Columbia Freeze Degree Short Sleeve Crew, $60, Columbia.com, available Spring ’13.
The Good: The Omni-Freeze Zero technology gets noticeably cooler when you get noticeably hotter.
The Bad: The wicking performance was on the slow side and during the hottest point of the days it felt slightly heavier than some of my other technical shirts.
The Ugly: The rugby style beating my white Insight Ice T-shirt turned after running up and down hills made of dirt, dust, and trash.
Columbia’s latest and fanciest shirt utilizes Columbia’s new Omni-Freeze Zero technology. Rather than relying on a treatment to help the fabric cool down (like in the Omni-Freeze Ice shirts), Zero tech is done mechanically, by how the threads themselves react to moisture hitting the fabric’s surface, making the temperature of the fabric drop significantly when you sweat in it. Put in bro terms: when you’re hot, your shirt gets cooler, and the effect won’t go away when you wash it.
Columbia’s Freeze Degree Short Sleeve Crew is made up of the aforementioned Omni-Freeze ZERO material, with some panels of Omni-Wick EVAP material on the back and armpits to wick away excess sweat. I’ve been traveling a lot this summer to some pretty ridiculous spots reaching into the hundreds with 90% humidity, so I was stoked when Billy told me about a shirt that cooled down as I heated up. I tested the Freeze Degree Crew for a few weeks in a hot, humid equatorial island that will remain unnamed, hauling gear and adding countless sweat-drenched miles to my boots’ odometer, and the Freeze Degree’s effects were great. As soon as the sweating (which was immediate and constant) began, the OmniFreeze Zero material did its work, keeping me much cooler and more comfortable than I had any right to be, and making it easier for me to play a little longer and work a little harder in the heat.
I really dig the way Columbia designed the Insight Ice T-shirt – besides its magical cooling properties, the material is silky smooth and seemed to breathe well. My only gripe is that I am a sweaty dude and as a frequently drenched guy I felt it didn’t wick as well as some other performance T-shirts out there, but since it stays cooler when it’s wet, I’m willing to let that slide.
Bottom line time folks, Columbia’s Omni-Freeze technology will without a doubt cool you down. If you live, work, or play in high heat of the summer it’s going to be a no-brainer.
Take that MacGyver, with your stupid regular shirts.
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Author: Will Hinkson