[Editor’s note: this review was originally published on July 13, 2017. I added an update on September 18, 2017 — it’s in blue font at the very end of the post.]
After 7+ years of regular wear, I recently had to retire my favorite travel t-shirt: a Columbia Omni Dry Mountain Tech shirt originally purchased in 2010. Unfortunately, Columbia stopped making these shirts several years ago, so I began searching for a replacement travel shirt that was as similar to it as possible.
The reason why I generally stick with Columbia for travel t-shirts is that they fit me really well. I’ve tried several other premium brands in the past, and although the shirt quality is usually good, they don’t fit my body type nearly as snugly as the Columbias.
As I’ve recommended to my readers in the past: the specific brand and model of travel shirt is not that important. As of this writing in 2017, all the major companies are making great products. What is important is that when you’re buying a travel shirt for the first time, go to a store and try on several so you can find one that fits your body well. Expect to pay between 30 and 50 bucks for a single shirt; pay the extra cash for a good quality quick-dry shirt that will last you for the better part of a decade. After you find and buy your first perfect shirt, you can then troll around online and snag some great 50% off deals once the season ends and they start coming out with new models for the following year.
The Columbia Tuk Mountain shirt is a light weight, quick drying t-shirt made of 88% polyester and 12% elastane. Elastane is a fancy word for Spandex, a synthetic fiber known for its stretchability. I’ve not traveled with any shirts containing elastane in the past, so it was a new experience. It’s a little different than 100% polyester, though not necessarily in a bad way. The shirts do have a little more give to them from the elastane which makes taking them off whilst sweaty quite a bit easier.
The Tuk Mountain shirt is very lightweight – more so than my other older columbia tees – and dries quickly as expected. Like most high quality polyester shirts, the material feels nice and soft against the skin without causing any irritation or itching with a full day’s wear. It wicks away sweat very well and keeps the body cool in hot weather. It’s also got some built in UV protection to lessen your risk of getting basal cell carcinomas on your torso when you’re 60 years old. Nice!
I can’t comment on the durability of the shirt, so as time goes on, I will periodically update this review with thoughts on its longevity.
As with all quick dry synthetic shirts, these will not shrink, so make sure you buy it in a size that fits well when you’re trying it on. Columbia shirts tend to run a little on the large side, so be aware. I typically wear a medium in most cotton t-shirts, but with Columbia shirts I always buy a small to get the proper fit.
Lite Adventurer’s rating: *** (3 stars out of five) [please see revised rating below]
Overall, this is a decent travel shirt and well worth the price I paid for it. It’s not built quite as solidly as my other slightly older model Columbia t-shirts, and I’m still on the fence about the elastane. If given the choice, I’d probably choose a regular 100% polyester travel tee instead of one like this that is stretchier. But it doesn’t detract too much from the overall feel of the shirt, and I’d still recommend this as a good travel shirt for the light packer, especially if it fits you well and you can find it on sale like I did.
Update September 18, 2017:
So it turns out that this shirt has some problems. I’ve only had it for about 3 months, and a few issues have come up.
1) The collar is scalloped. This is no good, and it’s never happened with any of my other travel shirts. See photo below.
2) The stitching along the shoulder area is starting to fuzz up and fall apart. The first photo shows the problem area; the second one shows the other side which is normal and what it should look like.
Here’s another picture showing a close up of the problem area around the stitching:
Revised Lite Adventurer’s rating: *½ (one and a half stars out of five)
No shirt in this price range should be exhibiting these sorts of problems, especially after only three months. How disappointing. Just skip this one and go with a different shirt.