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Reviews > Clothing > Underwear > Kari Traa Tikse Base Layers > Test Report by Christie KimberKari Traa Tikse Base Layers
October 3, 2018
Name: Christie Kimber
Height: 6’0" (183 cm)
Weight: 145 lb (65 kg)
Bust 32 in (81 cm)
Waist: 28 in (71 cm)
Arm Length: 36 in (91 cm)
Email address: christiekimber AT yahoo DOT com
City, State, Country: Courtenay, British Columbia (BC), Canada
Backpacking Background: I started hiking in 2015 when I moved from Saskatchewan to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I started with day hikes and have eventually pushed myself to weekend and even week-long excursions. I am a three-season hiker. That being said, as I gather new gear and develop skills I am pushing my limits to try out 4-season backpacking and mountaineering. Vancouver Island gets a lot of rain and has a moderate climate. I also spend time in interior British Columbia in the Rocky Mountains.
Manufacturer: Kari Traa
Year of Manufacture: 2018
Size Tested: Women’s Medium
Color Tested: not listed (see explanation below)
• same color scheme as "Jam" listed on website
Available Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
• Top: Ebony, Mauve, Greym, Night, Peony
• Pants: Ebony, Mauve, Greym, Naval
Material: 100% Merino Wool
Measurements: none listed
• chest - 89 cm (35 in)
• back length - 67 cm (26 in)
• neck to shoulder seam - 12 cm (5 in)
• shoulder to cuff seam - 68cm (27 in)
• waist 74 cm (29 in)
• inseam 81 cm (32 in)
• hips 76cm (30 in)
Listed Weight: not listed
Actual weight: top: 145 g, pants: 126g
MSRP: 69 EUR each
Date received: Sept 30, 2018
The Kari Traa Tikse base layer top and bottom arrived in separate packaging. They appear to be sold as separates (inferred from the separate packaging and confirmed on the website), although they come in matching colors and certainly work as a set. They came in quite elegant, but simple packaging - a flattened cylinder with clear thin plastic that allows you to see the color scheme with a thicker quality white plastic displaying the logo. The packaging and the base layers were received in good condition. Upon initial inspection there were no noted issues. There were no holes, damage, or loose threads. These base layers seem well constructed.
I will admit I was initially quite surprised with how thin the fabric felt. I have a few different merino wool items, and this is definitely the thinnest merino wool product I own.
When I put on the layers I was delighted to feel how soft they were - that is a must for any layer touching my skin, especially wool. These Tikse base layers pass the "itch test" so far.
Lastly, the color scheme is bright and fun!
The Kari Traa Tikse base layers are described in the following way according to the website:
• Lightweight and incredibly soft
• Highly breathable
• Naturally odor resistant
• Fabric has 4 way stretch and an elastic waist for a slim and snug fit
• Smartly placed seams keep comfort high
• Strategic mesh mapping
The base layers are advertised to be used for hiking and state that they are a "light boost of warmth in cool weather".
In addition, the companies slogan is "for girls, by girls." I think this is certainly reflected in the eye catching color schemes. I received a color scheme that is not actually currently listed on the website. The main color is pale pink. The secondary color is burgundy - both a lighter and darker shade. The seam work is bright pink.
Construction and Fit:
I had high expectations for these base layers being that they are a European brand. I used the size chart available on the website. My predicted sizes between the top and the bottom were all over the place - covering small, medium, and large with different measurements - so in the end I just went with medium for both the top and the bottom. The great thing about selling as separates is that you could mix and match sizes if required. Lucky for me (and Europe) my high hopes were met. I find European brands tend to carry clothes with longer inseams. I am happy to report the leg and arm length are both adequate, and everywhere else fits too! Although measured the inseam is only 81 cm (32 in) the fabric is stretchy so provides adequate coverage for me. For the general public I would say these base layers will fit a bit large/long. If I didn't need the length I would have sized down.
The construction of the base layers is quite unique. They are made up of a primary thin merino wool fabric. Then there are secondary, even thinner merino wool panels with perforations. The second layer is a separate color than the first. I believe the perforations are to improve breathability. The panels are sewn together with thick seams that are incorporated as a style feature of the garments. So far, the seams lie flat and don't have any twists, even after the first wash. The pants have a thin elastic waist band with the logo spelled out. The top has a small stylized logo over the left chest.
Care instructions are listed on the website as well as on the tag of both garments. In fact there are a total of 5 tags on each garment detailing the care instructions in several languages. I will be cutting these out right away. The following care instructions are recommended:
• Wash with similar colors
• Wash using wool program (I assume this means the wool setting on your washing machine, if you have one)
• Avoid enzyme washing powder
• Do not use fabric softener
• Wash before use
• Do not put in dryer
• Do not bleach
• No professional textile care
• Safe to wash and iron
The Kari Traa Tikse base layers are light weight, hiking friendly merino wool garments. My favorite part about them so far is the great color pattern. I hope to have as much fun on the trail.
December 8, 2018
I was able to test the Kari Traa base layers in a few different settings. Luckily, it just recently got cold enough to really put them to the test. My first few outings were a little warm for this base layer set. I think they are best used in sub 0 C (32 F) temperatures. The main reason for this is because the base layers themselves are see-through on their own. They cannot be used as a stand-alone top or bottom. So, being that they need to be paired with another layer, I think they are most comfortable in colder conditions.
My first trip was the only overnight backpack trip I had. The base layers are super lightweight and pack down really small taking up a negligible amount of room in my pack. For this reason alone, they will definitely be my go-to base layer for backpacking trips. I wore them the first evening of our trip when we were setting up camp under my other camp clothes. I then wore them to bed as my pajamas. They are so soft and comfortable. I did not find them itchy at all - a huge bonus with any wool product. They worked great for this dual purpose. I then used the base layer bottoms the next day for my hike. I tried using the top as well, but found I got too hot. The bottoms worked great. They are easy to layer because they are so thin and light, but still did a good job keeping me warm. I also found the perforated feature of the fabric helped with breathability. In addition, the thin waist band provided a snug but comfortable fit. There are also cuffs at the bottom of the legs and on the top's sleeves which kept the base layer in place under my other layers.
My two more recent trips were both in snow and cold weather. I was able to use the full base layer set under my jacket and wind pants. I don't sweat much at the best of times, and even less when it is cold outside, but the amount of perspiration I was able to create was easily absorbed and wicked away by the base layers. At the end of my day I did not have any large sweat patches or staining. The product also still smelled good after a few uses in a row.
I am someone who always runs a bit cold, so I have also been using the bottom base layer day to day under my pants. They have gotten quite a few more days of wear and washes than the top base layer. The pants are still in great condition and look just like new. The elastic waist band has stayed tight, and the pants fitted. They have not stretched out, even when using multiple days in a row. I was actually surprised how well they have held up. I was concerned about durability given how thin they are. I am careful when putting them on because they are thin and fitted, so I don't just pull them on quickly, I put them on more like tights. With this technique I have not noticed any spots of wear or holes.
I was pleasantly surprised with the weight to warmth ratio of these base layers, as well as the overall comfort. I continue to love the fun color and pattern. I will be taking these to Northern Canada with me in January, so stay tuned!
February 17, 2019
I have been in the middle of the polar vortex here in Canada, so this base layer set has been receiving a ton of use. As mentioned in my field report, I have actually been wearing the base layer bottoms under regular pants to work to help keep me warm in the winter. While not the primary use for most people, I just have to comment how great these work for that purpose. I have worn them 5 times per weeks for the last 6 weeks. They are so thin, which makes them very easy to layer. They are also very breathable, so I do not get hot indoors. I felt it was worth a mention. In addition, the pants have held up incredibly well. There are no rips, tears, or pilling from washing them.
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the top. I think the light weight and breathable construction of these base layers does sacrifice durability. My top base layer I have worn significantly less than the pants, yet I have several (about 5) small holes in the fabric. I do not recall specifically damaging the top, so it must have happened with very little trauma to the garment. Unfortunately, the rips are not on a seam either, so it was not that easy to repair. The tears happened in the perforated area of the fabric. I wonder if the same fabric was used, but without perforations, if this could have been avoided. I am not much of a seamstress, but I did stitch the holes together and they have held up for now. Since finding the holes I have been much more careful getting the garments on and off - top and bottom included.
During activity, the Kari Traa base layers have performed well. As stated, they are thin which is great for layering. They are very warm, even in cold temperatures. I found I could wear just the base layer and my ski pants most of the time. I did wear these with ski pants and sweats on a couple of quick walks when it was below - 30 C (- 22 F). During these extremely frigid times, the base layer added that bit of extra warmth close to the skin which was really nice.
They also wick sweat away incredibly well. I did a "sniff test" at the end of a big snowshoe and the material was odor resistant, as claimed.
Most importantly, these were the most comfortable base layers I have ever used. I often get a bit itchy with any wool product contacting my skin, especially once I start sweating. I have spent a ton of days with this material next to my skin and it doesn't bother me at all. The material is also stretchy, so my movements were not inhibited, regardless of activity. I also really liked the waist band of the pant set. It seems like a weird thing to comment on, but it kept the pants snug and held elasticity. The waist band also wasn't too wide.
Overall, these base layers would have received 5 stars if it wasn't for the mysterious little tears in the top. They perform so well otherwise. If Kari Traa had a lifetime guarantee or a replacement program, I would be buying another set right away. However, for the price I would expect my set to last several years, so I am not totally sold.
- light weight
- soft and comfortable
- fun colors
This concludes my Long-Term Report. I would like to thank Kari Traa and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test and review this gear.
Read more reviews of Kari Traa gear
Read more gear reviews by Christie Kimber
Reviews > Clothing > Underwear > Kari Traa Tikse Base Layers > Test Report by Christie Kimber
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