March 16, 2010
Arriving just in time for the warm weather (I can’t believe we’re pushing 80 degrees F already), the Columbia Trailhead Top is a technical tee featuring UV protection (SPF 15) and the wicking properties from Columbia’s Omni-Dry technology. This tee retails for $35 and is available in four colorways. The shirt is made from a nice stretchy material and is fitted with beautiful shaping with lovely contrasting stitching for style. I think it will do well both on trail as well as off.
The fabric for this tee has a really nice soft hand, and a slightly textured appearance. As with most knits, it seems to shed wrinkles relatively easily. I opted to go with a slightly larger size than my measurements would dictate to ensure enough ease (I prefer a slightly looser fit) – otherwise, the shirt is as expected based on what I saw on the Columbia site.
April 16, 2010
Over the last month, I’ve been wearing the Columbia Trailhead Top out on various hikes – from casual short training hikes (only an hour or so in duration), to longer day-length hikes, to other more urban activities. Temperatures have varied from a very pleasant high in the mid 70’s F to days flirting with the low 90’s F. Things heat up fast down here in the desert, that’s for sure!
So far, I’ve been quite happy with how this tee has been fairing – I think the cut and design are flattering, allowing this piece of clothing to cross from the trail to around town without much difficulty. I’ve been complemented on its style and color as well – that’s always a good sign! As for its performance, the Trailhead Top has performed as expected. The shirt hasn’t stretched or otherwise lost its shape during the course of wear, it hasn’t pilled or otherwise shown any wear and tear from being worn with a pack, it breathes well and it dries fairly quickly.
If you are at all like me, you might be wondering how Columbia has managed to create a shirt that has both SPF and breathability – I associate SPF with tightly woven (and therefore not as breathable) fabrics. The trick is in the fabric – it’s knit up in a special way to make it appear more mesh-like with densely knitted regions and more open regions. This knitting gives the shirt fabric some texture, and I presume also provides it’s SPF while allowing it to breathe nicely.
As for laundering and care, I’ve not treated this shirt any differently from my other technical clothing – it goes in the wash on cold/cold or warm/cold wash without any fabric softener and then it gets popped into the dryer. I haven’t any observed any color lightening or scent retention after washing (I haven’t noticed the shirt becoming smelly at all, that I can remember).
May 20, 2010
The test period has come to an end, just in time for the temperatures to start flirting with the low 100 degree Fahrenheit mark. I’ve continued wearing the Trailhead tee while out on my hikes, and also occasionally around town. Weather has always been pleasant and sunny – sometimes warm, and occasionally breezy.
With additional time on trail, the shirt has continued to hold up nicely – it’s still looking quite good, without noticeable pilling, fading or other wear other than perhaps some few small snags where I managed to catch it on thorns while pushing through some some lesser-maintained trails. With the warmer weather, I found the trailhead tee to breathe nicely and dry quickly – especially in the dry air of the desert southwest.
This shirt is definitely stylish enough to make the transition from trail to town (or to sometimes skip the trail altogether!) . Care is simple, and doesn’t require anything special – and the knit fabric doesn’t seem to hold crimps, creases or wrinkles. I definitely plan on packing this top the next time I travel for a hiking/adventuring vacation – the styling, performance and simple care make it a definite winner.
My thanks to Columbia Sportswear for the opportunity to evaluate this shirt!