With a classy, feminine cut, this shirt looks just as good out in nature as it does in the front country. Its underarm panel and seams are designed comfortably so you can just as easily paddle in this shirt as you can hike. The only things we don't like about this shirt is how high the sleeve tabs are and how easily it wrinkles.
REI Co-op Sahara Long-Sleeve - Women's Review
Cons: Wrinkles relatively easily, sleeve tab extremely high
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REI Co-op Sahara Long-Sleeve - Women's
|Price||$59.95 at REI||$60.00 at REI||$45.73 at REI|
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|$22.98 at Backcountry|
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|$84.99 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Flex fabric/vent in armpit, attractive cut and style, good for diverse activities||Incredibly lightweight, very breathable, great coverage, super stretchy||Super lightweight, built in hand covers, extremely breathable, ponytail hole in hood||Soft, comfortable fit, stretchy, ripstop material, classy design for versatile use||Comfortable cuffs, breathable fabric, hood fits comfortably under helmet|
|Cons||Wrinkles relatively easily, sleeve tab extremely high||Gets dirty easily, too stretchy to keep heavy items in the pocket||Snags easily, very low UPF, hand covers could be designed better||Large fit; tricky to size, dark colors||Odd seam in middle of neck, tight band at bottom of torso|
|Bottom Line||Comfortable and stylish, this sun shirt is great for both in and outdoor use.||A really useful sun shirt that's a great choice for just about any sunny activity.||A super breathable shirt with handy functions that keeps you both warm AND cool.||From spending the day hiking to meeting friends for dinner, this soft shirt from Columbia is sure to keep you protected and stylish!||If you want a hooded breathable shirt for hot days without the hassle of thumb holes, this shirt is for you!|
|Rating Categories||Co-op Sahara Long-Sleeve||Crater Lake Long Sleeve Hoody||Echo Hoody||Silver Ridge Lite Long Sleeve||Alpenglow Hoody|
|Comfort & Fit (30%)|
|Sun Protection (25%)|
|Specs||Co-op Sahara...||Crater Lake Long...||Echo Hoody||Silver Ridge Lite...||Alpenglow Hoody|
|Sun Protection Level||35||50+||15||40||50|
|Coverage||Long sleeve, collar||Long sleeve, hood, thumb holes||Long sleeve, hood, hand cuffs||Long sleeve, collar||Long sleeve, hood|
|Features||Chest pockets (snap), tab sleeves, back vent, vented underarm, sunglasses loop||Extra large hood, draw string at waist, hip pocket (zipper)||Fold-over mitt cuffs, ponytail hole in hood||Chest pockets (velcro), back panel, tab sleeves, hip pocket (zipper)||Hood|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The REI Sahara is a button-up shirt with a collar, made of 95% nylon and 5% spandex. It has a 35 UPF rating and features two snap chest pockets, tab sleeves, a back vent, active-style underarm, and a sunglasses loop.
Comfort & Fit
We think the fabric of the Sahara is quite soft and comfortable to wear. It's not the softest or thinnest collared shirt we tested, but clever features and overall flexibility help to make it a great option for staying comfortable and happy, no matter what shape you are. One feature that we do not find on any of the other button-up models we tested is the underarm panel which helps vent our armpits and eliminated those underarm seams that often cause uncomfortable rubbing during paddle sports. This shirt also has a relaxed, yet classically feminine cut that we like.
The Sahara's features are understated and blend into the design of the shirt better than so many other similar shirts with gaudy pockets, tabs, snaps, and zippers sticking out everywhere. It has less obtrusive chest pockets with small snaps rather than hard-to-use velcro. Our most significant complaints about the Sahara are how easily it wrinkles inside our suitcases when we travel, and how high the sleeve tabs are - they practically make this a short sleeved shirt!
At 35, we aren't blown away by the UPF rating of this shirt. While certainly substantially more protective than sunscreen, this is one of only a few shirts included in this review with a UPF under 50. We also feel that the buttons just below the neck of this shirt could be more helpfully placed. While leaving them unbuttoned is attractive and comfortable, to protect our chests by buttoning up the shirt completely is too tight around our necks.
However, we are very impressed with the sleeves, which are long enough for even our self-described "ape-armed" testers. They also boast a curved cuff that does a great job protecting the backs of our hands from those harmful UV rays.
The thickness of the fabric of the Sahara is about the middle of the road for collared shirts we tested. It's not so thick you feel stifled in it, but also isn't as thin as some others that almost feel as though you're not even wearing a shirt.
Additionally, our reviewers love the vented back panel. Unlike the other button up shirts we tested, the Sahara has no inner mesh layer. Instead, it vents directly to your skin, via six small slits that connect across the back with reinforced stitching. It's very helpful for keeping you cool, though it can get a bit trapped shut under a close-fitting backpack. It also wicks moisture well and dries quickly.
REI makes the Sahara with double-stitched hems stitched into a 95% nylon, 5% spandex blend. This gives it good stability while still being flexible enough to allow for a good range of motion. The underarm panels are also treated to be odor resistant, which is a nice touch during your thru-hike or extended camping trip.
Though it's not as thick and beefy as some others, we had no issues with the durability of this shirt during the multiple rounds of several months of testing we subjected it to.
We really like the classy, feminine cut and versatile design of this shirt.
We feel it outcompetes the many boxy or loose shirts out there for style and is much more versatile as both a sun shirt and just a nice indoor option. Though it is available in only a few colors, we like that the options are a blend of colors that won't break your eyeballs or make you feel like you're 12 again. Additionally, this is one of only a few shirts in this review that we feel can make a smooth transition from the trail to the office, earning it our Top Pick for Most Versatile Sun Shirt.
The Sahara has several understated features that we feel make it useful and classy. The two chest pockets snap closed and are large enough to fit an iPhone 6 while closed! This shirt also has high sleeve tabs, a vented back, a movement/smell friendly underarm panels, and a sunglasses loop.
This shirt isn't cheap but is about the middle of the pack when it comes to price. However, for the number of activities, places, and scenarios you can appropriately wear this shirt, we feel it is well worth what you'll pay. You might even love it so much you end up buying two - have you used your REI dividend yet?
Overall, this Sahara sun shirt from REI is a well-rounded sun shirt for so many different activities. Though it may not have the coverage of some of the other shirts in this review, we think it's a highly versatile shirt that even the anti-button-up shirt-wearers among us have a hard time disliking.
— Maggie Brandenburg