What’s next to your skin sets the stage for your comfort: don’t mess around. Developed with top physiologists, Columbia’s new baselayer series offers maximum warmth, minimum weight, and zoned performance for optimal comfort.
Our bodymapped design keeps you warm and dry in all the right spots by placing Omni-Heat® reflective dots in zones that need warmth most, and Omni-Wick in high-perspiration zones for maximum moisture transmission. Antimicrobial treatment keeps the fabric feeling (and smelling) fresh during high-exertion activities, while a deep neck zipper helps you moderate heat when you need to. Highly stretchable, with flat-lock stitching to avoid chafing and raglan sleeves for extended range of motion, this midweight top sets you up for success.
- Fabric: 86% polyester/14% elastane
- Omni-Heat thermal reflective
- Omni-Wick advanced evaporation
- Form fit
- 4-way comfort stretch
- Ergonomic seaming
- Thumb holes
- ½ Zip – cm ()
- Measured size medium (* measurements taken from unstretched top)
- Weight – 198 g (7.0 oz)
- Pit to pit – 53.1 cm (20.9 in)
- Center back – 75.3 cm (29.6 in)
- Sleeve length – 85.7 cm (33.7 in)
- Retail – $60
Columbia has been around a long time, since 1938. Up until the last couple years they had been trending more towards the lifestyle theme rather than truly innovating. A couple of years ago they decided to try to become the true innovator in the outdoor world and have been releasing new technologies each year since then. In late 2010 Columbia released their Omni-Heat technology and in 2011, they introduced it to their baselayer collection. I was fortunate to be able to get a pair of these to test and have put them through the paces since then.
I tested the top in conjunction with the tights as well as on its own. I used it for a couple multi day hiking trips, on some runs, commutes to work, and cross-country skiing. I also have a short-sleeve version that I purchased and used as well.
The Columbia Baselayer Tops are made of a polyester and Elastane mix that gives the top excellent stretch. The interior of the top has Omni-Heat reflective dots in spots where you need warmth. In the locations that you do not, like the armpits, there are no dots. Omni-Heat’s reflective technology helps regulate temperature by reflective and retaining the warmth your body generates. The surface is 35% covered in reflective dots and the other 65% is Omni-Wick fabric that pulls moisture away from the skin. This video from Columbia explains Omni-Heat well.
The Columbia Basleayer Top has been body-mapped as mentioned above. The Omni-Heat reflective is on the inside throughout the top except under the arms and over the outside of the hips. The fabric has also been given an Antimicrobial treatment to keep bacterial at a minimum. These bacteria are what causes the odor buildup. All the seams have been flat locked for comfort against the skin. The top has raglan sleeves for a better range of motion and no seams across the shoulders for comfort while wearing a pack. On the wrist cuffs there are thumb loops to add warmth when the temperature dips. In the opposite way, the ½ zip front zipper can be used to regulate heat by letting air escape easier. The baselayer top is not too flashy and looks like any others you have seen until you look inside, that is a whole other story.
Columbia is making a very conscious effort to be more sustainable as a business. With solar panels on their roofs to reusing boxes in their warehouse. Columbia also has some products made from recycled materials. Since this was not one of those products I gave it a rating of 2.5.
Arm Length (20%)
Comfort Next to Skin (30%)
Ease of Movement (30%)
Torso Sizing (20%)
Baselayers are meant to be form fitting and the Columbia Midweight Baselayer Top does not disappoint. It is skin tight but not compressing. With the high level of 4-way stretch the fabric has it never feels tight but rather just stretches when needed. The arms are made slightly longer to work with the thumb loops. When not using the thumb loops, they do not add any extra bulk to the sleeves. The fabric has a high amount of Elastane, which gives it a lot of stretch. This also gives the top a great ease of movement. The torso sizing and length are also right on. It is not too tight but also does not have too much room underneath either.
What I was really surprised by was how comfortable the baselayer is against the skin. I was afraid the reflective dots would feel sticky against the skin. Even the first time I wore the top it was great. All the seams are flat locked and positioned in places not to cause any chafing. I wore it under a pack several times and never had any issues. On one trip, I wore the top for three straight days without taking it off. It was comfortable the whole time.
Drying Speed (15%)
Moisture Transport (20%)
This baselayer just performs. The Columbia Midweight Baselayer breathes well. I wore it on several runs, it let air through and kept my temperature in check. The top wicked moisture away well on my hikes but got a little clammy on the inside when I was running. I do not think the reflective dot wick moisture away as well as the regular fabric does so if you are sweating a lot it may overwhelm the top. The Omni-Heat may be a bit much when working that hard. The top does dry quickly when it does get wet. Just standing around for a couple of minutes, and it would be dry.
The zip top has been very durable thus far. The Omni-Heat reflective layer has not come off even through a bunch of washings. The most interesting part of the baselayer top has to be the Omni-Heat reflective layer. It is really hard to quantify whether the top is 20% warmer like Columbia claims, but it does seem warmer. Wearing it in my sleeping bag on some cold nights, I was definitely warmer than I usually am at that temperature. I also felt warmer than expected when I wore the top by itself when hiking on the last day on the Timerline Trail. It was foggy, misty, and windy, but I was completely comfortable in just this top. When I did need to cool down a bit the front zipper was good at letting a little warm air escape.
Overall, I was completely impressed by the Columbia Midweight Baselayer 1/2 Zip Top. Not only did it seem a bit warmer than other similar tops but the fit was very comfortable as well. When I thought of Omni-Heat, I had thoughts of Mylar reflective blankets that they hand out at running races on my mind. I figured the Omni-Heat would be just as comfortable against the skin as they are. Fortunately, I was wrong and Columbia has figured out how to make Omni-Heat both functional and comfortable. I would definitely recommend this top as a baselayer but do think it may be a little overkill for highly intensity activities. The reflective dots do not seem to wick as well, and the Omni-Heat might make you sweat more. For stop and go type activities this would still be a good choice. One last feature of the top is that if you are in an emergency situation, you can turn it inside out a become a reflective beacon, just kidding, well kind of. The top retails for $60 which is on the higher side for baselayer tops but it will be hard to find many with this much technology packed into them. Check out my review of the Columbia Baselayer Tights as well. As always, your mileage may vary.
- Stretchy fabric
- Omni-Heat seems warmer
- Long arms with thumb loops
- Torso fit is long and snug
- Flat locked seams strategically placed
- Can get clammy during high intensity
- Timberline Trail Hike
- DeMaris Lake Hike
- Sleeping on the South Sister Summit
- Snowshoe Run at Miesner Snopark
- Broken Top Crater Hike