Things that are good: Simms Solarflex Shirts and Gaiters

by | Aug 18, 2019 | 15 comments

We were deep into summer, with high August heat, hot sun and heavy humidity. Sawyer and I walked past the switchback at the halfway mark. We were hiking two miles back to the truck, emerging from the canyon after a long and productive day of fooling fish.

This kind of summer heat drives most anglers away from their favorite trout streams. However, in the cold waters of this limestone region, our wild trout eat all year long.

. . . And I was miserable in the heat. Yes, we were wet wading, but the long walks in and out, the hiking and getting around out of the water was really uncomfortable. At least, it was for me.

 

** Note ** Links for buying Simms Solarflex gear are at the end of this article.

 

I pushed the glasses onto my forehead and wiped sweat from my eyes again. With my other hand I swatted a mosquito as it stabbed my neck. I was drenched — mostly from sweat, but partly from my wet hat which I’d routinely dipped in the water all day long.

While killing another mosquito and growing irritable, I looked over to Sawyer, who walked beside me.

We couldn’t have appeared more opposite. My friend was cool and comfortable, walking easily and reveling in a great day of fishing as he enjoyed the hike back. No swatting for him, and not much sweating either. He sensed my thoughts.

“Long sleeves, Dom.”

Sawyer said it with that I told ya so kind of tone. And he had . . .

On our last few trips, I’d questioned Sawyer’s choice of shirts. I was a t-shirt guy in the heat. Bare arms when the sun’s out — doesn’t that just make sense, I’d prodded. We’d gone back and forth a bit. And while I had to admit that Sawyer’s elimination of sunscreen was a plus, any idea that he could be cooler behind those long sleeves made no sense to me. I made fun of his neck gaiter too.

“So you really think it’s because of your long sleeved shirt and that neck thing?” I asked as we kept walking and I kept swatting. “That’s what’s keeping you cool? Why aren’t the bugs swarming you?”

“Because I’m not sweating like you are,” Sawyer said with that tone again. “The sleeves and gaiter keep the sun off my skin. My body doesn’t absorb the UV rays. So I don’t heat up as much. It’s simple, man.”

It was one of those moments when I realized that other people have things figured out, and I don’t — a good lesson in humility. Sawyer was absolutely right about this.

READ: Troutbitten | PSA — It’s Hot Out There

Days later I texted him about the shirt. And although Sawyer told me to go with the high-end stuff, I tried it my own way again. I wore long sleeves for a while. Hell, I had plenty of long-sleeved shirts in my closet. I even bought a couple cheapo, breathable “fishing” shirts. They were alright. But the material was harsh, somewhat course and uncomfortable — too grippy, really. And I never felt what Sawyer had described — I never felt chilly when I started sweating behind the shirt.

 

Enter Simms Solarflex . . .

Honestly, being the “Troutbitten guy” has given me access to some things that I would never have owned otherwise. I like saving a buck, but I realize that sometimes the best stuff is worth it.

I’m also skeptical of new things. So when Simms sent me the Solarflex shirts, I liked the look but didn’t expect much more in performance than my other long sleeves had given me. And that neck thing? No way.

I was wrong, and Sawyer was right. Again. And things like this don’t take much time for anyone to notice the difference. The Solarflex crewnecks might be the most comfortable shirts I’ve ever worn. I love the fit because they’re designed for fishing, with long sleeves that cover your arms, even when extended. But the sleeves aren’t billowy with your arms naturally hanging down, either. That’s nice. The material is stretchy and lets you move, but it springs back to form without becoming stretched out of shape. It’s also super smooth and silky soft. I kinda wish I could wear them all year. Maybe I can.

 

** Note **  The partnerships and the support of this industry are part of what keeps Troutbitten going. And I’m proud that Troutbitten is a Simms affiliate. You can read my policy on gear reviews HERE. And if you decide to buy a Solarflex item from Simms (or if you buy any other Simms product), Troutbitten receives a commission of the sale, at no additional cost to you, when you click through any of these links. So thank you for your support.

 

What about being cooler when the sun’s beating down? Again, it took a ninety-degree afternoon to understand what Sawyer had argued. Somehow, even with such light material, the Solarflex fabric doesn’t cling to your body very much, so the slightest breeze rolls through easily. That’s a lot different than other shirts I’ve worn. And yes, going without sunscreen is wonderful.

This is my favorite Solarflex Crewneck.

Buy the Simms Solarflex Crewneck HERE

 

Here’s the Solarflex Hoodie

Buy the Simms Solarflex Hoodie HERE

 

I won’t attempt to explain the technological wonder happening in the Solarflex fabric. Simms can do that for themselves.

But the material really does cool off when wet. Dunking my arms in the river or breaking a slight sweat had me a little chilly as it dried. That’s a great feeling in the heat.

And yes, I even like the neck gaiter now. My friends are going to blast me for this, because I’ve poked fun at masked buff wearers since the beginning of the fad that won’t go away. Truth is, it probably won’t go away because it’s functional. Some of my friends told me that a long time ago.

But I’ll also say this: I wore the other brand of neck gaiter. I even bought their coolest and lightest material. And it is nothing like the Solarflex gaiter. Not even close. The other brand always feels warm and stuffy, somehow. But the Simms Gaiter feels cool and light, especially when dipped in the water.

Yup. Here’s the Solarflex gaiter, and I like it.

Buy the Simms Solarflex Gaiter HERE.

 

Long sleeves were great for our recent beach trip too.

The Solarflex gear from Simms is top notch. And it’s found a permanent home in my over-sized grey cargo bag of fishing gear. I hope it works for you too. These things are good.

Fish hard, friends.

 

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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15 Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more on the quality of the Simms Solarflex line. Yesterday, down here in ole somerset county, I went bass fishing later in the morning and had on my Solarflex green Camo shirt and was still kind of cool.

    But ya also need to check out the bug stopper Solarflex stuff. I got the hoody recently and it keeps the bugs away.

    Reply
    • Right on, Ed. What a world, right?

      Dom

      Reply
  2. Would love to try the solarflex, but I’m addicted to the pockets on traditional fishing shirts – for my glasses when it gets too dark for sunglasses, for my camera/phone, for flies I just bought at the fly shop and have accessible for the day’s fishing. Are there any Solarflex shirts with pockets?

    Reply
    • Hi Bill,

      Looks like no, they don’t make the Solarflex with pockets.

      But Simms also sent me the Tri-Comp shirt. It has pockets and a collar. It is not Solarflex material but does have CoolCore technology. It also breathes very well feels similar. I like it and wear it a lot as well. You can see me wearing it in a bunch of the beach shots from a couple articles ago.

      You can find it here on the Simms site:

      http://bit.ly/2Hglzc5

      Hope that helps.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
  3. Morning Dom….curious what pants and shirt you wear under your waders when temps cool down?

    Reply
    • Hi Elwood. I honestly don’t get too complicated about it. I never wear jeans though.

      I often wear a pair of shorts.

      But I also wear these pretty often:

      https://amzn.to/2lkllso

      Those are the same pants that I wet wade in. They are thin and wick moisture away really well under waders too. Very comfortable.

      Cheers.

      Dom

      Reply
  4. I’ve been wearing kastking sol armis uv protection sleeves for a couple months now and I love them. I really don’t like long sleeve shirts so these are perfect for me. I can put them on if it’s chilly, sunny or to help keep the bugs off. They have definitely helped me solve the same problem you had.

    Reply
  5. Couldn’t agree more…I got the river camo pattern for sneaking up on spooky shallow river smallmouth on hot summer days here in Michigan…it works as you stated. And the no mosquito thing was a nice surprise too.

    Reply
  6. Hi Dom, love your site and regular blogs. Learned a lot and my fishing has improved. The shirts you describe are something I’m interested in but I have a question on the sizing. I’m right between a medium and large… do they run true or will the medium run big? Thanks. Anthony

    Reply
    • Hi Anthony, and thanks for the kind words.

      I hate giving advice on sizing, because it’s so subjective. But . . . I find Simms gear to run very much true to size. The medium fits me just how I want it to fit.

      That said, you can get the actual sizing chart on the Simms page (links above). That’s probably your best bet.

      Cheers.

      Dom

      Reply
  7. Just an FYI . I clicked on the link to look at, and possibly purchase, the Simms gaitor. It’s out of stock so, while interested, I’m now disappointed. Perhaps best to re-check your links when you re-run a post.

    Reply
    • Don’t be mad, Mike!

      I did check it, buddy. But things sell out fast when I post them here. Stock was already low, I assume, because of Covid and facemasks these days.

      And there’s no need to be disappointed. I changed the link above to the other Simms gaiter. Find that. Or search Google.

      Live happy.
      Dom

      Reply
  8. Good product which will be better with a couple pockets.

    Reply
    • Hi Steve.

      I think they don’t add pockets because the material is so light. It’s not the kind of fabric that supports any weight of things you’d put in those pockets. It wouldn’t even support the weight of the pockets themselves. It would sag. Basically, Solarflex shirts just aren’t designed for that kind of function. Simms does make plenty of other options with pockets. I have a few of those too. But they aren’t nearly as light, comfortable or cooling to wear.

      That’s my experience.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
    • Patagonia makes a similar variant with a zip chest pocket. Sleeves are a tiny bit longer and cover the hand more. I’ve used the hooded versions as well but with my pea sized head it doesn’t stay put. May have to do a little sewing.

      Reply

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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