Jim Darroch from EMS contacted me months ago about testing a few items, and I said that I’d be happy to. They sent me several items for free, and in return, I do review with no obligation to be glowing or positive. I received the items late summer, and since they were winter pieces I had to wait until I had field tested them enough in the right conditions to justify a fair and honest review. Among the pieces was a heavyweight base layer top, certainly nothing I could test properly in mild September temperatures!
This base layer is certainly heavier than most of the layers that I wear, so I couldn’t test this layer thoroughly until the last month or so. It certainly is warm, and I wouldn’t recommend wearing it unless you are going to be in really, really cold conditions or unless you know you’re not going to be working hard aerobically in mildy cold weather. The fabric is smooth on the outside and a brushed, gridded fleece on the inside, which is really cozy. While it does have wicking and quick dry properties, it really is overkill for strenuous hikes in even mildly cold temperatures. I’ve used it when hiking with my son in temperatures below freezing, who isn’t as fast as some of my other hiking partners, and I’ve stayed warm and dry but not overheated. Unless the temperatures are below 15 degrees F, I personally wouldn’t wear it hiking with my some of my adult winter hiking partners.
This top has most of the features you’d expect. The half zip neck is perfect for a little ventilation if needed. The length is good for tucking it in so it doesn’t ride up under a pack, although if not tucked in, I found it will ride up like any other shirt. I’m not sure if this is the same version as the one that is currently offered on EMS’ website, but it is similar. Mine does not have the longer cuffs with the thumb loops, and that would certainly be a welcome addition to the top and the only thing I’d change. Mine also has a Polartec tag in it, and the current T3 version for sale does not directly say that it is made from Polartec licensed fabric; it might not be. Regardless of fabric origin, it has stood up to multiple washes and dries without pilling or losing the loft of the bushed fleece on the inside.
Overall, a nice top made up in great fabric, good for really, really cold days or days when aerobic activity is low and you just need to stay warm.