a single layer when the weather is more temperate. It is also quite comfortable, so that I really like wearing it when I know I will be out in the cold or when I'm curling up in my sleeping bag. The only issue that I have had so far with the shirt is that sometimes the bottom comes untucked from my pants. For this reason, I wish it were just a bit longer in front.


This concludes my Field Report on the Duofold Men's Mid Weight Dri-release Wool Zip Mock Shirt. Please check in back in about 2 months for my final report on this item.



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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.


FIELD EXPERIENCE

When I was outside trekking around during the day, I wore the Duofold with a T-shirt and a winter jacket, and I was plenty warm under those conditions. When I was inside the cabin, I was quite comfortable just wearing the Duofold, which mirrors my experience hiking outside in California with temperatures in the 50's F (12-15 C). I slept in the shirt in 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, and enjoyed a very cozy night. Overall, I wore the shirt non-stop for the 2 days.

On returning home after the two days, I washed the shirt again, making for about 6 trips through the washer/dryer during the test. I re-checked the shirt before I wrote this report, and although the shirt shows a little bit of stretching to meet my body shape, there are no other obvious defects. I am unable to find any loose threads or any pilling of the shirt fabric, and the seams are in pristine conditions.

SUMMARY

Overall, I really liked the Duofold Men's Mid Weight Dri-release Wool Zip Mock Shirt. It is warm and comfortable, with an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio. I also like the fact that I can crush it and stuff it in a corner of my pack without any problem. I expect that this Duofold shirt will become a staple of my backpacking kit in all seasons except high summer.

Things I liked about the Varitherm shirt:
  • Warm and comfortable, even for sleeping
  • Excellent durability
  • High collar keeps neck warm but zipper works well for breathability in warmer temps
Things I disliked about the Varitherm shirt:
  • Wish it came in colors other than black
  • Found that I never used the thumb loops as my wrists stayed plenty warm

This concludes my report on the Duofold Men's Mid Weight Dri-release Wool Zip Mock Shirt. 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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