The Armadillo Cougar is a part of Armadillo Merino's Big Cat range of semi-fit base layers. According to the website these garments are designed to have the fit and feel of your favourite t-shirt. I was lucky enough to receive mine in time to take it on an exercise in Germany, In January. I am glad that I received the semi-fit type as some body shapes, like mine, are not for showing off in skin tight clothing, as my kids keep reminding me.
The first time I wore it was for hill walking which ran from freezing cold to extremely sweaty and must admit could not get over the fact that that it felt very itchy, it soured the whole experience for me. You know what its like, you just cannot concentrate. So I was more than a little dubious when it came time to wear it on exercise. I had deployed a secret weapon though, fabric softener.
What a difference, I wore this top continuously for 4 days to see what odour and comfort problems arose and was pleasantly surprised. No matter whether it was soaked through with rain or sweat it would be dry in about 10 minutes, even damp it never felt uncomfortable. The smell although there was nothing compared to what you would get with cotton or synthetics. The only thing I had to compare it against was a rather sorry looking cotton t-shirt that I had worn for the first day (it was still soaking wet when I unpacked my kit a week later. After 1 day the cotton tee was in a right state and the odour could be picked up a room away. It was the kind of smell normally shown by wavy green lines in a cartoon. The Cougar even after 4 continuous days of patrolling and fire and manoeuvre was not even a tenth as bad odour wise, which was good as the FOB was very small and tight packed. Very impressive.
The Cougar is sold as being Anti static, UV resistant and fire retardant, which is an unusual selling point, but one which I feel bears well for anyone thinking of buying one for use in the field, as it has been known for tthe synthetic tops to melt to the wearer when things go bad. The top seemed to keep you at a constant temperature, rather than feeling hot or cold. This was a bit of an eye-opener to someone who has only really had thermals or synthetic wicking tops.
The quality of the garment is pretty good, there are no seams on the shoulder, they are further down the top, the seams look well sewn although on this the second wash there is now approximately 10cm of loose cotton form the rear seam. Whether this is just a finishing problem or not, I don't know, will have to keep an eye on it.
The t-shirt is pretty lightweight and feels comfortable to wear; now the fabric softener is used. It is something I can see myself wearing again and again, for both in the field and on the hills. It has already got itself on my packing list for Afghan later this year.
There are two reasons I have not marked this higher, the first is the price. £55 is a lot to pay for a t-shirt, even a merino one. The other is the cotton thread after two washes, it does make me question the durability and longevity of the top.
This item was kindly provided by Armadillo Merino