I'm not the type to wear a pair of shorts, flip flops, and a short-sleeved shirt out on the water. Nope, I'm the complete opposite and tend to cover up pretty thoroughly when fishing for any length of time. However, just because I dress like this doesn't mean I'm totally uncomfortable. Today's sun-protective garments not only do an amazing job of shielding the skin from harmful UV rays, but the fit and comfort levels of many of these products are the best they've ever been.
About 10 years ago I started consistently wearing "technical" pullover sun shirts as opposed to just long-sleeve cotton or the button-down types of fishing shirts. I find these to be the most comfortable overall and are quick to get on/off. I've owned my fair share of them over the years, but many of them came up just a little short in one or two areas—one of those areas being the neckline. I'm a big fan of sun masks or "Buffs" as many refer to them, but many of these technical shirts have necklines that don't offer ideal protection or keep a sun mask tucked in very well. Often times, I've returned home to find a thin line on the back or side of my neck had been burned from the sun mask coming untucked and leaving me partially exposed.
After getting frustrated with this happening, I decided to hop on the Simms website to see what they had going on. That's when I came across the SolarFlex Hoody and SolarFlex Long-Sleeve Crew Neck shirts. These two tops are sold in some pretty bad ass design schemes (I'm a sucker for camo) and looked to offer above-average neck coverage, so I took a gamble and ordered some in size M.
Materials: 100% Polyester
Hoody Colors: Solid and Print Designs
Crew Colors: Solid, Print, Artist, and Graphic Designs
Size Range: S–XXXL
UPF Rating: UPF 50
Tested Shirt Prices: $59.95 each
The first thing that struck me about these shirts is how the material felt. Comprised of 100% polyester, the fabric feels very smooth and is so thin it feels almost tissue-like. Don't mistake this for weakness, though. Combined with flat seams and some tidy stitching, they've held up great structurally. Pulling on various parts of the shirts doesn't result in any pops or tears, and after wearing and washing over the last 8 months most everything still looks factory-fresh. Most? I say this because some of the inner and outer labels have since worn away pretty badly. The outside of one of my shirts now says "Simm"!
As eluded to in the above specs, there's several color variations available (especially in the crew neck), but here we'll just focus on what I have. You'll see here that I own three of these shirts, all in a size M. (Below) From left to right: Hoody in "Tundra" color, Hoody Print in "Hex Camo Loden," and Crew Neck Print in "Hex Camo Sterling."
My current stats are 6'3" and a bit over 190 pounds and all three shirts fit me pretty well in a size M. The length works (an extra inch would be even better for my height, though), the cut is slim for an athletic look, and the material is nice and stretchy so it doesn't restrict movement at all. I'd probably opt for Size L next time, but M ain't bad.
Speaking of the length, the arms provide nice full-length coverage and there's a hidden band under each wrist that allows you to loop your thumb through to keep the cuff pinned down over the wrist and hand. Even if you wear sun gloves as I often do, this is also a great feature to keep skin from getting exposed between the cuff and glove.
I really appreciate the hood and crew neck designs of these shirts. The hood is easy to get on/off and offers great protection without being too big or floppy. The crew neck design of the other shirt is kind of like a half turtle-neck that gives additional neck protection on its own, but in my case does a great job of keeping a face mask tucked-in. Compared to a typical shirt with a lower neck line, these tops blow them out of the water.
I've worn these in temps reaching up into the low 90's and wasn't disappointed. They don't get hot, breathe well, dry fast, and are extremely lightweight. Simms uses COR3 fabric technology with one of the included benefits being odor control. After wearing my Tundra-colored hoody for a couple of days in the sun recently, I did notice a mildly unpleasant odor when smelling the shirt before tossing it into the wash pile, so I wouldn't expect them to be totally impervious to getting stinky.
These are my real go-to shirts for fishing or any other extended outdoor activities. Besides the not-so-good durability of the logos, they otherwise have it all: looks, comfort, mobility, and protection. With summer not quite over yet, give these a serious look if top-notch sun protection is what you need. All of the different shirt versions can be found within the link below....
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