I spent the majority of this summer wearing a RailRider’s Madison River Shirt for hiking and backpacking that proved ideal for the hot buggy weather we had in New England this year.
Like my Railriders EcoMesh pants, also worn above, the Madison River Shirt is treated with Insect Shield whose active ingredient is Permethrin, making it an effective deterrent against mosquitos, gnats, ticks, and blackflies. The shirt also has mesh venting (like the pants) along the sides of the torso, the upper back, and down the sleeves to keep you cool, even if the sleeves are left unrolled in buggy weather.
This venting proved essential in my end-to-end hike of the 100 Mile Wilderness in August when my hiking partner and I experienced high temperatures, high humidity, and the annual surplus of blood-sucking insects that the Wilderness is famous for. Needless to say, I didn’t get bitten much, while he suffered mightily in his stylish but un-shielded British duds.
A synthetic garment, the Madison River Shirt is also easy to keep clean on long backpacking trips by simply rinsing it out once or twice a day and ringing it dry. The material is thin enough that it will dry in less than 30 minutes when you put it back on, while providing much needed cooling relief when you feel like your blood is boiling on a hot day.
Storage-wise, the shirt has two open side-by-side chest pockets with top buttons so you have a way to secure then, in addition to a hidden zippered pocket under the left breast for storing little things that you can’t lose. I use it for storing the tops of soda pop bottles for example, when I resupply my water at a stream or river.
The mesh venting on the shirt is colored the same of the solid areas of fabric making the shirt casually passable at lakeside watering holes and social functions as long as your chest hair doesn’t poke out of the holes. The important thing is that the bugs don’t even attempt to land on the stuff (or maybe they just die immediately if they do) since the Permethrin packs a wallop to the buggers’ nervous system and kills them on contact. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with presidential politicians or superpacs.
Seriously – I’ve gotten just a handful of bug bites each year since I started wearing RailRiders Insect Shield clothing and rarely find myself having to use any DEET, because I wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt when I hike. These clothes provide my wife and I with a great deal of peace of mind, not to mention comfort, in this era of Lyme, West Nile, and Equine Encephalitis.
Having worn the RailRider EcoMesh pants for 4 or 5 years in a row now – I buy a new pair each year – I plan on doing the same with the Madison River Shirt next spring. This shirt is a keeper, although next year, I will probably buy a more stylish color than beige. Cost: $79.
Disclosure: Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) purchases his RailRiders clothes with his own funds.