Temperature regulation is a big deal when you’re hiking and backpacking. Even on cold mornings, you can quickly work yourself into a sweat once you hit the incline, then get a chill when the breeze picks up or you level off. The Outdoor Research Astroman short-sleeved shirt is a great option in these situations.
Light enough to act like a short-sleeved shell, it offers enough stretch that you can wear a thin long-sleeved baselayer without making you feel bulky. It’s also thin enough to be a stand-alone UPF-50 shirt on really hot days, and fashionable enough to wear in the office. Some would call it a jack of all trades. I won’t, if only because the second half of that phrase is “master of none,” which is neither kind nor true.
I’ve been drawn regularly to the Astroman short-sleeved shirt this summer for hiking and kayaking. The primary draw is the Astroman’s superior breathability. I almost always sweat under my PFD when kayaking. With the Astroman short-sleeved shirt, I only noticed moisture under the PFD half the time under similar recreational conditions. Some of it could be its quick-drying nature. Some of it could be the shirt’s wicking properties spreading-out the moisture. Some of it could be the shirt being so lightweight (5.4 ounces). But all of it is enjoyable.
Another nice feature on sunny days is the ability to snap the collar upright to shield your neck. Logistically this is a bit challenging. The mechanics of snapping the collar are a bit complicated without a mirror. But it can be done, and I did do this on days when I forgot my sun hat at home.
The same attributes that make the Astroman short-sleeved shirt so nice for kayaking make it great for hiking too. Outdoor Research says it’s great for climbing as well, though I can’t vouch for that because I don’t boulder. But it may not be best for backpacking.
I wore the OR Astroman on a backpacking trip with about 25 pounds for five miles. I had my kids with me, so I was regularly slipping the pack on and off to get water bottles, snacks and the like. When we finished the trip, I noticed the shoulders and arms were fraying in spots, with some threads poking out as if they wanted to be clipped off. I didn’t notice any holes or thread-bare areas, but the wear really surprised me. It may have been a case of simply wearing a shirt backpacking that wasn’t designed for that activity. But regardless, it’s worth mentioning if you’re considering it for that sort of activity. If you’re out with a really light pack or a hydration bladder, you’ll probably be fine.
For overall comfort, style and breathability though, I quite like the Astroman short-sleeved shirt. It’s a great entry in the “trail to town” movement, and it’s perfectly at home in both settings.
The Outdoor Research Astroman short-sleeved shirt was provided for review. All opinions and words are my own and honest, and the article contains no affiliate links.
Outdoor Research Astroman Short-Sleeved Shirt
- Great breathability
- UPF 50 provides great sun and UV protection
- Fast drying
- Seems to wear easily with backpacking use
- A bit long in the body
- Snap-up collar is a nice feature but too hard to do properly without a mirror