by Diane Spicer
This Koup base layer review addresses a simple fact:
Every hiker needs a high performance base layer.
And for anything other than warm, dry hikes, a mid layer and an outer layer as well.
Using the technology of specialized fabrics, a hiker can remain comfortable, even when surrounded by nasty (hot, wet, cold) weather.
Always on the hunt for great hiking base layers, Hiking For Her is inviting you to come along as a new type of base layer fabric from Koup is reviewed.
Koup contacted Hiking For Her about its new technology for hiking clothing: 100% recycled polyester coupled with cinnamon extract.
So a free shirt was sent in exchange for a fair, honest Koup base layer review.
Hiking For Her was not paid for this review.
There is no affiliate relationship between Hiking For Her and Koup.
All comments, opinions and photos where noted belong to Hiking For Her.
You can purchase this shirt through this Koup Amazon affiliate link, with no additional cost to you.
So you might be wondering why I would spend time writing a detailed review of this shirt.
Because I want you to have the best of the best hiking clothing.
It's my pleasure to share new developments with you!
In this review, we are taking a close look at their long sleeve women's base layer shirt.
Note: It is also available in a men's version.
The company's tag line is "award winning circular cinnamon performance apparel".
Circular, as in using discarded water bottles to create fabric.
Let's get the standard stuff in any good hiking gear review out of the way first.
By that, I mean these performance factors:
A hiking base layer needs to wick away perspiration so you don't drown in your own sweat.
Instead of using a chemical coating, this shirt is made of fabric which has the ability to promote capillary action.
In essence, it creates tiny little channels to draw moisture away from your skin.
For a hiker, this action keeps you feeling less soggy during a hike. That plays into feeling more comfortable as the hike progresses.
It can also increase your safety margin in extremely cold or hot conditions.
A base layer should also be breathable, allowing for flow
between your sweaty skin and the outside air.
This provides an avenue for body heat and sweat to be released through the fabric.
Look at the photo above. Notice the textured jacquard structure.
Then visualize a lot of pores in the fabric for air exchange.
So the answer is yes, this shirt has breathability.
Let's keep going with the technical details in this Koup base layer review.
Hikers are all about counting ounces or grams on their gear list, even in something as basic as a shirt.
Fabric that feels as if it weighs nothing on your skin is a real find.
The fine machine gauge used in this Koup shirt keeps the weight down to an astonishingly small number, less than 68g (per Koup tests) for a women's shirt.
If a shirt fights you when you bend over or move along the trail, it's not worth wearing.
Ditto for thick seams that chafe all of your sensitive areas.
A base layer with flat seams and a modified crew neck is just right for the trail, and that's what this shirt offers you.
Now for the fun part: the cinnamon.
That's the question that intrigued me!
Here's the answer.
Bacteria make their home on your skin. They go to work on your sweat as you hike, using the components to live another day.
And to create the classic "hiker funk" or what I like to call "essence of hiker" smell.
Cinnamon inhibits the growth of bacteria. Slows them down so you end up with fewer of them on your skin, in other words.
That's a big deal, because some types of skin bacteria can double in number in as little as twenty minutes.
Koup tested their cinnamon infused polyester fabric to see if the antimicrobial properties were real, and if they lasted after 20 wash cycles.
Yes, and yes.
You can examine their results here.
Bottom line for performance: odor control based on a spice.
I expect a lot from my hiking clothing, including:
So that's what I'll focus on in this portion of the Koup base layer review.
Personal disclosure: I hate tight hiking clothing.
Sure, it may look good when it's snug and trim.
But I want fabric to move with me, not fight against me, as I swing my arms and bend to pick up my backpack.
The fabric in this Koup base layer shirt flowed nicely with my movements.
The modified crew neck gave me plenty of freedom, and accommodated my neck gaiter nicely.
I liked the flat seams, with no chafe points.
It also has a bit of stretch, making it easy to pull on or off.
The shirt is designed for a trim fit. If you like more room in your shirts, order up a size.
I also noticed that because of the thinness of the fabric (which is by design, see above), I could clearly see the outline of my sports bra beneath it.
No big deal to me, but it might be to you.
Also, the shirt is available only in sizes S - XL, which leaves out a lot of hiking women.
No complaints in this department!
The shirt sopped up my sweat as it was generated, on a day long hike in temperatures that hovered around 50 degrees.
It kept me warm beneath my rain jacket (used as a waterproof outer layer when navigating off trail) but was able to keep everything except my arm pits from feeling saturated.
And that's a great outcome for any hiker!
The thinness of the fabric, which is an asset when examined one way, can become a liability when looked at in terms of durability.
How long can something this thin last?
The shirt arrived with its own little laundry sack, which is intended to keep it from snagging on velcro fasteners of hiking pants and jackets when co-mingled in the wash.
I didn't put the shirt up against any abrasive rock surfaces on my test hike, although it's likely that I will on future hikes.
But on that note, if I'm using this thin shirt as a base layer, it's unlikely that I'll be leaning against rocks or clawing through brush wearing just this layer.
Backpack space is always at a premium on a hike, no matter its length.
On a day hike, I want to go fast and light, so the volume of my small pack is limited by choice.
I routinely carry a clean, dry shirt to switch into at my lunch spot, rain or shine.
This shirt was a dream to pack!
It snuggled into its little laundry sack (what can I say, I'm a rebel) and disappeared into the outer top pocket of my backpack. So easy to whip out and don quickly on a chilly day!
I'm planning some backpacking trips with bush plane access, and feel good knowing this shirt will be a negligible but important part of my overall weight.
Just for the record:
I am quite satisfied with the way this shirt looks, and the pretty blue color reminds me of my favorite little alpine tarn.
Did the shirt smell after the hike?
Of course it did! It smelled like wind, mud, and me.
Did it reek?
No, and it wasn't too smelly the next morning when I laundered it.
It came out looking -and smelling- great!
It will be fun to track the next 19 washes, to see if the Koup claim for its cinnamon infused fabric holds true for me. I'll report back right here in this Koup base layer review.
This shirt is made of 100% recycled polyester, meaning less energy and less greenhouse gases in the manufacturing process.
Not every base layer shirt can claim that.
Kudos to Koup for creating a light footprint on the environment.
Does it seem a little over the top to do such a thorough discussion of one little shirt?
Every hiker is on the lookout for great base layers, for the various reasons outlined in this review.
Consider Koup for your gear list additions if you're a day hiker, backpacker, or trail runner.
Keep an eye on Koup, they've got innovative things in store for hikers.
Grab your shirt here.
And thanks for coming along on this Koup base layer review!
Koup Base Layer Shirt Review