underfire4.gifWe tested Potomac Field Gear fire-resistant wear on Mt. Shasta, CA in June. On June 14, my partner and I left the Bunny Flats trailhead at elevation around 7,000 feet. The weather conditions were mixed, with a late spring snowstorm just nearing its end. We climbed up to Helen Lake at elevation 10,400 feet in very strong winds (30 to 50 mph gusts) and a temperature of 30 to 35 degrees. It was deep snow all the way. The last 1,000 feet of climbing we got into near whiteout conditions.

I was wearing the Potomac short sleeve shirt and the long sleeve shirt over that. The only other layers I had were a lightweight Marmot Dri Clime shirt and an outer wind/rain jacket. I was never really cold. Of course, we were exerting big time, but the wicking capabilities of the gear seemed to work fine. The wind jacket, too, was critical to our comfort. When we got to Helen and stopped, the only real cold I experienced was when I had to take my gloves off to do something. It didn’t take long to get those gloves back on.

That night we slept in a Bibler single-wall tent on a platform dug into the snow. Winds were fierce and the temperature was in the 20’s. I slept in the short-sleeve shirt and long-sleeve shirt inside a 20-degree bag. I didn’t wear the long underwear because of the temp. I wore the Potomac boxer’s and some heavyweight poly with hiking pants and wind pants. The boxer’s were fine for me but my partner to whom I gave a pair expressed desire that they were a little longer in the leg. They too wicked to perfection. We came down the next morning in extreme winds. The winds at the summit and some unstable snow conditions made going higher too dangerous. We decided to hike up Black Butte, a volcano next to Shasta. It is lower and snow free, but provided us with a good chance to further test the gear. Again, I wore the short-sleeve shirt and got very sweaty. Even so, neither of us could detect any odor.

All in all, I was very impressed with this clothing. It was comfortable, dried quickly, had no odor and for the temperatures we experienced, did very well in keeping warm. The humidity out there of course is very low, but I have worn this gear in Virginia on a five-day wilderness trip and had similar success. I give this gear my highest rating and look forward to testing some heavier stuff in extreme cold. — Tom Crise Abingdon, VA

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