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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Vargo Gem and Slag Shortsleeve Tee Shirt > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence



Test Series by Theresa Lawrence

Initial Report - Jul 28, 2016
Field Report - October 11, 2016

Long Term Report - December 2, 2016


Name: Theresa Lawrence
Email: theresa_newell AT yahoo DOT com
Age: 39
Location: Sparwood, British Columbia, Canada
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight: 130 lb (59 kg)
Waist Measurement: 29 1/2 in (75 cm)
Hip Measurement: 39 1/2 in (100 cm)
Chest Measurement:35 1/2 in (90 cm)
Torso Length:19 1/2 in (50 cm)

I have more than 15 years of backpacking experience. Day hikes and 2-3 day backpacking trips take place on most weekends throughout the year while longer trips are only occasional. I backpack predominantly in mountain terrain (Coast Range, Cascades and Canadian Rockies) with the goal of summiting peaks. Activities I use my gear with include mountaineering, ski touring, rock climbing, kayaking, biking, trail running, Search and Rescue and overseas travel. I like my gear to be reasonably light, convenient and simple to use though I would not claim to be a lightweight hiker.

Initial Report - July 28, 2016

Vargo Outdoors

Image courtesy of website
Manufacturer's URL:
Year of Manufacture: 2016
Made in:
Listed Weight:
Measured Weight:
4.4 oz (124 g) small
4.9 oz (139 g) medium
Warranty: Vargo Guarantee stands behind all their products forever.
Materials: 100% Polyester Fabric
Sizes Available:
XS, S, M (tested), L, XL
Colors Available:Sea Pine, Plum (tested)


As this was my first introduction to Vargo Outdoors, I went to their website to find out more about them and found that they use titanium in their products to make them lighter. Their niche is to make lighter versions of outdoor products such as external frame backpacks, stoves, pots, bottles, cleats and clothing. TiFusion is the name given to the titanium in the shirt and the benefit claims include helping the garment 'stay clean, dry, fresh and safe'. By safe, they mean protection from sun, blocking 97% of UV rays. There is a link on the website to the lab results and one can view detailed results of tests on odor reduction, self-cleaning, heat transfer and UV protection. A tag attached to the garment explains that TiFusion uses light as a catalyst. For instance, in the presence of light TiFusion will become more hydrophilic and attract moisture from the body to keep it dry. It then uses this moisture to displace dirt and oil to keep it clean, as well as electrostatically remove bacteria to prevent odors. Wow, is all I have to say to that.

The shirt design is intended for performance tasks such as hiking and yoga. It has a fairly long length that fits over the hips and was designed as a fitted cut. The shirt is divided into sections. There are two side panels and a back neck collar that are lighter and stretchier than the main body, which is more of a mid-weight fabric. These sections are connected with flat lock seams. As a final touch there is a reflective logo over the left chest.


My first impression when I felt the shirt was that it was a high-quality mid-weight synthetic material that was soft to the touch. The color ordered was plum, which evidently is like a mud gray, which I don't mind at all. I ordered the medium instead of the large based purely on the fact that I know I am not large. The website dimensions for the medium give a waist and hip size less than mine and the large dimensions above mine. So, according to the sizing chart I was between a medium and a large. As it turns out I would say the medium is a comfortable loose fitted shirt on me. While it fits comfortably over my hips without problem, when I move around it moves up and hangs out above my hips creating a lot of loose fabric around my waist. Also, something I felt right away was the large flat lock seams over my upper back. This would be the section identified on the website as the 'shaped back neck collar for increased comfort'. I'm wondering if the noticeable feeling of the seam will disappear or be more pronounced while wearing a backpack. This seam is not itchy, just very present. The collar is quite tall, and as such it doesn't sit upright and slumps down at the front, which I think looks awkward.

Looking closely over the shirt, I would say it was well constructed, lots of seams and all of them perfect. No free strands, which is impressive.

Lighter material and seams of the 'shaped back neck collar' and 'underarm side panels'


So far my impression of this shirt is that it is very well made with some soft materials, which is desirable. I felt the sizing chart was off and that it fits larger than expected, but I am happy for that as I thought it was going to be too small. I have concerns over the back neck collar seams and whether it will be a hot spot under a backpack. I have less concerns over construction and durability, but I am looking forward to testing claims of wicking, breathability, odor control and freshness in the field. Check back in about 2 months to see how it faired in the field.

Field Report - October 11, 2016


Over the past couple months I have worn this shirt on two backpacking trips with a total of 5 overnights and one epic summit day hike.
During these trips I was in alpine terrain in the Height of the Rockies Provincial Park in British Columbia, Glacier National Park in Montana and Mount Tecumseh in the Crowsnest Pass, Alberta. Temperatures ranged from 5 to 25 C (41 to 77 F). Weather was a mix of very wet pouring rain with hail and dry beautiful sun (less of this, unfortunately). All trips combined, I hiked 82 km (51 miles), with 3154 m (10,348 ft) of elevation gain.


So far I have found the Vargo TiFusion shirt to be quite comfortable. It feels a bit loose and baggy compared to what I would normally wear, which I don't find flattering. I also find the collar tall and awkward looking, but this doesn't take away from comfort or function. I appreciate the hip length of the shirt, I'm never worried that I'm showing too much skin. I thought some of the seams would be abrasive with my backpack, but not at all. The shirt fits comfortably over a long sleeve base layer. Temperatures were colder rather than warmer on my trips, which meant I appreciated the heavier fabric.  


Having used the shirt for a number of strenuous hikes, I can definitely say the shirt performs well in all aspects its claims. It wicks well, breathes well and dries quickly. Furthermore, after several days using it in a row without washing, there was still no evidence of smell. This is probably the most impressive trait for me as I'm most familiar with having very odorous clothing following a multi-day backpacking trip. After machine washing in warm water and hanging to dry, the shirt looks as it was new. All threads and seams are well kept. The shirt remains in very good shape.


Overall the Vargo Ti shirt has proven to perform at a high technical level. It wicks, breathes, dries fast and doesn't smell. The heavier material is ideal for cooler temperatures and the loose fit works well over a long sleeve base layer for colder temperatures. As the weather gets much colder in the coming months, (it snowed yesterday), I anticipate using it with a base layer. I plan to also use it indoors for my gym workouts and yoga to see how it fairs under hotter conditions. Check back in another two months for the results of the long term test period.

- Comfortable, seams don't chafe
- Long hip length
- Wicking and breathable
- Quick-Dry
- No odor after multi-day use (antibacterial)
- Easy to wash
- Well made
- Heavy fabric is good for cooler temperatures
- Fits over a long-sleeve base layer

- Not flattering, baggy
- Long awkward sitting collar

Long Term Report - December 2, 2016


During the long term test period I have worn this shirt on another two backpacking trips in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta and Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, British Columbia for a total of four days and three nights. I have also used this shirt on another dozen opportunities consisting of outdoor Search and Rescue practices, indoor gym workouts and day hikes. Outdoor temperatures ranged from -2 to 10 C (-3 to 50 F). Weather encountered was everything from sun, rain, sleet and snow to strong gusts and howling winds. Total distance and elevation gained while hiking on backpacking trips was 42 km (26 mi) and 810 m (2660 ft). The trail conditions were good for the most part into alpine terrain with the last trip being on hard packed ice and wearing trail crampons.


All said and done this shirt has taken a beating and it still comes out of the wash looking as good as new. While I have no new observations to add from the previous report, I can confirm that the Vargo TiFusion is a high quality shirt and is highly durable. No odors after several days of use and no wearing after four months of use. The heavy material on top of a long sleeve base layer allowed it to be worn in sub freezing temperatures as a highly functional layer. I found it breathed well, wicked well and dried fast. My only complaint is that I don't find it flattering to wear due to the awkward collar and loose fit. 


Overall the Vargo TiFusion shirt has been a real trooper in the backcountry. After miles and miles of vigorous hiking in inclement weather, no signs of odor or deterioration were observed after four months. While it is not my favorite shirt due to its loose fit, awkward collar and heavy material, I cannot say enough about its performance as a technical shirt. Likes and dislikes remain as before. This is a solid, reliable shirt. 

I'd like to thank Vargo Outdoors and for allowing me to take part in this test series. 

Read more reviews of Vargo Outdoors gear
Read more gear reviews by Theresa Lawrence

Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Vargo Gem and Slag Shortsleeve Tee Shirt > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence

Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

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