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Backpacker Magazine – October 2007
These eight trail tops wick sweat, look great, and fit great. Wear them for a run or a week-long trek.
If you're like us, the shirt you put on at the trailhead is the same on you're wearing at trip's end, even if it's a week later. So that one shirt better do it all, and do it all well: wick buckets of sweat, dry quickly, fit perfectly, control stink–and look flattering. After testing more than 40 of the latest baselayers, we've narrowed the universe down to eight top performers.LIGHTWEIGHT
We liked the flatlock stitching and forward shoulder seams, which prevent chafing under a pack. Women raved about the pinprick holes on the Pointelle version, which significantly improve ventilation while adding a touch of style. Although the ExO fabric is chemically treated to resist odor, some testers said they were holding their noses after a few days of heavy sweating in this shirt. Also comes in long-sleeve. $34 (men's M–XXL), $30 (women's XS–XL) (800) 644-7303; exofficio.com.Best Overall Trail Tee [55–100°F]
Despite our testers' perspiration, this top was surprisingly stink-free at trip's end. It dried faster than any of the other wool tees we tested - about 20 minutes after being worn in a canyon pool on a hot, sunny day (drying time will be slower in humid climates). Fit is comfortably loose but not baggy. The shirt rebuffed thorny tamarisk and looked new even after a dozen-plus machine washings. $55; men's S–XXL, women's XS–XL (208) 726-1000;icebreaker.com.MIDWEIGHT
Dale uses no chemicals in the wool washing and dyeing processes, and the antishrink treatment applied to the finished product is also chemical-free. Fit is roomy enough to layer a T-shirt underneath, and an 8-inch zipper on the mock turtleneck allows for venting. One bummer: You can't put it in the dryer, and some testers said it lost a bit of shape after line drying. $69; men's S - XXL, women's S - XL (800) 441-3253; daleofnorway.com.Most Versatile [50–75°F]
When the mercury rose, testers said the Woolies wicked and breathed like a second skin, and only started to feel hot in the upper 70s. Flat seams and a body-hugging fit make it comfortable under a pack. And thanks to wool's natural odor resistance, testers on extended backpacking trips reported that their bagels got moldy before their shirts started to stink. Also available in short-sleeved and sleeveless. $60; men's and women's S–XL (800) 773-9647; ibex.com.Sweat Sponge [45–60°F]