Introducing OR's Ultimate Cooling Shirt

There are fabrics that feel cool to the skin—which is nice, we suppose—but when you're training hard and the heat is on, what you really need is something that actually helps cool you down. That's why we went high tech with the new Gauge collection. We chatted with the product manager who developed the line, Jason Duncan, to find out how it works and how to best use the cooling technology.

How is the Gauge line different from other training apparel?

The Gauge fabric is a proprietary fabric from Polartec consisting of 51% Polyester, 45% Tencel and 4% Spandex. It provides true metabolic cooling in hot temperature, high exertion activities rather than sensorial cooling … which is usually the offer in other cooling fabrics in the industry. Most of these sensorial cooling fabrics use xylitol and other treatments that react with sweat creating an endothermic—cooling—sensation on your skin surface. Xylitol works great for sun sleeves, but not so much for a tee shirt. This training product differs from our other products in the line as it's a cooling tee for hot temperature pursuits.

What does the fabric feel like to the touch?

It has a very good drape and soft hand feel. Reduced skin touch to combat cling and chafing.

Can you give me the quick version of how the fabric works?

It's a bi-component fabric that functions like a radiator. Visually it has small ring structures that give it an unusual pattern. It's not a chemical treatment, but inherent to the yarns used in construction. The fabric uses hydrophilic yarns (Tencel) on the outer ring of the structure and hydrophobic yarns (Polyester) on the center of the ring. The Polyester yarns also form tiny posts that allows the garment to stand off the skin slightly. The structure of the yarns allows for moisture to “circulate” throughout the fabric by regulating the drying time. Convective heat loss increases the cooling effect.

So, it feels cool the way cotton does, but dries much more quickly?

The regulated drying means the shirt stays “damp” longer than a true wicking baselayer, which is perfect for hot climates, but it doesn’t cling to your body when it gets wet like cotton does. And the nature of cotton will retain moisture much longer than the Gauge.

I've heard it said that it's so "cooling" that you shouldn't wear it as a base later? So ... what else should people know about the fabric, and how to wear it or layer it?

It’s not a layer! We only offer this shirt in the summer collection and it is specific for hot temperature exertion. This is NOT the shirt to be worn in cool, damp conditions!

What kind of activities do you picture people doing in these?

Hot weather running, dry and arid hiking and travelling, training in the summer when the weather gets warm to hot.

Shop the Gauge Collection here.