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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > OR Cypress-Sodo SS Sunshirt > Test Report by Kathleen Waters

OUTDOOR RESEARCH WOMEN'S CYPRESS S/S SHI
TEST SERIES BY KATHLEEN WATERS
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - June 25, 2009
FIELD REPORT - September 05, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - November 04, 2009

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy@backpackgeartest.com
AGE: 58
LOCATION: White Lake, Michigan USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.63 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)

Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres of public land bordering my 35 acre "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado. Over the past 15 years, my husband, John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.outdoorresearch.com
MSRP: US $60.00
Listed Weight: 7.4 oz (210 g)
Measured Weight: 6.5 oz (184 g)
Available Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
Size Tested: M
Available Colors: Sky (blue), Barley (khaki) and Spring (green)
Color Tested: Spring

Other details: (from manufacturer's website)

+ Lightweight, wind-resistant nylon; UPF 30+
+ Relaxed fit with straight hem
+ Covered mesh panel vents under arms
+ Two zippered hand pockets; one with media port
+ Front button closure

Made in China

"Infinite Guarantee - Outdoor Research products are guaranteed forever."
OR Cypress S/S Shirt
Picture Courtesy of Outdoor Research

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

Prior to receiving the OR Cypress S/S Shirt (hereafter called simply "the Shirt" or "the Cypress"), I checked out the Outdoor Research website for information on the Cypress' features, sizing information, etc. OR uses a neat graphic technique which allowed me to not only view the Shirt in its entirety, but also zoom in tight to examine more closely the Shirt's details. Once in hand, at first glance I was pleased to find the Shirt looked to be exactly what I expected from my website research, except the color "Spring" was perhaps a bit brighter than I had thought. I can directly attribute that, most likely, to my old laptop monitor.

The fit of the Cypress is a shapely silhouette with a slight round-tail hemmed bottom, not a straight hem as indicated on the website. Princess seams both front and back taper the Shirt into a feminine form. The 1 inch (2.5 cm) hem sports a small 2 inch (5 cm) split notched vent on each side and there is a small (1 inch/2.5 cm) embroidered OR logo just above the right side front hem. From the bottom of the Shirt's back collar to the hem measures a generous 25 inches (64 cm).

Five small metal buttons are evenly spaced on the stitched down front placket. The buttons are not sewn on the Shirt in the usual manner with thread, but instead are fastened to the placket via a stitched down thin grosgrain ribbon which is threaded through the buttons. (See pictures below.) It is a very unusual technique, but very stylish-looking and sturdy.
Button on OR Cypress - Overview
Button on OR Cypress - Overview
Button on OR Cypress - Sideview
Button on OR Cypress - Sideview

The short sleeves measure 8 inches (20 cm) from the shoulder to the sleeves' hems.

There are two almost invisible zippered front pockets hidden in the front princess seams, one on each front side just 3 inches (8 cm) from the side seams. Generously sized, the mesh pockets measure 6 by 9 Inches (15 by 23 cm). The right pocket has an additional interior slanted pocket into which a cell phone (even my Palm Centro) or an MP3 player can fit. There is also a media port for use with portable electronic devices sewn into the mesh.
Outside OR Cypress Shirt Pocket
Outside OR Cypress Pocket
Inside OR Cypress Shirt Pocket
Inside OR Cypress Shirt Pocket

Just above the chest there are two stylish vertical stitched down folds. A stand-up collar completes the Shirt's clean good looks.

Mesh also lines the back shoulder area as well as the front shoulder to the decorative "flap". Despite the claim on the Outdoor Research website, the Cypress DOES NOT have "covered mesh panel vents under arms".

In addition to the flower-like same-colored embroidered OR logo on the front of the Shirt, there is an additional same-colored embroidered lettered "OR" on the back left shoulder and "UPF 30+" similarly embroidered on the left back at the hem notch.
Inside OR Cypress Shirt Collar
Inside OR Cypress Collar

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

Care Instructions are on a rather large cloth tag attached to the bottom left side seam. They are listed in the international symbol icons format which I normally have to look up - I can't seem to ever remember them - but OR also has in English on one side and French on the other:

Machine Wash Cold
Do Not Bleach
Tumble Dry Low
Iron Low
Do Not Dry Clean

Easy enough!

TRYING IT OUT

Trying the OR Cypress On
Trying the OR Cypress On
It was 88 F (49 C) today when I received the Cypress. I was hot and really didn't want to wear, no less, try on any clothing heavier than a tissue! However, in the interest of testing and this report, I reluctantly pulled on the Shirt.

It is a bit heavier than I had expected for 100% nylon but while hiking I certainly need more durability than a tissue would provide I suppose. Very soft and smooth with the very slightest vertical texture would be how I describe the feel of the Cypress. It is not as thin as my daddy's old-fashioned nylon shirts.

I beg to differ with the OR website description of the Cypress being "a relaxed fit". If they are referring to the round tail hemline, then, OK. I generally think of "relaxed fit" in a shirt to mean boxy, loose, something just short of shapeless. But, the Shirt itself is very tapered and shapely.

The shoulder seams sit a bit high. The Cypress is almost too snug in the shoulders - I guess I'd better lose a couple of winter-fat pounds - but that is probably my fault in ordering a Medium instead of a Large. According to the OR Size Chart, a Medium chest size is 36 inches (91 cm) and a Large is 39 inches (99 cm) and I am 37 inches (94 cm). Based on past purchases from OR, I opted to go with the Medium and I don't know whether a Large would be more comfortable or just large. Despite the snug fit, thankfully, there is no pulling or gaping between the buttons at my bust line, even when I am seated.

The fit is very attractive though and I look forward to being able to wear it about town as well as on the trail.

Speaking of buttons (see two sentences back), fastening and unfastening these buttons initially feels a little weird due to the threaded-ribbon-instead-of-sewn-with-thread design. The buttons are a tight fit within the button holes and the wide ribbon coupled with the small buttons feels a little clumsy. But that is probably just me, "a little clumsy". Time will tell.

Unlike men's shirts, women's shirts most often don't have pockets and certainly not nice roomy pockets with zippers at the bottom sides. Inseam construction of the pockets with their invisible zippers renders them almost non-existent. The zippers worked smoothly when I checked them out.

I'm not a big fan of cloth tags on clothing, especially at the neckline and the Cypress has three of them, including a rounded "hang-loop". Surprisingly, I can't even feel them right now as I sit here in the Shirt while writing this report.

Like all other clothing I own from Outdoor Research, the Cypress is well-made and the quality shines through in the precise stitching; neat, straight seams and all the little extra details. I look forward to wearing the OR Cypress S/S Shirt A LOT in the next coming months.
Inside Hem Notch of Cypress Shirt
Some of OR's nice detailing

SUMMARY

I have to admit I was very surprised with the discrepancies in the OR website features listed for the Cypress versus the reality of the Shirt. The hem style and the silhouette are rather minor issues and actually I prefer the Shirt as it is. But I am rather disappointed in the lack of underarm covered mesh vents. I wouldn't have missed them if I hadn't expected them!

Outdoor Research makes a lot of my hiking apparel and I have been very pleased with the good looks and quality of their clothing. I expect nothing less from this Shirt.

This concludes my Initial Report. Below is a report of my experiences with the Cypress S/S Shirt during my first two months' testing.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Over the last couple of months, I've worn the Cypress a half-dozen times for periods ranging from 2-3 hours to all day (8-10 hours).

Most of the time, the Cypress' wearings were in hot and dry climates, for example Utah and Colorado, but I did wear it once while visiting Beaver Island which is located in northern Lake Michigan and once around our house in White Lake in lower southeast Michigan. Overall, the temperatures ranged from a low of 50 F to a high of 105 F (10-41 C). While it was rather dry in the west, Michigan more than made up for the lack of moisture (for testing purposes). If it wasn't humid, it was cloudy and misty and if it wasn't cloudy and misty, it was raining!

Elevations ranged from sea level to over 9000 ft (2700 m). Western locations included Snow Basin at the Open Air Demo Day for the Outdoor Retail Summer Show (Utah), Arches National Park (Utah), and Beaver Creek (Colorado).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

One of my favorite hikes in Beaver Creek, Colorado is the Beaver Lake Trail. It is not a really tough trail, but it gains a bit of elevation (1500 ft/460 m) and ends up at a pretty lake with fabulous mountain views. This 4th of July, my husband, son, daughter-in-law, 8-year-old granddaughter and I decided to join the hordes of vacationers on this well-marked trail. We planned it as a 5-hour up and back hike with plenty of time to cool off in the lake. When we started the hike, I was wearing the Cypress Shirt and carried only a light lumbar pack with supporting strapettes. We left around 11:00 am. The trail starts in the picturesque village of Beaver Creek. By the time we had walked out of sight of the village, I was already hot in the Shirt. Within a half-hour of that, I was unbuttoning the Shirt and shortly thereafter, I was stripped down to a sports bra. Wearing a sports bra is something I really, really, rarely do. Gone are those carefree days of my youth. I think there is something vaguely scary about 50+ year-old Nanas in sport bras! However, being able to breathe and not suffering from heat stroke hands down trumped modesty. Oh, the temperature that day never rose above 80 F (27 C), but the sun was fierce and the elevation was over 9000+ feet (2700 m).

The Cypress Shirt just simply was too hot. The rest of my family reported being warm, but not semi-baked alive.

My very next outing in the Shirt was at the Open Air Demo days at the Outdoor Retailer Show. Again, we were at a higher altitude near Snowbasin in Utah. It was a blue skies, gorgeous sunshine day. It was quite warm, but I did not experience any problems with overheating. Of course, I carried a less than 7 lb (3 kg) lumbar pack and other than a mini-2K SkirtChaser walk and a GPS-testing treasure hunt, I didn't exert any real effort.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park
One more test of the Cypress Shirt in Utah occurred in the Arches National Park. There we joined the throngs of park visitors to ooh and ah at the geologic wonders. There were tons of people! I swear it's the first time I had to wait in line to walk a trail! Due to the crowds, I never really moved along at anything more than a stroll, so no exertion there. It was however, very hot with no breeze at all. The temperature reached 105 F (41 C). The Shirt got soaked with sweat. I'm not talking about damp under the arm pits and on the back where the pack pressed against me. I'm talking about all across the back, under my arms and anyplace the shirt touched my body. I was truly uncomfortable. To be fair, I don't know if any shirt would have been better that day.

The Cypress Shirt does dry out fairly quickly when wet from sweat though.

On Beaver Island, it was cloudy so not as hot, but very humid. The Shirt performed well and I felt comfortable at the lower temperatures - mostly mid-70s F (24 C).

Other comfort factors I've noticed, or should I say, uncomfortable factors, are the relative stiffness of the fabric and the danged tags at the neckline. I'm not a fan of labels, especially at the neck. At the warm summer temperatures I encountered, the various protrusions at the back of the neck really got my attention and not positively either. Also, the Shirt is not very soft as I would have thought nylon would be but I'm guessing (and will be testing for this fall) the stiffness will be a benefit against wind in lower temperatures.

The pockets on the Shirt are great! I can easily fit my OR Radar Cap into one with room to spare. I particularly have enjoyed the fact that the pockets zipper shut so I don't have to worry about losing small items such as my lip balm, etc. Also, using mesh for the lining of the pockets not only keeps from adding bulk to the Shirt's trim lines, but the mesh aids in keeping me cool. Something I wish the rest of the Shirt did.

I've washed the Shirt twice now following the manufacturer's instructions of using cold waters and no bleach. I did not put the Shirt into the dryer, but hung it on a hanger to dry. I was pleased that so far, no stains have been set into the Shirt. The Shirt looks like new albeit wrinkled. OR says it can be ironed on low, but I avoid ironing whenever I can and hiking gear is definitely not on my must-iron list!

SUMMARY

I am trying to keep an open mind about this Shirt, but am having difficulties doing so. During most of my hikes so far, the Shirt has just been too danged hot. The benefit of the Shirt being windproof when there is little wind translates into the negative of the Shirt being unbearably un-breatheable. I am looking forward to the cooler temperatures of autumn when the Rocky Mountains' season-changing winds come into play. Then the Shirt will be able to show off, I believe, and earn its hanger in my gear closet.

This concludes my Field Report. Below is the results of my last two months of testing the Cypress Shirt.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Autumn is my favorite time of year to hike and backpack. As usual, I made good use of the gorgeous weather to get in several day hikes in September and October. Aside from my almost daily hikes down to the mailbox - a 5 mile (8 km) trek - and weekly 4-6 hour hikes in the public lands behind out property, I spent 9 days hiking in various locations in southwest Colorado, the Mesquite, Nevada area and Zion National Park and Arches National Park in Utah.

Colorado one-day-each hikes took place in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park near Gunnison and Mesa Verde National Park near Cortez. A total of 2.5 days were spent there. Mesquite hikes included trails in the Valley of Fire State Park and Desert National Wildlife Range where I spent 3 days checking out the scenery. Lastly, 2 way-too-inadequate days were devoted Zion National Park and 1 day in Arches National Park.

All of the above hikes were in desert and canyon conditions where the day time temperatures were between 30 F and 95 F (-1 C and 35 C). No significant rainfall was experienced, but we did have to wait out a shower under a ledge in Zion National Park one day.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I had much better luck wearing the OR Cypress Shirt this final period of testing than I did during the blazing desert summer. The weather was generally a bit cooler in the locations I visited, so the discomfort from overheating was minimal. As the temps dropped and the autumn winds started to blow, I stopped feeling sweaty while wearing the Shirt but I also started longing for full-length sleeves. I think this Shirt would be fantastic for my purposes if it had long sleeves.

I continued to be impressed with the wind-stopping ability of the Shirt. On a hike to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, the wind was really kicking it up. Later, I heard the wind speeds were gusting to 50 mph (80 kph). While the hairs on my arms were standing at attention and my short hair was whipping around my face, I didn't feel any breeze at all around my core. That was nice! Again, long sleeves would have been super that day.

Another feature worth getting excited about is the quickness with which the Cypress dries out when wet. We got caught in a brief shower during a day hike in Zion National Park two weeks ago (October). It was a little on the cool side and when the rain started, I was not a happy camper/hiker. There was no point turning around - why did I not bring my rain gear - so onward we continued. Fortunately, before we got too soaked, we came to a convenient rock overhang where we took a snack break while we waited for the clouds to empty out. By the time the sun burned through, the Shirt was dry. A mere 15 minutes or so, barely enough time for me to start feeling uncomfortable. Not bad!

As for the durability of the shirt - WOW - it sure has held up well during the last two months of testing. The Cypress hasn't even shown any signs of wear despite the rough treatment it received from a recent bushwhacking through the Cooper Mountain range. I held my breath a couple of times when I felt the familiar tug as a pinyon pine branch reached out to once again grab me. Nary a snag or pull has developed though. Sticky sap hasn't marred its good looks nor have sweat stains or ring-around-the-collar betrayed just how hot and dirty I've hiked. The Shirt still looks great.

I've washed it several times and while it is a bit wrinkly when first pulled on, my body heat seems to smooth out the creases enough for me to look somewhat presentable off-trail. I've tried drying the Shirt both in an electric dryer and by hanging/air-drying it with little difference in appearance. As I said, the Shirt is neat enough. I'm certainly not about to start ironing it, even though it can be ironed and would probably look better.

SUMMARY

I must confess this is the first article of clothing from Outdoor Research I am not over-the-top crazy about. I have at least a half-dozen OR items of various tops, jackets and hats I wear a lot. The Cypress just doesn't work for me. It's very functional as a windproof garment, but its short sleeves leave my arms bare and contradict usage in ultra windy conditions. In warm conditions, either weather temperatures or body temperatures, the Shirt is just too hot for me.

Unfortunately, the Cypress didn't earn a hanger in my gear closet, but it may just have a second chance with my daughter-in-law who has been lusting after it!

This concludes my experiences with the Cypress S/S Shirt.

Thank you to BackpackGearTest.org and Outdoor Research for allowing me to test this Shirt.

Kathleen (Kathy) Waters

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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