Saturday, April 6, 2013

Product Review-Howler Loggerhead Shirts

The Howler Technical clothing has been getting more and more popular over the last year. Most of us around the shop wear it, and like it. A recent trip to Ascension Bay gave me opportunity to try an idea. I wanted to to try the Howler Loggerhead L/S Shirt, Simms Ultralight Shirt, and Patagonia Sunshirt all in the same day and conditions.

So, you may think this is goofy, but it is in the name of science, I took one of each of these shirts out on the flats on the same day. I wore each one for an hour in the afternoon when it was hottest and the sun was highest. Here's what I found:

The Patagonia comes in dead last! It allows the least airflow, meaning it's the hottest, has the lowest wicking properties, and at the end of an hour already held some odor. It does wash reasonably well in the shower (all cleaning tests done in the shower) but it is very difficult to get rid of the odor. It also has no pockets or button collar.

The Simms Ultralight has long been my favorite shirts for fishing in the tropics. You can tell how light these shirts are just by picking them up. The air flow on this shirt is pretty darn good. It stays pretty cool even on the hottest days. it is a little tougher to clean in the shower if you have sunscreen stains, etc. in the collar and cuffs but they aren't too bad. They are different from the Patagonia and Howler in that they are a full opening, snap close shirt. One issue with design is the welded fron pockets can fail if you carry a heavy object (like a heavier point and shoot camera) for extended periods.
The Ultralight is pretty good as far as odor retention and with shower cleaning don't seem to retain odors.

The Howler Loggerhead is similar in appearance and design to the Patagonia with some important differences. The collar is a tandem button so you can leave it open to stay cooler or buttoned up for sun protection. The rear pocket is something I didn't think I would use. Turns out its perfect for thing like lip balm, tissue, etc. Stuff that goes in the front pocket of the Simms and nowhere on the Patagonia. This shirt gets very good from here. It is noticeably cooler, allowing more air flow than even the Simms. It is amazing, I never felt hot (did with the others). It held no odors and was the easiest to clean. I actually continued to wear this shirt for the next few days (washing it every night). It cleans up like new in the shower, you can't tell you wore it the previous day. They also dry in about the same amount of time as the Simms (quicker than the Patagonia). And at 60% of the cost of the Simms it's kind of a "no-brainer". Try one!

Patagonia-Leave it on the rack!
Simms- Pretty decent, but expensive against Howler, more traditinal, collared appearance.
Howler- Hands down, best performance. Not the best for those who want more traditional, collared look.

I was kind of shocked that the Loggerhead impressed me more than the Ultralight.

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