Gear Review: Minus 33 Algonquin Shirt
Minus 33 Algonquin – a wool shirt that keeps you cool
Pro: Comfortable fit and odor free
Con: Tight fit around my neck
Overall: A great shirt for year-round hiking
In all of my years of hiking I can think of only two shirts I’ve purchased specifically for my time on the trails. Both were long-sleeved hooded shirts purchased for sun protection (I am a bald guy, after all). When hiking in hot weather, I’ve always worn free shirts collected from various running races. This is because I am, ahem, thrifty, and figured it didn’t really matter what shirt I was hiking in because it would just get sweaty and stinky anyway.
The result of my near-sighted cheapness has been many years of hiking in low-quality, synthetic shirts. So when I was offered the opportunity to wear and review Minus 33’s Algonquin short sleeve merino wool shirt, I jumped at the chance. I’ve heard others sing the praises of merino wool for years, but I’ve never tried it before.
During a recent visit to Shenandoah National Park, I donned my Minus 33 Algonquin shirt and hit the trails. The first day I decided to put it to the test: 9.5 miles on a mountain summit loop trail while carrying a baby carrier on an 85-degree day.
Needless to say, about 15 minutes into the hike I was a sweaty mess – but while sweat dripped down my brow, it wasn’t on my back or shoulders. The Minus 33 Algonquin shirt performed exactly as billed: It wicked moisture away from my skin and dried quickly, which meant the baby carrier moved less and, therefore, did not cause chafing.
At one point, during a long, gradual climb, Kim (who was wearing the Lafayette tank top) and I stopped to catch our breath and drink some water. After just a couple of minutes, my shirt was completely dry.
After the hike, we returned to camp where I hung the Minus 33 Algonquin shirt on the clothesline, figuring it’d need a good airing out before the next hike. The following morning I went over to grab my shirt with hesitation, expecting it to smell like a locker room that hadn’t been cleaned in a week. To my surprise, it didn’t smell! And I don’t mean it didn’t smell from a few feet away – I pressed it against my face and inhaled and there was absolutely no odor. There was no way anyone could have guessed that I’d hiked in it the day before.
Over 7 days in Shenandoah, I wore my Minus 33 Algonquin shirt on the trails 4 out of 6 days, including multiple 9+ mile days. Each time I wore it, it performed the same: It dried quickly and the following day it had no odor.
The reason my shirt was able to do this was because it’s merino wool – which has a ton of awesome features. First, it’s a natural wicking material – meaning it pulls moisture away from the skin and dries quickly. Secondly, merino wool is naturally anti-microbial, so the bacteria on your skin that makes sweat smell (sweat itself has no odor) isn’t absorbed by the shirt – only the moisture is. Finally, merino wool has natural elastic properties – which means it can stretch and return to its original form, and that makes it great for physical activities.
Merino wool has all kinds of other cool features– incredible softness, UPF (sun) protection, fire resistance, it’s biodegradable, renewable, and anti-wrinkle – but I won’t go into all those. If you want to know more, you find more information about merino wool here and here.
Overall, the Minus 33 Algonquin shirt is my new go-to hiking shirt. For day hikes, it’s a no-brainer. For muti-day hikes, I’ll take it because, since it won’t get wet and smelly, I won’t have to bring a second shirt to change into and I’ll save some space and weight in my pack.
Material: 100% merino wool
Weight: 6.6 ounces
UPV rating: 25
Layer type: Base layer