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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Ex Officio Sol Cool Long Sleeve Shirt > Test Report by Kurt Papke

ExOfficio Sol Cool LS Shirt

Test Series by Kurt Papke

Initial Report - June 29, 2014

Field Report - September 16, 2014

Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 60
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 215 lbs (98 kg)
Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

My backpacking venues have included a combination of Minnesota hikes where I have lived most of my adult life, and Arizona trails where I moved to take a new job about five years ago.  I have always been a "comfort-weight" backpacker, never counting grams, but still keeping my pack as light as easily attained.  Since moving to Arizona I find I need to protect my skin from the sun by wearing long-sleeve shirts, which can make hiking in the summer heat a real challenge.

Initial Report

Product Information

Sol shirt
Photo courtesy ExOfficio

Manufacturer
ExOfficio
Model
Sol Cool Long-sleeve Tee
Year of manufacture
2014
MSRP
US $60
Manufacturer website
http://www.exofficio.com/
Color
Oyster (light gray)
Also available: Cayman (blue), Koi (red), Oregano (green), Varsity (dark blue), and Zest (yellow)
Weights
Listed: 7 oz (198 g) for unspecified size
Measured garment weight:  8.2 oz (232 g) for XL
Size
X-Large
Also available: Small, Medium, Large, XX-Large
Fabric
91% Polyester / 9% Spandex

The Sol Cool is a lightweight long-sleeve T-shirt designed to keep the wearer cool and protected from the sun.  Manufacturer's listed features include:
  • Xylitol-impregnated fabric to create a cooling sensation in the presence of moisture
  • Seams moved off-shoulder, flat-lock stitching and tagless label, all to prevent chafing
  • UPF 50+ rating for sun protection

Trying It Out

Seam coverAfter removing all the tags I put the shirt on and checked it out in the mirror.  The fit is great.  I was a little concerned that the sleeves would come up short but they were just fine.  I would classify the fit as "casual", not form-hugging, not baggy, but rather a relaxed fit.  The feel of the fabric is nice and soft, and I like the tagless design to avoid getting the back of my neck scratched.

The picture at left shows the nice black fabric strip that covers the sewn seam on the back of the neck.  Nice touch - it'll prevent any chafing at that high-friction spot.

This is a very attractive garment.  The external seams are very apparent, as they are in a contrasting color to the fabric.  I don't think I'll be wearing it to work, but Tucson is a casual town and I can see me wearing out-and-about.  The workmanship appears very good - I could not find any frayed seam threads, snags or color irregularities in the fabric.

Summary

Things that I find positive at this early stage

  • Comfortable fit including lots of friction prevention measures.
  • Very attractive garment, including the color.
  • Workmanship and fabric quality are very high.

Perceived limitations at this early stage

  • Some concern with sunburn on the back of my neck which is unprotected by the shirt.  During the summer I often wear a typical button-front collared hiking shirt, and the collar provides a little extra protection for the back of my neck that my hat may not cover.  I'll be watching to see if that unprotected strip of skin gets sunburned.

Check back in two months when I've had a chance to tromp around a bit in the mountains wearing this garment and see what I have to say about it in my Field Report.

Field Report

Date
Location
Trail
Distance
Altitude
Weather
July 13, 2014
Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona
Romero Canyon
7 miles
(11.3 km)
2700-4000 ft
(820-1220 m)
75-90 F
(24-32 C)
Sunny, dry
August 9-10, 2014
Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona Samaniego Ridge
7 miles
(11.3 km)
7700-9100 ft
(2350-2770 m)
55-75 F
(13-24 C)
Sunny, dry
August 16-17, 2014 Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona Romero Canyon
10 miles
(16 km)
2600-4020 ft
(790-1225 m)
65-95 F
(18-35 C)
Humid, overnight rainstorms
August 24, 2014
Huachuca Mountains near Sierra Vista, Arizona
Ramsey Canyon
5 miles
(8 km)
5500-6300 ft
(1680-1920 m)
72-75 F
(22-24 F)

Romero Canyon

My first hike with the shirt started early in the morning, when it was still cool for Tucson in the summer.  I was hiking solo and there was a bit of altitude gain, so I worked myself pretty hard on the climb.  The shirt was surprisingly cool for a long-sleeve garment.

On the way down the sun was getting higher in the sky and I appreciated the skin protection on my arms from the sleeves.  Overall, my first experience was a positive one - the Sol Cool kept me cool and protected from the sun.  I was a bit concerned that the sleeves would feel clingy in the heat, but my experience was the sleeves were very comfortable.

Samaniego Ridge

Samaniego RidgeThis is one of my local go-to summer trails as it starts and retains a fair amount of altitude which keeps me cool.  It also has some great camping spots among the Ponderosa Pines.

The hike in on Saturday afternoon was fairly warm, around 72 F (22 C) at the trailhead, and I was hiking into the afternoon sun.  I built up a reasonable sweat during the hike, but the Sol Cool shirt was true to its name and I was quite comfortable.

On the hike out the next morning the temperature was around 55 F (13 C), but as soon as I started walking I was at the perfect body temperature with no layers on top of the Sol Cool shirt.  One of the things I look for in my gear is garments that are usable over a wide temperature range, and these first experiences was evidence that the Sol Cool is usable from 55-90 F (13-32 C).

Something I noticed on the hike out that I have not remarked on so far: the sleeve length on this shirt is excellent.  I like to wear a Large Tall size, but this XL fits me well including generous sleeve length.

Romero Canyon Overnight

I hike Romero Canyon pretty frequently because the trailhead is just 10 minutes from my house.  Every hike is different, the prior outing was just a day hike, this one was roughly twice the distance to a campsite and an overnight stay.

This backpack trip really stressed the wicking and drying capability of the shirt.  Saturday was hot and very humid, to the point that Mountain Rescue was pulling a number of dehydrated hikers off the trail.  I consumed about 4 qt (4 L) of water on the ascent, and the Sol shirt was dripping wet when I arrived.  I took off the shirt and hung it up to dry as soon as I reached camp, because it was so wet it was chilling me down when I stopped moving.

The next morning the shirt was nice and dry when I put it on.  It had rained overnight, but I kept the shirt in a dry spot under my tarp.

The photo at right was taken on the descent the next day.  The blue tinge to the shirt color is not accurate - my camera must have been fooled by the background or sky conditions.

There were plenty of opportunities for snags and tears from sharp bushes on this hike.  So far, the shirt has survived intact.  It has also made it through several launderings with no deleterious effects.

Ramsey Canyon

Sol Cool in Ramsey CanyonThis was just a day hike through a Nature Conservancy wildlife preserve.  Its at a bit of altitude above the desert floor, so the weather was quite comfortable if a little sticky.

The shirt did very well in the humid conditions.  The photo at left shows what it looks like from the back, taken at out turn-around point on the trail beside a swiftly flowing creek.

Summary

The Sol Cool shirt has proven to be an adaptable and comfortable garment that performs well in the Arizona summer sun.  It has kept me protected (no sunburn through the fabric), cool, and dries quickly when wet.  It has survived the first two months of use with no visible wear.  It fits me well, and is attractive enough that I took it on vacation with me last week to wear around town.

In my Initial Report I mentioned a concern with sunburn on the back of my neck due to the lack of a collar on the shirt.  This has turned out to be a non-issue with the wide-brimmed hat I have been wearing.

Stop back in two months for my Final Report.


Thanks to ExOfficio and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to contribute to this test.



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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Ex Officio Sol Cool Long Sleeve Shirt > Test Report by Kurt Papke



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