Friday, April 6, 2012

Gear Review: Sport Science

I was approached a little over a month ago by the folks at Sport Science, when they asked to send me a few of their shirts in order to take them for a little test drive. Given my line of work and level of activity in the outdoors; I could't turn the offer down. It never hurts to receive some free gear, test it out, and then offer up a review from the perspective of an adventurer who is constantly in the field. I just wish I could provide something a bit more positive in the end. One thing is for sure when you're on this blog.. you're always going to get the honest truth in regards to how I feel about a product. I was very lucky to receive another companies product at the same time and was able to compare and contrast the two fabrics. The other companies apparel won me over.. while Sport Science was quickly forgotten.

Who is Sport Science?
From their website: "In 2005, we launched sport science™ smarter performance™ for the fun-having, sport-playing, running, walking, hiking, commuting, climbing, training, traveling, going, doing active people of the world.
Our mission is to create products that do more so you can do more (or less) in style and comfort. When true technical performance fuses with incredible comfort andversatility, smarter performance™ is the result.
At sport science™, we are committed to simplicity in design. The world-class performance of our products comes in clean and easy styles that are down for anything. You will not find sport science to be super tight fitting or wildly techy like so much of the performance apparel out there – that’s just not what we’re into.
Getting more out of your clothes so you can get more out of yourself. Being able to do anything and everything in what you are wearing right now. Being healthy. Being balanced. Being fit. Being sexy. Being comfortable.
This is better living through sport science™. This is our philosophy."

First Impressions
I received two Sport Science shirts in the mail.
In taking the shirts out of their packaging and giving them a quick look-over, I felt like I had just opened a package of Haynes Cotton T's that I can buy at the local Walmart. The shirts look and feel like cotton. I put the short sleeve shirt on and decided to wear it for the next 3 days to test out it's wick ability (given the hotter then average temps around here) and the odor guard. I found the wick-ability of these shirts to be deplorable and after 3 days, I smelt pretty awful. The one thing I can say about these shirts are that they do offer a relaxed fit and it feels comfortable against my skin.. you know, like cotton. The shirts are made up of 85% polyester and 15% cotton. I'm not actually sure of the "science" behind this mix of materials and nothing on their website has given me any further information on why this important or why they decided this was their golden egg.

I keep harping on "cotton" quite a bit here and let me explain why. I used to hike in cotton shirts, cotton shorts and all the like for well over 13 years. Then I fell into the idea of "cotton kills" if anything happened to you while on a long sojourn in the mountains. I started wearing synthetic clothing and layers. I am most comfortable and confident in these synthetic layers of clothing, while also acknowledging the decades of hikers and adventurers who survived their journeys while wearing cotton. But when someone puts the words "cotton" and "wicking" together.. I yell "B.S.!" The fact that cotton is part of the fabric of this shirt, I feel, is what causes it to fail as a wicking layer.

I used the shirt while snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park, trail running in warm and runner Boulder, CO; and just hanging around the house. I wore the Blue shirt for 3 straight days while doing all of these activities. The shirts are indeed comfortable but I found that they are terrible at wicking moisture away. Typically, I was cold before the shirt finally dried and I was never truly warm in it. The shirts promise to help me keep my core body temp steadier. From a wicking perspective, body temp perspective and an odor guard perspective.. these shirts failed on all counts. I found myself shivering in RMNP, sweating my butt off in Boulder and smelling pretty badly after 3 days.

More Info?
After visiting their website for more info, I found nothing more then a website filled with cliche's, catch phrases, and a general lack of any real science or information about how these shirts are supposed to work. How do they wick moisture? How does the odor control work? How does this truly regulate my body temperature? Nothing drives me crazier then a product that makes bold claims without the evidence to back it up. I wish this was a proof's in the pudding type situation; but it's not.

Nothing pains me more then to have to write this review. As part of them sending me the free shirts, I agreed to write a review. I wish I had something more positive to share with you beyond, "they feel great" but in the end, these shirts don't even come close to living up to my expectations with my active lifestyle. I invite all of you to see for yourselves in the hopes that you have a better experience with this apparel then I. For more information about these shirts:

I did feel pretty sexy in the shirt though.