Odlo's Warm Originals Sports Underwear Crew
As always, we're looking at the Odlo Warm Originals Sports Underwear Crew from the point of view of long distance trekking over tough terrain.
Test subject: Chest 42", Waist 33", Height: 5ft 8"
Test item: Size = Large
Kit Tests: Winter, Summer
Disclaimer: None required (item not provided by manufacturer)
|Materials: Polyester (2 types of weave), brushed inner||100%|
|Treatments: Odlo® Effect™ Odour Control (Silver Ions)||-|
|Weight (Size Large)||207g|
|Product Sizing Reference: 42" Chest =||Large|
|Scramble's Price on SYSTEM||£28.80|
Introduction: Get into something more comfortable
When covering long distances over multiple days and weeks, you really need two kinds of clothing: one you do all the hard miles in, the other you slip into when all the hard work is done; with tent pitched, a meal and a good nights sleep beckoning. So, here we're looking at the latter, what we classify as sleepwear but is really also camp/tent wear. What we're looking for here is predominantly a good warmth to weight ratio (since you're carrying it most of the time), hard wearing enough to endure the push and pull of changing clothes in cramped conditions, but perhaps most importantly, comfort - since morale should not be underestimated; you want something that when you put it on feels like a pat on the back for a days work well done.
The Odlo Sports Underwear Crew is very similar to the Odlo Warm Originals baselayer. In our opinion it should have been marketed as: Odlo Warm Originals Wind Block.
It has the same fleece inner as the Warm Originals, the difference is on the outer where the arms and the front feature a tighter weave (similar to that of a running top). The back has the same looser weave as the Warm Originals baselayer and is dropped covering much of ones backside.
Surprisingly this tighter weave has little effect on its overall weight. Our Warm Original weighs 200g (large) versus the Odlo Sports Underwear Crew coming in at 207g (large). Yet it feels warmer and has proved a little more durable.
Wears well and keeps its shape
We've tried numerous thermals and all of them have suffered the same fate -- over time, due to wrestling them on and off, often in cramped settings, they all lose their shape and get stretched and loose and in turn lose some of the thermal efficiency. The Odlo Sports Underwear Crew is tougher and feels warmer than many of its competitors and its tight weave as well as providing a little extra wind resistance, also helps maintain its shape over time.
I slept in this top 10 days straight in the 2016 summer kit test and didn't notice any bad odours (I had a few stream washes along the way, but the top wasn't washed). Odlo, like a number of outdoor manufacturers, have discovered the amazing properties of silver (a natural antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal), long understood by the medical world and now stitched into many outdoor next-to-skin garments (Odlo call this their Effect™ Odour Control fabric treatment). At no point did the top feel itchy or uncomfortable (aided in part by the use of flatlock seams throughout).
Note: We carry 50ml of Colloidal Silver in an atomiser spray for wound cleaning, to prevent infections (works internally and topically) and to prevent the bacteria on the skin breaking down sweat into acids which creates those bad odours. So the use of silver ions in garments is actually sensible and not just a marketing gimmick.
Thermals aren't just for Winter
In milder temperatures, wearing warmer sleepwear reduces the onus on ones sleeping bag to keep you warm, meaning you can carry a lighter bag. There's probably a scientific scale (or there should be) to show this, but in our experience, in warmer weather additional grams in the sleepwear department are more effective than additional grams in the sleeping bag. Conversely, as the temperature decreases this becomes less and less the case. Someone needs to study this.
When sleeping outside, it's far easier dealing with being too hot than too cold; sleeping bags are easy to vent and it's rare during Summer nights that winter thermals alone are sufficient to keep you warm enough for a good nights sleep (assuming your tent / bivvy is not a boil in the bag suffocation unit).
So assuming one goes out in cold as well as warm weather and wishes to avoid shelling out for multiple sleepwear configurations, it makes sense to wear effective winter thermals in summer as this reduces the weight required for a summer bag. In our 2016 summer test I wore what many would deem over the top thermals (the top under review here with Rab's Power Stretch Pro Pants), however this meant the sleeping bag of choice weighed only 450g and there were some relatively cold summer nights.
Any Negatives? ... Not really
Ah but its only a crew, isn't a high neck with zip better for regulating heat? Well, yes, but these also add weight and it's easy to lose heat via the sleeping bag. In almost all conditions we carry a buff/neck gaiter (and if it's really cold then a balaclava too); we've not found the crew neck to be an issue. Perhaps, the perfect top would weigh as much, be just as warm and breathable, and have a high zipped collar - so we've dropped a point for function (conversely, it scores well for "weight").
Conclusion & Rating
With an excellent warmth to weight ratio, this is a reasonably close fitting thermal top with some stretch, sensible fitted cuffs and a dropped back to ensure good overall coverage. We're sure its intended purpose is as a winter baselayer, but in this regard a) it's too warm; b) it lacks venting options, and c) merino/polyester hybrids are a better option for active winter baselayers.
However, as sleepwear, from August summer nights to freezing February winters, when the hard graft is done, the Sports Underwear Crew has proven a durable and extremely comfortable top to wear in and around the tent, making it our current top pick in the Outdoor Sleepwear category.
Rating (out of 10)
* The value score is derived from two factors:
1) Competitive Market Price (CMP). This represents our judgement of a competitive online price point if we were to stock the item. e.g. if we feel we would need to sell an item at 40% off (i.e. 60% of its full RRP) to be competitive, then our CMP score will be 6/10.
2) Customer Value Price (CVP). We then make an honest appraisal of the maximum price we would be willing to pay for the item (and we're mean). So if we'd pay 80% of its RRP our CVP score would be 8/10.
We then average the two scores to get our final value score, which in our example would be 7/10.
Last Updated: 15/02/17