Hot weather is the new weather, and if you sweat like I do, you spend a lot of time thinking about how to stay cool on the bike. As most of my rides are now dirt focused, I’m not wearing bibs and baselayers. Anyway, that’s too many layers on the hottest days, and clingy jerseys just make me feel even warmer, like being hugged by own sweat. So I’ve turned to the tech tees that runners wear to get something lighter and airier on my upper half.
Here are two tees that I’ve ridden (and run) in extensively and would recommend to anyone looking to change up their ride ensemble.
First, the Rabbit EZ Tee Perf ICE SS (women’s here). The trick with this shirt is it’s perforated, so it lets more air through, ventilation being key to evaporation and cooling. On the summer’s muggiest days, a shirt that just wicks moisture is insufficient to the task for me. I’m going to saturate it pretty quickly. I need help with evaporation, and the Rabbit EZ Tee’s perforated material is perfect for this.
This shirt also incorporates an ICE nylon in the fabric mix, which Rabbit contends keeps you feeling cooler. I’m not 100% sure on that. The effect might be subtle, and in the torrent of my perspiration I’m losing it.
Regardless, this is a shirt I like to ride trails in. There is a tanktop version, a women’s version, a women’s tank top version. Sizing is a little disappointingly just small to XL, but it’s stretchy as hell, so you could probably cheat the top end of that scale a little.
It’s $48, which is pretty good for a performance, tech tee these days, and the men’s one I wear comes in two colors, waterspout, which is a light blue, and lightest sky, which is an off white. I like the lighter colors on hot days, because I’m trying to absorb as little heat as possible.
Next, the Patagonia Men’s Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt (and the women’s version). It’s worth reiterating that I come to a lot of these “non-cycling” shirts from my sideline as a trail runner. You get less evaporative cooling when you’re running vs. cycling, so a few runs will tell me how good a shirt will be to ride in.
From a functional point of view, Patagonia’s Capilene material is as good or better than most of the technical, moisture-wicking fabrics out there, but what sets this shirt apart is that it is really, pleasantly light. The men’s shirt is 72g, the women’s just 60g, so it’s a shirt that billows well. Billowing is good.
And, as always with Patagonia you can trust that it’s a responsibly produced, non-toxic garment.
Literally, most of the tech clothing we wear contains forever chemicals, polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), but Patagonia is at the forefront of finding alternatives. Their fabrics are certified as bluesign® approved, which means they conform to strict environmental and safety requirements. And, these are made in a Fair Trade Certified™ factory, as well.
Historically, with their clothing, there’s been a premium associated with the commitment they make to doing things the right way, but like the Rabbit tee above, this shirt comes in under $50, which puts it right in the mix for what you pay for premium tech tees.
It comes in XS – XXL, so better size coverage, three colors, all muted, and it costs $49.
It would be traditional in a two-piece review like this to say which one I like better, but there’s nothing between them really. They both do a great job of keeping you covered while allowing for maximum sweat evaporation. Choose on style or choose on environmental impact, or both. You can’t go wrong.