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Reviews > Clothing > Underwear > Terramar Thermawool Base Layers > Test Report by Gail Staisil

Terramar Thermawool CS Crew and Bottom
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, MichiganAuthor

Page Contents:

Initial Report:
December 13, 2015

Tester Information

Name: Gail Staisil
Age: 63
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 160 lb (73 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman 2001 AT yahoo DOT com

For the last 20 years, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan. My pack weight varies considerably but my base weight is below 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.

Product Information

Manufacturer
Terramar Sports, Inc
Website http://terramarsports.com
Model Thermawool ClimaSense (CS) Crew and Bottom
Colors and Sizes
Jade Heather, Black Heather, Purple Heather and Poppy Heather
Manufacturer  Weight  NA
Tested Weight  7.1 oz (201 g) for crew and 8.8 oz (193 g) for bottom
MSRP $50. US each 
Origin
China

Initial Impressions and Product Description 

Thermawool Bottoms
The Terramar (Hottotties) Thermawool CS Crew and Bottom arrived in great condition exhibiting fine workmanship. The warmth factor of the baselayers are rated at 4.0 or extreme (the manufacturer has a Warm Factor rating from 1.0 at warm to 4.0 at extreme). I wasn't completely aware of this from the website but the packaging had a chart on the side of each box and it also refers to it as expedition weight. This completely explains why the separate pieces feel weighty compared to most baselayers I own. On the website if one checks for the listings under expedition weight specifically, the Thermawool shows up. The actual description under the item refers to it as midweight though. Each baselayer is fabricated with an outer layer of 30 percent Merino Wool and 70 percent microfiber polyester while the inner surface is comprised of 100 percent microfiber. The latter is very soft brushed fleece which feels nice against my skin. Just a side note the top is also available in half zip and full zip versions.

I am definitely between sizes according to the manufacturer's size chart. When this happens (often) I go up a size to make sure that the clothing will not be too snug. I ordered the Size XL and am pleased in general with the fit but wish the bottoms were a bit longer. Overall both pieces are slightly loose fitting but not overly so. Looking at the size chart once again the bottoms are designed for the "average woman" - their words. It indicated that the person would be 5'3" to 5'6" (1.6 m to 1.68 m). There are no tall sizes available in women baselayers but they are offered in men's sizes though (sniff). Because I will be wearing the bottoms with  mid-crew or knee-high socks for most activities it probably won't be an issue for me.

The baselayers that I requested are in the color of Purple Heather. It is a very deep shade and all the contrast stitching is in a hot pink color. The bottoms have a very wide waistband (3 in/7.6 cm) which sits a bit below the waist in the front. It is lined with microfiber. The whole inside layer is brushed microfiber in fact, which is so comfy. There is an embroidered script (HOTTOTTIES CS) which is sewn just belong the waistband on the left side. Since this is sewn all the way through I can't help but wonder if it will be an irritation point. There is also an embroidered manufacturer's symbol on the back of the waistband but the inside of the stitching is covered by the lining. Each front leg section is sewn in two contoured pieces with contrast stitching. The inseam measurement is about 30 in (76 cm) for size XL. There is a small gusset sewn into the crotch area.

The crew baselayer has more than a little detail. The front and back sections are sewn with several pieces. The front section is comprised of five sections which presumably gives more shape as well as style to the base layer.  The back consists of three sections and the sleeves each have two. All of the sections are highlighted with double stitching in a contrast color (hot pink). The underarm-to-wrist measurement is 18.5 in (47 cm) and the underarm-to-hem measurement is a wonderful 19.5 in (50 cm)..lots to cover my backside.

Topstitching detailThe crew top has a stretchy but flat bias-cut neck trim. It measures about 0.75 in (1.9 cm) wide. The inside of this trim is highlighted with a hot pink stretch ribbon with the company symbol and "hottotties" repeatedly printed along the entire trim. The label is also embroidered on the bottom of the crew just like it was on the bottoms. The manufacturer's symbol is also embroidered on the center back of the crew. This time I noticed that the embroidery was faced on the interior possibly preventing irritation. Not sure why they didn't do that on the bottoms as noted above.
  Waistband detail
As previously noted the baselayer crew and bottoms are made with a blend of fibers including wool and microfibers (polyester). This combination reportedly allows the fabric to breathe and manage moisture. This technology is called ClimaSense which allows comfort in all conditions. The propriety fabric "has been formulated to adapt to an active body's changing physiology". The fibers reportedly contract to trap air when it is cold and and the opposite occurs when it is warm.

Other attributes worth noting are that the fabrics are supposed to wick fast and dry as well as inhibit the growth of bacteria that causes odor. The fabrics have a UPF rating of 50+ which is good to know if I ever wear them by themselves without a jacket or another layer. The baselayers are to be washed inside out and hang dried. Ironing or bleach is not recommended. Simple enough as I always line dry my activewear. 

I am looking forward to wearing the baselayers for many winter activities.
 
 
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Field Report:
March 10, 2016 

USA Locations and Conditions

During the testing period I have spent fourteen days in backcountry rustic cabins (skied into pulling sled), six days on an annual cross country skiing trip and two days winter camping at a national lakeshore.  I have enjoyed the outdoors most other days on snowshoes, skis or ice cleats. Locations of all trips were in the State of Michigan and ranged from lakeshore to boreal forest.  Elevation ranged from above 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2,000 ft (610 m).

Location of Trip: Hiawatha National Forest
Length of Trip: 5 days, 4 nights (December 30 - January 3) 
Sled Weight: Estimated 45 lb (20.4 kg) 
Distance: 25 mi (40 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, snow, some sun
Precipitation: About 7 - 8 in (18 - 20 cm) of new snow
Temperature Range: 17 F to 34 F (- 8 C to 1 C) 
   
Location of Trip: Keweenaw Peninsula - State of MichiganLake Superior ice
Length of Trip: 6 days, 5 nights (January 24 - January 29) 
Sky and Air Conditions: Snow, snow and snow  
Distances: 5 to 12 mi skiing per day (8 to 19 km)
Precipitation: At least 14-15 in (36 - 38 cm) of new snow
Temperature Range: 11 F to 29 F (-12 C to -2 C)
     
Location of Trip: Hiawatha National Forest 
Length of Trip: 4 days, 3 nights (January 30 - Feb 3) 
Sled Weight: Approx 40 lb (18 kg) 
Distance: 20 mi (32 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, windy and warm (for winter)   
Precipitation: Light dusting of new snow
Temperature Range: 19 F to 42 F (- 7 C to 6 C)  

Location of Trip: Hiawatha National Forest 
Length of Trip: 5 days, 4 nights (February 21 - 25) 
Sled Weight: Approx 40 lb (18 kg) 
Distance: 23 mi (37 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, a wee bit of snow
Precipitation: Trace
Temperature Range: 2 F to 37 F/-17 C to 3 C (mostly about 25 F/- 4 C)      

Location of Trip: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Length of Trip: 2 days, 1 night (March 4 - March 5) 
Sled Weight: Approx 35 lb (16 kg)
Distance: 11 mi (17.7 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, sunny, light wind and snow   
Precipitation: About 1.5 in (3.81 cm) of new snow
Temperature Range: 12 F to 35 F (-11 C to 2 C)

Day Trips: Noquemanon Trail Network, Blueberry Ridge Trail, Valley Spur Trail, Eben Caves, McKeever Trails, Swedetown Trails, Michigan Tech Trails (Michigan Counties of Marquette, Alger, Houghton and Keweenaw)
Distances: 4 to 12 mi (6 to 19 km)
Temperature Range: -8 F to 40 F (-22 C to 4 C)
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Trip Talk
 

During the last three months of testing, if I could sum up the Thermawool CS Base Layers in two words it would be "very warm". I have struggled to find the happy medium for this set of long underwear as most of my activities are highly aerobic and don't Tester wearing top generally require expedition-weight warmth. I have found that the best use for the layered set is when I wear the top with just a light vest and the bottoms with a light layer. Of course this only works if the temps cooperate and the winds are not high. The perfect weather has happened quite a few times for wearing the top and that has been approximately 25 - 30 F (-4 to -1 C) with light wind. They even worked well on my last trip when the temps climbed to 35 F (2 C) while pulling a winter sled about 11 mi (17.7 km) total during two days. Of course the layers have been perfect for hanging around in a rustic cabin and for sleeping in my winter tent inside a toasty sleeping bag. They have also been comfortable while wearing during casual walks to ice caves for exploration.

Anytime I wear any type of shell jacket with the layers I am way too hot. However there were several days of below-zero weather (0 F/-18 C) with high wind chills so the layers became important during that time. I actually just wore a soft shell over the top layer and it was perfectly fine for cross country skiing. Normally in those conditions I would have worn more layers but I knew the Thermawool CS baselayers would be warm enough. That said in the many instances where I was too hot the layers remained comfortable against my skin and I didn't feel like I was terribly clammy or anything like that.

One thing that I didn't notice about the bottom layer at first, is that if I try wearing them alone with just a winter down or synthetic skirt over them or wearing them for sleeping, the wide waistband is too loose and it generally drifts downward. In other words, the bottoms require me to wear a pair of pants over them to fit right. This well may be that I could have worn a smaller size but they are comfortable otherwise.
 
I do love the softness of the top and bottoms and at no time have they been itchy or uncomfortable. The length of the bottoms has been a non-issue in reality. I love the longer top layer as it has not become untucked during activity.

I have washed them probably about 10-12 times (lost count) and they have held up well and dried very nicely on a drying rack in my low-humidity basement at this time of year. Unfortunately I have not always remembered to turn them inside out as suggested by the manufacturer but they haven't suffered any ill effects as far as I can tell. I haven't noticed any smell factor after wearing them several days in a row on many of these trips. Perhaps the wool factor in their composition helped with that.

Given the right conditions the layers shine. Likely they would be best suited for ice climbing or downhill skiing instead of the type of activities I normally do. That said I have had plenty of experiences with them (as noted above) where they did perform well for me.

 

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Long Term Report:
May 4, 2016 

USA Locations and Conditions

During the testing period I have worn the Terramar Base Layers for many outdoor activities including cross country and backcountry skiing as well as snowshoeing.  Locations of all outings were in the State of Michigan and ranged from lakeshore to boreal forest. Elevation ranged from above 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2,000 ft (610 m).Backcountry ski on April 4

 
 
Location of Trip: Hiawatha National Forest - April 23-24 
Length of Trip: 2 days 
Pack Weight: 26 lb (11.8 kg)
Distance: 9 mi (14.5 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 48 F to 25 F (9 C to - 4 C) 

Day Trips: Noquemanon Trail Network, Blueberry Ridge Trail, Valley Spur Trail
Distances: 4 to 15 mi (6 to 24 km)
Temperature Range: 57 F to 29 F (14 C to - 2 C)   
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Trip Talk
 

During the last two months of testing, I have continued to wear the Thermawool CS Base Layers for outdoor activities. The typical day would including wearing the base layers with just a vest over the top and a winter skirt over the bottoms. It was simply too warm to wear them with pants as the weather was slightly above freezing for the most part. I often wear skirts for my activities anyway but they were varied, and included an insulated down skirt, a synthetic insulated skirt and a light wool skirt. All of these skirts are made for recreational purposes. Recently the temps have shifted upwards and I have found the top with only a light vest over it handy for mountain biking and dayhikes, and sometimes I even removed the vest when I got too warm. The temps have been mostly in the 40-50 F range (4-10 C) the last few weeks (although the daytime temps today are below freezing again). The top still functions well at those range of temps but the bottoms are simply too hot to wear for exertion activities. During my short backpack trip I wore the top while hiking but both the top and bottom for sleeping.

I continued to have an issue with the bottoms slipping downward when pants weren't over them. It is more annoying than anything but of course it was only a matter of approximately an inch or two (2.5 to 5 cm) so that can be handled. I still love the long length of the top which keeps my back from being exposed when I bend over to do tasks such as setting my bindings on my ice cleats, snowshoes or skis. The base layers are very soft and the comfort level has been very high otherwise. 
 
I have washed the set a bunch more times (probably about eight) with no issues and they have dried quickly on a drying rack in my basement. 

Again this is a very warm set of base layers. They are best suited to wear without a jacket unless the temps are way below freezing. I will put the set away for the spring and summer season but next fall and winter I will again find them right for very cold activities.

 

 Pros
  • Soft inner surface
  • Long length on crew top
  • Nice wide comfortable waistband on bottoms
Cons
  • Are too warm for high aerobic activities
  • Waistband slides down if I don't wear pants over them to keep them in place
 

  Tester Remarks 

Thanks to Terramar Sports, Inc and BackpackGearTest.org for this opportunity to test the Thermawool CS baselayers. This concludes my Long Term Report and the test series.

Photo Copyright for crew and bottom - Terramar Sports, Inc  

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Read more gear reviews by Gail Staisil

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