ExOfficio Air Strip Lite Long Sleeve Shirt

Some things that I can count on when hiking in the Southeast in the summer time is that it will be hot and humid and there will be bugs. Knowing this, I am trying to find the best shirt option that will keep me cool, keep the bugs at bay and still remain somewhat light-weight. Last summer I wore a short sleeve OR Dune shirt, this year I am trying out the ExOfficio Air Strip Lite in long sleeve…

So, to recap…

I got the size large because most of the reviews and reports I came across mentioned that this shirt was quite baggy. However, I also read that the sleeves came up short in some reviews. While sleeves riding up to my elbows is a pet peeve of mine, I took the gamble of going with the large since I also feared that an XL may swallow me. Now that I have the large, I must agree that it is quite baggy, almost to the point of being uncomfortable, and the sleeves do in fact ride up. Right off-the-bat, fit is not up to par for me with this shirt, and if I forgo this shirt, regardless of everything else, it will be due to fit.

One thing I did not mention in the video is the smell. I wore it on a recent short day hike with my kids to Big Hill Pond State Park. It was a pretty easy hike; 3 miles round trip, a fairly nice breeze, temps in the high 70’s, topping out right at 80 as we finished up and I was only carrying a day pack with about 10 pounds loaded up in it. From this one short hike, it had already acquired that synthetic stench…

I do like the idea of the pockets, but they are so large that they only add to the already almost uncomfortable amount of bulk that is the shirt. I am not that interested in this many pockets on the front of my shirt as it is. I would have been fine with the one zippered pocket, and it didn’t have to be that large at that. But, one way around this is to simply not use them…

What I do like though is the shirts ability to ventilate. It does that well. Thanks to a few different factors:

  1. The vents located all throughout the shirt.
  2. The fact that it buttons up the front allows as much, or as little, ventilation as possible.
  3. And of course the baggy sizing allows for breezes to sneak in anywhere.

If I decide to stick with this shirt, this (the ability to ventilate exceptionally well) will be the reason for doing so.

When choosing a shirt to try for this summer, I wanted white, for 2 reasons. One, because it should reflect back as much sunlight (heat) as possible, and two, because I have read that darker colors actually attract more bugs (not sure how accurate this is though). The only concern that I have with the actual color is how filthy will it look after a few days of wear. While that is not a huge factor that I am too concerned with, depending on the actual amount of filth it picks up and hangs onto, could turn into one though…

The last thing I want to mention is sleeve length. Wearing long sleeves was the last thing I ever thought about actually doing in the dead of summer, at least until wearing my Patagonia Capilene 2 long sleeve crew in the summer months. I was amazed at how much cooler I felt than I thought I would, so I feel like finding one in a light color, and that ventilated well seemed very logical. And not to mention, the long sleeves will catch all of those morning spider webs, and keep some of the mosquito bites down…

So, right now it looks like the choice has to be weighed between fit (bad) and ventilation (good). At this point, it is a tough decision. But I will say this: I have been looking around for a simple, very light-weight, white, long sleeve shirt with at least a quarter-zip (or a half-zip) on the front as an alternative to the Air Strip Lite. The only option I have found that I am considering is the REI Lightweight Polartec Power Dry Zip T. This looks to be quite promising, however, many of the reviews I have read concerning this shirt complain of bad fit and the feel of the actual fabric against the skin being somewhat uncomfortable…

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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7 Responses to ExOfficio Air Strip Lite Long Sleeve Shirt

  1. Fu says:

    Those kind of pockets with bellows and a million compartments are the most annoying things ever. Also the venting is not going to work when you have a pack on. I think the ExOfficio Reef Runner is a much better choice.

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    • Stick says:

      I can see how they would be useful to some, but I agree with you. I would be ok with one pocket, that wasn’t bellowed and it would be nice to be zippered.

      Like

    • Fu says:

      Hi Stick… Well check out a ExOfficio Reef Runner if you can find one. It’s my favorite hiking shirt, though I haven’t tried Rail Riders. Sierra Trading Post occasionally has Reef Runners, usually in Large or Extra Large.

      It’s too bad that sizing of shirts between brands is so inconsistent.

      Like

  2. George Carr says:

    Hey Chad. Just goes to show that one piece of gear isn’t a perfect solution for everyone. I’ve been wearing the Exofficio Airstrip shirts since around 2005, and they are the only shirt I wear in the summer. I stay away from white because I sweat and don’t really want a stained shirt. I started wearing long sleeve shirts when I used to fish bass tournaments in the 90’s because I can’t stand suntan lotion, so it was a natural transition for me in warm weather backpacking. I don’t find that I am any hotter or attract anymore (or less) bugs because of the color. Good luck finding the right shirt.

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    • Stick says:

      George,

      That is so true! One piece of gear is not for everybody…doesn’t matter what it is.

      I do like the idea of wearing long sleeves so I am going to give this shirt another chance. The shirt itself is a very nice shirt, has great features, is soft on the skin, it ventilates well, and dries fast. It’s just the fit…if it doesn’t work out on my next trip with it I will probably swap it in and try another option.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  3. Shoeless Joe says:

    There are a few variations on this design, and the guys around my community in SC wear these all the time. It gets so humid around here! I found a Timberland version at TJ Maxx. It is a cotton/poly mix, so it doesn’t dry as quickly. I like having the sleeves to roll down in the sun, the collar to flip up on occasion, and the pockets for my glasses, spork, and bandana. The vents are a blessing. I know the long sleeve crews are popular on the trail, but I like the versatility of the button front.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Shoeless Joe,

      I agree with you. I too like the versatility of the button down front. I was really excited to order this shirt, but the fit has left wanting…I have heard good things about the Rail Riders shirts too. They are a button down front, but looks a little less busy in the front (missing all those big huge pockets). I am not really in need of any pockets on the shirt anyway, but I will see. I have decided that I will give the ExO 1 more shot…

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      ~Stick~

      Like

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