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.
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.
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.
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.
T R O U T B I T T E N