When I was up in Scotland in February I was contact by a rep from Damart clothing offering to send me one of there thermal tops to to test (wow must be getting noticed). Of course I was happy to oblige and sure enough on my return home it was there waiting for me. The first thing I noticed about “the top” was it bright color (I had chosen blue) along with its extremely light weight at only 150 grams, It didn’t however feel flimsy. I’m normally half way between a medium and large for my shirts, I had chosen a medium size from Damart and on trying it on I noticed it was slightly tight across the chest and under the armpits, perhaps a large would have been better. I am however of a stockier build than most and there is plenty of stretch in the fabric so it did not feel restrictive, also I liked the fact it was longer than some of the tops I have worn, so won’t ride up out of your trousers to show a builders bum, something that’s important when there’s lots of snow blowing around! Anyway enough of standing in front of the mirror, the proof of the pudding is in the eating so they say! Over the next 3 weeks I wore it as my main base layer when out in the hills of Northumberland and winter climbing in the Cairngorms of Scotland. At all times the top was worn underneath A Gortex shell jacket, either with or without lining and a combination of fleece top or shirt mid layers. The first thing you notice when you put the shirt on is it doesn’t instantly feel warm, unlike other body hugging tops, I’m not saying it was cold, just it felt different to my usual base layer. This feeling I soon realized was down to the very good breath-ability of the fabric, normally 30mins after stepping out of the front door for my mornings exercise I can feel the damp sweet patches on my back chest and arms, no sign of that with this top which obviously had good wicking ability’s! Another important point when traveling is a top you can wear day after day, often for purely Polyester based tops after you’ve had a good work out is they stink the next day, this one lasted 4 days on the trot before I had to resign it to the wash. The next outings were in the Scottish winter mountains where I could really check its thermal properties.
Cold frosty morning followed soon by a hot sun was another good test of the top. Very often less technical tops suffer from wetting out with sweet on the up hill walk in, allowing you to lose body heat quickly on the cold and windy summit. Again used in combination with a breathable jacket/mid layer this top suffered far less from this problem than other tops iv’e used, a big benefit when changing tops in a middle of a snow storm is not practicable. Once the wind gets up however and the windchill increases, if your using it underneath a shell type jacket, then it most definitely needs to be used with a mid layer. Would be fine on its own under a down or puffa jacket but the thin fabric against just Gortex, E-vent etc won’t cut it on its own.
To Summarize: The Damart Thermal top is an all year round, technical thermal base layer/top. Best used as a base layer in winter, under other breathable mid layers and shell, or on its own under down. But would also be equally suited to 3 season use, where varying temperature and activities levels are to be encountered, Ie; UK spring mountain walking .
Pros: Very good breath-ability and wicking properties for a thermal top, light weight and small pack size, has kept its shape and bright color after several outings and washes.
Cons: Not the warmest thermal top on the market! (ignore the temp ratings on their web site as they are meaningless without context)
Overall I give it a thumbs up and if used as described above would be a good addition to any mountain walkers wardrobe. Given its all round usage, small pack size and light weight I will be using it on my upcoming trips to Kilimanjaro and Elbrus. I wonder what the thermal pants are like?
More info on Damart on there 60th anniversary can be found HERE