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EX OFFICIO SOL COOL MEN'S LONG SLEEVE TEE
TEST SERIES BY STEVEN M. KIDD
LONG-TERM REPORT
November 18, 2014

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TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Steven M. Kidd
EMAIL: ftroop94ATgmailDOTcom
AGE: 42
LOCATION: Carmel, IN
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 185 lb (83.90 kg)

Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 30 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lbs (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover between 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1
Image Courtesy Ex Officio

Manufacturer: Ex Officio
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.exofficio.com/
MSRP: US $60.00
Listed Weight: 7.0 oz (198 g)
Measured Weight: 6.9 oz (196 g)
Colors Available: Cayman (Light Blue), Koi (Bright Orange), Oregano (Olive), Oyster (Light Grey), Zest (Bright Yellow) & Varsity (Deep Blue) I am testing Varsity
Sizes Available: S - 2XL (Testing Large)
Material: 91% Polyester / 9% Spandex
Listed & Measured Shirt Length: 29.5 in (75 cm) - Based on a size Large
Fit Description: Natural


The Ex Officio Sol Cool Men's Long Sleeve Tee, hereafter referred to as tee or shirt, is an item in the manufacturers Sol Cool line. It uses IcefilŪ. This fabric uses Xylitol to create a cooling sensation on contact with moisture to lower body temperature up to 5 F (2.8 C). It offers Sun Guard 50+, the highest protection available for a garment. Comfort technology includes seams moved off the shoulder to prevent rubbing and an underarm gusset for maximum mobility. The garment offers active stretch fabric and flat-locked stitching as well as tag-less label designed to prevent irritation.

It incorporates what Ex Efficio calls intelligent moisture control technology to provide exceptional wicking. It is considered to be odor resistant, quick drying and lightweight.

The website offers the following care instructions: Machine wash cold; Wash with like colors; No bleach; Tumble dry low, remove promptly; Iron low setting; Do not dry clean

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

IMAGE 2
Shirt Front
Like any item I've ever worn from Ex Officio, this tee appears to be well designed. The shirt itself had no hanging threads and generally looks to be well made.

The shirt is listed as a Natural fit. I don't find that it hugs the body like a rash guard would do, but it isn't baggy either. The sleeves have a definite taper to them. I believe this will be beneficial on the trail so they won't snag on low hanging brush or the like. Also if I wear the shirt in the water the tapered sleeves will likely shed water in a more positive manner. I'm the kind of guy that always tends to push his long sleeved tees up to his elbows, even in the winter. Doing so with this shirt is only comfortable to about the forearm, and I'm concerned it could affect the natural snugness of the sleeves when they are returned properly to the wrist area. I look forward to reporting on this in the Field Report as it is simple a natural inclination to what I tend to subconsciously do on the trail.

The shirt is definitely very comfortable and the feel to the skin is soft and smooth. The seams and flat-lock technology are quite comfortable. I'm excited about the sun protection as well.

Not only for the trail, but I've recently had to relocate the family from the rolling hills of Tennessee to the flatter regions of Indiana. That stated, our new home happens to have a pool. I'm not one for sunbathing this day in age, but having a 5 1/2 and a 7 year old I'm certain they'll wish to spend the better part of the weekends in the water. So I'm interested to see if the shirt will keep me cool and protect my skin from the sun. Will the chlorine affect the color? I look forward to answering these questions.

Since the website suggests amphibious adventures are suitable for the tee I did briefly hop in the pool with it. It clung well to my body, didn't balloon up with air (even though it's not a skin tight rash guard) and the tapered sleeves actually were a benefit in the pool.
IMAGE 3
Shirt Back


I certainly see the Sol Cool Tee as a multifunctional shirt for not only trail use, but also wearing around the pool in the late stages of this summer. I'm excited to report if it actually does cool my body temperature as stated? I'm not certain how to truly measure this, save an empiric rating, but I will certainly do my best to inform the reader on this tee.


SUMMARY

I'm excited to test the Ex Officio Sol Cool Long Sleeve Tee. It is comfortable to wear and doesn't cling too tightly to the body. I do prefer snugly fitting items for exercise, but not on the trail. This appears to be an ideal fit.

I look forward to seeing how this long sleeved shirt keeps me cool not only on the trail in the backcountry, but also in the backyard pool I've recently acquired.

It is certainly a nice looking garment, although all the color choices tend to be fairly bold. The Varsity Blue reminds me of a bright royal blue and the flat-lock seams are certainly a bold yellow! To clarify; when it first arrived my wife's quote was: "That's for the wood's isn't it"? I personally like the color, but I don't suppose she wants me strolling through downtown with her wearing it based on that comment.

Save my wife's comment, I have no thorns to report on the shirt at the outset of the test. I know polyesters material can easily pick and that could be a concern on the trail, but only time and testing will answer that question. Please check back in a few months to see how this tee is performing!



FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 1
A Trip to the Water Park

26 July, 2014; Eagle Creek Park, Indianapolis, Indiana. After my family finally arrived to the area, I thought it would be a great idea to spend an afternoon outside in the closest nature I've been able to find to date. I returned to the park, but chose the 2.5 mi (4 km) Orange Trail for the kids. The loop was easily manageable for my wife and the youngsters. Temperatures were around 78 F (26 C) with low humidity.

15 - 17 August, 2014; Hoosier National Forest, Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area, near Bloomington, Indiana. I finally was able to get the children out on a 3-day/2-night outing in the new state. We only hiked a total of 5.5 mi (9 km) on the trip and carried our own water. Temperatures were great for August with nightly lows around 55 F (13 C) and daily highs around 80 F (27 C) with elevations averaging 650-800 ft (198-244 m).

5 - 7 September, 2014; Camp Gnaw Bone, Brown County, Indiana. I joined a local group of fathers that do a monthly outing with their children sans mothers. The season opens post Labor Day and ends post Memorial Day weekends with camping trips at a camp in southern Indiana. Most spent the weekend in large family sized tents in a clearing on a parade field. My seasoned rug rats and I hung our hammocks on a wooded hill adjacent to the field. Weekend temperatures started around 72 F (22 C), but after a rainy Saturday morning and early afternoon dropped significantly and we awoke to 51 F (10.5 C) on a dry Sunday morning. On Thursday, the day prior to leaving temperatures were 90 F (32 C), so the dramatic change was very noticeable. Camping was base-camp like, but we went to a lake to swim for the afternoon, had dinner, skits and a bonfire that culminated with a 1.5 mile (2.4 km) round trip to a 'ghost house' around 11 PM Saturday evening. It made bedtime oh so easy, and both my kids required use of their night lights until they dozed off.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I specifically used the shirt on the three mentioned outings since receiving it this summer, but I also wore in on almost a daily basis throughout mid-July to early-August in our backyard pool.

As I mentioned in the initial report I hoped the shirt would keep me cool and protect me from the sun when playing with my kids in our pool. The summer was unseasonably mild in the Indianapolis, Indiana area and this led to cooler than normal water temperatures. Therefore I actually tended to wear the shirt more often than not to keep me warm versus cooling me down. It performed quite well. The shirt was a great water shirt and I usually only hopped in the pool in the late afternoon with the kids, so the sun wasn't always a concern either. I never put on sun screen, yet I never burned either. The sun sets particularly late in Indianapolis, so there is still plenty of sun exposure in late summer afternoon days.
IMAGE 2
Daddy's Weekend with the Children

I wondered how the color would hold up to regular pool use and if it would fade from the chlorine. I haven't noticed any as of yet. It is still bright and vibrant in my opinion. I rarely washed it. If I hopped out of the pool for 10 or 15 minutes prior to going inside it often would wick and be dry enough to just hang on a hook in the laundry room until I would use it again the next day. If I went straight inside, I tended to toss it in the dryer on a Casual cycle for 15 minutes or so, and use it again the following day. The use of the dryer caused no shrinking.

Again, it was a relatively mild summer here in the Midwest, so I had no problems wearing a long sleeve shirt on the day hike and backcountry outings which I took the Sol Cool. I never overheated and felt comfortable wearing it. I also rarely pushed the sleeves up to my elbows as I suspected I would. It protected my arms from bugs on evening.

On the father's outing I wore the shirt all morning in the rain and noticed a cooling experience. I was never cold, but it was one of those damp dreary days. After my children were done swimming at the lake both were shivering profusely and chilled. I had left their cotton towels back at camp as to keep them dry. Bad idea! Until the wagon train rounded up to head back to camp I took turns wrapping the Sol Cool around each child for two or three minutes to warm them. Each child would complain when I removed the shirt to give it to the other, so it did the job in the absence of their towels.

I guess it is a little comical that I have multiple instances of a shirt meant to cool the individual, in which it kept the user warm! I can say there were some hot and sunny days on a late August weekend that I used it to keep me cool and burn free. We spent nearly all weekend at the pool and after I'd had as much sun as I could handle, I donned the shirt and wore it without complaint. In fact I enjoyed it.

SUMMARY

I've been quite impressed to date with the Ex Officio Sol Cool Long Sleeve Tee. Its ironic how I planned for a test and Mother Nature took me in a different direction, but even with the varying conditions that I confronted I was happy with the performance of the shirt.

I fully expected to use the tee to cool me in most instances. It did in some, but it also kept me (or my progeny) warm on other occasions. The shirt has held up quite well to date. I've noticed no fading even after quite a bit of use in a chlorine pool. I've also noticed no picks or pilling that I often associate with a polyester blend product.

I've pushed the sleeves up to my elbows from time-to-time and notice no stretching of the material or looseness around the wrists afterwards. This could be attributed to the 9% spandex.

I currently have no thorns with the shirt, and I'm excited to continue testing it as the fall ensues.



LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 1
A Summit on Pine Mountain Trail
7 - 10 October, 2014; Pine Mountain Trail, eastern Kentucky and western Virginia. This was a 4-day/3-night outing in which I met up with six hammock camping buddies at the Birch Knob Observation Tower shelter and hiked to the trailhead in Elkhorn City, Kentucky. The rest of my comrades had already been on the trail for three days encountering torrential downpours and extremely steep climbs. This caused three of the crew to call an audible and remain at the shelter for the final leg of the trip. Four of us set out on the next morning and covered 14 mi (22.5 km) over the next two days. Elevations ranged from roughly 2800 ft (853 m) to around 800 ft (244 m) just outside of town. After emerging from the trail we were shuttled back to the tower for a final night in the woods. Temperatures on the trail were as high as 75 F (24 C) and conditions were bright and sunny. On the evenings in base camp temperatures dropped to around 45 F (7 C) and poured rain on and off.

24 - 26 October, 2014; Hoosier National Forest, Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area, near Bloomington, Indiana. I returned to the area for the 2014 Hoosier Halloween Hang. This is an annual event held in the area where a group of hammock campers gather for backcountry camaraderie. I believe temperatures were mild for late October in Indiana. Temperatures rose to 73 F (23 C) during the day and dropped to around 39 F (4 C) at night. It wasn't too cool at night, but the large temperature swings did make it noticeable to me. There was no precipitation over the course of the weekend, but the dew was extremely heavy on Sunday morning.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I continued to be thoroughly impressed with the shirt during the long term phase of the report. I'm really like it. On both the backcountry outings I took during this phase of the report daytime temperatures reached the mid 70's F (~24 C), yet I remained cool while wearing it.
IMAGE 2
Power even in the Backcountry
On the Pine Mountain Trail trip it grew warm enough during the day that I rolled up the legs to the pants I was wearing, however, save pushing my sleeves up on the shirt I was comfortable throughout the day. I did notice by the third day of this trip I was feeling a little ripe! It was the first time in testing that I'd noticed any odor retention in the garment. It wasn't bad enough to change, nor did I feel the need to hand wash it on the trail. What I distinctly recall about that warm afternoon was the fact I was wearing a long sleeve shirt on a sunny warm summit and I wasn't miserable! In the evenings after a full day on the trail the shirt did usually have some moisture retention, so I would remove it and put on a fresh dry one and lay it over the ridgeline of my hammock to air dry before I'd head to bed. It was dry each morning before I'd put it on again to hit the trail.

After that outing I notice two small spots on the shirt that appeared to have pilling. There is a spot on the upper back of the shirt just under the Ex Officio logo about the size of a US Quarter. On the front of the shirt is a spot about the size of a US nickel that appears to be right in line where the chest strap from my pack rests. Neither spot is obvious without looking for it. I presume the pilling on the front came from the strap buckle, but can't ascertain what caused the one on the back. I can think of nothing on my pack that would have caused the damage. I wore the shirt quite often at the pool during the summer and early fall, so it may have happened there.
IMAGE 3
Time to Hydrate
On the trip to Hoosier National Forest I bushwhacked to a valley several miles off the trail. I followed a creek bed up the valley and then up and over several draws to find the secluded valley where I was meeting up with a group of hammock campers. It was a warm afternoon and I was packing 6 L (1.6 G) of water as there had been reports of the area being dry. That clarified, I again worked up a sweat. On this trip I never noticed a stench to the shirt and per usual it wicked moisture and dried soon after setting camp. I didn't even change shirts until just before bed on the first evening.

The sleeves remain snug when around the wrists but aren't tight when I push them up. Again, I attribute this to the spandex in the shirt. However, I'm also glad the shirt doesn't cling too tightly. As I mentioned in my initial report, I like my trail shirts a little loose and I find this shirt an ideal fit for me.

SUMMARY

I've enjoyed testing this shirt immensely and I look forward to continuing to use it in the future. In fact I've become so fond of this shirt and impressed with the way this long sleeve shirt performed on warm days that I'm seriously considering picking up a short sleeve version of this tee.
IMAGE 4
Relaxing at the Hoosier Halloween Hang

I've found a few spots where pilling occurred, but it's a trail shirt and it doesn't lessen my opinion of it. In fact I'm still comfortable wearing the shirt around town as I don't find it noticeable enough to detract from the appearance. Also, my rugged treatment of the shirt likely led to the condition.

Save that I have absolutely nothing negative to report on the tee. I'll happily wear this shirt in the future and I'm actually interested another in adding other Sol Cool gear to my collection. I can see it as my go-to shirt in the coming winter months and at and around the pool next summer.

I would sincerely like to thank Ex Officio and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to test the Sol Cool Long Sleeve Tee.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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