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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Carhartt Force Womens Performance Tee > Test Report by Andrea Murland

Carhartt Women's Force Performance T-Shirt
Test Series by Andrea Murland

Initial Report - May 25, 2013
Long Term Report - October 2, 2013

Tester Information

Name: Andrea Murland
Email: amurland AT shaw DOT ca
Age: 27
Location: Kimberley & Elkford, British Columbia, Canada
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)
Weight: 130 lb (59 kg)

I began hiking frequently in 2006 and have since hiked in Western Canada, Australia, and spent 2 months backpacking in the Alps. I spend most weekends either day-hiking or on 2-3 day backpacking trips, with some longer trips when I can manage them. I also snowshoe and ski in the winter, but don’t have a lot of experience with winter in the backcountry yet. Elevation is typically 500-3,000 m (1,600-10,000 ft), in the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirk, Purcell, and Monashee ranges. I try for a light pack, but I don’t consider myself a lightweight backpacker.

Initial Report – May 25, 2013

Product Information

Image courtesy of Carhartt
Force Shirt
Manufacturer: Carhartt
Manufacturer's URL: www.carhartt.com
Model: Women’s Force Performance T-Shirt
Year of Manufacture: 2013
MSRP: US $32.00
Colour Tested: Tulip Pink Heather and then Asphalt Heather
Other Colours Available: Black
Size Reviewed: M and then S
Sizes Available: XS, S, M, L, XL
Listed Weight: 5 oz (142 g)
Measured Weight: M – 5.1 oz (145 g)
Material: 81% polyester, 14% cotton, 5% spandex, Made in El Salvador
Care Instructions: Machine wash cold, do not bleach, tumble dry low,
do not use fabric softeners, do not iron

Description & Initial Impressions

The Carhartt Force Performance T-Shirt is a fabric blend t-shirt that is supposed to wick moisture, release stains, and fight odours. It is a short-sleeve crewneck t-shirt constructed with flat-lock seams. There is a seam in front of the shoulders (instead of on top of the shoulders), which should be comfortable under a backpack. As well, instead of a standard side seam there is a panel that runs from under the arms to the hem, putting seams towards the front and back of the shirt. There is also a seam that runs across the back of the shirt. Inside the back of the neck there is a piece of fabric that covers the seam, which I assume is for comfort, so that the seam isn’t rubbing against my neck. The hem is curved so that the shirt is longer in the front and back than at the sides.

The medium measured 26 in (66 cm) in length at the center of the back, and 19.5 in (49.5 cm) side to side under the arms. More about the sizing a bit later...

There is a printed Carhartt logo and size on the inside of the neck, as well as the Force logo printed in silver on the outside of the shirt on the back, just below the neckline, and another Carhartt logo printed at the hemline on the left side of the shirt. There is a large cloth tag on one of the side seams with the fabric and care information.

The fabric is very soft and feels comfortable. It feels more like a soft cotton shirt than a synthetic shirt. There were a number of loose threads showing in the flatlock seams on the medium that I tried.

Tulip Pink Heather Force Shirt

Trying It Out

When choosing which size to test, I looked at the size chart on the Carhartt website. It indicates that a size medium should fit a bust of 35-36 in (89-91 cm) and a waist of 28-29 in (71-74 cm), while a small should fit a bust of 33-34 in (84-86 cm) and a waist of 26-27 in (66-69 cm). I was pretty firmly in the medium category, but I revised my opinion when it arrived. Although I didn’t want a skin-tight shirt, the size medium was definitely baggy. It was very large in the shoulders, through the torso, and also very long. I am exchanging it for a size small.

I did like the Tulip Pink Heather colour, but will now be testing the Asphalt Heather in the size small.

Customer Service

When I realized that I needed a smaller size, I contacted Carhartt’s Customer Service. They were very courteous and willing to do a “courtesy exchange” of the item. Unfortunately, they were unable to do the exchange to a Canadian address. I am pursuing an exchange through other avenues.

Summary

The Force T-Shirt looks like it will be a comfortable t-shirt for hiking and other active pursuits. I am looking forward to receiving the size small and carrying on with the test.

Long Term Report – October 2, 2013

Field Conditions

Over the past four months, I have used the Carhartt Force T-Shirt on four overnight trips, 13 day hikes, and it was the only t-shirt I took on a three-week long trip to Iceland. The overnight and day hikes ranged in temperature from around freezing to about 30 C (86 F), and lengths ranging from 5 km (3.1 mi) to 17 km (10.5 mi). The weather this year seemed to be mostly lousy, so although I occasionally got warm enough to wear the shirt alone, I was often wearing it under a rain jacket and one or more insulating layers (from none up to 4 other layers). I washed the shirt in the washing machine 9 times, always on a warm cycle. I also washed it by hand twice. The shirt hung to dry each time, except for once when it went through the dryer on a fairly warm setting (whatever setting the hostel dryer was at...).
Field Use

Observations

Sizing:
As I noted in my Initial Report, I exchanged for a size small shirt. It is a much better fit, though still roomy. I like it for Search & Rescue, because the looser fit looks a little more professional than some of my other hiking shirts. I found the shirt to be quite long. While I liked that the shirt didn’t ride up under my pack or a harness, I had to tuck the shirt in or run the risk of looking like I wasn’t wearing shorts some days. I don’t normally tuck in my shirt while I’m hiking (unless it’s winter and I’m wearing lots of layers), but it was required with this shirt, and I found that I didn’t really mind.

Moisture & Odour Management:
Overall, the shirt performed very well. I own hiking shirts in a range of fabrics, from synthetics to wool. I have parked my synthetic shirts for anything that involves other people or an activity longer than about an hour because they seem to smell immediately after I put them on. I am happy to say that the Force T-Shirt outperformed all of my synthetic shirts. On the other hand, I found that after 2 to 3 days of wear (even with low to medium activity levels in cool weather – not sweating) the Force started to smell not quite so fresh. Twice, I wore it for 6 days straight in Iceland, and on the seventh day I couldn’t bring myself to put it on in the morning. It aired out reasonably well overnight, but didn’t stay okay-smelling for long. I would rate it somewhere far above my synthetics but well below my all-natural shirts for odour management, not surprising given the fabric blend.

The shirt managed moisture well. I was able to soak through the back of the shirt (against my pack) when hiking hard, but found that I cooled off quickly in a breeze once taking off my pack, and the shirt dried in the time it took to eat lunch at the top. I don’t usually hike in a t-shirt when it’s warm out (I’m a sleeveless hiker), but the weather this year meant that I wore the Force shirt most of the time. I also noted that after washing, the Force shirt dried out easily overnight, and it was mostly dry after only a few hours.

Unravelling Seam Durability & Washability:
When I received the size small shirt, I noticed that it had a seam that was coming undone and trailing a thread. The seam was unravelling rapidly, so I spent about 20 minutes pulling threads to the inside and tying knots to secure it. Since then, the seam has not gotten much worse, though there is a loose trailing thread again. Otherwise, the shirt looks as good as new. There is no pilling on the fabric near where the shoulder straps or waist belt of my pack sits. Dirt washed out quite well. I tested the stain repellency with a big spot of olive oil on the front, but it spot cleaned out easily. I am pleased with how the shirt has held up.

Summary

I have quite enjoyed wearing this shirt. Although I initially had my doubts about the length of the shirt, I found that I liked it, especially for Search & Rescue. Combined with the pretty decent performance of the shirt, it will probably migrate into my “go” bag for SAR.

Thumbs Up:
Good fabric durability
Soft, comfortable fabric
Decent moisture & odour management

Thumbs Down:
Sizing charts not accurate
Poor quality seam when new

Thanks to Carhartt and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test the Force T-Shirt! I enjoyed this test and will continue to use the shirt.



Read more reviews of Carhartt gear
Read more gear reviews by Andrea Murland

Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Carhartt Force Womens Performance Tee > Test Report by Andrea Murland



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