Thursday, July 21, 2011

Built for Adventure: The Hi-Tec Salt Creek Shirt

Long known for their durable and innovative footwear, Hi-Tec is now bringing their passion for creating quality products to the world of outdoor apparel. So when the good people at Hi-Tec gave us the opportunity to review their Men’s Salt Creek Long Sleeve Shirt, we were more than happy to oblige.  The only outstanding question was... where to test?

The Tahoe Rim Trail is a 165 mile trail around Lake Tahoe that  passes through two states (California and Nevada), six counties, one state park, three National Forests, and three “Wilderness areas” along the mountain crests above Lake Tahoe. The elevation of the trail ranges in elevation from 6,400 up to 10,300 ft.  We could think of no better place to put the Salt Creek Shirts to the test.

On Performance Factor…
Robert Stevenson once said, “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”    

From the outset it was obvious that this shirt was born for the ‘great affair’.  The  new Hi-Tec apparel utilizes the same attention to detail, technology, performance and high quality materials for which their footwear is world renown.  Crafted from featherweight nylon weighing in at about 4.3 oz the Salt Creek is breathable, quick-drying and exceeded our expectations on moisture-management.

While our heart rate was maxing out on the trail, the lightweight nylon wicked away perspiration while the Tri-flow venting system helped keep us nice and cool by increasing air circulation across the back.  When the heat kicked up,  we simply rolled up our sleeves which were secured with button loops on each upper arm.  Here, our testers greatly perfered Hi-Tec’s use of the button loops rather than the traditional button tab because on the trail, simplicity means functionality.

A backpack-friendly shoulder design eliminated seams gouging into our tester's shoulder blades via shoulder strap pressure on longer excursions.  Finally, as outdoor enthusiasts know, when you spend a lot of time outdoors, limiting sun exposure is important, especially at higher altitudes.  Towards those ends the Salt Creek is powerfully sun-protective boasting 30 UPF defense against harmful UV rays.

On Style Factor…

With the Salt Creek, Hi-Tec’s designers have artfully crafted a rugged yet refined look making this superbly wearable button-up the ideal accompaniment to any adventure whether trekking alpine terrain or journeyng across downtown heading out for a bite to eat.  It was also designed with plenty of "wearing ease" ensuring that the shirt fits great solo or with a layer underneath.

When testing this shirt at higher elevations we were initially concerned that one of the shirt’s great strengths – the stellar ability to keep us cool – might also serve as its greatest weakness by allowing too much body heat to escape.  But as the first gust of wind picked up along the ridgeline, that same lightweight nylon did a remarkable job of blocking the wind helping us maintain a nice consistent core temperature while always remaining comfortable.

The double chest pockets not only come in handy during active pursuits, but avoid the bulky aesthetic design of some competitor’s designs. These front flap pockets are great for stashing energy gel, cell phones, boarding passes or anything else you need quick access too.  The nifty zipped security pocket provides a safe haven for important documents and valuables when you’re on the move.

The XL sized Salt Creek fit our 6'4" crew member well and still provided the perfect amount of room in the shoulders which was greatly appreciated on our more active pursuits.  The large sized Salt Creek was a true-to-size fit for our 5'10" crew member as well. 

Room For Improvement?
The Gumption Crew became big fans of this shirt and it’s become a “must wear” for all of our team adventures.  That being said our testers had a few minor adjustments that they would like to see incorporated on future versions of the shirt.  On the style side our Gumption Crew would prefer to see a more rounded style on the design of the drop tail (similar to the North Face Bolder Gorge Shirt).
While the Salt Creek had a great true-to-size fit with solid room in the shoulders and arms, our testers suggested a version with stretch panels around the shoulders and on the elbows for more extreme outings.

Closing Thoughts...
The best thing we can say about this shirt is we never noticed it on the trail except when fellow hikers took time out to compliment us.  From the desert valley to mountain ridgelines and the world in between the thoughtful design of the Hi-Tec Salt Creek shirt will keep you comfortable while traveling and is sure to draw compliments where ever the trail leads.

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