I’ve never really had proper technical clothing until recently. I have my little adventures in whatever is sitting in my wardrobe. I shop to a budget and in sales and to be honest I’ve never really seen the point of spending loads of money on clothing when cheaper items “will do”.
But over the last year or two, with testing out a number of pairs of technical shoes, I have come to realise that the right kit does actually help. Certainly on your feet. Earlier this year I spent £15 on a microfleece and £50 on a new waterproof coat, both in the sale, but trying to get the best specification I could afford rather than just getting anything. I’m still not sure how much difference the technical kit makes, apart from looking the part. The North Face sent me one of their La Reina T-Shirts to wear when I did the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge recently, and so it was the perfect opportunity to find out.
This t-shirt is lightweight and made from polyester and their Polartec Power Dry technology to give it powerful wicking qualities to keep you cool and dry when you work up a sweat. It rolled up really tiny in my bag, and didn’t crease like a cotton t-shirt would have done.
I like it. The medium fitted ok (all this walking hasn’t helped my tummy area!). The neat round neck meant it sat under my microfleece comfortably – a collar would have been less useful for this occasion. And it did seem to do its job well – I worked hard that day, that climbing was tough and I definitely worked up a sweat. With just this t-shirt, a microfleece and a waterproof coat I was cool enough when walking quickly and just about warm enough at the top of the windy peaks. I say “just about” because it was incredibly windy and when you stop for any time up there you do get a bit chilly, but I didn’t shiver and wasn’t uncomfortable. Ok so when I took my fleece off for this (I look terrible) photo to be taken (that’s Whernside in the background, we’re about to tackle the climb of Ingleborough) I did get cold then!
I didn’t have a problem with sweat on my back where I was carrying my bag, and didn’t have to keep taking layers off and adding them on like I saw others do. I did look like a colour clash though… the muted shade of red kind of looked ridiculous with my purple microfleece and blue waterproof coat. Never mind!
When I got back I washed my t-shirt and noticed how quick it dried, which was excellent. However one thing that has disappointed me is that it now has lots of little catches in the material – little nicks and pulls where the weave has failed. I only washed it with other similar items, nothing that should have damaged the material. It is a real shame as my t-shirt no-longer looks as good as it did before – it looks old and worn even. I will obviously still wear it, I’m not worried about that really, just a bit disappointed because I would have expected it to look perfect for longer. I’m would hope that this issue is a one off and other The North Face kit won’t do that when washed.
The North Face La Reina T-Shirt comes in at £35 which I consider loads for a top, but having worn it I can see why I would choose a technical tee like this over a standard cotton t-shirt for adventures in the future. Technical clothing is a massive business – I don’t doubt that I could have completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks wearing a normal t-shirt under my fleece, but I can honestly say that with the La Reina I didn’t have any sweat issues, or chaffing where the seams would have been, and in fact didn’t even think about what I was wearing apart from that I felt fine. Technical kit like this seems to give you opportunity to concentrate on your task at hand. I’d better get saving for the rest of the kit!