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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Outdoor Research Mens SoDo Shirt > Test Report by Larry Kirschner

Outdoor Research SoDo shirt

TEST SERIES BY LARRY KIRSCHNER

OR SodDo shirt
(Image courtesy of Outdoor Research)


INITIAL REPORT - July 4, 2010
FIELD REPORT - September 20, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - November 22, 2010



TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Larry Kirschner
EMAIL: asklarry98 at hotmail dot com
AGE: 46
LOCATION: Columbus, OH
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 205 lb (92 kg)

I've been an intermittent camper/paddler since my teens, but now that my kids are avid Boy Scouts, I've caught the backpacking bug. I typically do 8-10 weekend hikes per year, and have spent time over the past few years backpacking the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and canoeing the Atikaki wilderness of Canada. I like to travel "in comfort", but I've shrunk to medium weight, and continue to work toward going lighter and longer. With all of my investment into these ventures, I expect my wife and I will continue to trek long after the kids are gone…


INITIAL REPORT
July 4, 2010

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Country of Manufacture: China
Manufacturer's Website: www.outdoorresearch.com
Model Tested: SoDo S/S (Short sleeve)
MSRP: USD $58.00

Styles available: S/S (short sleeve) and L/S (long sleeve)
Colors available: Barley (similar to khaki), balsam (grey-blue), and abyss (deep blue)
Listed Weight: 224 g (7.9 oz) for size large
Measured weight: 222.5 (7.85 oz) for size x-large (analog scale)


ITEM DESCRIPTION

The Outdoor Research (OR) SoDo shirt is a technical shirt designed for the outdoors. It is made with a quick-dry, lightweight nylon fabric which is supposed to provide excellent breathability to provide comfort in the warm weather or with exertion. The fabric is also designed to be wind-resistant and sun-resistant, providing UPF 30+ sun protection. The shirt is designed with a relaxed fit, which seems appropriate for a shirt of this style that might be worn over a baselayer.

The shirt has two pockets on the chest, which can be seen in the photo at the top of the report. On the left chest is a typical pocket with a button closure. This pocket measures 145 mm deep and 135 mm (5.7 x 5.3 in) side to-side. There is a small OR logo on the upper corner of the pocket. On the right chest is a "napoleon pocket", meaning that the opening is on the side (towards the middle of the chest) rather than on the top. The opening of the pocket has a zipper which runs 150 mm (5.9 in). The inside of the pocket has a mesh lining which takes up the whole upper right chest and is 280 mm (11 in) square, with a cut-out for the right sleeve. I suppose the larger pocket could be used for storing an item that is large and flat like a map or something of the sort. However, within this mesh pocket is a small sleeve which measures 115 x 90 mm (4.5 x 3.5 in). This is just about the right size in which to put an mp3 player, a cell phone, or perhaps a very small camera. This sleeve would also be useful for storing a credit card or two if needed. To further suggest that this pocket was designed with an electronic device in mind, there is a small "media port" on the inside (i.e., the chest side) of the mesh pocket, which is a place through which I might pass a set of headphone wires.

SoDo right chest pocket

Aside from the pockets, other features of the shirt include the fact that it has a standard collar and 7 buttons, making it possible that I could wear this shirt to work if so desired. The buttons are rather interesting, in that there is a long fabric strip sewn the length of the shirt, and each button is placed by making a loop of the fabric and placing a button with a horizontal cutout at the end. I've never seen anything like this, so I think it is pretty cool. In the photo below, I have turned part of the shirt so that the attachment of the buttons can be better seen.

SoDo buttons

There is also a small loop on the inside of the collar which I assume could be used for hanging the shirt on a hook. On further inspection, this loop has writing on it! It reads "Designed for Adventure". A small mesh panel of 10 cm (3.9 in) is located across the top of the shirt inside the collar. There is also an embroidered OR logo on the back of the upper left shoulder. There are 55 mm (2.2 in) vents located at the bottom of the two side seams. The vents are reinforced on the inside with a strip of the same fabric that is used for the buttons, as shown in the photo.

SoDo bottom vent seams


INSTRUCTIONS AND WARRANTY

No paperwork accompanies the SoDo, but it does have washing instructions (in English and French) on a tag on the shirt seam which also has an extra button. The cleaning tag states: 100% nylon. Machine wash cold. Do not bleach. Tumble dry low. Iron low. Do not dry clean. Seems pretty straightforward.

No details of the guarantee for this shirt are provided, other than the shirt tag which says "Outdoor Research" and the web address on one side, and "Infinite guarantee" on the other and a phone number. The website simply says "Outdoor Research products are guaranteed forever". Digging further, the website indicates that any OR product can be exchanged or returned at any time. The phone number for the returns department is the same one on the shirt. Arrangements can also be made using online forms.

SoDo shirt tags


TRYING IT OUT

When I took the shirt out of its packing, I was impressed with how light and airy it feels. I then tried the shirt on over a t-shirt. It fit nicely, with plenty of room. At first blush, I thought that I might need a smaller size (L, rather than XL), but I definitely need the room across the shoulders, so I think I have selected properly. In any event, the shirt is plenty roomy, and I can button the collar easily without choking myself (as if I ever would button my collar). I also tried the shirt on without an undershirt. The fabric is quite comfortable and light.


INITIAL IMPRESSIONS and EXPECTATIONS

This shirt seems quite nice, and I am looking forward to trying it out both on the trail and as a shirt for everyday use. I'm looking forward to seeing if it keeps me cool in the heat but protects me from wind so I don't cool off too fast on the trail.

THE STORY SO FAR

    Impressive
  • Light and comfortable
  • Roomy
  • Napoleon pocket is intriguing
    Concerns
  • None at the moment


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FIELD REPORT

September 20, 2010


FIELD CONDITIONS

Over the past two months, I have only had the opportunity to wear the SoDo on one trip, which was a 2-day trip to the Twin Valley Backpacking Trail in Germantown, OH. That was a light hike, covering about 10 miles (16 km) over the 2 days. It was pleasant and sunny, with high temperatures around 82 F (28 C) and an overnight low of 60 F (15.5 C). Elevation was around 1400 ft (430 m), with elevation changes of about 300 ft (100 m).


FIELD EXPERIENCE

The weather was pleasant on the trip where I wore the SoDo. In fact, I was a little nervous that I might feel cool, since the shirt feels so lightweight. As expected from my initial "trying it on", the shirt feels very comfortable. When I arrived at the trailhead, it was still a little cool (around 72 F/22 C) but I was comfortable.

Once we started hiking with packs on, I warmed up quickly and it was hot enough to work up a good sweat while backpacking. The photo below shows me when we stopped for lunch. It may be difficult to tell, but the shirt is pretty wet, as might be seen by the sweat staining of the upper part of my pants.



Despite this, the SoDo actually did a nice job of wicking sweat away from my body. This prevented me from getting too cool or too hot on the trail. At some point during the trip, I decided to try to store my paper trail map inside the napoleon pocket. I folded the 8 x 11 in (203 x 292 mm) map into quarters, which easily fit into the pocket. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that the map was getting wet from sweat because the pocket sits next to the skin. The good news is that once I stopped hiking (like on this lunch break), the shirt dried fairly quickly.

When I got in to camp, I wore the shirt until camp was set up, and then changed shirts. When I put the SoDo back on the next morning, it was nice and dry, and it did not smell like sweat. In fact, the shirt has a bit of a "woody" odor, which I noticed when I first put it on, and which I assume is a characteristic of the fabric. It is not unpleasant, and the smell of the shirt was essentially the same before and after wearing it.



WEAR AND TEAR

As described above, I haven't worn the shirt a lot, but I haven't noticed any problems, either wearing the shirt or after the two times when when I washed it.


FIELD IMPRESSIONS

To date, I have been happy with the SoDo shirt in limited use. My goal for the next two months is to wear this shirt a lot more and see how I like it then!

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LONG-TERM REPORT
November 22, 2010

FIELD CONDITIONS

I wore the SoDo shirt on two additional weekend trips during the LTR phase of the test. The first was a 3-day/2-night hiking trip on the Wildcat Hollow Trail in Glouster, Ohio. We covered 15 miles (25 km) over the 2+ days of hiking. Elevations ranged from about 750 ft (230 m) to 1050 ft (320 m), and temperatures were warm, with daytime highs of 82 F (28 C) and overnight lows around 41 F (5 C). I also wore the SoDo on a weekend camping trip to Newark, Ohio in mid-November. Temperatures were surprisingly warm during the day, with a high temperature of 70 F (21 C). The evenings were cool, with a low the first night of 33 F (1 C) and second night of 41 F (5 C). I was out and about all weekend, but was not wearing a backpack during the trip. In addition to these trips, I wore the SoDo to work 3 times during the LTR.

All told, I have worn the SoDo for 8 days of hiking and camping, and another 4 days of general wear to work and around town.


FIELD EXPERIENCE

Weather during the long-term report phase has been cooler than during the field report. As a result, I tended to wear the SoDo over a baselayer when hiking.

SoDo at Wildcat Hollow

Because the shirt has buttons and a collar, I did not feel comfortable wearing it underneath another shirt. On the weekend on the Wildcat Hollow Trail, it was warm enough that I worked up a pretty good sweat, so that the SoDo was quite damp by the end of the day. I felt that the shirt breathed quite nicely, so that I did not feel overly warm when wearing it. In fact, I noted that the SoDo did a good job of blocking the wind when it kicked up a little during the afternoon.

When I got home, I noticed that the bottom of the shirt was stained black. I thought this might be dirt, but when it did not wash out, I realized that it was color that had run into the shirt from my backpack's waistbelt. I found this rather surprising, as this pack is not new, and I have never had this problem before. Fortunately, this discoloration is low enough that it is not noticeable when I tuck the shirt in, but I still found it a little troubling. The photo shown below was taken at the end of the testing period, when the shirt had been washed 5 or 6 times AFTER the trip when this happened. Thus, I think this staining is permanent.

SoDo staining in belt area

My activity during the last trip during the test was not as strenuous, such that I did not sweat through the shirt, and there was no further staining.

As mentioned above, I wore the shirt to work a number of times during the course of the LTR. The shirt is nice enough that I did not draw any undue stares when wearing it. The only comment I received revolved around the fact that there is a logo on the back shoulder of the shirt.

During the course of the report, I have washed the shirt 7 or 8 times, Aside from the problem with the staining, I have not noticed any significant wear or tear on the shirt, which still looks quite nice.


SUMMARY

Overall, the Outdoor Research SoDo short-sleeved shirt is a nice shirt which is suitable both for the trail and for the office. I found it comfortable and cool during exertion in the hot weather. However, it became stained a nice black color in the belt region, and I remain puzzled by this occurrence. I will likely continue to wear the shirt during selected warm weather hikes. This choice is not due to any concerns with the SoDo, but rather because I prefer to hike in a wicking t-shirt. Because it does provide some wind resistance, I might be inclined to try the long-sleeved version of this shirt as a layering piece in the medium-cooler weather.

Things I liked about the SoDo shirt:
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Excellent breathability
Things I disliked about the SoDo:
  • Shirt got stained by waistbelt of backpack
  • Napoleon pocket good idea, but items there get sweaty during exertion

This concludes my report on the Outdoor Research SoDo short-sleeved shirt. My thanks once again to OR for providing this equipment for testing, and to BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in the evaluation process.


-larry kirschner

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