Mountain Khakis Granite Creek Long Sleeve Shirt
Test Series by Andy Henrichs
October 6, 2014
Initial Report - 5-26-14
Field Report - 8-11-14
Long Term Report - 10-6-14
Name: Andy Henrichs
Email address: andyhenrichs(at)gmail(dot)com
City, State, Country: Carbondale, Colorado, USA
Most of my backpacking has
been in the mountains of Colorado and the deserts in the
southwestern US. I have gone winter camping several times but I still prefer
backpacking in the warmer months. Most of my trips are 2-3 days, but I have
taken several trips of 5-6 days. I have been fortunate to
have thru-hiked the 476 mi (766 km) Colorado Trail. Recently, I have been
leaning towards the lightweight side of the spectrum. I will do just about anything to get outside including hiking, backcountry skiing, whitewater kayaking and rafting, and mountain biking.
Manufacturer: Mountain Khakis (www.mountainkhakis.com)
of Manufacture: 2014
MSRP: $89.95 US
Size Tested: Large (also available in Small, Medium, X-Large, XX-Large)
Color Tested: Celery (also available in Morning Sky, Truffle, Sand)
Manufacturers Stated Weight: not listed
Measured Weight: 8.5 oz (241 g)
The Granite Creek Shirt
The Mountain Khakis Granite Creek Long Sleeve Shirt is a lightweight button-up shirt with SPF fabric and DWR treatment. Attached was a small hang tag briefly describing the Mountain Khaki story as well as the "MK Fit Guarantee." It has 2 buttons at the cuffs for adjustment, a vented back panel with a bit of mesh in the upper back area, two snap-closure chest pockets, and two Napoleon zipper pockets behind the chest pockets. Both of these Napoleon pockets feature a mesh backing. The collar also features a snap-button on each side, and I presume this is to keep the front of the collar out of the way if the rest of the collar is flipped up for sun protection. I haven't had this feature on other shirts, so that is purely speculation on my part. The Mountain Khakis website reports that the shirt fabric is SPF 50+, blocking both the UVA and UVB spectrum, but the attached hang tag reports that it is SPF 45+. Either way, that's a very negligible difference and plenty of sun protection. Additionally, the shirt is made from a quick-dry material that is designed to wick moisture as well. According to Mountain Khakis, the material is a "3.1oz 100% Brushed Nylon Plain Weave." There is a small Mountain Khakis logo embroidered on the right upper back of the shirt. The care label is in the usual location along interior of the lower left seam and these instructions of "machine wash cold, do not bleach, tumble dry low, cool iron, and do not dry clean" are pretty straightforward.
Collar flipped up for sun protection with the small collar buttons snapped together
The Mountain Khakis Granite Creek Long Sleeve Shirt seems to initially fit the bill for a nice, lightweight, sun-protection shirt. The material is extremely lightweight, but the cut is roomy enough where I could easily wear it over a T-shirt if I desired a bit more warmth. I'm used to a little more trim shirts, and the Mountain Khakis website lists this shirt as having a "casual fit." The torso in particular seems to have a large cut, although it's not significant enough to leave me feeling like I'm drowning in it. Overall, I feel the sizing chart on the Mountain Khakis website helped me choose the appropriate size. The sleeves easily unbutton and roll up past my elbows, and I have no trouble accessing either the chest or Napoleon pockets. When flipped up, the collar seems to give a good amount of coverage for sun protection. I've only worn the shirt around the house so far, but it is very comfortable and I don't feel that it restricts motion or that there are any irritating seams. I have yet to wash it, but as I mentioned above, the care instructions look pretty straightforward. I briefly ran it under the sink and while some water ran off it, a fair amount was soaked up. I really didn't expect much more from the DWR; the dual features of "DWR" and "wicking" seem to be in opposition of each other. I'll see how it does in the field with some precipitation.
The back vents with interior mesh
|The dual chest pockets showing the closure snap as well as the pull tabs for the hidden Napoleon pockets
I've been fortunate to get a lot of use out of this shirt over the last two months. I've worn it on a 3-day backpacking trip, a multi-day river trip, an international vacation, and countless day hikes. The backpacking trip was in the Lost Creek Wilderness in Colorado. Elevations ranged from 8,500 ft (2,600 m) to nearly 11,000 ft (3,300 m) and I covered about 30 miles. Weather was very beautiful with mostly clear skies and warm days up to 80F (27C). It cooled off to around 30F (-1C) at night and only rained for a bit the second night. I also wore this shirt for two of the six days I spent on a river trip through Cataract Canyon in Utah. On this trip, temperatures ranged from 75F (25C) to 105F (41C). We had lots and lots of sun as well as some pretty good storms roll through the area and they produced a good amount of wind and rain. I wore the Granite Creek shirt on about three out of ten days of a trip to the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. We spent a lot of time walking around old towns of small villages and also spent a fair amount of time on a small boat doing some island-hopping. Again, there was a lot of sun combined with a day or two of rainstorms. Finally, I've worn the Granite Creek shirt on many day hikes throughout Colorado. These ranged in elevation from 6,000 ft (1,800 m) to nearly 12,000 ft (3,700 m) with lengths ranging from 2 mi (3 km) to 12 mi (13 km).
I've been quite happy with this shirt thus far. I really haven't done much hiking with long-sleeve sun shirts but I think I may be converted. I've always been afraid that I'd overheat and wish I was back in my lightweight wool t-shirt, but the Granite Creek shirt has proved to have a great temperature range. I've almost always left the sleeves rolled down for added sun protection and have only occasionally rolled them up for more ventilation. While I've left the sleeves rolled down, I've generally left the cuffs unbuttoned to allow for a bit more ventilation without sacrificing the sun protection. I've also found the collar to be very useful for sun protection, particularly on my river trip. Much to my surprise, the small collar snaps mentioned in my IR proved to be incredibly useful in keeping the collar propped up and covering my neck. The multiple pockets have proved to be quite handy on my trips as they easily accept a pocketknife, map, sunglasses, or any other small objects. I was a little unsure of the color at first, but it's proven to be very versatile. I like that it doesn't soak up the sun, and I've been impressed with how little dirt and sweat it shows. I've washed it a couple of times and the stains seem to wash out quite easily. For the most part, it's also resisted odors well. I wore it for the full three days of my backpacking trip and didn't notice much of an odor to it. The same can be said for the trip to Croatia. I wore it for about three non-consecutive days without having a chance to wash it and still didn't notice a smell. That changed on the river trip, however. After a couple days of use, I felt like it was retaining some odor. I even did a quick wash on the river without much improvement. Because of this smell (and for the sake of my friends), I retired the shirt for the rest of the trip. After a true wash back home, the smell seems to be gone.
One advertised point that I have to dispute at this time is the DWR coating. I just haven't noticed it at all. A recent hike took me down a very overgrown trail the day after a good rainstorm, and all of the foliage was covered with water and drooping on the trail. After a short amount of time, I was completely soaked. While the DWR didn't do much for me in this instance, the quick-dry nature of the fabric did. Once I exited this overgrown area and entered a more sunny spot the shirt was dry within 20 minutes. This timeframe has been the case for dry time on most of my trips, although the vast majority have been in arid climates.
Exploring the Lost Creek Wilderness, Colorado
Long Term Report
I've worn the Granite Creek shirt on two backpacking trips over the last two months. The first was a three day trip in the West Elk Range of Colorado. Elevations ranged from 8,200 ft (2,500 m) to nearly 12,500 ft (3,800 m). It was a beautiful weekend with no precipitation and only a gentle breeze. Temperatures ranged from a low of 35 F (2 C) at night and 80 F (27 C) during the day. The second trip was an overnight trip, also in the West Elk Range. This was a pretty short trip with elevations ranging from 7,500 ft (2,300 m) to 11,000 ft (3,400 m). Weather wasn't quite as nice with intermittent showers part of the first day and most of the second. Temperatures ranged from 40 F (4 C) to 70 F (21 C). In addition to these trips I was able to get out on three day hikes in the Elk Range of Colorado. These hikes all featured nice weather and elevations ranged from 7,000 ft (2,100 m) to around 12,000 ft (3,700 m).
This shirt has been a pretty regular go-to during my hikes over the testing period. My thoughts on it haven't changed too much since my Field Report. It's proven to be quite versatile in terms of temperature. I've almost always worn the sleeves unrolled for maximum sun protection but I leave the sleeves unbuttoned for ventilation and to allow room for my watch. The sun protection has been very welcome and effective throughout the testing period. The collar has also proved versatile, particularly when I've been exploring areas without any shade. As mentioned in my Field Report, the pockets continued to be useful for quick access to multitools, sunglasses, or maps. Despite a good amount of use during this testing phase, including the two backpacking trips, I really haven't noticed an issue with odor. The lighter color does seem to show the dirt that gets picked up, but this has all washed out easily with normal care. Like I've mentioned previously, I really haven't found the DWR to be that effective. That said, the shirt has continued to dry fairly quickly. After spending some time in a light rain, the shirt has generally dried in 15-25 minutes.
Occasional odor retention
Thank you to Mountain Khakis and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this shirt.
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