The reinforced palm on the mitt proved incredibly convenient for rope handling. Normally I don’t like hassling with belay gloves, especially when I’m already wearing crack gloves. The mitts were easy to employ, either with fingers in or out, and provided just the right amount of protection and dexterity. The thumb-cap was handy for taking smartphone photos as well.
We were in the sun much more than anticipated, but the UPF fabric worked like a champ. The hood stretches enough to fit over a helmet, but most of the time I wore it under. Keeping my neck out of the sun was a game-changer. I didn’t find myself facing the sun often, but I would imagine that the integrated face mask would prevent burned noses quite nicely. For someone like me who hates sunscreen but has a familial history of skin cancer, this shirt is clutch.
My Shadow Shirts are size small and fit me well for being 5’10a and 145lbs. It’s important to note that the cut is loose to provide sufficient coverage, prevent ride-ups and promote ventilation. This isn’t an Underarmour bodysuit at all (so it’s actually possible to take on and off without pulling a muscle!).
The sleeves are on the long side to accommodate the integrated mitts, but can easily be slid up to the elbow or above, and stay put without fuss. As could be expected, the fabric isn’t offwidth-proof, so don’t expect to grind it up Scar’d Face without a scratch. With that said, the fabric stretches quite a bit and has held up well over six months of abuse.
I don’t normally get excited about base layers. A shirt’s a shirt. As long as it’s not cotton in the mountains, you’re good with Underarmor knockoffs from Walmart, right?
The Loki Shadow Shirt changed my tune pretty quickly. As I’ve come to expect from softgoods made by this Grand Junction company, the baselayer hoodie provides versatile and effective protection against the elements, both heat and cold. Like many Loki products, the Shadow Shirt features cuffs that convert to mitts and a hood with an integrated face mask.
And it unleashes the ninja within.
As a cold-weather base layer, the Shadow Shirt performs well. I wore mine for four days of scouting shenanigans in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in winter with temps in the thirties. When darkness fell, they dropped to about 10F before wind chill.
I was doing a lot of rappelling and jugging, and the thin synthetic material did a great job of wicking sweat. I especially appreciated the under-helmet hood, which covered my ears well enough that I didn’t need to wear an additional hat.
I also wore the Shadow Shirt on a Christmas Day jaunt up Kor-Ingalls in desert alpine conditions: heavy fog, wind and 30F. “It’s a beautiful day in Scotland,” we joked. The face mask earned its keep in the howling wind.
Where the Shadow Shirt truly shines (or shades?), however, is on hot and sunny days. It’s been a clutch piece for climbing in the blazing ultraviolet at El Potrero Chico. There are some routes like Tinewave Zero and Space Boys whose aspect and length make it impossible to escape the sun, no matter how early you start.
At first it was counterintuitive to me that wearing a hood could keep you cooler than letting your neck breathe. When I first wore the Shadow Shirt on the very south-facing Treasure of the Sierra Madre, however, it made perfect sense. Protecting my neck and the base of my skull from UV kept me from overheating while waiting for yet another descending part to rap through.
The synthetic fabric is rated at UPF 30+ sun protection, so you could climb under a magnifying glass and not get burned . It’s also treated with some anti-funk witchcraft that actually works at controlling odors. I still haven’t washed mine once after thirty days of climbing, so either my EPC crew has an unprecedented amount of tact and olfactory fortitude, or the stuff is effective.
My review of the stupendous Loki Tech Hoodie waxed rhapsodic. Were I given to assigning numerical ratings on a scale of one to ten, I’d give this a BLEAT! — there’s hardly anything on that piece that I could find fault with, and it’s been my ever-present companion day and night.
There are a few things I’m less than thrilled about with the Shadow Shirt. A thin quarter-zip would be ideal for venting extra heat while climbing or running with your back to the sun. The mitts don’t provide much warmth since they’re thin and make the sleeves bulky and overly long. If you’re rocking the Loki Tech Hoodie simultaneously, the Shadow mitts are superfluous (I tested the TH mitts down to 10F handling metal and snowcovered rock, and was impressed at their warmth to bulk ratio). Finally, there’s no pocket — the fabric is too thin to support a cell phone in the chest, but a zippered cycling jersey pocket would be handy.
I found that the reinforced palms on the mitts were were incredibly convenient for rope handling while cragging — I can’t stand messing around with belay gloves when I’ve already got crack gloves on my hands, but the integrated mitts were perfect.
Of course, extra features mean extra weight and cost, and the Shadow Shirt is both ultralight and affordable. You also have the intrinsic satisfaction of supporting a local Grand Junction company whose gear is designed by dirtbags for dirtbags. All in all, this is a solid bit of softgoods and I would happily buy another.