|A close-up of the super soft material.|
One of my favorite types of layering pieces is a 1/4 or 1/2 zip top because the zipper gives you a little more control over your body temperature. Without taking a layer off entirely, you're able to let a little more air out if you're getting warm, or keep more in if you're chilly. This fall, the folks at Eastern Mountain Sports designed a shirt that's already become a key part of my layering wardrobe.
The Women's Power Dry 1/4 Zip Top is designed to be worn as a heavy baselayer, insulating mid-layer, or on its own on milder days. The first thing I noticed about the top is how soft it is. It feels like microfleece, but more breathable and even just a little bit softer. I put it on over a sports bra for a cool evening around the campfire at the end of this summer and it felt wonderful next to skin. It moved with me while I ran around gathering wood and helped my skin breathe when I got too warm during activity.
Aside from how soft and breathable the top is, the fit is both comfortable and flattering. I'm a solid medium in EMS tops, but usually have trouble with sleeve length. The Power Dry 1/4 Zip Top has long enough sleeves for me and there's just enough room to layer underneath. I could see the top being ideal for early winter trail runs and as a baselayer underneath my ski jacket - two scenarios I'm excited about testing the shirt in over the course of the next few months. But as far as an autumnal layering piece, it's ideal; the interior grid surface pulls moisture away from the skin and the top dries quickly. It's super lightweight and packs down easily, which makes it ideal for fall backpacking as well.
Generally, as long as a shirt feels good and performs well, what it's made of isn't super important to me. However, if there's an opportunity to minimize my impact on the environment when I add new pieces to my outdoor wardrobe, I'll take it. One of the coolest features of the Power Dry 1/4 Zip Top is the fact that 91% of the material used to make the top is recycled polyester from Polartec. The other 9% is spandex, which is what makes the top fit so well. It's synthetic, so getting strong smells out of it is a challenge, but not impossible. The fabric also seems to attract grass, bits of leaves and more, but when you're playing outside, that really doesn't matter.
The bottom line? You can throw the top in your backpack when you're expecting a chilly night or chilly morning, but it's also a great choice for vigorous cool weather activity. It's versatile, and a great piece for any layering wardrobe. Keep your eye out for it in EMS stores and online this October. It will retail for $59 and will also be available in black, purple, green, red and blue.
Thanks to EMS for sending a complimentary top for testing. I'll update this review as winter approaches if there's anything new or noteworthy about its performance in colder weather.
What's your favorite fall layering piece?