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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Vargo Gem and Slag Shortsleeve Tee Shirt > Test Report by Brett Haydin

Vargo Outdoors Men's Slag Short Sleeve T-Shirt

Initial Report - July 22, 2016
Field Report - November 28, 2016
Long Term Report - January 16, 2017


TesterNAME:            Brett Haydin
EMAIL:            bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
AGE:                43
LOCATION:     Madison, Wisconsin, USA
GENDER:         M
HEIGHT:          5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT:         200 lb (90.70 kg)
CHEST:            42 in (107 cm)
WAIST:           36 in (91 cm)

I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips. I plan several longer trips each year in different parts of the US, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.

Initial Report

Product Information & Specifications

Vargo Slag Tee
Photo: From Vargo Outdoor's website
Manufacturer: Vargo Outdoors
Year of Manufacture:  2016
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: $50 US
Listed Weight: 5.8 oz (164 g)
Measured Weight: 5.8 oz (164 g)
Color Tested: Steeple Grey (also available in Plum)
Size Tested: Large (also available in S, M, and XL)
Material: 100% polyester
Warranty: If not satisfied, contact them for a refund, credit or exchange. "Forever!"

Other Details provided by Manufacturer

  • Infused with titanium based TiFusion
  • Midweight, wicking synthetic material
  • Trim fit with elongated hem for added coverage
  • Venting stretch panels for enhanced breathability and range of motion
  • Shaped back neck collar for increased comfort
  • Flatlock stitching to prevent chafing
  • Reflective printing for increased visibility at night

Product Description

The Vargo Outdoors Slag T-Shirt is a men's short sleeve shirt. The shirt is made of 100% polyester and uses the manufacturer's proprietary TiFusion fabric. TiFusion fabric is infused with titanium which claims to clean itself, increase sun protection, dry faster and be odor eliminating. Sounds like a test in the works! The slag has two distinct types of fabric panels. One is a simple woven fabric that has a checkered pattern. The other is a lighter, stretchy, nearly translucent fabric in a honeycomb weave.This lighter material is located in areas of high sweat: under the armpits, the upper back and just beneath the neck. Altogether, there are ten panels that make up this shirt! This shirt is anything but simple, and yet seems remarkably functional.

The stitching on the Slag is all flat, which should result in less or minimal chafing. The shirt is also longer than many other shirts I own, but not so much to be unappealing to me. The shirt has Vargo Outdoors' logo printed on the (hiker's) left chest. The TiFusion logo appears on the back of the 0.75 in (1.9 cm) collar. Both of these prints are in a reflective color. The inside of the shirt also has some printing on the back, a pattern of triangles with the words Vargo and TiFusion. There is also a sewn-in tag with washing instructions as well as the fabric information and type.

Initial Impressions

The Slag short sleeve shirt is quite comfortable. The fabric is smooth and soft on the inside where it counts. The outside has a nice texture. A close inspection did not find any flaws or loose threads anywhere.  The shirt touts a "trim" fit. And while it is tight-fitting, it is not so tight that I feel squeezed - it is more snug than tight - rather trimming! The craftsmanship is exemplary. With as many stitches that go into this shirt, to have them all flawless is quite amazing.

I've had the opportunity to take the shirt on a few hikes and while doing some yard work. I will say that the shirt is a noticeable improvement from many other synthetic shirts I own. Its comfort and moisture wicking ability is really quite good. I can't say much about the odor yet. I'll need some longer hikes and multiple days out to see how that works. But it doesn't stink yet!

Reading the Instructions

Vargo includes instructions on how to wash and care for the shirt. It is pretty close to how I wash almost all of my clothes. Machine wash in cold water on a gentle cycle and tumble dry on low. It states that I should not use bleach, fabric softener, iron or dry clean the shirt. Simple and straightforward! On the same tag, the product is listed as 95% polyester and 5% nylon. This is definitely different than the website, which states 100% polyester fabric.

Looking over the manufacturer's website, there is a trove of information. I was very curious to learn more about the TiFusion technology. While there isn't much about the manufacturing process, there is some great data from tests the manufacturer ran. I also learned that several of the properties are activated by sunlight. While my home state of Wisconsin has above average cloud cover, my upcoming trips take me into some sunny locations.

Field Report

Field Conditions

Taking a break in Northern California!
Since receiving the Vargo Slag Tee, I have been on four backpacking trips. My first trip was a two-night, three-day backpack in the Porcupine Mountains in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I hiked 24 mi (39 km) through a good mix of hardwoods and coniferous forests as well as along the rocky shores of Lake Superior. It rained one afternoon a fair amount but the temperatures were warm (for that far north) with highs of 77 F (25 C) and overnight lows of 52 F (11 C).

My next trip was an overnight camping trip at Hendy Woods State Park in Northern California. I spent a couple of days exploring this beautiful old growth redwood forest. The temperature was great with a high of 85 F (29 C) and a low of 65 F (18 C). I hiked approximately 9 mi (14 km), but spent much of my time relaxing. 

I also took an overnight along a section of the Ice Age Trail backpacking 23 mi (37 km) in Chippewa County, Wisconsin. The terrain was fairly hilly with elevation gain on some hills over 300 ft (90 m). That isn't a lot compared to the mountains, but western Wisconsin is not flat! Temperatures were a little more moderate between 58 and 72 F (14 and 22 C). It rained most of the afternoon and into the evening on my first day.

My last trip (so far) was a 9.2 mi (14.8 km) loop in the Mendocino National Forest in Northern California. The temperatures were between 60 and 80 F (16 and 27 C) with no precipitation. The terrain was rocky, mountainous and breathtaking!


Let me just start by saying I absolutely love this shirt! Hiking long days in the sun has never been so comfortable for me. For starters, the shirt does a great job of wicking away moisture. This was true in the drier climates in California as it has been in the humid Midwest. In addition to my backpacking trips, I have been on a number of day hikes in Southern California as well as near my home in Wisconsin. I especially noticed the wicking capability while wearing a heavy backpack. Other shirts may have held on to the sweat, but the Vargo has been great in that way.

While I have only tracked the number of days that I have backpacked, I have worn the shirt at least once per week, sometimes more, for exercise, hiking and even as a base layer underneath hunting clothes. Despite the frequent use and sometimes skipped launderings, the shirt still smells fresh.  Now that's not to say that it can mask any odor while I am wearing it, but it doesn't seem to retain any odors in between washings. And that's a bonus!

I rather enjoy the slim fit of the shirt. It has been comfortable and the fabric feels good too. The smooth feel on the inside, combined with the flat seams has made it very comfortable while backpacking as well. The texture of the outside is a little rough which has been the only part I've had any problems with. While hiking in the Mendocino National Forest, I got a little sunburned. I did notice that the rough texture was a little uncomfortable when the shirt rubbed against my sunburn. But other than that, I had no real complaints!

The shirt is holding up nicely. There hasn't been any pilling, and the stitching is holding fast. There are a couple of snags in the fabric from crawling through some brush, but all the spilled food from camp has washed out just fine. Thank goodness the chili-mac didn't leave a stain!

Long Term Report

Resting Up
Taking a break along the trail!

Field Conditions

Since my last trip, I have taken an additional two backpacking trips with the Vargo Slag Tee. However, I have worn the shirt at least once per week either as part of my workout routine or on a day hike. All together, I have worn the shirt 14 days backpacking, and approximately another 20 doing other activities.

My first trip was an overnight trip in Southern Wisconsin in the Kettle Moraine State Forest along the Ice Age Tail to Whitewater Lake. We had some unseasonably warm weather so I took advantage of the break in the cold to take the 8.9 mi (14.3 km) hike and soak in the views. The temperatures were between 45 and 65 F (7 and 18 C) with no precipitation. The trail was hilly and dirt-packed. Because it was cool, I wore the shirt underneath a fleece jacket much of the time.

My last trip with the Vargo was an overnight in the Joshua Tree National Park in California. I hiked 8 mi (13 km) along the Boy Scout Trail which was a rocky, dirt-packed desert hike among the iconic trees. There was a moderate amount of elevation gain - 1,000 ft (300 m) - since I did just a shuttle hike. Typical of Southern California, I saw no rain with temperatures between 60-70 F (16-21 C) and an overnight low at about 40 F (4 C).


The Vargo Slag Tee has held up really well over this testing period. Aside from a few snags from crawling through some brush here and there, the shirt is not showing any signs of letting me down in the near future. The seams and stitching are solid and I have no stains to report. The shirt has not stretched out from what I can tell. In fact, I don't even notice any foul odors lingering around! The TiFusion fabric really lives up to its claims. In my opinion, the craftsmanship is excellent.

The shirt has served me quite well, especially keeping me cool on the hotter hikes. In the Joshua Tree National Park, the sun and warm weather combined to make it feel hotter than it really was, and yet the shirt handled wicking away the moisture just fine. I stopped along the trail for a snack and to rest, somewhat dripping with sweat. Within a few minutes, I could tell my back was dry.

I mentioned in my last report that I like the fit of the shirt. Nothing has changed there. However, as I have worn the shirt more, I notice that the length of the shirt is a bit longer than others that I wear. This has made it easy to keep tucked in, but I don't always keep my shirts tucked in while hiking or backpacking. I only point this out because others may find this to be a fault, but not me. I'm not sure that I found much of a use for the reflective printing. While it is stylish, the I ended up wearing a light jacket on most of my morning runs.


The Vargo Slag Tee has easily become one of my "go to" shirts for outdoor activities. It is perfect for three-season use. I will definitely keep this on-hand for my spring and summer trips.

Pros: Trimming look, comfortable, moisture wicking and durable. I really like that the shirt hasn't retained any odors!
Cons: The texture was irritating to my sunburn, but otherwise comfortable.

This concludes this test series. I would like to thank Vargo Outdoors and for allowing me to be a part of this test series.
Joshua Tree
Soaking in the sunshine in Joshua Tree National Park (California, USA)

Read more reviews of Vargo Outdoors gear
Read more gear reviews by Brett Haydin

Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Vargo Gem and Slag Shortsleeve Tee Shirt > Test Report by Brett Haydin

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