Review: Arc’teryx Satoro AR long sleeve zip-up shirt – Women’s

Disclosure: The following product was donated for the purpose of review.


I’m writing this from mile 1716 on the PCT, where I’m currently in a love affair with this shirt.

Prepping for my second thru-hike, I had a pretty good idea what kind of abuse my gear was going to take. I knew my beautiful titanium pot would get scratched to hell; my new down jacket would be be a tapestry of duct tape and mysterious olive oil stains. And when it comes to base layers, I knew I would wear them well beyond the point where they tore, pilled, shredded, or inevitably smelled like spoiled vinegar. So I brought along the Arc’teryx base layer knowing that I was going to put it to the test.

Size: Medium

Weight: 6.5 oz

Material: Merino Wool (Nucliex™ STR 180)

Pockets: 1

Price: $170

Best Feature: Comfort and breathability

Worst Feature: Pricey

Circumstance of review:

I wore this pretty regularly for a few months before starting my second thru-hike and have been wearing it as a base layer and hiking shirt on the Pacific Crest Trail for the past 3 1/2 months.

I started wearing this shirt as a sleep shirt on cool desert nights, but transitioned to using it for hiking once I reached the high Sierra Nevada range, where the snowy conditions called for a long-sleeved wool shirt.  Since then, I found it hard to give up hiking in it and only recently, in the advent of high summer, have I stopped using it on a daily basis.  I love merino wool for three major reasons:

  1. It’s warm like wool but not itchy.
  2. It’s incredibly durable and doesn’t stretch or warp in a dryer.
  3. When I’m not hiking, I don’t look like a hiker. Unlike a silk long underwear shirt, I can actually wear my merino shirt around town and not be looked at askance. I still wear the merino shirt I slept in for the entire AT, and I wear it to go out.

Grabbing some trail fuel in South Lake Tahoe.

Style and Fit:

I love the fit of this shirt – and I have a reputation for complaining about women’s athletic fits. Often the shoulders are too narrow, the arms are too small, the chest is small and the waist is huge – not to mention the issue of insufficient length. Nobody wants to hike in something that shrinks to a belly shirt after it’s been dried for the first time.


Verified: good for ice skating.

But Arc’teryx seems to design their clothes for athletic women who run, hike, and climb – you know, the demographic they’re actually selling to. I wore this shirt before looking at its specs, and concluded that it feels like a second skin. Appropriately, that’s how Arc’teryx also describes it. It is by far the most flattering wool shirt I have, and aside from the warmth factor, feels like I’m wearing nothing – it’s like an extension of my body.


Of course, if you choose to wear it with grey gloves and waist-high rain pants, maybe the style section here isn’t applicable to you.

Notes on color: I also have a reputation for complaining about women’s colors.  I usually prefer more earthy tones to the bright cyans and pinks that so many outdoor companies offer. So, at the risk of sounding like an ungrateful reviewer, I did raise an eyebrow when Arc’teryx sent me a purple shirt… but I have to admit that even though I wouldn’t pick it out for myself, I really like it. It’s a color that I would grudgingly accept if my mother picked it out, only to even more grudgingly recognize she was right about it. It looks great.


I also love these sleeves. They’re long enough to pull over your hands when you don’t feel like fishing out your gloves, but without that weird thumb hole that I’m never sure if I like or not.


This is pretty important. Although merino wool isn’t as bad as some wicking shirts, it does eventually absorb odor. My wool base layers are fine on day one, but when I hike into town on day five, I can clear a hostel by raising my arms.

I was very surprised to find that this shirt not only didn’t pick up much odor, but seemed to block my odor fairly well, even after eight days of hiking through snow and heat between washings – even after almost 4 months of prolonged use. Take this as you will. The Satoro: good for gross people.


The funniest trail magic so far: a bag of soap.

Storage/Durability: Like any good merino wool base layer, it rolls up well for something that keeps you warm at night. It’s no down jacket, but I’m happy with how this packs.  It’s lighter than a smartwool midweight layer, which is what I normally use.  Its durability is insane. I don’t know how this shirt can feel so light and never rip, but it must have cuben fiber sewn into it.  I’ve tried to rip it, I really have.  I slept on cactus thorns that popped my sleeping pad.  I walked through brambles that tore up my skin and rough brush that ripped holes in my down jacket and shorts.  I have a hole in almost every other piece of clothing I brought, but the shirt that I’ve worn almost every single day of the trip?  Nothing.


Pocket: I’ll admit it. I didn’t get the pocket at first. But then I tried running errands with it (which, since I live in a small town, means that I actually combine jogging with going to the post office, picking up my check, or grocery shopping) – and it’s pretty perfect to hold a couple cards and some cash. It would also be perfect for ear buds and a little ipod touch. So I found myself converted to being an arm pocket lover, just like that. It’s just one more useful feature I never realized I needed. Touché, gear companies.


Also verified: good for fording rivers. (Disclaimer: will not keep you from falling in the river.)

Warmth/Breathability: I used this shirt ice skating, cross country skiing, and now hiking and camping in the desert at night (which, by the way, isn’t warm). I’ve used it down to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re moving around in shoulder season temperatures, it makes for a great buffer from the cold that is still breathable enough for high intensity exercise.


Value: This shirt is like a second skin – it doesn’t stretch out horribly, it doesn’t seem prone to pilling, it’s flattering, and it’s warm for how thin it feels. All around, it’s a great shirt if you can ignore the price. Honestly, though – and I say this as someone who has washed their socks in a motel sink to avoid spending 1.50 on a washing machine – it’s not overpriced; The Satoro is within the price range of high quality merino wool shirts. If you want something that will keep you warm as a base layer at night and work for an extra layer while hiking, there are cheaper merino wool shirts. But if you want a really comfortable next-to-skin layer for hiking, skiing, skating, or running that weighs nothing and looks great, even if you don’t have time to change before meeting your friends for dinner – I would recommend the Satoro.

Get this shirt here.

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