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Apparel Review

Simms Solarflex Shirt Delivers Comfort and Sun Protection (continued)


Operation cont'd: In terms of comfort the Solarflex shirt feels both lightweight and very flexible, never bunching up or wrinkling. It also packs down relatively compact and can be deployed quickly. During tests I didn’t wear sunblock under the shirt sleeves and the garment provided very good protection, and though it is rated at UPF30 so we still recommend a light coat of sunblock in really sunny conditions, especially if you burn easily like I do. The Solarflex features a flat seam construction so even when casting all day the seams are never noticeable and the shirt is definitely more comfortable than most traditional button up garments as it seems to better contour to the body.


...but for extremely bright conditions a Buff or Simms Sungaiter is a good addition for extra sun protection


The long sleeves on the Solarflex shirt provide plenty of freedom of movement during casting and retrieving and unlike many other garments the sleeves don’t ride up unnecessarily, but can be comfortably pulled up to the biceps if required, when dipping your hands to release fish for example. The stretch-knit polyester fabric on the shirt and cuffs do a good job staying in place wherever you position the sleeves, reducing friction with the garment and aiding in overall comfort.


When checking email a Simms Sungaiter provides extra neck protection because the Solarflex's collar doesn't extend all the way up like many traditional button up shirts


During our days on Clear Lake we experienced some surprisingly bright days and warm weather, and while the bluebird skies hurt the bite it did provide ideal conditions for testing the Solarflex shirt. I found that the COR3™ material able to wick away moisture efficiently and it also breathes very well overall. The collar on the shirt is slightly higher than most garments but not as high as more traditional button up shirts. While the collar provides some extra sun protection it still required me to put on multiple sunblock applications and on really bright days where there is plenty of reflection off the surface I still prefer to wear a Buff or one of the new Simms Sungaiters for additional coverage. These garments provide more protection than sunblock even if the ratings are based on the same Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) ranking. Have you ever noticed how you can still get burned when wearing lower UPF sunblocks like UPF 30 but don't get burned when wearing protective clothing with the same or even lower ratings? For starters, sunblock can be rubbed or washed off and lose effectiveness but in addition to this Simms explains that the same UPF in clothing provides significantly more protection than similarly rated sunscreen, it is like comparing apples and oranges. Simms garments like the Solarflex shirt are also now approved by the Skin Cancer foundation and new hang tags will soon accompany all these garments.


During tests some of the threads started getting pulled...


Though seemingly quite straightforward one of the things that Simms does so well on their garments is the attention to detail, examples include the slightly elongated collar design on this shirt as well as the inner label which is not printed on a traditional tag, instead all information is screened directly on the shirt so there is nothing to scratch your skin at all.  


...a closer look reveals some balling but no performance altering damage


Durability: The Solarflex’s stretch-knit polyester fabric is quite durable and will stretch before it even has a chance of tearing. During tests I got plenty of the notorious Clear Lake algae on the light colored Ash Grey shirt but it washed out easily with normal detergent and a single cycle. The one area we started noticing some damage was on the sleeves where we observed some of the threading was coming loose as a result of contact with abrasive surfaces, nothing major but certainly perceptible. Over the long term unless you’re doing some serious hiking in the backcountry the shirt should hold up well.


The Solarflex shirt wicks moisture and dries quickly when wet


Price & Applications: The Solarflex is available in sizes from small to XXL and as expected the shirt comes with a retail price that is higher than your average shirt, but when compared with other technical shirts is actually inline. At $39.95 the Solarflex shirt is an investment, but one that will easily last a few seasons. This shirt is great for bass fishing on sunny warm days, but on cooler days it doesn’t offer a whole lot of warmth, you will definitely need to layer up with a fleece especially if you need wind protection. The garment is so good for warm days it is an excellent choice for warm water inshore fishing and will make an excellent flat fishing shirt, just make sure to bring that Sungaiter. For extreme conditions extra sunblock is necessary, and a second button up shirt can even be worn on top. The fact that it also packs own very small and is lightweight also makes this a great choice for those trips to exotic fishing destinations, Amazon anyone?



Simms Solarflex Long Sleeve Shirt Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Excellent overall construction the one gripe is the application of the reflective label on the front. The stitching on the garment is excellent and the weaved material gives this shirt a very unique look, this is not just a long sleeve t-shirt, its highly technical 8.5
Performance Very comfortable to fish in all ay long, definitely best suited for warm weather and you will want to look at Simms' other products if you primarily fish in cooler conditions. While the UPF 30 rating is good there are traditional button up shirts that offer UPF 50 9
Price While 40 dollars may seem like a lot for a long sleeve shirt this garment is worth the money and delivers on all performance levels 7.5
Features The Cor3 material does a good job wicking away moisture and providing odor resistance it also is comfortable and packs down neatly 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) One of the more comfortable fishing shirts that I have worn, the high collar is a plus and the sleeves do a great job staying in place 9
Application Great for fishing in warm weather and wills serve fly fishermen, bass anglers, and flats fishermen well, just don't expect a lot of cold or wind protection 8

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


+ Very comfortable to wear all day long - Doesn't offer much wind protection
+ Provides decent sun protection - Traditional button up sun shirts can provide higher UPF protection
+ Packs down very compact  
+ Attention to detail, very good stitching  
+ Premium shirt at a reasonable price  


Another quality garment from Simms, the Solarflex shirt is very comfortable and provides sun protection on those warm bright days on the water


Conclusion: With Simms clothing I’ve grown to expect performance, quality, and reliability, and the Solarflex shirt did not disappoint. This shirt is comfortable and easy to fish in all day long when the sun is out, and I especially like the way the shirt’s sleeves accommodate the full range of movements, like overhand and side casts, without riding up unnecessarily. Sun protection is essential when you’re out on the water constantly but it doesn’t have to mean wearing collared button up shirts day-in-day-out. The Simms Solarflex shirt provides a quality alternative, and the simple yet highly functional design is what makes this particular UPF 30+ shirt so attractive.


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