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Outdoor Research Astroman Long Sleeve Review

An expensive but very packable shirt for climbing, backpacking, and general outdoor use, the OR Astroman is for those who chose brand over budget.
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Price:  $95 List | $71.99 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Fabric stretch and movement, streamlined features, very lightweight and packable
Cons:  Tight fit, most expensive in test, feel of buttons on skin, collar point snaps; stretchy fabrics lose UPF+ protection sooner
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Craig Rowe ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 1, 2019
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 8
  • Comfort & Fit - 30% 6
  • Sun Protection - 25% 5
  • Breathability - 20% 8
  • Durability - 10% 5
  • Style - 15% 7

Our Verdict

No question about the comfort level of this stretchy, movement-ready long-sleeved sun-shirt by Outdoor Research. The Astroman has been around awhile, and for good reason. It's well-made, looks great, and like the Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily, offers an athletic but not snug fit on the body. It also packs smaller than any other shirt in the test.

But, the Astroman is clearly designed for climbers who haven't seen a scale read more than 165 pounds since they stood on it with their haul bag. Much has to be said about the flex this shirt has, which surpasses all others in the test. There's simply no restriction from the armpits or yoke, the shirt will go wherever you want it to and it will feel good along the way. It's not without drawbacks, though, and the first, most obvious is as plain as the nose on El Cap: the price.

Unless you're looking for a color not selling well, you can pay up to $95 for this further testament to the cost of climbing gear—pretty stiff stack of bills given the competition it's up against in this test. For example, our Editors' Choice can be found online for $55 and the Best Bang for the Buck Columbia Silver Ridge Lite is online at around $40.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $71.99 at Backcountry
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$55.00 at REI
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$35.75 at Amazon
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$79.00 at Backcountry
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$48.73 at REI
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Fabric stretch and movement, streamlined features, very lightweight and packableComfortable, sun coverage, versatile, water-ready, lightweightGreat value, lightweight, very breathable, looks good off-trail, excellent comfortComfortable, great pocket options, good for travel, UPF+ 50 sun protectionOff-trail style, dobbyweave fabric wears well, ideal length, overall sun protection
Cons Tight fit, most expensive in test, feel of buttons on skin, collar point snaps; stretchy fabrics lose UPF+ protection soonerHem length, lack of featuresOnly UPF+40, doesn't pack as well as others in test, difficult sleeve-capture tabsToo technical for daily wear, expensiveTight in the yoke, expensive, not as breathable as competitors
Bottom Line An expensive but very packable shirt for climbing, backpacking, and general outdoor use, the OR Astroman is for those who chose brand over budget.Patagonia's Capilene Cool Daily Hoody is a great fitting, lightweight, and well-rounded sun shirt; the best overall.A good-looking shirt at a great value, the Columbia Silver Ridge Lite floats around the torso and has a smart selection of features.The Patagonia Sol Patroll II is an outdoorsman's shirt that's comfortable and ideal for multiple uses, except for the officeGreat for what comes after the hike or climb, the Mountain Hardwear Canyon fits nicely and feels great.
Rating Categories Astroman Long Sleeve Capilene Cool Daily Hoody Columbia Silver Ridge Lite Patagonia Sol Patrol II Canyon Long Sleeve
Comfort & Fit (30%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
Sun Protection (25%)
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
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6
10
0
8
10
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7
Breathability (20%)
10
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8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
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8
10
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6
Durability (10%)
10
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5
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
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5
10
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5
Style (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
4
10
0
8
Specs Astroman Long Sleeve Capilene Cool... Columbia Silver... Patagonia Sol... Canyon Long Sleeve
Sun Protection Level 50+ 50+ 40 50+ 50
Coverage Long sleeve, collar Long sleeve, hood Long sleeve, collar Long sleeve, collar Long sleeve, collar
Features Snap collar, strechy, breathable material Large hood for added protection Roll-up sleeves, anit-microbial treated fabric Double-layer collar, roll-up sleeves Roll-up sleeves, zip pockets

Our Analysis and Test Results

The OR Astroman long sleeve was put through the paces during beach days along the central California coast, under a backpack while training for an Alps backpacking trip, and next to other test subjects in controlled testing for breathability, packing, and general wear and tear. We loved its ability to stretch and move and its overall casual look, making it a close competitor to the Mountain Hardwear Canyon for in-town style. Ultimately, as a sun-shirt, others in the test simply performed better and would make better all-around options. While the Astroman is marketed as a climbing shirt, there's little doubt that's not where its useful life ends, as it's a great option for the Pacific Crest Trail.

Performance Comparison



Comfort & Fit


The rear collar flap to bolster protection on the back of the neck is a nice value-add, similar to the Sol Patrol II. However, securing the front collar point snap is much harder than it should be. Why complicate it by hiding the female half of the button under a swath of cloth? If you can manage to marry the two without swearing the first few times, you're better than three testers who tried. It should also be noted that once snapped, the collar wrapped snugly enough to be noticed.

Outside of that baffling button design choice, the Astroman wears mostly really well. It's very light at 7 ounces, hangs nicely over the waistline, and encourages air flow between it and the person. Its athletic fit might be too "athletic" for some, but the 85-15 nylon-spandex mix almost makes up for it. The Capilene Cool Daily Hoody, our Editors' Choice Award-winner, also stretches well, but not like the Astroman. And, the latter's material is a close second in general comfort against the skin.

Casual comfort is always nice to have in a sun shirt  as their qualities often make for good travel and leisure apparel.
Casual comfort is always nice to have in a sun shirt, as their qualities often make for good travel and leisure apparel.

The shirt isn't tight across the chest but does get a tad firm in the shoulder and biceps, but that's quickly ameliorated by the flex of the 15% spandex makeup. The cuffs and sleeves remain true to a dress-shirt design by ending at the wrist, and the forearm snaps are ideally positioned for being undone and rolled up when needed, despite this being the only button-down in the test that didn't have a way to secure rolled-up sleeves. That's not necessarily a drawback, but this is: the back of the placket's metal ring snap closures are often felt against the skin.

The tighter fit works for some folks from a style perspective, but it doesn't help its sun protection factor, as it enables more UV rays to be that much closer to the skin. Wider, loose fabrics allow the garment's UPF-embedded fabric to act as a "shield" off of the body.

Overall, the fabric feel of the Astroman is fantastic and makes this shirt worth trying on in whatever store you happen across it unless your goal is only sun protection.

Sun Protection


Our measurements of the Astroman's center back length, which should be properly measured from where the bottom collar seam meets the yoke, read 27''. On its website, OR states a center back length of 29'', which would put it much closer to the Sol Patrol II and Best Bang for the Buck Columbia Silver Ridge. In summary, our measurements contradicted the manufacturers'.

With 50+ UPF protection and extra collar height, the basics needed to repel the radiation of our nearest star are present. The Sol Patrol and Canyon, others with flip-up collar appendages, have longer back lengths and the same UPF level. We found that the curved hem and shorter back length could lift the shirt in places during some activity, but it never resulted in excess exposure.

However, fabric that stretches is more susceptible to its sun protection waning over time, as fabrics that stretch wear out sooner, weaken, and allow more UV to pass through, according to skincancer.org. And if there's one thing the Astroman has in spades, it's stretch. Yet, studies have shown that spandex (lycra or elastane) is naturally more UV-resistant. So, it all comes down how the Astroman will hold up.

The fit is also the most "athletic" in the test, meaning it's tighter than others—also a drawback for sun protection. There's a reason why so many others in the test fit larger and looser.

Thus, if sun protection is why you're looking at the OR Astroman, maybe you should consider other options. While the spandex component could be considered a good thing, it might not be enough over time.

The coverage of a sun shirt comes into play when made to rest under a backpack. Does it move around? How does it rest under straps?
The coverage of a sun shirt comes into play when made to rest under a backpack. Does it move around? How does it rest under straps?

Breathability


The Astroman shakes off the wetness while drying quickly and circulating air around the person. Again, at only 7 ounces, it's not hard for even slight breezes to encourage this shirt's ability to cool. As was the case with the Cool Daily Hoody, the Astroman felt as if it actively cools during activity.

The inner yoke is lined with an "airvent," a swath of micromesh fabric that helps let more air pass through, the same material backs the left breast pocket, too. The Astroman lacks physical venting, making it unique among the other long-sleeved, front-button shirts in the test. The "AirVent™ Inner Back Yoke" seemed to do its part, but it wouldn't be a risk to say the shirt's breathability is largely due to its super-thin cocktail of nylon and spandex.

In the campfire test, in which each shirt was exposed to five minutes of campfire cologne, the OR performed above average, demonstrating the least amount of evidence it was hung over a campfire. Yet, like all others, it took two washes to fully de-funkify it. In the controlled drying experiment, the Astroman performed on par, drying to wearability with all the others in less than 30 minutes.

Durability


The Astroman feels weightless upon first contact, so doubt about its ability to withstand scrapes against granite or bushwacking are understandable.

The Outdoor Research Astroman showed no unusual signs of wear throughout testing, holding up to everything that was thrown at it. The tough-but-light nylon and the companion spandex blend allowed the shirt to move at every angle, never straining seams or reaching beyond its limit. This shirt scored slightly higher because its lack of external features mean less can rip, tear, or otherwise become subject to the toil of the backcountry. The Western shirt-style ring-snap closures, riveted through the fabric as opposed to sewn-on buttons, are a tougher attachment method, more than likely a necessity given the shirt's range of stretch.

Stretch and flexibility are nice traits to have in shirts meant for outdoor activity.
Stretch and flexibility are nice traits to have in shirts meant for outdoor activity.

Style


Outdoor Research doesn't promote the style factor of its Astroman shirt, but it's a slick piece of wardrobe. The athletic fit isn't a preference for everyone, but this shirt's lack of "outdoorsy-ness" would help its acceptance in the same sort of places the test's most stylish participant, the Mountain Hardwear Canyon, would be seen. The 15% spandex comfortably hugs the arms and shoulders without being bothersome, and almost gives the appearance of a tailored shirt. The "washed peacock" hue in the test isn't the best option in OR's crayon box, but that doesn't take away from the shirt's smart lack of features that contribute directly to it being such a good looking piece of kit.

Features


Like the Capilene Cool Daily Hoody, the Astroman's fabric is reason enough to purchase it. For those who prefer sun shirts decorated with extra pockets and secret collar flaps, the Astroman isn't your best option. It's clever lack of features help it stand out, especially as a climbing shirt. The sleek feel of the fabric and its low weight are part of its appeal. Disturb that, and you don't have the same shirt. The inner yoke vent, annoying collar point snap, and low profile breast pocket are plenty of extras to keep the Astroman, and its user, on task.

This sun and climbing shirt packed well among those tested  and is very lightweight.
This sun and climbing shirt packed well among those tested, and is very lightweight.

Best Application


The Outdoor Research Astroman would be ideal for climbing and scrambling, as the manufacturer indicates. However, we find its hassle-free stretch, effortless comfort, and low weight make it an ideal option for fast-packing or through-hiking. It also dries quickly, stuffs small, and resists body odor. With that, and it's good looks, it can mean an end to the term "hiker trash."

Value


This is a tough one. This is no-doubt a well-made, very comfortable shirt. The problem lies in the hard truths that for sun protection and performing in multiple outdoor activities, there are several better, more affordable options than the $94 Outdoor Research Astroman, namely Columbia's Silver Ridge Lite long sleeve and Patagonia's Capilene Cool Daily Hoody. Value is a tough metric to rate, as money means different things to different buyers. We have no choice as a consumer resource, however, than to err on the side of the average outdoor gear shopper. Shirts at this price range are why so many people flock to Amazon, wait for Black Friday sales, or try to bogart a buddy's pro deal.

Longer hemlines are preferred in sun shirts to aid in body coverage  the best way to stay protected from the sun.
Longer hemlines are preferred in sun shirts to aid in body coverage, the best way to stay protected from the sun.

Conclusion


Outside of a tedious collar closure and the cost, there's little to not like about the Astroman. It's the second most comfortable shirt in the lineup, keeps the UV at bay, and isn't much bigger than an iPhone when rolled and ready to travel. It's not as long or robust in coverage as the PFG Terminal Tackle Hoodie, Sol Patrol II, or Columbia Silver Ridge Lite, but it makes up for those hiccups with streamlined features, category-leading stretch, and overall good looks.


Craig Rowe