Gear Review: Under Armour Focus 1/4 Zip

I had the opportunity to test the Under Armour Focus 1/4 Zip in extreme conditions within a four-hour time frame.  This included conditions ranging from windy to bitter cold in high elevations.  The Focus was my choice for a recent hike to the summit of Mt. Evans in Colorado.  It was easy to pack and lightweight enough to do some mild rock/boulder scrambling on the way to the top.  

According to the park ranger station near Echo Lake, the summit temperature was 40 degrees and falling.  However, I was more concerned about the reported 18-degree wind chill and massive wind gusts.  This would wreak havoc on our leisurely afternoon mountain stroll, which included my 57 year-old father and six year-old son – who was trying to hike his first Colorado Fourteener.  

Once we hit Summit Lake, the cold air easily penetrated my simple cotton shirt (also known as my base layer).  I immediately donned the Under Armour Focus and continued hiking.  At this point, my son’s confidence was fully energized.  “Come on, slow pokes!” he yelled as he quickly hiked up the trail.  This was the first third of the hike.  

Scattered clouds began to cover the sun and temperatures fell further.  Of course, now the winds began to increase.  My UA Focus shielded me with no chills or moisture buildup issues to report.  Dry for now.  

The next third of the hike, I found my son repeatedly exclaiming how much he disliked hiking.  The altitude was affecting him and he was tiring quickly.  Then again, he’s a six year-old circling one of the highest elevations in Colorado.  This was to be expected. 

Also expected were the many stops we made to rest and motivate each other.  Of course, this meant my body core temperature was dropping as the wind continued to push us around.  I wasn’t exerting myself as quickly and rapidly as I needed. Without thinking about it, the Focus Zip did its job.  I wasn’t experiencing discomfort from the cold weather – out of mind for the moment.  Although, my face began to experience the harsh effects of high winds and the sun’s late afternoon burn (even with sunscreen applied).

With its 100 percent Polyarmour AllSeasonGear fabrics, the Focus remained breathable but also managed the changing conditions.  Proper mesh ventilation – UA’s constructed four-way stretch – down the arms and back provided great temperature regulation.  Even better, the wind didn’t penetrate the mesh as much as I thought it would.  As the weather turned colder, I zipped the Focus to keep the wind from entering the top.  

The last third of the hike wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, considering my son’s irritation with the high altitude.  But we made it.  Both my father and my son pushed their way up the trail, creating some excitement as we neared the summit.  I caught a “second wind” after the altitude played some mind games with me: “You should stop and turn back,” “You’re out of shape,” and “You’re getting too old to hike.”  I shook these thoughts out of my head and continued the slow trudge up to Mt. Evans’ peak.  

On the way, my father and I were able to teach my son about the purpose of cairns on the trail.  We were able to interest him in the view of downtown Denver from the mountain and its neighboring Fourteener, Mt. Bierstadt.  On the way, we met some hikers who had just summited Evans and Bierstadt.  They were looking for a route back to Guenella Pass, but not the way they came via Sawtooth Ridge (a very challenging hike).  They inspired us to keep moving.

As for the Under Armour Focus 1/4 Zip, I was impressed.  Its performance was flawless.  The elevation, cold temps and high winds didn’t create too much of a hassle.  It allowed me to concentrate on my son’s efforts to hike.  Later, a “three generations of hikers” photo opportunity was a great reward.

Additional features:

  • 5.7 ounce mid-weight 1/4 zip in a loose fit
  • ArmourStretch improves mobility and accelerates dry time with lightweight fabrics
  • Anti-Odor Technology prevents the growth of odor causing microbes
  • 30+ UPF protects your skin from the sun’s harmful rays
  • Raglan sleeve construction allows for total mobility and a full range of motion, while eliminating shoulder seam abrasion points
  • 1/4 Zip design for easy on/off and on the go ventilation
  • Body: 5.7 oz 100% Polyester; Inset Mesh: 3.8 oz 100% Polyester

For more information, click here.

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Ryan Alford