Current Retail: $14.99
Breathable synthetic tee for general wear, exercise, hiking, etc.
- Stay/Fast dry
- Neck cuff a bit high
As a retired fellow I pretty much live in tee shirts. I maintain an inventory of perhaps 30, out of which I tend to rotate through two or three until they rot.
I've generally favored cotton, except, of course, not for backpacking. Early synthetics I have are scratchy, stinky and hot. Newer iterations are much improved. My most recent is Elegear's Arc-Chill Cooling T-Shirt, which the vendor asked if I would sample and review. I've worn the shirt for a month, growing quite partial to it and having none I like more.
Comparing the Arc-Chill tee to a cotton tee brings a very clear conclusion that AC is way more comfortable than cotton. It doesn't get as heavy. Doesn't get hotter the longer I wear it. Continues to breathe even through exercise. Stays much more dry and dries very quickly after a multi-mile hike in 80 F. Doesn't get gummy. No one asked me to find other space even after weeks of wearing the shirt unlaundered.
Over the 30 days I've had it, the only days I didn't wear it was on a 4-day backpack trip too sunny for short sleeve no-collar. On a preceding car camp sortie I wore the shirt 72 hours straight. That followed 145 hours of wearing the tee over 21 consecutive days, including three 3-mile hikes in 75-85 F. In a cotton tee I would not have been able to stand myself; in the Arc-Chill I was still very comfortable.
The material feels to me much like silk, being smooth and slippery, though much lighter. The shirt is about 70% the weight of a cotton tee and folds up to what I would assess to be about 2/3 of the bulk. I also like wool tees, which can be bulky and bug-bitten and certainly in the cost compartment, high-end (wear-on-the-skin) wool gets expensive.
Though I haven't gone tearing through the willows in this shirt, it remains looking just as good now after one wash as it did the day I first put it on. Has yet to pill anywhere. Doesn't wrinkle. Fits (almost) perfectly. Based on the sizing chart I fall between M and L. Vendor says choose normal size. I like snug even less than floppy, so I ordered L. Just right for me as the shirt fits trimly, but not tightly.
Toleration of compression clothing is about 30-45 minutes for me, and while the material may not technically be compression, it certainly is stretchy. Large gives me a full range of unrestricted motion without feeling bandaged or looking like there's room for a watermelon. The shirt is available in M 38-40; L 42-44; XL 46-48; and XXL 50-52; and comes in black or white.
Most often I cannot wear out-of-the-package against-the-skin clothing for longer than a few minutes without developing an itchy rash, urging me to remove the garment and wash it. I put this one on again and again and again for all day and never felt anything but comfortable. Whatever the chemical composition of this shirt, it is dermally well suited for me.
The shirt came in the evening as I was lounging away in the psychosis of Law & Order reruns. It was a warm night and I was damp-skinned under my cotton tee. I put the Arc-Chill on and within a few minutes felt more comfortable. My skin dried, the shirt breathed better and I did feel cooler.
The primary technology claim is cooling nylon/spandex fiber incorporating Jade Nano-particles, which in combination wick away humidity, absorb body heat and reduce skin temperature by 3 1/2-9 F. With no way to measure that claim objectively, I can only say that I find the shirt more comfortable than cotton. One might think that it being so much more comfortable in the heat it may not be quite so in cooler temps. I've worn the shirt in mid-40 F and felt no chill from it. I felt a higher level of comfort in the cool as my skin stayed dry even under two layers that were sometimes a little bit too much, especially when lingering around a campfire.
Where a shirt hits me in the front of the neck rests on a high-point of sensitivity. Perhaps it was all those years of having to wear a tie that causes the neck to eschew any contact with fabric. Though I don't like scoop or V-neck, material getting anywhere near the gizzard brings up not-fond sensation. AC hits me just a centimeter higher than would be perfect, which is the reason for the aforementioned fit hedge. The neck cuff is not so high that I find it troublesome, but a bit lower would suit me better.
Care instructions do not seem onerous—machine gentle, <86° F, no tumble dry, no iron, no bleach, no dry clean, hang in the shade. For the shirt's maiden (so far only) venture into the wash, it went in with everything else and then out on the deck to dry. I put it back on before it dried completely and it looks and feels great. The no-tumble-dry admonition could be an issue if I forget to separate it from the rest of the wash that will in winter go into the dryer.
The shirt is manufactured by Taizhou WeimengHousehold Products Co., Ltd., in China. The shirt is evidently available only at Amazon by searching Elegear T Shirts. Site indicates a price of $15.99 for black or white; and free returns.
Full disclosure: I have no interest in the vendor. I was not paid for the review. I keep the product. I agreed to do it with the understanding of no assurance the vendor would like what I post.
Started wearing synthetics for backpacking 25 years ago. Generally didn't like them for comfort, but they work better against the wet than cotton and dry much faster than wool. In the last 10 years or so syns have gotten much better and this is the second tee I've tested that I actually find more comfy overall than cotton.
Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (Kept)