EXOFFICIO WOMEN'S SOL COOL LONG SLEEVE SHIRT
TEST SERIES BY MARINA BATZKE
September 15, 2014
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mbbp2013 (at) hotmail (dot) com
Los Angeles County, California, USA
5' 5" (1.65 m)
130 lb (59.00 kg)
I converted from day hiking and car camping to backpacking in spring 2013. Since then, I have selectively purchased new, more lightweight gear, while I still carry some heavier gear from my car camping trips. I always hike with a group and I like the gear talk when in camp. I am a tent camper looking for ways to lighten my pack. My backpacking trips are currently weekend excursions in Southern California, USA. If my business travel allows me to get away, I try to backpack one or two weekends a month.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: ExOfficio, Seattle, WA
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.exofficio.com
MSRP: US $55.00
Listed Weight: 4.5 oz (128 g)
Measured Weight: 5.3 oz (150 g) for the L-sized women's shirt
Available women's shirt colors: Atmosphere (light blue), Glamour (orange), Zest (yellow) and Pizazz (pink).
Available women's sizes are: XS, S, M, L, XL.
The ExOfficio Women's Sol Cool long sleeve arrived inside a clear plastic bag. Attached to the shirt top using a small safety pin were five cardboard tags:
1. ExOfficio Made to Adventure advertising tag
2. Sol Cool feature explanation tag in English and French
3. UPF 50+ feature explanation tag in English and French
4. Sol Cool Collection features overview tag in English and French
5. Product Sales Tag with bar code, Size and Fit information
On the company website, I had picked the shirt color Pizazz and the actual shirt color looks pink like shown online. The seams are all in clearly contrasting white flatlock stitching. All stitching is flawless with no loose threads. On the shirt back inside, the fabric contents and "Made in Malaysia" are imprinted. The shirt consists of 91% polyester and 9% spandex.
|Collar area stitching and tagless label|
On the shirt's outside backside top, the wording ExOfficio and on the upper left arm their logo are applied in silver-reflective.
|Upper arm stitching and ExOfficio logo|
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
Sol Cool is made using the Icefil (registered mark) technology by binding Xylitol to fabric fibers. Upon contact with moisture (e.g., sweat), this helps cool the skin's surface temperature up to 5 degrees.
The shirt also has a 50+ UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating, meaning it blocks at least 98% of all UVA and UVB rays from getting to my skin. Ultraviolet A rays can age the skin and ultraviolet B rays can burn the skin, and both can cause cancer.
The shirt is described as wicking, stretching, lightweight, odor resistant and quick drying.
On an inside seam sewn-in fabric tag, I see that the shirt shall only be washed in cold water with like colors and without bleach. It may get tumbled dry at low setting and must promptly be removed from the dryer. It can get ironed at a low setting and shall not get dry-cleaned.
TRYING IT OUT
Because the shirt was described as slim fit and after looking at the Size Chart on the company website, I decided to go with the women's Large size. I put the shirt on and this L size fits right in my shoulder and bust area, while it is a touch loose in the waist, which is usually my preference. The sleeves are quite long which might help prevent sun burn on my hands. The crew neck is rather wide - I may have to wear a Buff or bandana to avoid sun burn along the neckline.
The shirt fabric feels cool and soft. The white stitching feels a bit firm and a touch scratchy. I will now wash the shirt before wearing it on my upcoming 4-day backpacking trip.
I like the pink color of the shirt and the soft feel of the lightweight fabric.
I am a little disappointed that the crew neck has such a wide cut and that the shirt has to get washed in cold water, which means I have to hand-wash it.
I am excited to test the ExOfficio Sol Cool long sleeve shirt on my upcoming backpacking trips with usually hot California sun.
Thank you very much to ExOfficio and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this lightweight, soft shirt.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Trip duration: 4 days/3 nights July
On-trail and off-trail hiking
Temperatures: 47-79 F (9-26 C)
Location: San Gorgonio Wilderness, Southern California, USA
Trip duration: 4 days/3 nights July
On-trail and off-trail hiking
Temperatures: 59-75 F (15-24 C)
Location: Sugarloaf Mountain, Southern California, USA
Trip duration: 1 day August
Temperatures: 55-75 F (13-24 C)
Location: Innsbruck, Austria to Bozen, Italy
Trip duration: 6 days September
Daytime Temperatures: 61-79 F (16-26 C)
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
My first use of the ExOfficio Sol Cool Long Sleeve shirt was in Yosemite National Park. We started in the early morning with temperatures around 50 F (10 C). I wore a thin Polyester undershirt, then the Sol Cool and my windbreaker/ rain jacket on top with a Buff scarf gaiter around my neck. I felt cold standing around waiting for the rest of the group to get ready. Then we started the hike and I slowly warmed up. The temperatures rose only slowly and I never felt hot and sweaty. When we arrived in camp around noon, I kept the Sol Cool on all afternoon predominantly for sun protection.
The next morning, I put the Sol Cool shirt on again and noticed a sweaty odor in the right armpit area. We started early to avoid the heat of the midday and again I felt cool at the start, then my body slowly warmed up with the ascent up the peak.
|Yosemite National Park|
Later, when we got back into camp, we all took a quick dip in the nearby creek. I jumped in with the Sol Cool shirt on, with the intent to give it a "bath wash". Afterward it dried within 30 minutes front and 30 minutes back hanging off a tree branch in the sun. The sweaty armpit odor was a bit less.
The next day, we hiked downhill for hours. It got hotter and hotter. The Sol Cool kept me at a pleasant temperature. I did notice the sweaty odor in the right armpit area again after a while. When our group reached the valley floor near Mirror Lake, we were attacked by a cloud of mosquitoes. Within seconds my shoulders got bit multiple times by the mosquitoes right through the Sol Cool shirt. I rushed to get my rain jacket out of my backpack and put that on to add an additional layer of clothing against the mosquitoes.
When the backpacking trip was over, the shirt had a strong sweaty odor under the right armpit and the sleeve ends near my hands were noticeably dirty. For the ride back home, I changed into fresh clothing. When I returned home, I hand-washed the Sol Cool in cold water with Woolite detergent and hung it in the shower area to air-dry. The manufacturer's text instructions say to 'machine wash cold', yet I never machine-wash with cold water. The small symbol tag shows 86 F (30 C). I therefore hand-wash this shirt with luke warm water in the sink but feel that temperature may not be fully effective.
During the San Gorgonio trip, our group did a lot of off-trail hiking and even sustained Class 3 climbing up a mountain side. I again noticed a sweaty odor under the right arm. Strangely enough, the second day the Sol Cool seemed to smell in the morning, yet around noon, the smell seemed to have dissipated.
When I got back home after this backpacking trip, I noticed that the white flatlock stitching had pulled a couple of times underneath the right arm. This may have happened during our off-trail hiking through shrubs.
|Flatlock stitching and thread pulled|
During the Sugarloaf Mountain dayhike I was reminded that I really like temperatures warmer than fellow hikers. We started this hike on a cool morning at 55 F (13 C) and once we got going, everybody started peeling layer after layer of clothes off. I hiked the longest wearing a light, thin undershirt, the Sol Cool and my rain jacket against the morning breeze. Fellow hikers already commented on me still wearing the rain jacket, while I just started feeling comfortable.
This hike was strenuous, at times steep uphill. I did notice some sweating once we arrived at the top. When I took my backpack off, my hand felt that the shirt was a little moist in my back but it dried up within minutes and I felt very comfortable during our lunch break up on the peak.
|Sugarloaf Mountain Peak|
When we were back down the mountain, I noticed that the shirt arms were noticeably dirty in the cuff areas. The white flatlock stitching was grey and the arm ends were dark and no longer Pizazz pink.
I like Sol Cool's sleeve length which covers almost half of the back of my hands. I would love it even more if the sleeves had a thumb hole that I could slide my thumb through and keep the sleeve ends locked in place.
|Sleeve ends get dirty|
When I returned home from this trip, I noticed a long loose thread on the inside stitching of the right sleeve. I assume this thread got ripped loose by my wrist watch. During the hand-wash with luke warm water, I tried to really well scrub the sleeve ends to wash out the dirt. I feel it takes extra effort with the mild detergent in luke warm water to get the sleeve ends and underarm sweaty areas fully cleaned. I just do not have any other laundry to 'machine wash cold'.
|Thread pulled loose|
On the six-day bicycle trip from Innsbruck, Austria to Bozen, Italy, I wore the Sol Cool on five days. I hand-washed the shirt in the sink once and it easily air-dried overnight, while on a hanger in the shower area. I wore the Sol Cool in two clothing combinations: light undershirt underneath and the Sol Cool on top or the Sol Cool underneath and a short sleeve Polyester shirt over it to provide stronger core body wind protection at higher downhill speeds. Four times we had 30-minute afternoon rains and I wore a rain jacket over the Sol Cool. I always felt comfortable and noticed the excellent wicking feature of the Sol Cool shirt. My back was never wet.
|On the bike trip|
+ The ExOfficio Sol Cool long sleeve shirt is lightweight, wicking and quick drying.
- Yet I have frequently smelled sweaty odor in the right armpit area.
+ The shirt has kept me cool on warm days.
- Yet especially on cold early mornings I have occasionally almost felt too cool.
+ The shirt has provided excellent UV protection.
- Because the shirt neck has a wide diameter, I always wear a Buff neck gaiter with this shirt to keep my neck protected against the sun and any breeze.
|Neck cut-out wider than typical shirt|
+ I like the length of the sleeves, covering half my upper hands.
- I wish the sleeve ends had thumb holes.
+ The Sol Cool has a nice Pizazz pink color.
- I wish the contrasting flatlock stitching were not white but a dark contrasting color instead, as white gets dirty rather easily.
FUTURE TESTING STRATEGY
I started testing this shirt when the Southern California desert hiking season was over due to excessive summer heat. So I have only tested the Sol Cool in mountainous regions with temperatures not exceeding 79 F (26 C). In the coming fall months, I will return to Joshua Tree National Park and I hopefully get the chance to test the Sol Cool in higher temperatures as well.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
My thanks to ExOfficio and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this Sol Cool long sleeve shirt. Please check back in a few months for my long-term report.
Read more reviews of Ex Officio gear
Read more gear reviews by Marina Batzke