Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear AC Long Sleeve Men’s Henley
(Disclaimer: This item was donated for the purposes of reviewing.)
Material: A super light poly-blend grid vent
Features: Three-button collar, WickQ moisture-wicking weave
Weight: ~2.3 oz
Spending any significant amount of time outdoors requires a selection of versatile clothing that can be stripped, layered, or adjusted at a moment’s notice. (This is doubly true where I live in Seattle, where the weather is infinitely changeable and rarely kind.) With that condition in mind, I field-tested the MHW AC Henley on a backpacking trip in the high desert of eastern Washington—a place where thundersnow is as likely as a hot, dry day this time of year.
The first thing you notice about the AC Henley is how ridiculously light it is. It feels like nothing at all, as though Mountain Hardwear had engineered a shirt out of paper towel. But don’t be fooled: the shirt can take some abuse, and with the sleeves down is a whole lot warmer than it looks.
The second thing you notice is probably the color. Get this shirt in “State Orange” and you will never misplace it, ever.
If you’re a little thicker than the average long-distance hiker, like I am, it can be hard to find hiking clothes that fit well AND perform well. The AC Henley met both of those conditions for me. It’s got plenty of room around the middle even in a regular size L, and while it does taper off at the hem, this mostly just makes for a convenient way to tuck it into shorts or long underwear. I turned it into a base layer under a short-sleeved performance shirt once I got settled in at my campsite, and I never got the uncomfortable “doubled” feeling that you often find when you layer activewear.
The AC Henley fit well to my body and was extremely comfortable without being tight or restrictive. It held up well against the chill of the desert evening, and only started to show its thinness when the wind picked up in the canyon.
I only found two real downsides to the AC Henley. There’s an inelastic seam at the wrists that makes it a little difficult to comfortably push up or roll up the sleeves—they sort of stick about halfway up the forearm. That’s not really a problem if you’re just using it as a base layer, but the shirt is advertised as a “go-anywhere shirt for hiking, backpacking, even some climbing,” so take that as you will.
The other downside was the three-button collar. I get the aesthetic appeal, as this style matches what you’d find on a traditional flannel or cotton henley shirt, but these buttons feel like the single heaviest bit of the MHW AC and they sit pretty snug on the sternum. They took a few hours to get used to. I did, however, sleep the whole night wearing it, and by that point the buttons didn’t bother me a bit.
I’d definitely recommend the Mountain Hardwear AC Henley to a friend looking for a base layer. (I wish I’d had it with me on my PCT thru-hike, as it proved itself far superior to the generic base shirt I was carrying.) If you’re not going somewhere particularly wet or windy, it will serve well as a regular outdoor activity shirt, too.
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