Gone are the days when simple cotton t-shirts were often my fishing tops of choice.
Thanks to the explosion of "technical" shirts like the wildly-popular Simms Solarflex series, these types of garments quickly became my go-to picks for fishing and other outdoor activities. What's not to love? Yes, they often cost more, but they are comfortable as heck, offer great sun and bug protection, and dry quickly. They are absolutely ideal for us anglers!
I owned three of the last-generation Simms Solarflex shirts and got a ton of wear out of them. After untold hours of usage, the only gripe I had were the Simms logos all partially or fully peeled off (more on that later). Despite those being ideal for all the fishing I do here in the hot Florida sun, when I saw all the new Solarflex shirts that hit the market earlier this year I was really eager to check them out. Luckily, Simms graciously sent over three different versions for me to try out...
Solarflex Ultracool Hoody- Features include a hood with snap adjustment, thumb holes for added hand protection, and a zippered chest pocket which is an ideal place to keep something like a spare tippet spool. The UPF 50 protection is provided by 100% polyester construction along with special Avra™ fibers which Simms talks about here...
"Avra™ keeps you comfortable with superior wicking speed and exceptional dry times - up to 50% faster than fabrics of similar weight, construction and composition. Due to their size and unique shape, Avra fibers are significantly more flexible than standard polyester. This creates fabrics with a distinctly silky feel that keeps you drier and more comfortable than ever before using 100% post-consumer recycled PET. The flat, ribbon-like shape of the smaller fibers provides performance advantages like faster wicking speeds, faster dry times, and a cool-to-the-touch sensation you have to feel to believe."
Sizes run S–XXL with 2 color options. $99.95
Solarflex Plus Hoody- These shirts are 100% polyester with UPF 50 protection and come equipped with a snap-adjustable hood, zippered hip pocket, elastic thumb loops inside each cuff for improved hand coverage, and something I didn't even know about till just now; chamois built into the inside of the bottom hem for cleaning sunglasses!
Sizes run S–3XL with 3 color options. $84.95
Solarflex Plus Crew- The Solarflex Plus Crew sports the exact same features as the version mentioned above, just without the hood and with different color schemes.
Sizes run S–3XL with 3 color options. $64.95
The first thing I noticed when I received these shirts was that they immediately felt heavier and thicker than the previous versions. This seems like a bad thing for hot weather fishing shirts, so I was actually worried initially.
What I can say after a couple months of wearing them so far is that those concerns were quickly thrown out the window. I've worn all three of my shirts in absolutely sweltering conditions. In fact, recently it has been insanely hot with heat indexes up to around 107 degrees!
Let's be honest, when it's that hot you're going to be uncomfortable to some degree no matter what you have on, but I didn't feel like these shirts abnormally increased my level of discomfort at all by trapping excess heat or otherwise being a burden. The fabric dries quickly, and as everyone knows, a dry garment weighs less and typically feels more pleasant than a soaking wet one.
The fit feels like it's somewhere between an athletic and loose fit. The last round of Solarflex shirts I ordered were in size M which were very fitted and slightly on the trim side for me, so this time I opted for size L.
Of course the bigger sizing affords me a bit more room which is nice, but the cut does seem a tad less fitted/slim than before. Whether that's actually true or not I don't really know, but most folks should find the fit very pleasant. The hoods also fit very well and offer excellent coverage.
Early on I mentioned how the logos on my last Solarflex shirts nearly all got completely destroyed from the washing machine. These new shirts have been washed many times so far and the logos are still all perfect. My big, amazing, genius secret? Starting from the first wash I simply turned each shirt inside out before tossing on the laundry pile. Hopefully the logos hold up forever, but we shall see.
These new Solarflex shirts have changed quite a bit, but in my opinion it's for the better. They feel and look more high-end while still doing an excellent job of providing protection along with a satisfying level of comfort even in the nastiest of heat.
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