I've always found finding the right shirt to hike in hard. Hiking pants were easy to find and came with tons of options but I think most hikers can agree, the same cannot be said for hiking shirts. They are either too hot or too cold and rarely do I find one that strikes this balance. When I do find shirts like this, I tend to wear them until they die and it really tests how durable the shirt is.
It's been a while since I've found one I really like but I'm pretty sure that Ottie have come through with the goods and delivered on their promise of a hiking shirt made by hikers, for hikers.
So who are Ottie?
Ottie Merino are a new-ish hiking clothing company which focuses on ethically made, high quality and well-designed Merino wool apparel. Their range includes Long sleeved & short sleeved T-shirts, Hiking Socks, Undies, and now even thermals.
They have been committed to creating hiker focused clothing from their beginning just over two years ago and that is something we can only commend them for doing. They are accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia so you can be confident they get only the finest merino wool to live up to their promises of ethical production.
What is Merino Wool?
Well, we have covered it in previous articles but to summarise it is Wool that comes from Merino Sheep which are a breed of sheep that offer an ultra-fine material perfect for hiking.
Some of its benefits include oder absorption which means less washing, itch-less surfaces so no scratchy wools and it wicks away moisture far better than any other material. On top of all this, it is a great insulator which is an essential part of a good hiking shirt.
So what is the Ottie Merino hiking t-shirt?
The shirt which is 100% Merino is made in Melbourne and is certainly designed specifically for hikers. The scoop around the neck is deliberately not as large when compared to other shirts to make the shirt more sun smart. It comes in a range of loose fitting sizes from S all the way to XXL and for those who are unsure about sizes can use their size chart.
So what are our thoughts on the Ottie t-shirt?
Well, after quite a bit of field testing I have curated by thoughts on their shirt and these have been boiled down in to a few key areas which are how it fits, how good it is on a hike, how sustainable it is and how expensive it is.
How it Fits:
There is simply no better place to start than how it fits! When putting on your Ottie for the first time you may notice that it is a little loose and that is intentional. The design is quite relaxed and this, depending on your preference can be a great thing or you may prefer a tighter fit.
For me, I prefer a bit of a tighter fit as fabric that moves around can be annoying but with the Ottie I don't find it as uncomfortable as I would other shirts simply due to how well it breathes. This extra space is for sure allowing a little more air through and this means that hot stinky days aren't as bad.
Performance while hiking:
The Ottie certainly preforms better than almost any hiking shirt I have had in the past. The quality of the material can be felt in every step walked and I simply love that I can wear it while hiking day after day without needing to wash it.
Its understated enough that I can wear it out and is still good while out on a hike. It also, as I said before, breathes real well which in addition to cooling me down gives plenty of space for the shirt to dry off after I start sweating.
How sustainable is it:
With the rise of fast fashion and our ever more unsustainable supply chains, Ottie brings a breath of fresh air in the world of sustainability. Their wool is ethically sourced in Australia from sheep in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania meaning you can be assured of quality aussie wool.
On top of sourcing their wool from aussie sheep they also knit and dry it in Melbourne meaning they are a truly Australian operation which supports Australian jobs. For those who don't know, Merino Wool is also completely biodegradable meaning its also better for the planet while also being awesome for you.
Well this is a big one for most, including me and its something that I think needs to be taken into account when writing a review like this. Ottie shirts aren't cheap, in fact I would say to anyone who had not previously seen a shirt similar to this one would say it looks expensive but I argue it is quite well priced.
There is a reason Merino isn’t cheap and that is because of all the amazing things we have talked about above. It's natural abilities make it perfect for hiking and a worthy investment for anyone planning to get out on the trail a lot. The price tag of $90 AUD for the short sleeve and $120 AUD for the long sleeve can be a big sum of money for people (me included) but I would say I've gotten that and a bit more back from it.
Summary and conclusion:
The Ottie Merino hiking shirt is surely one of, if not, the best hiking shirts on the market today and comes with the quality I would expect from the price tag. The sustainable practices that are put into production stand up well with my belief in the ‘leave no trace’ hiking philosophy.
It is comfortable and soft to the skin so even after a few good days of use my skin isn’t getting irritated. The long sleeve version is also a great way to keep Sun Smart at all times of year but above all it is just a good tee!
I can keep going on about all the things that this shirt has to offer and all the effort put into making it but at the end of the day, what really matters is the shirt itself and how it feels to hike in, because at the end of the day, that is what you are paying the money for.
…and I can say, it feels pretty dam good.
Written by Josh Welch