Apparel / January 3, 2013

Warmth. Sleek, Flowery Warmth: Polarmax Women’s Mock Zip Comp 4 Fleece Baselayer Top

Polarmax Women’s Mock Zip Comp 4 Fleece Baselayer Top, $59.99 shop.polarmax.com

The Good:  Polarmax says it ”provides the ultimate in warmth in the coldest temperature.” They’re not kidding. This shirt lives up to the hype.
The Bad: If “anthracite” isn’t your color, you’re SOL.
The Ugly: The flowery design on the right arm and left shoulder scream, “THIS IS A GIRL’S SHIRT!”

When it comes to outdoor apparel, baselayers are as intimate as it gets. When you’re wearing something next to skin, it had better be comfortable, help you manage moisture, and help regulate your body temperature. During cold weather activities, the last two pieces are pretty important. If you’re running around outside and start sweating, you’ll freeze when you stop moving. But if you can’t get warm enough in the first place, it’s going to be a long and potentially a dangerous day.

When it comes to ideal technical baselayers, Polarmax has options for just about everything. Given Polarmax only makes baselayers, and have for 25 years, they’ve had plenty of time to design some great products. The “warm,” “warmer,” and “warmest” product categories make it easy to figure out which layer is best for your needs. The Comp 4 Tech Fleece line falls into the “warmest” category and is designed to provide maximum mobility as a breathable, next-to-skin layer in super cold conditions. I took the Women’s Zip Mock it on a hike in 40º fall weather, through several CrossFit workouts in a facility without heat in 30º weather, and on runs in 30-40º weather to see if it lived up to the hype.

Right out of the box, it’s obvious the Women’s Zip Mock isn’t your average baselayer. The inside of the shirt is incredibly soft, but the outside is sleek and slippery, which makes it easy to get a jacket on over it. The  top only comes in one color – anthracite with grey – and Polarmax added a giant while silk screened flowery design on the right arm and shoulder. I’m generally opposed to the addition of flowers, sparkles, pink and/or purple accents and other classically girly treatments to outdoor apparel and gear. Just give me a shirt that fits and does what it’s supposed to do. But the more I wear the Women’s Zip Mock, the more I like the design. It adds some visual interest to an otherwise plain garment, and as far as flowery designs go, it’s pretty cool looking.

Flowers aside, I stayed comfortable and warm during all of my cold weather activities wearing the Women’s Zip Mock. There are both crew and ¼ zip versions of the Comp 4 Fleece shirts, but one of the advantages of the ¼ zip versions is having more control over your body temperature. Without taking a layer off entirely, I’m able to let a little more air out if I’m heating up  or keep more in if I’m chilly. The company’s Acclimate Dry fabric wicks moisture away from the skin, which also helps with temperature regulation.

Aside from assisting with temperature regulation, my ideal baselayers let me move freely regardless of the activity.  I took the Women’s Zip Mock through a few CrossFit workouts to see if I’d comfortably be able to do burpees, pullups, squats and more. The shirt is so comfortable and flexible that I’ve worn it during at least one workout a week for the past several weeks. The athletic fit allows me to fit a tank top underneath, but it’s tight enough that it stays put when I’m moving. Add in Polarmax’s Scent Prevent anti-odor technology, and I stay smelling as good as I feel.

If the look, fit, feel and function of the Polarmax Comp 4 Fleece Women’s Zip Mock isn’t enough to convince you to switch from your standard baselayer, perhaps the company’s ethical standards will. The Polarmax facilities, warehousing and shipping take place within a 15 mile footprint. They also maintain complete control of every piece of the production process, from fabric development to design, testing, warehousing and distribution, which makes Polarmax baselayers unique. The baselayers aren’t just sewn and distributed in the USA; Polarmax products aren’t made with any imported materials, products or packaging. And all Polarmax products are backed by The Longworth Guarantee. If your baselayer doesn’t measure up, return it for replacement or repair.

The bottom line? The Polarmax Comp 4 Fleece Women’s Zip Mock is a comfortable, functional choice for us girls who like to play outside when it’s cold, as long as flowery designs aren’t a major turn-off.

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Katie Levy
Katie Levy
Katie Levy - (hiker, backpacker, occasional climber, CrossFit junkie) loves sharing her passion for playing outside with anyone willing to listen. Though currently based in Philadelphia, spending her formative years in Upstate New York and a two year stint in Alaska fostered a lifelong passion for the outdoors. After 13 years as a competitive swimmer, she followed that passion on backpacking trips in the Adirondacks, on sub-zero winter hikes in the Chugach Mountains, and up Mount Rainier. These days, if she’s not out on the trail, you’ll find working on her other passion, Adventure-Inspired, or getting her WOD on at CrossFit Love. Contact her at katie@trektechblog.com




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