It’s mid-June and the black flies are at their peak on the Appalachian Trail and Long Trail in Vermont. Under these conditions, the best way to avoid being bitten to death is to wear a long sleeve shirt and long pants when you’re out hiking or backpacking. The trick, however, is in finding garments that have the superior wicking capabilities that you need to stay cool in early summer temperatures.
On my past two section hikes on the Long Trail, I’ve been wearing an Eco-Mesh shirt and Eco-Mesh pants (previously reviewed) from RailRid ers, a boutique manufacturer of clothing designed for rugged backcountry wear and adventure racing. This is a company with a fanatical customer following and worth your while to check out.
The Eco-Mesh shirt, like the Eco-Mesh pants, features mesh vents that run the length of the torso, under the arms, and all the way down the sleeves. These do a great job at venting moisture buildup even in extremely hot and muggy weather. The mesh is fine enough to keep out bugs, but I’ve also sprayed the shirt with a liberal coating of permethrin, a contact pesticide, that is safe to spray on clothing. Permethrin is used by the US Military and it’s also the active ingredient in Buzz-Off and Insect Shield clothing from Ex-Officio.
The cuffs of the Eco-Mesh shirt’s sleeves contain elastic so that bugs can’t fly up your arms or bite you around your wrists – a favorite feeding spot of black flies. There are also additional vents on the back of the shirt, but these don’t breathe very well if you’re wearing a backpack.
The Eco-Mesh shirt is made out of a very light weight nylon material that is wrinkle free, odor-resistant, sun-blocking, and fast drying. It is also extremely comfortable, with an almost diaphanous cut that makes it feel more like summer pajama top than heavy duty backcountry gear.
At 8.5 oz in size XL, the Eco-Mesh is an ounce or two heavier than other wicking long sleeve shirts. But in hot weather the Eco-Mesh is worth every extra ounce. The Eco-Mesh shirt costs $56 and is only available from RailRid ers.com
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.
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