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tasc Base Layer Review

tasc Base Layer
Price:   $90 List | $90.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Exceptional mobility and fit, best thumb holes, very breathable
Cons:  Poor durability, average drying speed
Bottom line:  We loved the tasc Base Layer for its ability to move along with our bodies across a wide range of activities, as well as its significant warmth and breathability, but were disappointed in its lack of durability.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   tasc
By Ross Robinson
Monday December 19, 2016

Our Verdict

This was the first product from tasc that we have ever tested here at OutdoorGearLab. On paper, we were drawn in by its distinctive blend of viscose from bamboo, merino wool, and lycra. On our backs, we were seriously impressed by the fit of this model, which seemed to move with our body movements like a second skin, without the vacuum-sealed feeling of some base layers like the Under Armour Base 4.0.

It also proved to be very breathable and warmer than it appears, and the mostly natural fibers resist odors well. However, it got pretty beat-up during our testing, and didn't hold up nearly as well as the others. As the fabric and threads ripped, we also became torn. But with a lackluster performance in terms of durability, this great product fell out of the running for an award.

The other model with blended fabric in this review, the Rab Merino+ 160, has a great fit and excellent breathability, but also dries very quickly and is more durable. Or, if you're digging the snug fit of this product, but want enhanced warmth, durability, and layering potential, the Arc'teryx Rho AR is right up your alley.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Long Underwear and Base Layer for Men

Our Analysis and Test Results

A blend of viscose from bamboo, merino wool, and lycra forms the fabric for the Base Layer from tasc, which costs $90. This unique combination of natural and synthetic materials created a warm, breathable, and comfortable product. We especially liked the fit of this well-designed top. It did suffer from a low score in durability, though, as it showed the most scars at the end of our testing period.

Performance Comparison


As the first product from tasc ever reviewed by OutdoorGearLab  this product brought some great qualities to the table. It didn't smash up the competition  but we look forward to more products from this company in the future.
As the first product from tasc ever reviewed by OutdoorGearLab, this product brought some great qualities to the table. It didn't smash up the competition, but we look forward to more products from this company in the future.

Warmth


Weighing 8.9 oz, the tasc model had a strong weight to warmth ratio. It feels thicker than other products with the same 200 g/m² fabric weight, and provides more warmth than the Icebreaker Oasis. As long as we remained moderately active, this top was warm enough on its own down to 32°F.

With extra long sleeves and torso  this model kept us covered through any activity or movement. Even sitting.
With extra long sleeves and torso, this model kept us covered through any activity or movement. Even sitting.

Its design and features added to its warmth. The snug and long fit of the torso and sleeves kept our skin from being exposed to cold air during practically any kind of movement. The torso extended further than any other product, reaching 13 inches past the top of our main reviewer's hips. We also loved the way this top seemed to hug our hips and upper thighs in a flexible, warm embrace, and the drop tail even further covered us below the waist in the back. The thumb holes were our favorite, functioning much better and keeping our hands warmer than the loops on the Under Armour Base 4.0 and Patagonia Capilene Midweight. Lastly, the minor detail of a zipper garage was welcome, as it kept the sometimes icy zipper from giving our necks an unwanted cold kiss.

Breathability


This contender didn't disappoint in breathability. When hiking in cold to moderate temperatures with a loaded pack, we didn't notice any sweat condensing on the inside layer of this top. After our indoor workout test, our skin went from sweaty to dry in less than seven minutes. Its breathability was comparable to that of the Rab Merino+ 160, despite being significantly thicker. If you're working hard in cold environments, the Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe Crew wicks away moisture exceptionally well.

The swinging rings on the beach of Santa Monica beg to be played with  and the flexible tasc model didn't protest.
The swinging rings on the beach of Santa Monica beg to be played with, and the flexible tasc model didn't protest.

Comfort and Fit


We found the tasc model to be quite comfortable and very well fitting. The flexible fabric, combined with its snug fit, moved exceptionally with our bodies in all directions. When testing this product in rounds of calisthenics, very rarely did we have to re-adjust our sleeves or the bottom of the shirt, as they simply stayed put. This is more than we could say for the Patagonia Capilene or Icebreaker Oasis.

Due to its stretchy fabric, and with the help of oval underarm gussets, this product has no hindrances when it comes to mobility. The seams are cleverly placed away from the shoulder tops and avoid any chafing. It was also the only model that had no inner tags, which can often rub and itch annoyingly on similarly snug products. The thumb holes were very comfortable, as the extra-long sleeves provided enough material to loop over the thumb without putting pressure on the perlicue between the thumb and index finger.

The already stretchy fabric of this model combined with the large under arm gussets to create a base layer with excellent mobility.
The already stretchy fabric of this model combined with the large under arm gussets to create a base layer with excellent mobility.

This product did have two drawbacks, one concerning comfort and one concerning its fit. Surprisingly in a negative way, this fabric was actually the itchiest of all that we tested, despite only being 30% merino wool. It also hugged our neck a smidge too tightly when zipped up, causing us to feel the need to adjust it more than other models. The SmartWool Merino 250 Base Layer scored a perfect 10 out of 10 in this category, followed by the Rab Merino+ 160 and Arc'teryx Rho, each scoring a 9 out of 10.

If your skin is especially sensitive to itchy fabric, we recommend considering synthetic products for your long underwear needs.

Drying Speed


The tasc product was 46% slower at drying on a hanger after a complete soaking than the fastest-drying model, the Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe Crew. While a longer drying time should be expected with thicker products, it dried significantly slower than the REI Merino Midweight and Icebreaker Oasis, which have the same fabric weight of 200 g/m². As it is a fairly snug fitting model, we would hope that it would dry slightly faster when worn, as this would increase the fabric's surface area contact to the air.

Durability


Durability was the unfortunate downfall of this base layer top. At the end of our testing period, it showed quite a bit of wear and tear. It had developed small holes in the fabric on the left sleeve, multiple points where the stitching was coming loose, and our beloved thumb holes were beginning to rip apart. We don't expect this top to last more than one or two seasons of extensive use. If this product was more durable, it would have scored much higher overall, and been in contention for an award. But, nope! If you're on the hunt for a more durable long underwear top, we'd recommend the Mountain Hardwear Microchill 2.0, which scored a near perfect 9 out of 10, or a better overall performing contender like The North Face Warm, our Best Buy winner.


Frequent washing of any base layer will weaken its fabric. Because this product naturally resists odors very well, it will require fewer washes than most synthetic products. Although the tasc model doesn't score well in durability, this is a thin silver lining.

Layering Ability


Although the material is quite stretchy, this top wasn't our first choice for layering over t-shirts or other base layers. It was perfect for layering on top of, though, as its snug fit kept it in place under mid-layers and jackets. The next-to-skin sleeves also made slipping under other layers a breeze, without needing to re-adjust. The SmartWool Merino 250, our Editors' Choice winner, was much more accommodating to layers underneath it, while still having a more-than-satisfactory fit.

We love the versatility of midweight base layers. Here  the Arc'teryx model fits comfortably over the top from tasc for a winter hike above Emerald Bay  Lake Tahoe.
We love the versatility of midweight base layers. Here, the Arc'teryx model fits comfortably over the top from tasc for a winter hike above Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe.

Best Applications


The performance of this base layer is most noticeable when used in activities requiring high mobility and flexibility, such as climbing. It works well as a first layer and on its own, depending on the temperature.

Value


While we enjoyed many aspects of this tasc model, we find it hard to justify spending $90 on a base layer that won't last very long. With durability in mind, we don't find this product to present a good value. Instead, consider The North Face Warm, our Best Buy winner, which sells for $60 and excels in each metric, outperforming expensive models.

This base layer is great  but for its price point  we found other models to offer a little more functionality.
This base layer is great, but for its price point, we found other models to offer a little more functionality.

Conclusion


The tasc Base Layer succeeded where other products frequently disappointed us; its fit was awesome. We loved that this product moved with our bodies better than any other model. With a great showing also in breathability and sufficient warmth for lower temperatures, this shirt initially seemed to have it all. However, its lack of durability lowered its value and long-term performance.

Ross Robinson
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