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OUTDOOR RESEARCH SENTINEL WOMEN'S SHIRT

TEST SERIES BY CHERYL MCMURRAY

INITIAL REPORT  July 5, 2010
FIELD REPORT  September 28, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT  November 30, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

Name:  Cheryl McMurray
Age:  51
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 8 in (173 cm)
Weight:  145 lb (66.6 kg)
Waist:  32 in (81 cm)
Chest:  36 in (91 cm)
Torso Length:  18.5 in (47 cm)
Sleeve Length:  22.5 in (57 cm)
Email Address:  cherylmcmurray2ATgmailDOTcom
City, State, Country:  Garden Grove, California, U.S.

BACKPACKING BACKGROUND


I've been backpacking and hiking for four years, mostly on weekends year around.  Overnight trips are usually long weekend trips in the Eastern Sierras with 32 lb to 40 lb (15 kg to 18 kg) loads depending on the season.  One class two rock climb with a day pack is common.   Day hikes are 10-15 mi (16 km to 24 km) in the San Gabriel Mountains with loads of 15 lb to 20 lb (7 kg to 9 kg).  I'm a tent style camper and have experienced snow, sub-freezing temperatures, winds (once was gale force), light rain, but mostly fair weather.


INTIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer:  Outdoor Research
Manufacturers Website:  www.outdoorresearch.com
Year of Manufacture:  2010
List Weight:  8.1 oz (230 g) average weight
Actual Weight: 8.25 oz (234 g)
Fabric:  Dri-release woven; 85% polyester/15% cotton
Size Tested:  XL
Other Sizes Offered:  XS, S, M, L
Color Tested: Fern
Color Options:  Fern, Fossil
MSRP:  $85.00 US

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

The Outdoor Research Sentinel is a long sleeve, insect repelling, lightweight, breathable shirt that provides full coverage over the arms and has a collar that extends above the ears, according to the manufacturer.  It is made of a Dri-release woven fabric that is 85% polyester and 15% cotton, is moisture wicking, breathable and boasts the softness of cotton without the odor.  The fabric uses a trademark Insect Shield which is odorless, EPA-registered, and repels no-see-ums, mosquitoes, ticks, ants,  flies, and chiggers for up to 70 washes.  The shirt has a front button closure, chest pocket with an invisible zipper, zippered hand pocket with media port and external button hooks when the sleeves are rolled up.  In addition to the moisture wicking fabric, the shirt also has covered mesh panel vents under the arms.

OR Sentinel Shirt photo from website
Shirt with tags/color more accurate
Photo taken from website, Fern color
Shirt with tags (color more accurate)


INITIAL IMPRESSION

MATERIAL

Upon taking the shirt out of the plastic packing bag, I noticed how very soft the material felt.  The website states that the shirt has the softness of cotton and that is a very accurate statement in my opinion.  I really like the color that is pictured more accurately in the photo with the tags attached.  The material has a definite weave look to it, appears durable and is well constructed. 

The insect repellent is Permethrin, an active ingredient man-made version of a natural insect repellent found in certain types of chrysanthemum plants, according to one of the tags on the shirt.  It is indeed odorless and invisible as the manufacturer claims. 

FEATURES

The collar is double folded and secured with a hook and loop closure but when extended up, comes to just below my ear.  It would be nice if it had some sort of a closure in the front to protect the front of the neck from insects but I didn't see anything to do that.  It has a button down front, one-button sleeve cuffs, roll up sleeves, with external hooks, chest pocket and hand pocket, both with invisible zippers and mesh liners.  The hand pocket has a media port that opens at the upper corner inner mesh liner which enables the earphones to run up under the shirt.  Both pockets measure 8 in x 7 in (20 cm x 18 cm).  The armpit areas have a vented 8 in (20 cm) opening with a mesh liner under each.  The shoulders and upper back area also have a mesh lining but no outer material venting flap.  There is also a spare button sewn on one of the inner labels in case one is lost. 

Collar extended
Lower pocket
One sleeve down, one rolled up
Collar extended
Hand Pocket
Sleeve options

INITIAL FIT

I usually wear a size L but wanted the XL size so that I could comfortably wear a short sleeve or sleeveless shirt underneath.  Although the shirt fits slightly large on me, it feels very comfortable.  The sleeves come down to the heel of my hand when my arms are extended down but cover nicely when extended up for use with trekking poles.  The length of the shirt is 28.5 in (72 cm) and covers nicely below my waist.  The sleeves when rolled up have a snug but not tight fit against my arm but do not seem to restrict my movement.  The only place the shirt seems too big is in the neck area when the shirt is fully buttoned.  That is probably due to XL size and I don't see it as an issue.

WASHING INSTRUCTIONS

The manufacturer states that the shirt can be machine washed in cold water and tumbled dry on the low setting but needs to be washed separately from other clothing.  Since it cannot be combined with other clothes in the washing machine, I will most likely be hand washing it.  Dry cleaning will remove the active insect repellency and the shirt is not to be retreated with other Permethrin insect repellent products.    The insect repellency is supposed to last up to 70 washes which is also the stated life of the shirt.

TRYING IT OUT

The shirt came just in time for my weekly hike with the ladies.  The temperature was approximately 75 F (24 C), sunny and the walk was 3 mi (5 km).  I used a small hydration bladder system on my back.  The shirt was very comfortable, and stayed dry except for a few spots under the hydration system, keeping me comfortable.  I was very pleased that there was no odor to the shirt afterwards on my drive home and that is usually when I notice it. 

SUMMARY

I really like the feel of the shirt and when wearing something for a long period, softness is a real plus for me.  I think the color is very nice and like the look of the Dri-weave material.  I'm not sure how often I will be using the pockets with a pack on as the hip belt and sternum strap can possibly interfere in those locations but will test that out.  The sleeves are comfortable when rolled up but I have concerns about the effectiveness of the collar when extended as there is no closure for the front to keep insects out.  Our mosquito population in the Sierras is epic this year so I'm looking forward to testing the insect repellency of the fabric.


FIELD REPORT

I have worn this shirt 12 days in the field, all having varying degrees of mosquito presence.

Trip #1
Cirque Peak, Eastern Sierra's near Lone Pine, California
Trip Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Distance:  9 mi (14 km) backpack, 14 mi (23 km) day hike
Elevation:  10,000 ft (3,050 m) to 12,900 ft (3,900 m)
Conditions:  Breezy and sunny
Temperature:  36 F (2 C) to 68 F (20 C)
Mosquito infestation:  Moderate in camp and light to moderate hiking

Trip #2
Muah Mt, Eastern Sierra's near Lone Pine, California
Trip Duration:  2 days, 1 night
Distance:  11 mi (18 km) backpack, 3 mi (5 km) day hike
Elevation:  10,000 ft (3,050 m) to 11,000 ft (3,350 m)
Conditions:  Sunny, cloudy, thunderstorms
Temperature:   45 F (7 C) to 75 F (24 C)
Mosquito infestation:  Heavy
 
Trip #3
Pilot Knob, Eastern Sierra's near Bishop, California
Trip Duration:  3 days, 2 nights
Distance:  14 mi (23 km) backpack, 8 mi (13 km) day hike
Elevation:  9,000 ft (2,750 m) to 12,200 ft (3,700 m)
Conditions:  Sunny, breezy, thunderstorms, hail
Temperature:  33 F (0 C) to 75 F (24 C)
Mosquito infestation:  Light

Trip #4
Mt Baldy, San Gabriel Mts, Southern California
Trip Duration: Day hike
Distance:  8 mi (13 km)
Elevation:  6,200 ft (1,900 m) to 10,000 ft (3,050 m)
Conditions:  Sunny, warm
Temperature:  60 F (16 C) to 75 F (24)
Mosquito infestation:  no visible

Trip #5
Pilot Knob, Eastern Sierra's near Bishop, California
Trip Duration:  3 days, 2 nights
Distance:  14 mi (23 km) backpack, 8 mi (13 km)day hike
Elevation:  9,000 ft (2,750 m) to 12,200 ft (3,700 m)
Conditions:  Sunny, breezy, cloudy, windy
Temperature:  33 F (0 C) to 75 F (24 C)
Mosquito infestation:  Light

Trip #6
Kearsarge Lakes, Eastern Sierra's near Independence, California
Trip Duration:  4 days, 3 nights
Distance:  12 mi (19 km) backpack, 15 mi (24 km) day hike
Elevation:  9,000 ft (2,750 m) to 13,000 ft (4,000 m)
Conditions:  Sunny, breezy, smoky
Temperature:  35 F (2 C) to 75 F (24 C)
Mosquito infestation:  light to none

PERFORMANCE OF FEATURES

On most of the backpacking trips I wore the collar up to keep my neck protected from the mosquitoes.  The manufacturer states that the collar comes up over the ears but it only came up to just below my ears.  It still worked effectively but when the mosquitos were very thick, I would really have liked to be able to close the collar with a hook & loop closure so that I would not have to use my hand to hold it closed.  Many times, when I used my head net, I tried to tuck the collar up underneath to get complete coverage.

Although the pockets were not useful when carrying a pack as the sternum strap and hip belt interfered with access, I did find them useful in camp for quickly storing gloves, camera, and audio player.  I did forget about the media port and have not used that feature yet but I found the  pocket zippers very easy to open and close.  I did use the shirt once with the sleeves rolled up when I did the Mt Baldy day hike since there was no real mosquito problem.  Although they felt a little snug around my arms, they never impaired my movement at all and were not uncomfortable.  I'm used to being able to pull a fleece pullover over my hiking shirt but have found it more difficult to do that with this shirt.  It's possible that the size large may be a factor so I just kept a jacket handy to put on over it when it got colder.  The sleeve length was perfect for my longer arms when hiking with poles as they came all the way down to my wrists and kept me covered and protected from mosquitos while hiking. 

With collar up
Shirt underneath pack, collar up
With collar up on summit
Shirt under pack, collar up


BREATHABILITY

The Dri-release woven fabric has been very comfortable and soft to wear.  I'm used to a slightly harsher feel to shirts of this type and therefore have not worn a shirt like this until now.  I have used this shirt in temperatures from 33 F (1 C) to 75 F (24 C) with sun, clouds, thunderstorms, and high winds.  Even when wearing a backpack going up hill with sunny conditions and warm temperatures, I never felt overheated or sweaty so I feel that the shirt does wick well.  I also found that when in mosquito territory, which was often, I always wore the sleeves down and the collar up but never felt too warm and preferred the coverage and protection. 

The manufacturer states that the shirt's material does not retain moisture or odor.  It most definitely stayed dry the whole time I wore it, no matter how much I was sweating so that claim was true.  Although I have had shirts that make even me want to roll the windows down on the way home due to odor, this shirt was not that way.  I did, however, detect a slight odor after a day's use and did detect an odor after a backpacking trip, it was never overwhelming, nor was it an issue.

MOSQUITO REPELLENCY

I have worn this shirt on 4 backpacking trips with mosquitoes.  As I stated in my report earlier, the mosquito population has been epic in California this year.  The trip to Muah Mt had a very heavy population of mosquitoes, especially in camp where they swarmed around.  I would normally be quite miserable under those conditions but with the addition of a headnet and netted gloves, was able to endure the conditions quite well.  In fact, at no time on any of these trips did I come home with a mosquito bite underneath any area that the shirt covered.  This was quite amazing to me as I know how much mosquitoes love me and have, in the past, come home with bites all over.  This has all changed however, since I've been wearing this shirt.  It has given me a sense of freedom in the mountains during mosquito season.  I have noticed a few mosquitoes that have landed on the shirt so I'm not sure if the material is supposed to completely repel them but even though, they have never bitten through. 

Backpacking through mosquito territory
Filtering water with the mosquitoes
Backpacking through mosquito territory
Filtering water with the mosquitoes.  Notice the collar does not close around my neck


DURABILITY


The shirt has been washed 7 times and worn 13 days and so far I have not had any issues with the zippers, buttons, seams or the material itself.  There is no visible wear on the areas where the pack contacts.  I do notice a light piling of the material but it is only visible upon close inspection.

WHAT I LIKE

Mosquito protection is outstanding
Material is very soft and comfortable
Material breathes well and dries quickly
Color is attractive
Shirt is well made

WHAT I DISLIKE

Although the collar is high, it is not as high as the manufacturer states
I wish there was a way of closing the collar around my neck
Not completely odor resistant


LONG TERM REPORT

During my long term testing I wore the Sentinel shirt a total of 5 days in the Eastern Sierras and Southern California.

McGee Creek area, Eastern Sierras, near Mammoth, California
Trip Duration:  3 days, 2 nights
Distance:  16 mi (26 km) backpack, 6 mi (10 km) day hike
Elevation:  7,600 ft (2,300 m) to 13,000 ft (4,000 m)
Conditions:  Sunny with strong winds on the third day
Temperature:  40 F (4 C) to 75 F (24 C)
Mosquito infestation: none

Mt. Baldy, San Gabriel Mts, Southern California
Trip Duration:  Day hike
Distance:  8 mi (13 km)
Elevation:  6,200 ft (1,900 m) to 10,000 ft (3,050 m)
Conditions:  Breezy to windy, sunny
Temperature:  58 F (14 C) to 85 F (29 C)
Mosquito infestation:  none

Mt. San Gorgonio, San Bernardino Mts, Southern California
Drip Duration:  Day hike
Distance:  18 mi (29 km)
Elevation:  6,000 ft (1,800 m) to 11,500 ft (3,500 )
Conditions:  Sunny, some breezes
Temperature:  40 F (4 C) to 70 F (21 C)
Mosquito infestation:  none

LONG TERM PERFORMANCE

On all of the outings I wore a synthetic short sleeve baselayer underneath the shirt.  Since mosquito season was over, I didn't have any further testing of that feature of the shirt but mostly wore it as a second layer.  During my backpacking trip I wore the shirt the whole time mostly unbuttoned with the sleeves rolled up.  The rolled up sleeves were actually very comfortable, never feeling tight and never restricted any movement.  During my day hike to a local peak, the wind was strong and the temperature was fairly cold but I was able to roll the sleeves down and button up the shirt, keeping me warm enough until I reached the summit.  I needed to put on a wind shirt once I stopped at the summit but it was nice to be able to use the Sentinel shirt as a versatile second layer.  I have not found the media port to be very useful but actually more awkward to use.  When using my headphones, I just found it easier to attach my player to my waist belt or put it into the shirt hand pocket and run the earphone cord outside the shirt.  The two pockets, although placed in the wrong spot for use while my pack is on, have become handy in camp for quickly storing small items or my gloves when I don't need them.

One thing that I have noticed with the buttons is that they are thinner than most buttons that I'm used to and the button holes on the shirt are horizontal instead of vertical.  Although it has not been an obvious issue, it is, for me, an awkward way of buttoning a shirt.  The top 4 button holes are hidden behind a strip of material to cover the buttons but I have found that it adds to the awkwardness of buttoning the shirt.  The thinness of the buttons has made it a little harder for me to grasp and button with one hand.

DURABILITY

There is a light pilling over the whole shirt after 18 days of wear and 10 washings.  The piling is a little heavier where the shirt came into contact with the pack but that is all the wear that I see.  All of the zippers are still working well and all of the seams have held up.  The shirt is as soft as it was the first time I put it on and the color has not faded at all. 

SUMMARY

This is the first Insect Shield shirt that I ever worn and I am sold on how well the Sentinel has performed in the highly infested mosquito backcountry that the Eastern Sierras dished out to me this year.  I continuously came home without any bug bites under the shirt and it has brought me a whole new peace of mind backpacking during the mosquito months.  The material has retained its insect protection, softness and material color after 18 days of wear and 10 washes.   The pilling of the shirt over that last 4 months of testing, I feel, is a minor thing as I don't usually wear my hiking clothes out to a nice restaurant a night.  Although I think the button issue mentioned earlier is also a minor complaint, I would like to see some sort of closure for the collar when extended to enable secure protection for the neck area. 

I do recommend this shirt for venturing into the backcountry during the mosquito months.  I want to thank Outdoor Research and BGT for allowing me to test this fine shirt.


Read more reviews of Outdoor Research gear
Read more gear reviews by Cheryl McMurray

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