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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > TrailDog Clothing Wicking T-Shirt > Test Report by Greg McDonald

TRAILDOG WICKING T-SHIRT
TEST SERIES BY GREG MCDONALD
LONG-TERM REPORT
November 10, 2008

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Greg McDonald
EMAIL: gdm320 AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 21
LOCATION: Boynton Beach, Florida
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 0" (1.83 m)
WEIGHT: 225 lb (102.00 kg)

I have been camping for 15 years, 11 of them have been spent hiking in the backcountry. My hikes are almost exclusively in Florida and generally range between one and three nights. My all-time favorite hike was a 10 day expedition in the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. I consider myself a lightweight but comfortably equipped hiker, with a pack averaging between 25 and 30 lb (11 and 14 kg).


INITIAL REPORT

Product Information & Specifications

Manufacturer: TrailDog Clothing
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: Not Available
MSRP: Not Available
Manufacturer's Listed Weight: Not Available
Measured Weight: 7.5 oz (213 g)
Color Tested: Blue
Size Tested: XL
Materials: 100% Polyester
Made in the USA

Initial Impression & Description

IMAGE 1
TrailDog Wicking T-Shirt


The TrailDog Wicking T-Shirt is a short sleeved t-shirt by a little-known company called TrailDog Clothing. I had virtually no information on the product before I received it - everything I know has come from the garment tag sewn into the shirt on the neckline and the hang tag that was attached to the shirt through the garment tag.

The shirt arrived in good condition. Outside of a couple loose threads on the waistline hem and some other stray ones where the 3 seams meet connecting the sleeves to the body of the shirt, the stitching is well done and complete. These loose threads have not produced any holes or obvious weak spots in the seams; they appear to be more cosmetic than anything. There are no tears or runs in the fabric nor are there any sort of discolorations, spots, or stains.

From reading the hang tag, it is clear that the shirt was designed to be comfortable but durable. The tag goes on to read that the TrailDog was "born to perform" and has 3 key features:
ˇ Drydog: The system that wicks moisture away from my body to speed up drying time.
ˇ Cleandog: The polyester is antimicrobial to prevent or slow down the development of bacteria that causes that unmistakable outdoor musk.
ˇ Sundog: Sports SPF30 UV protection.

The garment tag sewn into the shirt reveals the material of the shirt as 100% moisture wicking and antimicrobial polyester as well as its country of origin - made right here in the good ol' US of A. The tag goes on to explain the care instructions for the TrailDog t-shirt. The instructions call to hand wash the shirt and allow it to air dry or to machine wash and dry on the washer and dryer's permanent press cycle. The tag is also very specific that the shirt is not to be bleached or ironed.

One thing I immediately noticed is an additional piece of fabric about 3/8 in (.95 cm) wide that runs around the back of the neckline and across the shoulders covering the seam. I am not sure if this design was to reinforce these seams or to make them more comfortable and prevent chaffing,. This is something that I will be paying very close attention to over the testing period.

IMAGE 2

Trying It On For Size

I was immediately impressed by how soft the fabric is, especially considering the fact that it is 100% polyester. The shirt is light and is quite comfortable on my skin. The reinforced seams on the shoulder and around the back of the neck feel different than the non-reinforced seams, but in a good way. The seams also feel a bit more set back on my shoulders than on a normal t-shirt. Hopefully this will reduce the amount of rubbing my pack straps will do on my shoulders - I will be watching this very closely.

If I do say so myself, I feel rather strapping in the shirt. I like the color which I also hope will not absorb heat as much because it is a lighter shade. I am reasonably happy with the cut of the shirt as well. The shirt is of adequate length to cover my entire torso and is roomy enough both in the waist and chest area to allow ample movement and airflow.

My only slight concern is the length of the sleeves, in that they do not come down my arms as far as the typical shirts that I wear when I hike. I will be paying close attention to the additional sun exposure, since I do have a bit of a farmers tan and fair skin so a burn on that portion of my arm would be pretty nasty. I will also be considering the possibility of improved airflow and breathability due to the shorter sleeves.

Test Strategy

Over the next few months, I will be testing many more aspects of the TrailDog Wicking T-Shirt. I will be investigating the comfort, performance, packability, and overall quality and usability of the shirt. In the heat of the Florida summer, I will have an excellent opportunity to test the TrailDog under very harsh conditions. It will see use on the trail, on the water, at the gym, and everywhere in between.

Check back in two months for my Field Report on the TrailDog Wicking T-Shirt where I will be discussing my answers to these and many other questions. I would like to thank TrailDog Clothing and BackpackGearTest.org for this exciting opportunity to test this product.


FIELD REPORT

Field Conditions and Locations

The past two months in South Florida have been wicked hot and wet. We have been seeing temperatures ranging between approximately 80 F (27 C) in the evening through 92 F (33 C) in the afternoons (the "feels like" temperatures in the daytime was routinely in the high 90s F (37+ C) up to the low 100s F (39+ C)), and daily relative humidity has ranged between approximately 60% and 90%. I have worn the shirt in UV conditions ranging from 1 through 10 on the UV Scale. The shirt has also seen some use in wet weather (during a hurricane, in fact) and as a base layer underneath my rain jacket.

The TrailDog Wicking T-Shirt has seen roughly 40 trail miles (65 km) in Florida in Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, around the rim of Lake Okeechobee, and in Ocala National Forest. In addition I have worn the shirt around the house, casually around town, working outdoors, and as an athletic shirt on about 15 to 20 individual occasions.

Field Performance

Overall, I have been pleased with the performance of the TrailDog Wicking T-Shirt to date, and there are a few things that have stood out to me in particular.

Greg & Haley (Siberian Husky)
Three TrailDogs On The Trail!
As previously stated in the brief on the field conditions, Florida has been very hot and humid over the early course of the testing period. As a result, I have been spent lots of time pouring sweat into the shirt which has given me a great opportunity to test the Drydog and Cleandog features of the TrailDog. The t-shirt certainly lives up to its claim that it does an effective job of wicking moisture and perspiration away from my body. I have made numerous "touch" observations and it is clear that the shirt is pulling the moisture from up against my body to the outside of the shirt. The only time that this action seems to stop or is impeded is when the shirt fully saturates from my perspiration. However, with the moisture in the air and the extreme humidity we have experienced, I am considering the possibility that the weather conditions are prohibiting the shirt from drying more quickly than I perspire. This is an issue that I have had with every shirt I have ever worn in the outdoors from polyester to cotton. I am hoping that with the weather cooling into the fall months I will experience drier conditions to further test this theory. Given this uncertainty, I feel it is too early to point out a possible fault in the design.

Another of the "key" features of the TrailDog Wicking T-Shirt, going back to the hang tag, is the Sundog feature. The manufacturer states that Sundog sports SPF30 protection to block the sun's UV rays. I'm a very fair skinned individual, and I burn easily. So easily in fact that I generally wear sunscreen rated between SPF30 and SPF45, so the TrailDog t-shirt fits right in. The Florida sun is harsh and unrelenting, to say the least. Over the early course of the testing period we have seen average UV levels during the day between 8 and 10. On a visible level, the t-shirt has done a great job protecting the skin it covers from the sun. My only real initial concern with this shirt was the shortness of the sleeves and how well they would protect my shoulders from what could possibly turn out to be a crippling sunburn. Thus far, I have found the length of the sleeves does adequately cover my shoulders and extreme upper arms, which prevents my skin from being burned where straps would rub and make hiking unbearable. However, in the name of testing, I did leave my bare skin unprotected where the sleeves of one of my normal-length sleeves would cover. Over the first few outings with this shirt, I did have some minor redness and a light burn on the unprotected area - so it's fair to say there was an adjustment period for this design. Having said that, I have noticed that the shorter sleeve length does have the added advantage of additional freedom of movement when extending my arms up above my head and is actually a positive thing when I wear it to the gym. Still, I would consider a possible revision to the design to extend the sleeves slightly since it is after all primarily a hiking shirt.

Following a few days of consecutive use, the musk of the outdoorsman generally comes along. I am pleased to report that the Cleandog is a huge help in this respect. I have worn the t-shirt for as long as 3 consecutive days in the outdoors without any sort of washing or freshening up, and I haven't noticed any profusely foul odors to the point of a double-take.

Even though we have had months of very hot and humid weather to contend with, I remain pleased at the drying time of the shirt. On one occasion, I was caught in a sudden tropical downpour on my Lake Okeechobee trip. I wasn't far from getting off the trail, maybe a few hundred yards and a few minutes away, so I decided rather than don my rain jacket I might as well take the opportunity to test. When I reached the shelter, I took the shirt off and hung it up to dry. After about 20 minutes, the TrailDog was reasonably dry and ready to go.

I have found care of the shirt to be very easy both at home and in the field. At home, I must admit I have broken with the manufacturer's suggestion and wash the TrailDog Wicking T-Shirt with my regular "colors" laundry with my standard hypoallergenic detergent and then hang it up to air dry. It is worth mentioning because I have not noticed any shrinking, discoloration (at least not any more than with normal wear), or weakening in any spots. I have on several occasions hand washed the shirt as suggested, both with a dab of my detergent and Ivory flakes then hung to dry. I have performed the handwashing both at home and in the field (of course, in the field I use biodegradable and eco-safe camp soap). I have found that the handwashing process is quick and easy, the entire process generally takes me about five minutes for a thorough job.

I remain reasonably happy with the cut of the shirt, again with the downfall being the length of the sleeves. I am happy with the roominess of the shirt and the ample airflow that it provides, without being so large that it bunches up when I have my back strapped up. As a member of the younger and more hip generation, I wear my trousers a little lower on my waist than is "traditional" but I still have no issues keeping the TrailDog t-shirt tucked in while moving.

I believe it is still early to make any conclusions on durability, but I will report that the shirt is still in very good condition. Outside of the rigors of the trail, I have worn the shirt for several days working on my fiancé's parent's property on Lake Okeechobee. Through all the construction, destruction, landscaping, and even hurricane prep the shirt has held up with no tears, runs, or permanent stains. In the midst of all this work I noticed that the TrailDog Wicking T-Shirt actually really only gets dirty in the areas that are wet due to my perspiration, while the dry areas tend to shed the dirt and grime. To me, this is positive performance.

Continuing Strategy

To date, I have been most pleased with the TrailDog Wicking T-Shirt. So far it has shown all the signs of an excellent product, granted with a few nuances about it. It has shown consistent performance in all facets of a hiking shirt, from its moisture wicking ability to its protection of my body from the elements. Going forward, I am anxiously anticipating a cooling pattern in the Florida weather so I will have the opportunity to test the shirt in less brutal but more average conditions. Hopefully it will cool off enough so I will get the chance to test the shirt's use as a base layer. I will continue to monitor every aspect of the shirts performance, but I will be paying particular attention to the shirt's long term durability and quality.

I want to again offer my thanks to TrailDog Clothing and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity I have been given to test this product. Check back in early November for my Long Term Report and conclusions on the TrailDog Wicking T-Shirt.


LONG-TERM REPORT

Long Term Conditions and Locations

Over the past 2 months I have added an additional 60 trail miles (100 km) in Florida in Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, the on the rim trail of Lake Okeechobee, and in Ocala National Forest. Temperatures have ranged between 40 and 90 Fahrenheit (4 and 32 Celsius), relative humidity has been between about 40% and 90%, and I have encountered rain in various intensities.

Performance and Conclusions

The shirt has performed consistently over the course of the testing period, and my observations over the last 2 months are very similar to what I reported in my Field Report. However there are a few points that deserve elaboration and amendments.

I noted in the Field Report that the shirt had, on a few occasions, become so saturated that the wicking performance had started to suffer. I now attribute this to the extremely humid conditions that I was experiencing in the dead of summer. Recently as the humidity has started to drop I have noticed that this has just not been happening. On my most recent 3 night trip around Lake Okeechobee, the humidity was down around 40 to 50 percent with temperatures in the 70s F (20 C). My perspiration in the shirt was able to evaporate quickly enough to avoid saturation.

I will say that I am disappointed with the cut of the sleeves. Frankly I find them to be a bit too short overall, and I really wish they were cut to a similar length of a normal t-shirt. The reason that this is a problem for me is because I am very fair skinned I tend to burn very easily. On my last trip I burnt pretty badly on my upper arms where I left them unprotected for a bit too long after the sun came up. My lower forearms, which are always exposed and are therefore tanned, had no issues. Underneath the shirt, the Sundog SPF30 protection kept my skin perfectly shielded from the sun.

All that remains to discuss is the durability of the t-shirt. To summarize, the durability has been excellent. Outside of the few loose threads that I noticed right out of the packaging -- on the seams, in the armpits, and on the hemline -- the shirt is showing very little sign of wear and tear. I haven't noticed any new threads coming loose, no tears or runs, and no stains. Considering that this shirt is a light color and material, I am surprised and very impressed with how impeccably the shirt has held together both functionally and cosmetically.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I would say that I am very happy with the TrailDog Wicking T-Shirt. I think that this a quality product from the young TrailDog Clothing company. I have been impressed by the shirt's comfort, excellent wicking performance, and durability. The only thing I would urge TrailDog Clothing to reconsider is the length of the sleeves to provide a bit more protection down the arms. Given the performance I have enjoyed over the past several months the TrailDog will remain my primary hiking and outdoor shirt for the forseeable future.

Finally, I would like to once again thank BackpackGearTest.org and TrailDog clothing for providing me the opportunity to test the TrailDog Wicking T-Shirt.

Never Stop Exploring,
Greg McDonald

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.


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