Sunday, 12 January 2014

Damart Thermolactyl base layer

About two weeks after posting the review on the Rab base layer, I was approached to review a base layer from Damart.  My previous thermal top from Damart, which I still use for the occasional caving trip, dates back to sometime between Punk Rock and the New Romantics.  Indeed, I've driven past Damart's iconic chimney in Bingley many times on my way to and from the Dales and like me, Damart are celebrating their 60'th year

The product I was sent to review is a thermal top, a crew necked, long sleeved base layer made from Thermolactyl, a polyester based fabric.  It is rated Grade 4 on the manufacturer's warmth scale, for use between -15C to -5C. 

Style and colour
The top is a long sleeved, crew neck garment and is available in Black, Red and Blue.  A similar product is available for women.


Damart base layer

Sizing and fit
The item I reviewed was a Large size.  The Rab was also a Large and I had noted in that review that it was a generous Large.  The Damart base layer is noticeably more snug. In fact it's just about a perfect fit on me.  My only gripe is that the sleeves are just a little on the short side.  Laying the two products one on the other, the Damart appears about 1.5 to 2cms narrower in the body but is 1cm longer.  The sleeves are a good 5cms shorter than the Rab, although the latter has thumb loops, so one would expect a longer sleeve.

The sleeves could do to be a bit longer for use when
arms are likely to outstretched, e.g. riding a bike

 To explore this a little further, I compared an old Berghaus base layer with the Damart and found the chest size and sleeve length of two to be comparable but the Berghaus is 4cm shorter in the body.

The sizing guidelines for both Rab and Damart indicate I should need a large but I suspect that the Rab is on the generous side of large whilst the Damart is more like a 'normal' large size (if such a thing exists.)

The Damart top weighs 175gms on my kitchen scales.

Graphical detailing on the back of the shirt

 Construction and comfort
The construction appears excellent.  The hems are well stitched with no loose threads to come unravelled.  The seams are similarly well stitched and flat on the inside of the garment.  The Thermolactyl fabric has a smooth finish outside and is brushed, slightly fleecy and very soft on the side worn next to the skin.  It is extremely comfortable and immediately feels warm. I can imagine putting it on damp without experiencing the usual teeth clenching shiver.

In use
I was intending to give this product a more thorough test but I've spent the last 3 weeks with a chest infection which has left me breaking into a '60 a day' cough every time I step outside the front door.  I did however manage a reasonably energetic ride on a cold day the week before Christmas.  I wore the Damart base layer, a thin mid-layer fibre pile and a hard shell and was just about the right temperature.  I could imagine cycling in this with just a hard shell or a thin wind shell at other times of the year.  It would be probably be a good top to run in.  Having said that, I barely worked up a  sweat, so it's difficult to make any assessment of its wicking properties.  Damart don't make any claims about the odour control properties of Thermolactyl but after using it, I left it in the corner for a few days and it still smelled 'sweet'.  It will however get a more rigorous test, once I get my lungs functioning and get back on the bike.

Having perhaps been a little less than enthusiastic about 'old' Damart in my review of the Rab, I have come away with a much more favourable opinion of Damart's newer products made form Thermolactyl and this base layer is likely to get a lot of use in the coming year.