In a perfect world, I would never wear a shirt. I live in the southern Appalachians and the summers here are hot and humid. Add the fact that I sweat profusely in even the driest conditions, and that’s a recipe for damp clothing. So I usually skip the tea altogether. It will only get wet anyway, so why bother?
Unfortunately, my wife and kids aren’t all that into my shirtless lifestyle, so I’m constantly looking for workout tops that can handle the double beat of my aggressive sweat glands and the jungle-like ecosystem I call home. It was’nt easy. I’m frustrated with outdoor brands, many of which make clothes designed in the Rockies or the West Coast, where summers are breezy and dry compared to where I spend most of my time adventuring. These clothes are often too thick and cannot wick away moisture quickly enough. They stay wet until I peel them off and put on a replacement, which I inevitably soak too.
Because of these difficulties, I was skeptical of Saxx ‘Hot Shot ($ 50; sizes S to XXL), which the brand says is designed for high-speed adventure while hot Environments. The brand credits the shirt’s moisture management with proprietary DropTemp technology, which sounds chic but is limited to how the polyester-spandex fabric is woven together. The mesh strips (see below) are intended to promote wick efficiency and improve breathability. In theory, the airflow from this construction corresponds to better evaporation and drying time.
(Photo: Graham Averill)
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been wearing the hot shot in a variety of activities, from mowing the lawn to running my daily kilometers to doing plyometrics at the gym. I even hit a particularly brutal 22 mile hike / run through the Black Mountain Range in North Carolina. Temperatures ranged from the low seventies to the eighties. And meanwhile I was sweating like an embezzler in an audit.
The shirt was soft to the touch and airy when sniffed in full sunlight. On sultry runs, it stayed somewhat drenched in sweat, but never became satiated and clingy. I was most impressed during the 22 mile race that took me over terrain that alternated between climbing frames and flat sections over several hours. It was basically an interval workout where I pounded hard and then cooled down before increasing the pace again. During a long exertion like this, I would normally bring two shirts and trade them After soaking through the first one, however, the hot shot dried quickly between bursts of maximum exertion. It was comfortable to wear all day and completely dry for the drive home.
(Photo: Graham Averill)
What I really like about this top is that there are no gimmicks involved. Some companies use chemicals to improve the cooling effect of materials on your skin or to advertise moisture-wicking crystals. The hot shot is pretty simple; It has just the right amount of fabric engineered to support my skin’s natural cooling powers.
I’ve tried dozens of other workout shirts, like Stio’s Icefloe Tech polyester t-shirt ($ 69) and Icebreaker’s merino-nylon sphere shirt ($ 65), but the Hot Shot beat them. It’s also proven to be more durable than 100 percent merino t-shirts I’ve worn. They manage moisture very well, but can fall apart quickly. (Superfine wool can be too fragile for regular abuse without the addition of a partner material like polyester.)
At just 140 grams, the Hot Shot is so light that I forget I’m wearing it for hard exercises – and that’s the next best thing to get topless. I’m happy because I don’t feel like I am wearing a shirt and my family is happy because I am wearing one. It’s the perfect compromise.
Main photo: Graham Averill