Along Came Poly: Stoic Breathe 90 T-shirt

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With the onslaught of Merino products (everybody’s doing it!), new developments in synthetic layers have seriously slowed. And understandably so: many of them got stinky quickly, weren’t skin-friendly, and generally wore out quickly. That’s my personal experience, anyway. But the Stoic Breathe 90 T-Shirt ($49, backcountry.com), a 63.5 percent polyester, 36.5 percent nylon base layer, has made me officially break my “no-poly” promise. With a T-shirt cut, it’s incredibly light at 2.5 oz. The stretch is just right: It looks and acts techy, but still feels like my old university T-shirt. On four separate summits (plus several other day hikes), it wicked sweat like a champ, layered perfectly under a performance pull-over, and never once felt wet or clingy. I’ve had some issues in the past with skin irritation with synthetics (particularly under backpack straps), but this shirt is actually soft. In my opinion, there’s no room for deodorant on the mountain, and despite the effects of that controversial policy, the Breathe 90 remained stank-free, even after about eight wash and dry cycles. First and only synthetic layer I’ve ever said that about. —Julie Ellison