Gear Review: Outdoor Research Wayward II Sun Shirt

In regard to overall functionality, the Outdoor Research Wayward II impresses when it comes to versatility. While the Wayward II doesn’t blow me away in any one category, the overall performance balanced many features that are important on a long-distance adventure—breathability, temperature regulation, coverage, comfort, and durability—making it a solid choice for long days on the trail or the water.

OR Women’s Wayward II Specs

Outdoor Research gives us a solid all-around performer in the Wayward II.

Claimed Weight: 8.2 ounces (size medium)
Materials: 86% polyester, 14% spandex
Sizes: XS-XXL
Style: Button down
MSRP: $80 (Currently on sale as of this review’s publish date)

Circumstances of Review

The Wayward II provided ample protection in extreme sun, on the water, and high in the alpine.

In order to give the Wayward II a thorough testing, I wore it throughout the spring and into late summer while hiking on sunny long trails. I packed, stuffed, slept in, and wore it for days through the SoCal desert of the PCT and on the Wind River High Route in Wyoming. Both trails experience an abundance of direct sun, where long-sleeve sun shirts provide the best protection. Sun shirts are a popular choice to wear on thru-hikes of both the PCT and CDT because of their high elevation, snow conditions, and extreme exposure to the sun. I wore ExOfficio sun shirts on my hikes of both of those big trails and so I was mainly comparing the Wayward to my experiences with those.

Notable Features

The sleeves seemed to stay rolled up on their own, but attaching the button tab holds them secure at the elbow.

Sun Protection: UPF 50+ fabric to defend against the sun’s rays

Pockets: The Wayward II features two front pockets and one zippered chest pocket to hold small items like a wallet while doing errands around town

Fabric: Quick-drying poly-spandex that stretches with your movements and wicks moisture while you perspire.

Sleeve Adjustability: Roll-up tabs and buttons to adjust sleeve length

Snap Collar: Two snaps on the collar so it can be cuffed up to protect your neck from the sun.

Pros

The good old “how fast does my shirt dry in the back of a pickup” test. The Wayward II dries quick.

Comfort: The stretchy polyester material had a nice give to it, and the standard cut was flattering enough to wear off the trail. I don’t love the feel of polyester (it can sometimes be rough), but the stretch and weight made it comfortable walking in both 100-degree heat and along wind-chilled alpine ridges.

Breathable: This shirt does a nice job staying cool and wicking moisture while I was walking long days in the sun. Since polyester is slightly heavier than nylon, it does cut the wind a little bit, which is great in desert and alpine environments and means it is truly a three-season shirt compared to the mega-light sun shirts.

Coverage: The Wayward II provides full coverage from the sun, with plenty of adjustments. I like my sleeves rolled up below my elbow; the extra tab to hold that in place was easy to use. I never cuffed the collar up for added protection, but it’s a cool option if you feel your neck burning and are without a hat or buff.

Dries Quickly: For those of us with sweaty back syndrome (thank you, frameless packs), it’s nice to take your shirt off during a lunch or in camp at night to dry out. This sun shirt dried after a quick midday break hanging in the sun, and even after a taking a dip in a lake. 

Versatile: The Wayward II’s style makes it a great trail-to-town shirt to hit a brewery or restaurant after a hike (I actually think the men’s version is even more flattering). The cut and quick-drying ability would be convenient for anyone who commutes to the office by foot or bike.

Cons

Runs Large: I usually wear an XS, but even that was too big on me, especially at the torso. This shirt also stretched out after being on the trail for a few days without a wash, making it even bigger. I did like how comfortably roomy it is on top, (which is sometimes hard for petite ladies with a larger chest size to find) so it would make great choice for bustier women.

Choices: I really love the textured style of the fabric, but I wasn’t thrilled with the color options available for 2019. I know it’s a small detail, but I would have liked to see more neutral color choices. 

Price: For $80, it’s definitely at the top end of what I’d be willing to spend on a sun shirt. That being said, it is extremely comfortable, and if you’re going to be wearing it for four to six months on a long trail, it could be worth it to have a higher-end shirt.

Overall Value

I’m only 5 feet tall, but even in the XS the Wayward II was a little longer than I like for an active shirt.

I’d consider the Wayward II one of the higher-end sun shirts, ringing in at $80. Aside from wishing it was more fitted for my body type, I don’t have any real complaints. There are absolutely no signs of wear in the months I’ve been wearing this shirt, and that would lead me to believe the Wayward II would hold up extremely well on a multi-month thru-hike. Like I mentioned before, this is not the lightest sun shirt out there, but the fabric choice makes it more versatile over a three-season hike that sees varying environments. I think thru-hikers would get their money’s worth here.

Comparable Items

Columbia Silver Ridge Lite $50

Mountain Hardwear Canyon Pro  $95

ExOfficio Lightscape $80

Shop the Wayward II Shirt Here

This product was donated for purpose of review.

(Photo contributions courtesy of Emily “Momo” Sawchuck)

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