Mountain Hardwear Canyon Long Sleeve Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Off-trail style, dobbyweave fabric wears well, ideal length, good overall sun protection
Cons: Tight in the yoke, expensive, not as breathable as some competitors
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Canyon held on for many a trip, stroll, hike, dinner, and more. We even slept in the darn thing. It packs well and seems to look good no matter what it's paired with. Like others in our test, this 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 sector.
Comfort and Fit
The Canyon features a normal fit, looser and more relaxed than what you may expect from a regular button-up shirt, though it is more form-fitting through the chest than many other traditional options. Both sleeve and hem length are similar to other button-up shirts we've tested as well.
The sleeves themselves may be easily rolled up above the elbow and kept in place with simple tabs. The internal tabs that secure the rolled sleeves in place are extra long, allowing for the folds to hang below the elbow, and they can be adjusted easily with one hand.
The collar extension on the Canyon is nicely executed, and there's no annoying choke-hold when buttoned fully in front. The mesh interior of the pockets are 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. The Canyon features flat, invisible stitch lines throughout, which Mountain Hardware defines as, "Smart Seams."
The Canyon does what its label 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's on par with other products we've tested.
When buttoned, the cuffs can extend past the wrist, and when unbuttoned can travel as far as the knuckles. The doubled over sun collar can be extended to help protect the back of the neck, or tucked back into place, and hidden from view. The shirt's seam length is longer than a usual button-down shirt, helping to protect the belly and lower back. Unlike the hooded sun shirts we've tested, you'll want to pair a button-up shirt, like the Canyon, with a generous hat, and perhaps an additional neck gaiter, and sun gloves for maximum sun protection.
The fabric of the Canyon is not as thick as some of the other products we've tested, and this can lead to enhanced breathability. Even with the high UPF 50 rating, the shirt seemed to allow air to flow through the fabric itself better than other products we've tested that have thicker, more tightly knit fabric.
Minimal vents are located on the back of the shirt — both gill-like ones on the sides, as well as in the center pointing down, which help facilitate airflow. The upper back and chest pockets feature mesh material that rests on the skin, helping to spread and dissipate perspiration. One of the main advantages of a button-up shirt like the Canyon is the option to simply unbutton some of the front buttons to allow for enhanced airflow — something none of the hooded sun shirts we tested can mimic.
Perhaps the most noticeable issue with breathability is the prolonged scent from our fire smoke test. The stench of fire smoke isn't an easy thing to eradicate (the exact point of our test), but it lingered on the Canyon even after a wash and air dry — which is noteworthy. Outside of this pretty tough test, the Canyon remains an otherwise light and comfortable option in most scenarios. Stench the next day from a hard hike was also noticeable, as there is no antimicrobial treatment of the fabric itself.
Workshirt, date shirt, climbing shirt, backpacking shirt, 0-day shirt while on a thru-hike: it's hard to miss how much of a chameleon the Canyon can be. This is one of the more handsome button-up shirts in our tests, with good color choices and an understated fabric pattern. It doesn't outright scream, "outdoor sun shirt" like some other shirts we've tested, and that opens it up to other casual and active uses. Wear this shirt even on casual days at the office, and we doubt anyone would even notice the sun shirt-specific features while at the all-hands meeting.
The fit is more complementary to an athletic build, being a little more trim in key points of the shirt and a little less blousy. If you have a slim build and find yourself swimming in a traditional button-up shirts, the Canyon could be even more appealing to you. That said, the cut isn't so slim as to be hard to move about, or hinder dissipation of heat and perspiration away from the body.
Like many sun shirts in our review, durability is inexorably linked with breathability. Exceptionally durable shirts can also act like body ovens. A fine balance has to be found to allow a shirt to weather the worst of abuse, while still being comfortable enough to wear all day.
The Canyon fares well in durability, and after our real-world testing of off trail bushwacks, hard outdoor work days, trad climbing on sandstone, and early morning trail runs, no noticeable rips, tears, seam weaknesses, or missing buttons have been found. The shirt even resists wrinkling and once washed, looks much like it did on the first day of ownership.
The Canyon does sport two extra buttons for on-the-trail repairs, which is a nice touch. There are more durable button-shirts that we've tested, but for mid-to-high intensity activities, we'd rather be shod within this shirt than any of those other, more stuffy-feeling options.
A UPF+ 50 rating, 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 a strong travel shirt, as well as excelling at technical use under the sun.
Speaking of travel, the fabric seems to resist wrinkling, which can help give you the illusion of being refreshed after a long, transcontinental flight or cross-country drive. Did we mention it's more voguish than most button-up sun shirts out there?
Considering the careful balance of durability, breathability, and versatility, the moderate price of the Canyon seems more than justifiable. There are cheaper alternatives that we've tested, but none that also have both the stylish looks and set of features of this one, which will protect your investment from being relegated to the bottom drawer or dashed to the local sports recycler.
If you are looking for a durable button-up sun shirt, and don't prefer looking like you just stepped off of the set of a Bass Pro Shop commercial, the Mountain Hardwear Canyon is the sun shirt for you. It's versatile, performs admirably, prevents needing to lather yourself in SPF 50, and is plenty packable to be taken on the road. This is a shirt we highly recommend and was the clear pick for our Editors' Choice Award.
— Justin Simoni