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Thread: Cotton question

  1. #1
    pickle pickle's Avatar
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    Question Cotton question

    I know not to wear cotton but: what about cotton/Polyester blend or cotton/spandex blend

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    honestly I've never tried one of the cotton blend shirts for hiking, but I can't see what the advantage would be. cotton has a better feel to it, but not when it's damp, which is inevitable when backpacking.

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    Super Moderator Ender's Avatar
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    On the PCT in the desert I used an old cotton/poly white work shirt. Worked great out there. On the AT... I'd probably stick to synthetic only. Humidity is too high, a cotton shirt would never dry.
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  4. #4

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    It won't kill you. I hiked the AT many years ago, wearing denim and cotton t-shirts Not a big deal. One of the issues with cotton is that when it gets wet, it stays wet - and is very heavy. The poly blend is probably lighter and will dry faster. Hiking in summer, the cotton may keep you cooler - but it will be damp.

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    In summer months, a cotton/poly blend should be fine. As noted, many of us hiked in jeans and cotton shirts years ago and survived. But that said, there are better options these days - nylon, polyester, merino wool to name a few that dry more quickly than cotton, hold less water, and insulate better when wet.

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    50% cotton / 50% polyester tees are dirt cheap, easy to find (W-mart), and are a decent balance of being reasonably quick to dry yet able to provide some evaporative cooling on a hot day. Good on a warm dry day; exercise caution using them on cool days.

  7. #7

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    For may years I hiked in 50/50 blend t-shirts since that was all that was available at the time. They dry out reasonably quickly. In the heat of the summer, 100% cotton can be good as it holds the sweat and gives you some evaporative cooling. I'm also a big fan of Dickie work shirts which are 65/35 (poly/cotton) for conditions where it's too cool for just a t-shirt but too warm for anything heavier. Those shirts also dry out reasonably quickly with body heat.
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    For my JMT thru, I purchased an ExOfficio BugsAway button down shirt advertised as "quick drying". It dried just as fast as other cloths I washed while on the trial.
    Wasn't until I got home and was putting gear away that I noticed that the tag indicated the shirt was a 55/45 cotton/poly blend.

    BTW, mosquitos and flies were terrible last July on the JMT... but having a set of ExOfficio BugsAway clothing (pants, shirt, head net) ment that I didn't use ANY bug spray the entire trip. My only disappointment is that the ExOfficio shirt (with it's buttons and pockets) were much heavier than a hiking shirt needs to be (I think the pants were lighter).

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    Registered User Old Hiker's Avatar
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    I had a 100% synthetic shirt in 2016. It soaked up sweat and regardless of the weather, it stayed damp to WET. On high humidity days, I could (and did) take it off and literally wring a cup or more of sweat from it. Very uncomfortable at times, but I didn't want to buy/try anything else. too stubborn, I guess.
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    Registered User tarditi's Avatar
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    My selections:
    cold = merino wool
    warm = polyester shirt
    hot = polyester active wicking shirt

  11. #11

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    so cotton pants are a big no? ;o

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    I like to wear long sleeve Columbia PFG™ its very lightweight and has some good SPF and ventilation. You most likely will have 2 shirts and 1 can easily be cotton. I play disc golf professionally and depending on the humidity and temp both cotton or poly will be soaked with sweat. I like cotton a bit better cause it doesn't feel as stuck to my back. But my ls PFG is the best I have found. I can burn pretty easy to.
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    If it's in cooler weather but not cool enough for long sleeves, I like Under Armour charged cotton. It's their name for their heat gear cotton/poly blend. Thick and warm enough if there's a chill in the air, but enough moisture wicking ability to keep you cool if the thermometer climbs a bit or you're in the sun.


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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    In summer months, a cotton/poly blend should be fine. As noted, many of us hiked in jeans and cotton shirts years ago and survived. But that said, there are better options these days - nylon, polyester, merino wool to name a few that dry more quickly than cotton, hold less water, and insulate better when wet.
    This is so true!
    Note: I am a COTTON-LOVER!!! I only wear cotton at home - refuse to wear any poly...
    However, on the trail, I have learned that poly is the way to go.
    Wicking shirts - can be found as cheaply as $10 at Walmart. Wicking bras are about the same.
    Shorts: Go the poly gym short route...
    Underwear... yes, make those wicking too... guys can get compression shorts at Wally world for about $10-15.
    Socks - WOOL! Smart wool is awesome. Fox River are a bit cheaper, but they "pill" with use.

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