Gear Review: EMS Women's Power Dry 1/4 Zip Top

A close-up of the super soft material.
It's no secret that autumn in my favorite time of the year. And who doesn't like autumn, anyway? Here in the northeast, the leaves change from bright, summery greens to deep red, vibrant yellow and vivid orange. The temperature drops from borderline intolerable to comfortable and the humidity disappears. Autumn is the best time of year to get outside because it just feel so perfect. But here in southeastern Pennsylvania, the temperature on a fall day can range from 45º to 70ºF, and when dressing for autumnal adventures, layering is key. Layer up too much and you'll sweat like it's still summer. Don't layer properly and it'll start to feel more like winter (which, to be honest, is absolutely fine by me).

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?


Katie @advinspired said…
thank you!