Woolrich Stag Shirt

Test by Coy Starnes
Shirt provided by Woolrich for test purposes
Front View of the Woolrich Stag shirt

Front View of the Woolrich Stag shirt

There are a few items of clothing that are almost iconic among  outdoorsman.   The Woolrich Stag wool shirt certainly fits in this category.   I guess it should be no big surprise since Woolrich has been making outdoor gear for over 180 years.  But I would say calling the Woolrich Stag shirt a shirt is a little misleading. In fact I have owned a few wool shirts over the years and was a little surprised at how thick and heavy this one is.  Of course this can be a good thing in cold weather but regardless, I’d say it is more jacket than shirt.  Here is what Woolrich says about it.
“Wears like a shirt, functions like a warm jacket. One of the most rugged, practical outdoor shirts we’ve ever made. That’s why it’s a favorite of many of our avid outdoor enthusiasts. Still built with nearly century-old quality, but now in a washable wool (80% wool/20% nylon) that makes it easier than ever to care for. The legendary front and back double yokes shed moisture and hold in the warmth. Two chest pockets with button-close openings under the front yoke for extra protection. Hand-warmer pockets. Adjustable button cuffs. Unlined. Imported. Machine wash, line dry”
Did you catch that last line; “Machine wash, line dry.” It certainly caught my attention.  I say this because one problem with a lot of wool garments is the need to dry clean.  I don’t live in town and getting something I plan to wear a lot dry cleaned every time it gets dirty would not only be logistically difficult, it can get expensive.   I’m no expert but I figure that the shirt not being 100% wool helps make it machine washable   Below is more information on the shirt courtesy of Woolrich.
  • 80% wool/20% nylon, 11.5 oz
  • Machine wash
  • Cotton/poly twill inner collarband
  • Two top chest pockets w/button-through flaps
  • Two front hand-warmer pockets
  • Two-button adjustable cuffs
  • Two-piece pointed spread collar
  • Double-layer front & back yoke
  • Straight bottom hem
  • Centerback length: 34″

One thing not mentioned is the weight of the shirt.  I assumed that 11.5 oz might be the weight of the shirt but it is actually the weight of a yard of the fabric the shirt is made of.  I carried the shirt to my local post office and according to their scale it weighs a hefty 2 lb 12 oz. I have a very warm down jacket that weighs less and packs much smaller.  But to be fair, this shirt is not really intended for the utlra-light gram weenie backpacking crowd…

Checking for Fit

The shirt I am testing is an XL.  I may have been OK with a Large but with a 45 inch chest I’m between sizes and I’d prefer to err on the side of a little big as a little small.  Anyways, the shirt is a little big on me, but interestingly, the sleeve length is perfect.  I like how the shirt hangs with a straight hem around the bottom.  This is also another indication that the shirt is more of a jacket because shirts tend to have longer tails on the front and back.  I can also forget about tucking this shirt in when wearing my jeans.  It is just to bulky to fit under the waist band of my jeans.  I did wear it with overalls and it is fine for that and looks more like a shirt when worn this way.  Here is a view of the shirt from the back.

Woolrich Stag Shirt

Back view of Woolrich Stag shirt

My thoughts so far:

The good

The shirt looks great!

The hand warmer pockets are in the ideal position

The not so good

It is heavier than I expected

It does not pack down very well

Needs to be worn over something as it is a little scratchy feeling against my bare skin


Please check back in approximately 1 month for my follow up report.


Update: April 30 2011

Conditions during this first testing phase have been pretty varied and I would say the shirt has seen some pretty cool temperatures, a lot of windy weather and even a little rain.  In other words, typical early spring conditions for Northeast Alabama.

The day I received the Stag shirt was a very warm day but I did try the shirt on and wear it outside a few minutes to get a few pictures of the shirt.  And by warm I mean 77 F. Two days later it cooled off a little and I wore the shirt on an early morning hike down to the creek behind my house. It was 56 F when I left the house at 6:30 AM and  62 F when I made it back home 2 hours later. I wore a long sleeve lightweight sweater under the shirt. To avoid overheating I took the long trail around the top of the bluff before heading down to the creek  and  I was fine in the shirt.  However, I did have to take it off on the climb back up near the end of my hike.

Almost a week later (March 24) we had a rather chilly spell and I wore the shirt for another hike.  I had just finished working a night shift so I was too tired to walk to the holler so instead I just walked the trail around the top of the bluff for a total of 2 miles.  I had on overalls with a light cotton flannel shirt and wore the Stag shirt over the cotton shirt but under my overall galluses. It was 47 F when I left the house and 55 F by the time I made it back.  I was plenty warm but did not overheat.

It then cooled off even more so the next morning (March 25) I took another walk.  It was 33 F when I got up but I waited an hour before leaving (drinking coffee) so it had warmed up to 37 F before I made it outside.  I wore a different pair of overalls and a different long sleeve shirt (a thermal underwear type shirt) under the Stag shirt. I hiked straight down to the creek and back so my total hiking distance was about 2 miles.  I was pretty warm by the time I got home at 10 AM and checked to find it had warmed up to 46 F. I left the shirt on the entire hike and never really overheated but I probably could have benefited from taking it off on the hike back up the side of the mountain. Here are a couple of  photos of the shirt on this particular hike.

Wearing the Stag shirt on a hike to the holler

Later in the hike I warmed up and rolled up the sleeves on the Stag shirt

The next morning it only dipped to 54 F and rained all day so I did not make it out much.  However, it was one of those days that the temperature did not change much and it felt cold so I did wear the shirt just going out to check the mail, feed the dog etc. I did wear it in the rain a little going to the mailbox and walking next door to my moms.  And while the shirt got pretty wet, I stayed dry.  Of course I’m sure that if I had stayed outside in the rain for long I would have gotten wet but the point being, it takes awhile to completely soak through this shirt.

On the March the 27th it was cooler again with a low of 44 F .  I took a 2 mile hike down to the creek that morning and only took the shirt off for the last half mile when I again warmed up coming back towards the house on the climb.  The temperature went from 47 F to 52 F during my hike. On the 28th  I went for a quick hike of 2 miles around the top of the bluff but I forgot to record the temperature. I had to work the next day (the 29th) but wore the shirt for the first couple of hours at work as I went about my duties.  It was 45 F when I left the house at 5:30 AM and 48 F when I checked the temperature at work at 7 AM.  It stayed cool all day so I wore the shirt off and on as I went out to check on things at work during the day.   I could go on and list the temperatures every time I wore the shirt but that would get old fast.  Also, with spring arriving it has slowly warmed up and I found I had to wear the shirt early in the day and some morning were just too warm for this shirt.

Summary thus far: After getting the shirt and realizing it is a little heavier and more like a jacket than a shirt I adjusted my expectations and usage.   In other words, I used the shirt more like a jacket.  When I came inside I usually took it off, and even when hiking, I took it off as needed, usually towards the end of my hikes when the day was naturally warming up, but also because the last leg of most of my hikes include more climbing.  I found the Stag shirt to be exceptionally warm and also protected me from some pretty cold winds.  It wicks moisture very nicely.  I still find it a little rough against my bare skin but I wore it several times for a short time when I only had a t-shirt under it and after a few minutes I would quite noticing the scratchy feeling next to the exposed part of my arm.  Also, I have not washed the shirt yet and hopefully washing it a few times will soften it a little.   Stay tuned for my final update which should be forthcoming in about 1 month from now.

Finial Update: June 3, 2011

Due to the warmer weather I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to wear the shirt recently but have still used it on several cool mornings going to work or outside around the house.  On May the 4th I got up early for a short hour and 15 minute hike around the top of the bluff.  I only hiked about 2 miles total and took it easy because I was recovering from a pretty good spill on my bike a couple of days earlier.  It was 42 F when I left the house at 7 AM and 45 F when I returned.   For the next few weeks it warmed up again and I used my light rain jacket on a couple of the cooler bike rides but did not have a chance to wear the Stag shirt again until May the 18th. It was a rather chilly morning compared to most here recently with a low of 44 F.  I wore the shirt out feeding my dog and then to work.   I then wore it a couple more hours checking outside equipment and even inside the plant until it finally warmed up to about 55 F.

I wore it next on May 20th helping my dad burn some brush and stumps.  It started out real chilly at 42 F but it warmed up fast.  I was using an ax and chainsaw and after about an hour I needed to pull it off so I hung it on limb on a nearby tree.  We worked another couple of hours and by the time we finished the shirt had picked up a smokey smell.  I really didn’t notice it as I toted it home, but after my shower I was carrying it upstairs and noticed the smell was pretty strong.  I liked the smell but I decided to go ahead and wash the Stag shirt the next morning.  I washed it in our front load washing machine with some generic wool washing liquid which I had used before on other wool garments.  I threw in a couple of my old white T-Shirts and couple of pairs of gym shorts.  I wanted to see if the shirt would loose any dye and change the color of the T-Shits. It did not.  I also was hoping to soften the shirt up a little.  It did, but not a whole lot.  Anyways the smokey smell was gone. I hung it on my deck to dry and with temperatures around 80 F it dried pretty quickly.  After 3 hours the only damp spots were around the collar and the double yoke.  However,  my dad was still burning some brush and stumps next door and the smoke was coming in the direction of my house, so after bringing it in the house, I noticed the shirt had a slight smoky smell to it again.  However, it was not bad, and as I said earlier, I sort of liked the smell. I see all sorts of scented powder and liquid cloths washing detergents…I wonder if they could bottle some smoke smell in clothes washing powders or liquid like they do for barbecue sauce etc. I finally put it away with my other winter clothes about a week ago but for some reason the smokey smell had already disappeared.  I don’t know whether to be glad or sad.

Final Thoughts

I really like the Woolrich Stag Shirt and it is a great addition to my winter wardrobe. I love the traditional look but performance matters even more and the Stag did not disappoint.  It is very comfortable to wear whether I was taking it easy or working hard. Due to the fuzzy nature of the Stag shirt I was worried it might be easy to rip or tear on limbs and such when out in the woods but I have not really noticed any harm to the shirt.About the Author: I am from northeast Alabama where I spend a lot of my time divided among several hobbies that include  backpacking and day-hiking, canoeing and kayaking, and just getting out enjoying nature.

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