In the past few years, we’ve seen the growing popularity of “body mapping,” in which garments include a variety of panels made of various materials to regulate temperature and manage moisture. Mammut employs this concept in its Alpine Underwear, available in two weights (All Year and Warm Quality) for men and women.
The SNEWS team tested the lighter All-Year long sleeve top, which has 100-percent polyester microfiber on the body core, a blend of lightweight polyester microfiber and merino wool on the shoulders and wrists, plus a blend of midweight merino and polyester microfiber near hem and elbows. We also tested the All-Year bottoms, which include the lightweight polyester and merino blend at the thigh and calf areas, as well as the blend of midweight merino and polyester at the knees.
In temperatures ranging from the 40s to the 50s, we hiked, biked and ran, and the results were mixed. While the underwear kept our testers warm and dry, they felt a bit tight for some people and the fabrics were not especially comfortable.
The lightweight pieces wicked moisture effectively during heart-pumping activities, and they dried very quickly -- much faster than we have experienced with underwear made solely of wool. One tester pointed out that the lightweight underwear was not quite warm enough for low-octane endeavors, such as standing outside to chat with her neighbor for long periods of time, but you expect that with lighter garments.
A main concern with the underwear was the basic fit. While one of our testers is petite and thin, she thought her size small underwear felt tight and constraining. “The patches of material on the elbows and knees weren’t very stretchy,” she said, adding that the tightness limited her movement. “I felt like my kneecaps were being squashed,” said another tester. While garments such as these must be snug to move moisture, Mammut seems to have made its underwear a little too snug or incorrectly determined the sizing. Our testers gauged that the pieces ran about a size too small.
The other problem with the Alpine Underwear was that some testers said the materials felt scratchy, especially compared to materials used in other underwear that we have tested. One tester with sensitive skin reported that itch-factor was a significant issue, noting that the elastic waistband on the bottoms chafed her sensitive stomach. Plus, testers reported that the many seams that connect the various panels of fabric chafed.
If the Alpine Underwear is a bit tight and itchy, the collection at least scored plenty of style points. Every tester had the same reaction upon donning the garments: We look like superheroes! The matching tops and bottoms come in bold colors, and panels on the torso and legs with contrasting colors really pop. Add the fact that the underwear hugs the body like the tights worn by the superheroes in “The Incredibles” animated movie, and you’ve got the makings of a great superhero outfit.
If this underwear has any super powers, it’s the ability to conquer sweat and heat loss when you’re flying about and battling Old Man Winter. Plus, you’ll look dashing while doing it. But Mammut will need to loosen the garments a tad or adjust the sizing, and make the pieces less prickly before its Alpine Underwear can be considered truly heroic.
SNEWS Rating: 3 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $65 women’s All Year top; $60 women’s All year bottom