Tasc Performance Women’s Sideline 1/4 Zip Top $48, Basic Racer $28, tascperformance.com
The Good: With colors like “daiquiri” and “apricot,” how can you go wrong?
The Bad: You might end up buying one in every color.
The Ugly: Making shirts from bamboo viscose might sound like it’s more environmentally friendly, but the jury’s still out on that one.
The Sideline 1/4 Zip Top (above left) is a solid layering piece with Tasc’s original 4-way stretch fabric and UPF 50+ protection. I wore it on camping trips in Pennsylvania and Delaware to see how it performed. Though it’s been a relatively mild summer compared to others I’ve experienced in the mid-Atlantic, I found myself wishing for cooler nights so I could wear it more often. It’s perfect for wearing around camp, on hikes and for just about any activity that requires long sleeves. I sized up from my normal medium to a large, knowing the 55% cotton in the top would cause it to shrink in the dryer, and knowing I normally struggle to find tops with sleeves that are long enough. The sleeves on the large top are the perfect length for me, which means I get to make use of my favorite feature of the top - the thumbholes. The fabric around the thumbholes is reinforced with contrast stitching and the fabric doesn’t dig into my skin. The body of the shirt was too big initially, but after three sessions in the dryer, it’s an almost perfect fit and the sleeves are still the right length. I was comfortable running around camp during testing and can easily see this piece becoming a go-to in cool, dry weather.
The Basic Racer (above right) is aptly named, give it’s a relatively normal-looking basic layering tank. I took it out on camping trips and to my CrossFit gym for workouts for testing to see if the tank performed in a variety of situations. Like the Sideline 1/4 Zip, the Basic Racer is made with Tasc’s signature performance fabric, which makes it lightweight, breathable, temperature regulating, moisture wicking, and anti-odor. Also like the Sideline 1/4 Zip, it’s super soft next-to-skin. I went with my normal medium and found the athletic fit tight, but comfortable. The straps are long on me, which is fine if I’m wearing a sports bra I don’t mind showing off a bit, but would love to see them an inch or so shorter. The fact that the top is made from 55% cotton means it takes longer to dry than completely synthetic tops, but the soft next-to-skin feel makes up for the extra drying time.
Though both the Basic Racer and Sideline 1/4 Zip look like standard additions to any active lady’s wardrobe, there’s one particularly unique feature they both have that made me excited to try them. The folks behind Tasc were frustrated with the performance of standard polyester performance apparel, especially given polyester materials are derived from petroleum. Instead of standard materials, both tops contain 40% viscose material made from bamboo and 55% organic cotton. Though viscose bamboo and natural bamboo aren’t the same (see articles here and here), it’s still a unique fabric made from what’s considered a sustainable woody plant. And the folks at Tasc are open about the fact that the creation of viscose from bamboo isn’t a perfect process:
“We know making bamboo viscose is not considered the most eco-friendly process in the world. However, in comparison to traditional performance clothing (derived from petroleum) we have created a better alternative. To our knowledge, a bamboo forest has never polluted the Gulf of Mexico.”- Tasc’s Bamboo Technology page
The bottom line? Both the Sideline 1/4 Zip and Basic Racer are both functional, well-made tops that are great for a variety of activities and I’d recommend them for everything from hiking to camping, the gym and beyond. But as with any apparel purchase, know if you’ll need to size up for longer sleeves, or if you prefer tanks that aren’t skintight.