The Canyon held on for a trip from northern California, to Laguardia, to Liberia, Costa Rica. While there, it was worn on afternoon jungle strolls, to dinner on the beach, and even slept in. Along the way, the Canyon packed well and seemed to look good with anything else it was paired with, even surf baggies. Like others in the test, the shirt was subjected to a number of controlled tests for smell and drying time and generally put through whatever paces are typical for a garment in the travel and hiking vertical. Mountain Hardwear is a strong, proven brand, and while the Canyon may not be its flagship product, it's certainly worth being a part of your wardrobe.
The Canyon long-sleeved sun shirt from Mountain Hardwear looks great in all environments, and functions almost as good as it looks.
Comfort & Fit
The Canyon is close to the Columbia Silver Ridge Lite in terms of general comfort. Loose and relaxed, it also stays in line along the torso instead of merely floating to the waist. It hangs a full inch shorter in the back than the Columbia, but 29'' is still plenty of coverage.
The sleeves appear to be designed to be rolled-up most of the time. The cuff, a standard barrel design, fits well when closed. However, the underside could use another button for more control, as the forearm cut from wrist to elbow makes for a lot of loose fabric to contain. The internal tab that secures rolled sleeves in place is extra long, allowing for the folds to hang below the elbow, and it can be put in place and vice versa on the fly with one hand. When reaching or active, the Canyon restricted around the armpits and upper back.
Sun shirts are expected to dry quickly, especially as they transition from travel to trail.
Mountain Hardwear's collar extension is nicely executed, and there's no annoying choke-hold when buttoned fully in front. The mesh interior of the pockets is soft and unnoticeable when empty, but you'll be made pretty aware of anything inside them beyond a passport, which can fit inside snugly after a bit of fidgeting. Lastly, while lacking clear definition from Mountain Hardwear, it can be assumed the "smart seams" on the Canyon define the flat, invisible stitch lines throughout.
The Canyon does what its labels promises. There's an ultraviolet protection factor of 50 on this shirt, meaning it allows only 1/50th of the sun's UV rays to pass through. That is on par with others in the test. With that rating equal, sun protection capabilities come down to design and features. The giant hood and cloak-design of the Columbia PFG Terminal Tackle make it tops in this category, but the Canyon and Patagonia Sol Patrol are on equal footing. Close in tail and back length and both sporting a clever flip-up collar extension, the two shirts score very well in this category among the button-down options. The cuffs end at the wrist when buttoned, unlike some other competitors who sport extra-long sleeves. It's not the biggest of concerns, but something detailed buyers will want to know.
A little larger when packed than others, this shirt is nonetheless the best trail-to-town shirt in the men's sun shirt test.
We were admittedly surprised by the way this shirt collected and hung on to sweat during a day-long tour of Costa Rica's Manuel Antonio National Park. The shirt was hung over a palm trunk while the tester hit the ocean. It was still damp and clammy when put on again. The yoke vents aren't quite as robust as those on the Columbia Silver Ridge Lite and Sol Patrol II, and its side, meshless vents may not promote airflow due to small size and positioning. When unzipped, the zippered breast pockets also serve as channels for airflow; however, they can be rendered ineffective if hiking with contents in them.
Perhaps the most noticeable issue with breathability is the prolonged scent. Granted, the stench of fire smoke isn't an easy thing to eradicate (the exact point of our test), but the Canyon's ability to let it linger after a wash and air dry is noteworthy. This issue came to light in a few reviews from the product's landing page. It should be noted that outside of this pretty tough test, the Canyon remains an otherwise light and comfortable option in most scenarios.
Sometimes you just need your sun shirt to kick-it.
The Canyon maintained all structural integrity throughout testing, minus one or two very small loose threads along the side vent stitching. It was nothing to worry about. A tiny hole was singed open by a spark during the smoke test. That can't be held against the shirt—it's not advertised as fireproof, and those are the risks of gear testing.
It's natural to be concerned that as features are tacked on to a piece of outdoor gear, the risks of repair go up. As a caution, areas most likely at risk of damage are the side vents and of course, the zippers on the inside chest pockets.
The clear winner in look and style, the Canyon is ready-made for shaking off the sweat and heading into town for casual dinner, where it twice earned the tester compliments. The fit compliments the look of the dobby weave fabric, and characteristics such as cuffs that stay on the wrist and breast pockets that lay flat is that the shirt doesn't look like it's meant to be a technical sun-blocker. While Patagonia's Sol Patrol II looks as if it was designed as a movie costume for a dad trying to act like a fly fisherman, the Canyon eschews the standard "outdoorsy look" to easily win in the looks category. This shirt is comfortable, looks good with jeans or casual business attire, and won't prompt anyone to ask you, "You going hiking after work?"
A UPF+ 50 impregnation, long sleeves with button tabs, dual zippered and vented breast pockets behind the primary pockets (4 total), a flip-up collar shield, and even a slick little sunglasses holder on the left pocket flap provide a very nice library of features that make the Canyon almost better for travel than technical use. The yoke and side vents seem ineffective, however.
Many of the shirt's reviews on Mountain Hardware's website tend to agree with our assessment of its casual versatility, but that by no means makes it a bad trail option—it's not at all. Sure, the Canyon held on to the humidity a bit, and a couple of others in the test make for better backcountry apparel, but it's still a very solid option for your next backpacking trip, mountain bike trailhead, or an afternoon of Spikeball on the beach.
Another technique for securing sunglasses is the horizontal eye-hole placed in a pocket flap. Three of the shirts tested used this design.
This is the best Office-To-Trail alternative in the test. Its style is spot-on, letting people know you're serious, but not just someone who uses the phrase "deep dive" when clicking through Powerpoints all afternoon. And let's be honest: there's absolutely nothing wrong with technical clothing that also looks good. The shirt does perform as promised, blocking the sun and helping you travel comfortably, either in airports or down rivers.
This isn't the cheapest shirt in the lineup, nor is it as pricey as the $89 Sol Patrol II or $90+ Astroman. At $65.00, the Canyon isn't a no-brainer shelf-grab. The Columbia Silver Ridge Lite at under $40 and Patagonia's Capilene Cool Daily Hoody at $55 offer more technical value, but don't provide the style component of the Canyon. For those people simply wanting a new shirt that isn't relegated to the hiking gear corner of your closet, there is a great value in Mountain Hardwear Canyon sun-shirt.
We really like this shirt; we just happen to like a couple of other options a bit more. That said, if you're brand-loyal to Mountain Hardwear (with good reason) and don't prefer looking like you just stepped off of the set of a Bass Pro Shop commercial, the Canyon is the shirt for you. It's versatile, performs admirably, prevents needing to lather yourself in SPF 50, and is plenty packable to take on the road.