The REI Active Pursuits Long-Sleeve T-Shirt is a high-performance synthetic baselayer shirt that is surprisingly affordable, even when it’s not on sale. It’s also available in a wide range of sizes for men, even big men. I prefer wearing sheer synthetic shirts as a baselayer over wool ones because they wick moisture from your skin to a mid-layer more effectively, which is important in colder weather and in winter (See The Science of Layering…). You can also machine wash and dry synthetic baselayers without any shrinkage and they’re virtually indestructible. I primarily wear this shirt for cold weather and winter hiking under a fleece hoody, but there’s no reason you can’t wear it for any athletic endeavor.
Specs at a glance
- Gender: Men’s only
- Material: Polyester
- Fit: Semi-fitted, runs large
- Weight: 7.1 oz (Men’s Large)
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL
This Active Pursuits long-sleeve T-shirt is refined but pretty basic. REI positions it as a shirt for trail running and fitness, but it’s also great for hiking and backpacking. It’s thin polyester so it wicks well and dries quickly when wet. I can see through it when I hold it up to the light, which is the unscientific test I use to determine if a synthetic garment will be good at wicking moisture from my skin to a mid-layer pullover or hoodie.
This shirt is comfortable to wear with a backpack because it has shoulder seams that are rolled forward to avoid pressure from pack straps. This means that the seams run along the upper chest and upper back but not on top of the shoulders. You see this construction technique more and more in outdoor-oriented clothing because it increases wearer comfort when worn underneath a backpack.
If you do run at night, this shirt also has a vertical reflective strip on the back below the neckline. REI claims that the short is semi-fitted, whatever that means, but I find it drapes like any casual long sleeve shirt. It does run large, however, so may want to bracket your size to figure out what provides the best fit. I originally bought mine in a size XL, but they were so large I dropped to a size Large, which is also quite roomy.
Best Buy: Priced at $30 each and $20 on sale, the Active Pursuits Long Sleeve T-Shirt is a great multi-purpose shirt that can be worn alone but is sheer enough for use as a wicking base layer. I picked up four of these on sale earlier this autumn and can only say good things about them. They’re a good deal for the price.
Disclosure: The author owns this productSectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.
Another excellent recommendation! I scored two at $20/each!
This comment ties in with yesterdays post on layering but I tend to wear a short sleeve as my next-to-skin layer. My arms get way too hot with the usual protocol of layerng since most tend to focus or review long sleeve garments. Another minor annoyance is pulling everything over or around a smart watch or bunching it behind the dial to be able to read it. This is why I’m a big fan of vests and wonder why they aren’t mentioned more in a layering system.
I’ve had times where I’ve taken off a layer because my arms have been hot only to get chilled aroun my core. Thankfully they make options for short sleeve T-shirts.
I just pull my sleeves over my wrists.
I agree. I like vests too and think they make an important addition to layering in the winter.
Thanks for the review. It looks like a good bargain. I am curious if you have experience or thoughts about Costco’s offering- 32 degrees base layer tees and pants. $12 for a 2-pack of long sleeve shirts or pants. They certainly pass the see through test. 40% polyester, 34% acrylic, 22% rayon, 4% spandex.
The problem with wearing shirts that contain rayon is that it’s a wood fiber made with cellulose and has the same issues that cotton has when it gets wet. In other words, I wouldn’t be caught “dead” in it for cold weather/winter use because it won’t wick or dry anywhere near as fast as a pure synthetic like these polyester REI shirts. For summer use, it’s probably safe enough if you’re always hot/warm.
My preference is for the long sleeve zip neck version. I was pleasantly surprised at how well this REI shirt worked on the CT this year.
I like baselayers that have anti-stink technology because I don’t want to smell like carrion on the trail. I’m already slow enough going uphill that I look like carrion, prompting uncomfortable interest from buzzards. Sometimes, I worry that I might need to wear eye protection because the vultures go for the eyeballs first. My trail name could even be “Buzzard Bait”. My AT section hiking partner will testify that I don’t stink when hiking… of course, he has no sense of smell so maybe his testimony isn’t totally credible. All that being said, I have found some inexpensive baselayers with anti-stink from 32 Degrees.com.
In regards to Costco’s 32 Degrees offerings, I think you maybe think of the “Air Mesh” line which is 88% nylon and 12% spandex and it’s very thin indeed.