Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Shirt-to-Shirt Showdown

Those of you who have been following my blog will remember that back in December I bought two long-sleeved hiking shirts to give me some much-needed sun protection. But I found I was using just one of them, the pink Nike top. So last weekend I decided to give the Mountain Hardwear shirt a try when we went on a dayhike up Mt. Climie.

Mt. Climie is the most irresistible name you could give a mountain, as far as hikers are concerned. It pretty much stands right up and asks you to climb it! So I had somewhat high expectations as we pulled into the parking lot at Tunnel Gulley Recreation Area.

I have to say that Climie was a let-down. The 'track' to the top was actually a service road, used to reach the radio towers at the summit. So rather than feeling immersed in nature, we were slogging our way up a gravel road, exposed to the full midday sun.

OK, I suppose the midday sun was our own fault. We are admittedly not so good at getting an early start on the weekends. But the day was unusually hot and clear for Wellington, and frankly I'm just not used to those conditions anymore. Within ten minutes of starting up the road we were both sweating buckets. But at least it was a good way to test the shirt!

So how did the shirt do? It performed well on the sun protection side. I had no sign of sunburn even after doing the whole 3-hour hike almost completely in the sun. But it definitely doesn't breathe as well as my Nike top, which is made for runners. Despite mesh panels under the arms, I felt sticky and uncomfortable. On the plus side, once we stopped hiking it dried much faster than the Nike shirt. So I guess it's the winner on the quick-dry front. That makes it a better candidate for multi-day use.

Which shirt is better? Hard to say. They both have their good and bad points, and they both do what I really needed them to do--which was keep me from getting burned by the brutal New Zealand sun! Still, I think I'm more likely to pull the Nike shirt out of my closet for my next hike. Comfort during the hike seems to win out over drying off quickly afterwards. Particularly if we're spending the night in a hut where the sweaty stuff can be hung up to dry overnight.


Queen's Harbour Kayak Club said...

Check out these sun clothes. My favorite shirt from them was purchased in 1997 and I wore it yesterday on a kayak trip in the Florida sun! No burns - excellent sun protection, excellent drying time, no wrinkles and unbelievable ventilation.

The Clothes = Solumbra.com

Once you go Solumbra, you'll never go back.

Maple Kiwi said...

Sounds good! One of the drawbacks of living in New Zealand is that you have access to a limited number of brands. I'm hard to fit, so I avoid ordering stuff I can't try on first. But I'm always keeping an eye out for good stuff when I travel back to Canada or somewhere else where there's more choice.