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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Outdoor Research Dune Shirt > Test Report by Chad G Poindexter

OUTDOOR RESEARCH DUNE SHIRT
TEST SERIES BY CHAD POINDEXTER
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - June 10, 2010
FIELD REPORT - August 21, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - October 23, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Chad Poindexter
EMAIL: stick1377 (AT) gmail (DOT) com
AGE: 33
LOCATION: Corinth, Alcorn County, Mississippi, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I love backpacking! However, with only 1 ½ years under my belt so far, I would still consider myself a little green to it all, so to say… Initially, I started out with heavy gear but since then I have gone lighter, although I still use a little of it all. I have gone from tent to tarp, canister stove to alcohol stove, sleeping bag to quilt and quite happily from synthetic to down. All of my hiking so far has been in the Southeast United States, and up to this point has been with friends or family.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECS

IMAGE 1
Courtesy of Outdoor Research

Manufacturer: Outdoor Research (OR)
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: www.outdoorresearch.com
MSRP: (US) $ 55.00
Model: Men's Dune
Size Tested: L (Other Sizes Available: S, M, & XL)
Listed Weight (Size Large): 6.7 oz (190 g)
Measured Weight: 6.2 oz (176 g)
Color Tested: Artichoke (Other Colors Available: Pilsner & Sea)
Features:
*Material: 85% polyester / 15% cotton
*Dri-release woven Fabric provides comfort and moisture management while eliminating odor
*Front button closure
*Chest pocket with internal media pocket
*Relaxed fit with straight hem
Warranty: Outdoor Research's Infinite Guarantee

The Outdoor Research Dune shirt (hereafter referred to as the "shirt") is a shirt that can be worn while hiking hard in the back country or just taking it easy and having a drink in the middle of civilization, in style. The Dune shirt uses a polyester / cotton blend so that the shirt remains comfortable while wearing, yet still maintains the abilities to dry quickly and cut down on odor.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Dune shirt features a relaxed (loose) fit. The shirt uses 7 buttons in which I can completely close the shirt up, or I can leave it partially (or fully) unbuttoned to allow for ventilation during hot days. The shirt has one chest pocket which measures 5.5 in (14 cm) wide by 6 in (15 cm) deep at the deepest point and is located on the left side of the chest. A smaller media pocket which measures 2 in (5 cm) wide by 3.5 in (9 cm) deep is located inside the chest pocket. Also, found on the end of each of the shirt sleeves at the hem, there are notches cut out which allow for just a little more room to stretch. There is also a 2 in (5 cm) split hemmed into the bottom of each side of the shirt. The shirt features a collar (which does not button down) that can be raised to help block wind or sun. Another handy feature is the extra button which is sewn onto the care tag in the shirt.

The shirt is green (artichoke) and white checkered and features a small, square "OR" patch sewn into the right corner of the top hem of the chest pocket. Located on the back left shoulder of the shirt is an "OR" emblem sewn into the shirt, and then the slogan "Designed By Adventure" is sewn into the right side of the shirt just below the buttons. (These can be seen in the pictures below.)

IMAGE 2


Cleaning instructions are found on the care tag which is sewn into the shirt. The cleaning instructions are as follows:

~ Machine was cold.
~ Do not bleach.
~ Tumble dry low.
~ Iron low.
~ Do not dry clean.

TRYING IT OUT

IMAGE 3
Wearing the shirt at Piney Grove
The shirt arrived at my doorstep about three days before I headed out for a 3-day car camping trip at Piney Grove with the family. As soon as it arrived I had to try it on, and then decided to wear it for the rest of the evening. The next morning I put it back on and wore the shirt while at my sons baseball game. And of course I wore the shirt all three days while car camping (as seen in the picture to the right).

Initially, I have found that the polyester / cotton blend material is soft against the skin, but not quite as soft as a shirt made of 100% cotton. The inside hems from where the shirt is sewn together are also quite rough feeling against my bare skin. I have washed the shirt twice since I have received it, and I am hoping that with a few more washes the inside hems will soften up more, making the shirt more comfortable while worn next to my skin. Also, after removing the shirt from the washing machine on the second wash I found a button in the bottom of the washing machine. I inspected the shirt and found that the loose button was actually the extra button, so no biggy there. However, upon this inspection I found some loose threads from the stitching which attaches the buttons onto the shirt, so I will be sure to bring along the extra button in my sewing kit when wearing this shirt on my backpacking trips, just in case.

The media pocket is found in the right corner of the larger chest pocket, which places the media pocket closer to the middle of the shirt. The good thing about this is that this should place the media pocket out of the way of the shoulder straps on my backpack. I have found that the media pocket is the perfect size for my Apple iPod Nano. This is nice in that it will keep the iPod in one place instead of bouncing back and forth inside the larger pocket. I am not sure how well the pocket will hold the iPod in place when bending over forward, so I will watch that.

SUMMARY

Things that I like about this shirt so far:

1. The button-up allow for lots of ventilation.
2. The shirt's relaxed fit is comfortable fitting.
3. The media pocket is sized exactly to fit my media.

Things I have concerns about so far:

1. The hems are a little rough feeling.
2. There are some loose threads where the buttons are sewn on.

This concludes my initial report of the Outdoor Research Dune Shirt. Please check back in about 2 months for my field report.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 2
At Pickwick
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK. I have taken two trips to this park during this testing phase. The first trip was during mid-June in which my son and I headed out for three days of fun in the park. On the first day we hiked 5 mi (8 km) up the Alum Cave Trail to the top of Mt LeConte. We climbed a total of 2,763 ft (842 m), starting at an elevation of 3,830 ft (1,170 m) and ending up at 6,593 ft (2,010 m). The other two days of hiking varied between these elevations. The temperatures were around 78 F (26 C) during the day and as low as 55 F (13 C) at night. We had frequent rain showers while on this trip, however we lucked up and was inside a shelter each time the rain came. My pack I carried on this trip weighed about 40 lb (18.14 kg) at the beginning of our trip and gradually lessened each day as we ate our food!

The second trip was with some of my buddies at the beginning of August. We hiked up the same trail (Alum Cave to Mt LeConte) and then right back down the next day. The elevations are of course the same as in the paragraph above. The difference this time were the temperatures, starting out around 88 F (31.1 C) at the beginning of our hike and dropping down to around 65 F (18.3 C) at night. (The temperatures felt considerably higher during the middle of the day, but I did not have a thermometer with me to verify this.) Again we experienced some rain and yet again lucked up by reaching the shelter before the rain came. However, there were a few times I felt a drop of rain here and there on the hike up, but not even enough to cool me down. The conditions on this trip were much more humid than the trip in June. On this trip I carried a 14 lb (6.4 kg) pack.

We also did a very short but steep day hike the day that we hiked down from Mt LeConte. We climbed 300 ft (91 m) within the 0.5 mi (0.8 km) one-way hike to the top of Clingman's Dome, which is the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. At this time of the day the temperature was around 77 F (25 C) and we were actually walking inside a cloud. Just as we reached the top of Clingman's Dome the rain let loose and this time we actually got a little wet. I did not carry a pack on this short hike.

PICKWICK LANDING STATE PARK CAMPGROUNDS: On the weekend of July 4th, my wife and I took off with a few friends for two nights out on the river. The temperatures here were as high as 97 F (36 C) during the day, and did not cool off much with lows around 80 F (27 C) at night. We did not receive any rain; however, with the high temperatures and the close proximity of the running river, the general conditions were a bit humid. Elevations at the Pickwick campgrounds are 420 ft (128 m). Since this was a car camping trip I did not carry a pack any time on this trip, but I did wear the shirt all 3 days of the weekend! (I did take a shower each day though.)

Other than these times, I have worn the shirt 4 times just casually around the house or town. The temperatures have been as high as 100 F (37.8 C) and quite humid. During these times I stayed out of any rain that happened to come through, so other than sweating, I was pretty dry.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

VENTILATION / BREATHABILITY: I have worn this shirt as just a casual shirt while out on the river as well as under a pack while hiking in the mountains. I have worn the shirt in temperatures as high as 100 F (37.8 C) with high humidity and "real-feel" temperatures as high as 117 F (47.2 C). My observation so far is that the shirt will ventilate well enough while wearing casually; however, in these high temperatures and with a pack on, the shirt is simply hot. Although, since the shirt is able to be buttoned, I can simply unbutton my shirt down as much as I want to allow for more ventilation. At this point, I will much prefer to wear this shirt while in temperatures around 80 F (26.7 C) or cooler, especially while wearing a pack and hiking.

I will add here that the shirt will wick the perspiration from my body very fast, maybe that is the cotton in the shirt coming out... Anyway, in these warm temperatures that we have had, it is hard to tell how well the shirt will dry out because I just keep pouring out sweat. So the shirt has pretty much stayed wet while wearing it while on backpacking trips, even with my occasional stops for lunch and snacks. Yet, another reason I would like to wear this shirt in cooler temperatures.

FIT: My initial impression of this shirt is that it has a relaxed fit. At this point I would say that this is only true whenever I am not sweating up a storm while wearing it. In cooler weather the shirt is comfortable and not restrictive in any way. On the other hand, as soon as I start to sweat, the shirt will stick to me and actually becomes quite restricting while trying to move freely, or in a wide range of motion such as reaching my arms up while wearing my pack. The shirt will not stretch like some of the synthetic technical shirts so this can be a bummer in high temperatures. This is another reason that I would rather wear this shirt in cooler weather.

One issue I had that I included in my initial report was how rough the hems inside the shirt felt. This was quickly remedied by washing the shirt a few times. Now the shirt is nice and comfy to wear, especially when I am dry.

The one real issue I had when receiving the shirt was the ill-sewn buttons. The buttons did not seem to be sewn in very well at all. The buttons had loose threads all around them and just did not feel like they were very secure in the first place. So, I must say that I was not surprised whenever I looked down one day while wearing the shirt casually (without a pack or anything) and saw the very bottom button hanging by a thread. I was lucky it did not completely fall off and was able to retrieve the button before it was too late. I shoved the button in my pockets and the next day when I was at home I pulled out the needle-and-thread and secured the button on much more so than when it was attached the first time.

IMAGE 1

SUMMARY

I am trying really hard to like this shirt, and for good reasons. I like the shirt because it does in fact have buttons which can provide a large range of ventilation when needed. I also like the look of the shirt. The shirt is more casual looking and nice looking than some of the technical shirts so I don't feel so bad walking into a restaurant after 3 days of hard hiking, even though I don't smell the best. And speaking of smell, the shirt does a much better job of simply not stinking after a few days of use, unlike the synthetic shirts that completely reek after a single day of wear!

Notice I did say "trying" though. At this point, I feel like this shirt is better suited for milder temperatures rather than high or extreme temperatures. I say this simply because after the times that I have worn the shirt while hiking in these high temperatures, the shirt does not function as well as I had hoped. The shirt simply gets sticky when sweating and does not allow much freedom to move around freely in. Also, in these high temperatures the constant sweat will keep the shirt from drying out. So, function has been an issue, meaning I am "trying" to like the shirt.

I have some other short day hikes planned over the next 2 months as well as a large trip planned in the middle of October, so I will be able to get more use out of the shirt in more favorable weather conditions. So, please do come back around the end of October and I will be sure to report back in my long term report how the shirt did in these conditions.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 1
Since the field report I have worn this shirt occasionally to lounge around town in, however I have had the opportunity to wear the shirt on two more backpacking trips, a day hike followed by a four-day hike.

The first hike was a 4 mi (6.4) round trip hike to Chimney Tops in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). We began our hike around 12:00 in the afternoon. The temperatures were around 75 F (24 C) during the entire hike. We began the hike at an elevation of 3,400 ft (1,036 m) and 2 mi (3.2 km) later we arrived at the top of the Chimney's which stands at 4,800 ft (1,463 m). We arrived back to our truck around 4:00 in the afternoon. For this trip I carried a day pack with a few needed essentials for the hike up for my wife and I. The pack weighed about 7 lb (3.2 kg).

The next hike was a four-day loop hike which began the very next day. I didn't even get to wash the shirt after the day hike the day before, so I actually wore the shirt for 5 days in a row. This hike began at the Cosby Campgrounds in the GSMNP and four days later ended back at the same place. We began at an elevation of 2,200 ft (671 m) and the highest point we reached on the trail was 6,300 ft (1,920 m). For the most part our days were filled with sunshine and blue skies, although we did get quite a rain storm one night but we were luckily already inside the shelter. Our temperatures were quite a bit higher than I had hoped, reaching as high as 75 F (24 C) during the days and as low as 40 F (4 C) one night. On this trip I carried a full backpack. The beginning weight of my pack was 40 lb (18.1 kg).

Like I said, other than this I have worn the shirt four other times around town and home. During each of these times the days were nice and sunny with no rain. The highest temperature I have worn the shirt in during the long-term report phase has been around 85 F (29 C). Of course during these times I did not wear a backpack.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Due to the lower temperatures, the Dune shirt has been much more pleasurable to wear during this testing phase. I have found that both the fit and the breathability of the Dune shirt have much improved in these lower temperatures.

VENTILATION / BREATHABILITY: During this testing phase I have found the shirt to ventilate as well as breathe very well. I was able to wear the shirt comfortably as I began my hikes each morning in the cooler temperatures as well as during midday in the warmer temperatures, even with a full backpack on. I only needed to leave the two top buttons undone during the entire day. However, like I said earlier, these cooler temperatures we have had were the key. I did not work up such a sweat like I did in the higher temperatures which I encountered during the other testing phases, so I did not need the shirt to keep me so cool and dry. Although, that is not to say that I did not work up a sweat during this testing phase. I had a much more extreme elevation gain and loss as well as quite a bit more distance during these hikes than I did during my other testing phases so it is safe to say that I provided plenty of sweat for the shirt to deal with.

The shirt also did a great job at wicking away my sweat as soon as I started to sweat. However, while wearing my backpack, the back panel of my pack kept that sweat trapped. So I found that my back was pretty wet every time I took my pack off. The good thing is that if I were taking a break without my pack on, my shirt would dry in about 20 minutes or so. The rest of the shirt would dry out a little quicker simply because the moisture was not trapped, however, how fast depended on how much I am perspiring.

FIT: I still feel the same as far as the fit is concerned that I expressed during my field report. The shirt is quite relaxed and comfortable fitting when not sweating up a storm. This is great for times that I wear the shirt around casually, weather around town, home or around camp. However, once I put my pack on and build up a good sweat, the shirt can become somewhat restrictive. This is due to the shirt clinging to my body because of the sweat as well as not stretching beneath my pack. I would like to see some elastic or something blended in with the cotton and polyester so that the shirt would stretch a little and be a little less restrictive.

I must say though that the cotton content has made the shirt feel nice and comfy while wearing. At first I had some issues with the inside hems feeling a little rough, however after a few washes the shirt softened up nicely. At this point, the shirt still feels comfortable as does a cotton shirt and the hems give me no problems what-so-ever.

Also, during this testing phase, I have not lost another button. I have been anticipating them coming lose simply because they are not sewn on well. This was proven earlier during the testing phase when the very bottom button simply fell off. So, during my hiking trips I am sure to have the extra button in with my sewing kit just in case. I will definitely continue to keep an eye on the buttons each time I wear the shirt, with or without a pack.

The last thing I feel worth mentioning here is the smell. Like I said, I wore the shirt the day before we began our loop hike on a day hike. I worked up quite a sweat on the day hike, and the pack I was wearing did not ventilate well, so my back stayed soaked in sweat for a few hours. Before we left for our loop hike the next day I had the privilege of bathing, so I put the "dirty" shirt back on after a fresh shower. At this point, I definitely noticed the smell, however after about an hour or two, the smell was not noticeable to me anymore. While the smell was a bit strong, it was still not quite as bad as some of my other technical shirts have been. I actually didn't even get any second looks (that I saw) when we went to eat after our 4 hour sweat-filled day hike...

IMAGE 2
"Ordering up a celebratory pint..."

SUMMARY

The entire testing phase of this shirt has come at a great time. I was able to test the shirt in some cool temperatures when I first received the shirt but then the temperatures quickly jumped way up. Now during the last phase, the temperatures have been cooler again.

Overall, I like this shirt, but I have found that just like any other piece of my backpacking gear, most of it best used during particular times. For me this shirt's best times are during the spring and fall seasons, or more precisely in temperatures between 40 to 80 F (4 to 27 C), at least while backpacking. Of course, if I am not wearing a pack and working up a sweat, I would be comfortable wearing this shirt in temperatures higher than this.

In my past experiences with Outdoor Research products I have been very happy with the overall quality of the products. The quality of the Dune shirt is quite nice, however, the buttons were very poorly attached to the shirt. I am not sure if this shirt was just missed during the quality control checks, or if this is a legitimate concern. If I had bought the shirt rather than tested it, I would probably have tried to exchange it for another at the beginning, or at least checked out some of the others to see how well the buttons were attached to them. As it stands though, this shirt only lost one button, and even if it loses others I can attach them back myself quite easily. I am very happy with the quality of the rest of the shirt though. The stitching and workmanship everywhere else is great.

IMAGE 3
Our 3rd day out in the GSMNP at Laurel Gap Shelter


So, in summation, the things I like about this shirt are:
1. The button up / down allows the shirt to ventilate and breathe well.
2. The shirt is comfortable to wear, especially casually.
3. The shirt does not stink after use like my other technical shirts.
4. The shirt will dry out quickly, if given the proper opportunity to do so.

Some things that need improving on:
1. The buttons are not adequately attached.
2. It would be nice for the shirt to stretch, at least a little.

I have enjoyed testing this shirt and it is definitely a keeper. At this time I would like to thank Outdoor Research as well as Backpackgeartest.org for giving me the opportunity to take part in this test series.

SIGNATURE

IMAGE 4
Chad Poindexter
"Stick"

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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