Columbia Silver Ridge Lite Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Great value, lightweight, very breathable, looks good off-trail, excellent comfort
Cons: Only UPF 40, doesn't pack as well as others, difficult sleeve-capture tabs
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Columbia Silver Ridge Lite is a versatile, soft, and airy option for anyone spending a good deal of time outside. Drawbacks included the process of securing the rolled sleeves because of the size of the button-hole, and the top button sitting a bit low, exposing more of the user's clavicle. Still, given its competition, Columbia should be lauded for the design and feel of this excellent long-sleeve sun-shirt.
Comfort and Fit
Soft and flowing with a 30" back length yet wearing true-to-size, the Silver Ridge Lite becomes hard to notice when worn, even under backpacks or early morning mid-layers, given its 6.4-ounce weight. The Omni-Wick polyester is smooth against the skin and feels like a fashionable dress shirt at times.
The extra length granted on the cuffs and height on the collar are nice touches, and the collar design stands out for not being at all tight when closed.
Our primary tester is by no means lanky at 5'9'' with a soccer player's build, and the cuffs reach well over the back of the hand if not rolled back, but also rest nicely against the wrist with the second cuff button secured. Long waistlines are standard for the products that excel in this category. The Silver Ridge Lite falls at crotch-length but manages to refrain from looking big or baggy. Still, it certainly doesn't land in the category of "athletic fit."
In essence, this shirt is as comfortable as it gets, wears smoothly, and like most products in this silo, won't convince anyone that you're not a trail buff.
The Silver Ridge has a 40 UPF rating, which is lower than other shirts in our review, as the fabric is thinner. Thankfully, this also has the positive effect of making it more breathable.
For maximum protection, you may still want to employ a wide-brimmed hat, a neck gaiter, and sun gloves; hooded sun shirts may have an advantage on button-ups in general, but no hooded shirts we've tested have a way to unzip/unbutton the front to dump excess heat.
The front of the Silver Ridge Lite can be buttoned up snuggly, and fit is still generous enough to allow good airflow. The sleeves are generously long and can cover up as far as the width of your hands allow or be rolled up for higher-intensity activity/breathability when sun protection isn't paramount.
Columbia's Omni-Wick fabric makes for an excellent choice when shopping for a hiking and travel shirt that will absorb breezes and dry quickly when shuffling up talus slopes or after sprinting to catch a rickshaw. The yoke and back vents on the Silver Ridge are mesh-lined and ensure the air gets to where it needs to go to help you stay cool.
Granted, these vents get rendered mostly meaningless when under a bigger backpack (they are sectioned, allowing the top to foster airflow when the bottom is under a pack) promoting perspiration build-up. Otherwise, the wide-mesh netting under the breast pockets and along the back perform as promised, as does the basketweave polyester Omni-Shade material. Sleeve tabs obviously help with cooling, as does the more open collar and overall relaxed-fit. The sleeves are annoying to roll-up and fasten one-handed, so be patient. Another way to secure rolled sleeves is the sewn half-loop of micro-cordage.
In our controlled smell test, when held above a campfire for five minutes, the Silver Ridge Lite performed admirably. The smell remained evident after 12 hours, but it was tolerable. When it came to a controlled quick-drying test, this shirt performed as well as the others being tested. Each shirt was left outside to dry after being pulled from a washing machine. The Silver Ridge never stayed wet long enough to make testers uncomfortable during breaks or post-trip beers.
The Silver Ridge Lite lives on as an "updated classic." Not as blousy as some of the other button-up shirts we've tested, it's as if once the Silver Ridge Lite made it to its 40's after a rollicking first three decades, the shirt took on a better diet and exercise regime Rich Roll-style. Its streamlined fit and secretly technical fabric is the happy result.
The Silver Ridge Lite won't look out of place with traditional aprés trail activities, backpacking, casual gatherings, and perhaps even at work. Bike commuters may enjoy a shirt that doesn't look like they're a member of the local bike shop's roadie team. And the garment resists wrinkling when stuffed in a pack.
Testing revealed no obvious material or stitch flaws in the Silver Ridge Lite; this is a well-designed shirt. A few potential weak points should be noted, namely the prolonged adhesiveness of the breast pocket hook-and-loop closures. However, the impact such a development would have on the shirt's ability to block UB and UV rays is likely minimal.
The technical fabric of the Silver Ridge is moisture-wicking, UPF 40-rated, and has a silver chloride antimicrobial treatment embedded in the fabric.
Present are back and side gill vents to keep airflow moving along, and the sleeves can be rolled up and kept in place with tabs. There are dual chest pockets, both with the same mesh backing the upper back also sports. There's no double collar found on other button-up sun shirts we've tested — so bring along a neck gaiter for maximum protection. All in all, the Silver Ridge Lite is a little more middle of the road when it comes to features then some of the other options we've tested.
The Silver Ridge can usually be found at a great price, mostly due to the fact that it's not burdened with too many features (something that tends to increase the amount of fabric and sewing needed — and hence the price). For the performance it brings to the table — most notably the well-tuned durability to breathability balance, we find this shirt a great value for the money.
It's hard to argue against the Columbia Silver Ridge Lite as a top-of-the-line sun-beating adventure shirt. The comfort will immediately surprise any buyer, as will its ability to float along with you while active. An excellent choice for travel, boating, and hiking — and a superb value. Don't hesitate to grab a couple of these Best Buy Winners for everything you do between May and October.
— Justin Simoni