Merino Zip-Off Bottoms: Function and Efficiency

Last week while browsing a few different forums I noticed more than one question surrounding the design and use of our Merino Zip-Off Baselayer Bottoms. Like they used to say in school, if one person has a question, then there are likely others wondering the same thing. The Zip-Off Bottoms have become one of my favorite layering pieces over the past year, so I’d like to make sure everyone is clear on how they work and why they were designed the way they are.

 

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The first thing that most potential buyers notice and question about the zip-off bottoms is the length. They are obviously different in that regard from traditional long underwear that ends around the ankles, and it’s a normal instinct for potential buyers to initially shy away from a product that appears to fit differently than what they’ve become accustomed to wearing for years. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have my share of eyebrow raising moments as Shaun catwalked the halls of the KUIU office in his mid-calf length baselayer bottoms during the developmental stages of the product. Fashion sense aside, the shortened length concept makes sense and works in the field. There’s really no reason to have a baselayer insulate the lower leg within the upper of the boot… that’s what socks are for. Furthermore, the beauty of the zip-off feature is that the user doesn’t need to remove his pants or even touch his boot lacing to add and/or remove this layer. Lastly, the garment weighs less without the excess fabric.

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The functionality of the easy-on, easy-off design could not be better. Gone are the days where you tough out the bitter cold in the mornings to avoid having to basically change clothes later when the sun came up in order to shed my traditional long underwear. It’s not that we don’t have time on a hunt to take our boots and pants off and then put them back on again, but let’s face it… it’s an inconvenience that’s typically avoided until the heat of a baselayer bottom becomes completely unbearable. The zip-off bottoms change all of this. It’s a no-brainer to put them on in the morning when it’s cold, and it only takes about 15 seconds to remove them, put them in the pack, and continue with the day as soon as it gets too warm.

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This image provides a better look at how the zip-off bottoms work.

A couple frequently asked questions are how does the zipper feel against the leg, and how do the upper closer tabs feel against the waist? The answer is pretty straight forward- you really don’t ever feel either of them. The size 3C YKK zippers are small and soft, and have an inner trim that closes off contact between the skin and the zipper teeth (detailed photo below). Though slight in size, these zippers have proven to hold up very well. We have yet to receive a single warranty claim against the performance or longevity of the zippers on the zip-off bottoms.

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Next to skin side of leg zipper. Notice how no zipper teeth are exposed.

The upper velcro closure tabs are designed in a way that keeps all of the hook and loop material out of contact with the body. Additionally, there is almost no bulge or change in thickness along the waistband that would create an uncomfortable pressure point while wearing a pack waist belt over the top.

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The velcro side tabs create a very smooth and comfortable transition between the front and rear panels.

 

I hope this helps clear up some questions surrounding this baselayer piece. The Merino Zip-Off Bottoms are undoubtedly KUIU’s most under-the-radar innovations of the past year.

GIVEAWAY (Update Below)

SUBSCRIBE AND SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND/OR EXPERIENCES WITH THE ZIP-OFF BOTTOMS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW, AND I WILL PICK ONE COMMENTER AT RANDOM NEXT FRIDAY AT 10AM PST TO RECEIVE A FREE PAIR.

JAMES PARMER, your name was drawn as the winner of this Giveaway. I have emailed you with instructions. Thank you to all who took the time to comment on this post. Your responses are invaluable to those who come across this post down the road while researching this product.

On a side note, it was brought to our attention yesterday that the previous SUBSCRIBE feature used for this blog has sent a some unrelated emails to our readers. We immediately deactivated and removed the problematic subscription provider, and have replaced it with a new one that will not send any unwanted emails. Thanks to those of you who notified us of the issue.

Todd Harney

KUIU on Mt. Whitney

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Earlier this Spring I was fortunate enough to draw an Overnight Permit in California’s Mt. Whitney recreation zone, which contains the lower 48’s highest peak (Mt. Whitney: 14,505′) along with some of its most rugged backcountry. This past weekend we completed our trip and got some great off-season gear testing in.

For this week’s post I wanted to share some photos of the trip, and also highlight the awesome high country we have here in California- which may come as a surprise to some.

On the trip was Ben Britton (KUIU), my dad Mike Harney, and myself. While we could not summit due to an impassable 8-day accumulation of snow along the cliffy portions of the trail on the final ascent, it was a quality self-assessment trip to gauge our strengths and weaknesses heading into the 2015 season.

 

Looking back toward the valley floor on the initial ascent.

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Dad on a sit break.

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Onward and Upward.

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Dad and I.

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Ultra Star in the afternoon….

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And then the next morning.

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The MSR Reactor boils snow incredibly fast at 13,000+ feet.

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The top finally begins to show itself in the distance.

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Once again, lots of overnight snowfall.

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Feeling the elevation.

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Ben and I broke in the trail for the day after a night of snow. This climb up “The Chute” was definitely the steepest and toughest portion of the trip.

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Luckily we hit the chute early while the snow was still hard. The day prior, an avalanche slid through this section taking a few hikers with it.

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Ben making his way up.

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If you look closely in the bottom left corner below, a couple people can be seen following our tracks to the base of the ascent.

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This is where we decided the trail became too sketchy. Having never been there before we didn’t want to guess where the trail was beneath the snow through this cliffy 1/2-mile traverse.

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Lastly, Ben would like to remind everyone not to forget sunscreen when hitting the snow-covered slopes this Spring…

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If anyone else has used their KUIU gear on any epic off-season climbs this year, email me your best photo and a caption at ToddH@KUIU.com. I would be glad to post it up here.

Thanks for reading.

Todd Harney