Gear Review: Ortovox 120 Cool Tec Fast Upward T-Shirt
Merino wool is all the rage for a reason. I’ve been hesitant to invest in any merino wool base layers because of their relative price. But after some quality time on the trails with the Ortovox 120 Cool Tec Fast Upward T-Shirt (yes, that’s a mouthful) I won’t be going back to my stubborn cotton ways.
Weight: 78 grams
Materials: 52 % virgin merino wool, 33 % lyocell (Tencel™), 15 % polyamide
Sizes: XS – XL
Style: Athletic cut
Circumstances of Review
For summer running and hiking, I want clothes I forget I’m wearing. My first spin with this shirt was a breezy early-morning run, in order to test the lower temperature level. It was somewhere in the high 50s with a little wind, which would normally call for a long-sleeved shirt. Even though my exposed arms got a few goose bumps, my core stayed cozy and I felt lighter in the cool air.
In the name of an honest gear review, I wore this shirt the very next day without a wash (or deodorant). One of the benefits of merino wool is its power to neutralize odors. The antibacterial effect of the wool worked so well I actually was able to wear it four times before my stench began to seep through. My trail partners definitely wish I had this shirt with me on the JMT.
I’ve taken this shirt for a couple of long day hikes. Why I continue to pack this shirt for hikes is the way it regulates my temperature. I don’t realize how sweaty my back is until I stop for a break, because it keeps the moisture from turning clammy and uncomfortable. Conversely, when it’s a bit chillier or windy my core and chest still feel warm enough to keep me from grabbing my puffy.
When it gets hot outside, I’m used to T-shirts being a shoulder prison that result in me stripping to my sports bra. So I was doubtful I would opt for this shirt on a warm day over a tank top. I’ve worn this shirt on a handful of sunny runs since my initial test, and have been happily surprised. I only felt the need to strip down one morning in the high 80s. When I did, I was again impressed with how lightweight the shirt is. I was able to tie the shirt around my wrist and keep running without trying to shove a shirt into my shorts or sports bra.
Sustainability: Ortovox uses merino wool sourced from verified and ethical sheep farms from Tasmania.
Weight: Of all the shirts of comparable value I found, not one came close to 78 grams. It feels light on my body, around my wrist on a run, or in my pack as an extra layer option.
Temperature Regulation: The combination of merino wool and Tencel fibers create a unique cooling fabric. Though this shirt is intended for warm weather activity, the merino wool provides a bit of warmth in case wind starts to hit.
Fit: As advertised, this shirt doesn’t ride up even with a backpack. It didn’t feel too tight around my shoulders or chest, which some mediums often can. The shirt is designed with an extra bit of length, to stay in place during intense activity. Furthermore, the flat seams prevent chafing against pack straps.
Price: There’s no getting around it. $90 is a lot for a shirt. Smartwool has a similar tee for $75, though it is about 20 grams heavier. Icebreaker has a comparable shirt for $70, though it is not as light as the Ortovox.
The same Ortovox shirt in a long-sleeve is only $10 more expensive. In the future I would choose to spend that extra money and have a base layer for colder months, as opposed to a T-shirt for warmer weather.
Appearance: I like the way this shirt looks, except for the fact that the top is a bit see-through. I have no problem flashing my bright green sports bra to the world, but bear in mind that only neutral colors won’t shine through the material.
For hikes and runs in the warmer months where I know I will end up in a T-shirt, this will be my go-to. The way it regulates temperature and odor is perfect for long days under the sun. For colder months, I would still opt for a long-sleeved base layer. I don’t see myself wearing this as part of an alpine kit in extreme cold, but I will definitely be considering Ortovox products when it’s time to gear up for winter expeditions.
This gear was donated for the purpose of review
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