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RailRiders Madison River Shirt with Insect Shield

Rehydrating at the Hurd Lean-to Water Source, 100 Mile Wilderness
Rehydrating at the Hurd Lean-to Water Source, 100 Mile Wilderness

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.

We Breed'em, You Feed'em

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.

Beige Mesh on Sleeves and Torso - Look Closely Now
Beige Mesh on Sleeves and Torso – Look Closely Now

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.

See Also: Treating your clothes with Permethrin

Disclosure: Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) purchases his RailRiders clothes with his own funds. 

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  1. Yeah, RailRiders makes a nice shirt. Permethrin is the secret behind the bug protection. It sticks pretty well to “tight weavve” nylon. I don’t usually do my underwear, but I may rethink that…I bumped into some bed bugs on the NPT…

    I don’t care too much for the mesh, though. I would prefer a tighter woven sleeve but a looser fit.

    • That mesh really helped in the 100 mile – I sweat a lot and it was super humid! But I can see your point, too. The nylon is bomber – bugs don’t bite through it – of course that could be the poison too. I haven’t had the need to spray my underwear either, but I do check with my sighting compass!

  2. The shirt & pants seem like they’d be the perfect combo for me – its too bad they don’t offer the option of non-insect shield treated pants like they do with the shirt. Personally I like to stay away from the chemical stuff as much as possible, including on-skin bug spray. Been bitten by a good bunch of mosquitoes this year (after enough of them you don’t even notice the itch) and both the dog and I haven’t had a single tick while hiking (our backyard is a different story though).

  3. I’ve used RailRiders Eco Mesh pants and Madison River shirt for a couple years now and love them. They have a number of products without Insect Shield but I don’t know if they have any of the mesh variety without treatment.

    I personally can’t stand the feel of DEET on my skin and use permethrin, which doesn’t last as long but seems fairly effective. Walmart sells little spritzer tubes of DEET and permethrin that weigh about an ounce and cost approximately a dollar. They are perfect hiking size.

  4. Do they really need to be replaced each year?

  5. You describe your current shirt choice as “beige.” Is the shirt in the review Light Tan or Eucalyptus? Top photo where you are wearing shirt looks like it could be Eucalyptus and bottom detail photo looks more Light Tan. Just curious as real world photos are sometimes a bit more helpful than via a company’s website. Want to possibly go “more stylish” and wondering if Eucalyptus is greener than what you show. Cheers.

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