Simms Solarflex Fishing Shirt Review

TECHNOLOGY IN FLY FISHING SHIRTS BY SIMMS – 3XDRY SOLARFLEX

Simms 3XDry® Solarflex Shirt

Details

Fabric Tech: 100% Polyester fabric with 3XDry finish
UPF 30 sun protection
Exceptionally light, soft, stretch-knit fabric for comfort and mobility
Extended coverage collar for increased sun protection
Raglan sleeve design for unrestricted movement
1 Zippered chest pocket with mesh interior and accessory loop
Integrated stretch mesh venting along side seams
No-scratch interior label
Straight hem
Approximate Weight: 6.5 oz.
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Colors: Light Green, Light Blue, White
Retail Price: $44.95

What’s the word…

Growing up in the sweltering heat of the north Gulf of Mexico many, many years ago I know the comfort of cotton. After trying several of the “modern” material fly fishing flats shirts, I continued with the
mindset that cotton is better. It breathes, if the material is light enough it dried relatively fast, and it is just darn comfortable. Many styles and materials for flats shirt have come and gone, and until recent I have still believed cotton is better. Now Simms has come along with some truly breathable, lightweight synthetic materials that make for fine fishing shirts as well as making me a believer in synthetic materials. One shirt in particular is the Simms 3XDry Solarflex fly fishing shirt.

Features…

After several days of tarpon fishing in this shirt I found while it felt slightly different slipping over your head, it worked wonderful in the hot sun of the Florida Keys. Nylon shirts and heat usually don’t go well together, but this shirt is extremely thin and seems breathable, even in light wind conditions. It wicks moisture quicker than cotton, and it dries much faster so you stay cooler.

Moisture movement is the key to comfort, in cold conditions it keeps you dry and warm, in hot conditions it keeps you dry and cool. The Simms Solarflex fly fishing shirt is treated with 3XDry fabric finishing which hates water more than a good bourbon. This moisture hatred provides a material that quickly wicks moisture from the inside to the outside which rapidly disperses the moisture for evaporative cooling. This unique combination or ying – yang moisture control provides the extreme drying characterization of the Solarflex shirt.

My biggest issues with synthetic materials for warm weather is what happens when the wind stops blowing, they stick you like glue and make it even hotter! So of course I am expecting the worse. Once again I stand corrected; come on, open that rusted shut mind was the thought as I was surprised, no sticking, in fact the Solarflex shirt seemed to do the reverse.

Materials…

We’ve been here already, so you know the Solarflex is a polyester fabric, but this ain’t no Saturday Night Fever remake. It’s extremely thin, breathable and very comfort to wear. This shirt has been treated with 3XDry fabric finishing which is a two part moisture movement technology. It is simple really, move the moisture from the body to the outer surface that expels it extremely fast, you stay dry and you stay cool.

Another feature of 3XDry fabric finishing is the FRESH PLUS treatment.This treatment prevents development or growth of bacteria and as Simms puts it “unpleasant odors”.

There are cooling stretch mesh seams that increase to the breathability of the Solarflex shirt by providing wind movement even in the slightest of wind conditions. I did find that while they don’t affect your casting, they take some getting used to in the arm pit area.

At first I wasn’t too keen on the higher than average collar but once the sun got cooking it was good to have the extra protection. I always seem to forget to sunscreen my neck so this extra protection helped tremendously. The extended collar does not provide full neck coverage but it does cover that lower neck/shoulder junction area that always seems to be left out when it comes to sun screening.

Fit and Finish…

Because it is a polyester shirt the Solarflex does have that slight silky finish to it. And quoting Capt. Duane Baker,“it has that Star Trek look”. The Solarflex is a loose fitting shirt that has that the feel of cotton. Few synthetic materials have reach that level of comfort but this shirt brings that feel. The colors of Light Blue, Light Green and White are perfect for reflecting heat seeking sun rays and even provide a slight camouflage, by matching sky,water and cloud colors! I really don’t think the camouflage thing was the intent, but when that big eyed tarpon was staring up at the boat I felt somewhat invisible. Available in the standard sizing of small through 2XL there is a Solarflex shirt to fit almost everyone.

Soft, cotton feel finish Comfortable, loose fitting cut Available in Light Blue, Light Green and White Available in Sizes Small – XX Large

Reliability and Durability…

New to the market in 2008 this shirt is relatively untested but it is a Simms shirt and Simms is known for producing only the highest quality products. Most synthetic materials seem to last forever even after years of exposure to heat and sun of the tropics and the Simms Solarflex shirt appears to be well made, there were no loose strings,missed stitches, no mistakes. We are expecting great things from these shirts!

Customer Support…Company profile

The Solarflex shirt is a Simms, what else is there to say? Well,when K.C. Walsh started Simms it was his intent to design and make a fly fishing wader that was guide-proof! Enter the original Guide model wader and the rest as been history. The good folks at GORE came knocking and Simms was and still is providing waders that are not only guide-proof but also breathable. Simms has taken this guide-proof design into every item they develop for fly fishers, be it vests, outerwear,layering, or technical clothing. In fact there is a Guide model in each of these categories of products. Simms has now partnered with Schoeller in Switzerland to bring you cutting edge fabrics and fabric treatments that will keep you upper body as comfortable as your lower, whether you’re in a pair of Simms waders or not.

Has Simms lost touch with what got them to the top, No! Simms customer service reps are only a phone call or email away and they stand behind each and every one of their products. If their craftsmanship or materials fails they’ll fix the issue! Now if you hook your shirt and rip out the fly it’s not covered! If a seam fails, if the fabric fails it’s covered. Check with Simms for all the details.

Overall Rating…

Highly impressive, in fact I have seen the light. Few synthetic material shirts last more than a few seconds on my back but the Solarflex shirt felt great the moment I put it on. It felt cool against my skin, fit loosely and I thought I looked good wearing it to boot! Just kidding about the looking good, me that is, not the shirt.

As the heat of the day progressed toward the 90’s the Solarflex started doing its thing, wicking and cooling. When the first big tarpon of the day engulfed my fly, the Solarflex did its thing even better, wicked and cooled. It couldn’t help me land the fish, but it did keep my comfort level high during the fight.

Just for kicks I wore it around town when I got home to Eastern Shore of Maryland and the shirt performed just as well in the still, muggy mid to upper 80’s as it did in Keys. And I still thought I looked good
wearing it!

PROS – Fly fishing apparel taken to the space age. This shirt is extremely lightweight, easy wearing, and quick drying. Wicking properties make for fast evaporation which keeps you cool.

CONS – The wrist band doesn’t stretch so I couldn’t push the sleeve up and the material doesn’t lend itself to cleaning sunglasses all that well. As Keys Guide Duane Baker says; “you kinda look like you
just stepped off a set of Star Trek”! That’s about it and that is being picky.

BOTTON LINE – Fishing apparel technology that works both on the water as well as off. Cooling comfort of strong wicking properties combined with lightweight material for pure comfort.

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