At the risk of being ostracised/flamed, I'm going to do a short-ish (I know, it's not like me) review of the "Craghoppers 'Bear Grylls' Noquito Long-sleeved Adventure Travel Shirt".
Knowing the raging debate and polarised opinions about Bear Grylls that we see on this site, I intend to be primarily objective about this item of clothing. All I will say is that I think there is plenty of room on TV/print media for more than one or two specialists and/or presentation approaches for the outdoor survival and bushcraft industry. So there.
This was a surprise birthday present for me: knowing my keen interest in bushcraft, my mum and dad got me this based on the name on the label. They paid £36 for it; the RRP is £40 but look around on the internet for better deals. I was quite suprised to receive it but set about wearing it straight away to find out whether it was a white elephant or a genuinely useful bit of kit.
First off, the one I have is in 'Moss' - somewhere between OG and khaki. If you want to see what they look like, have a gander at:
Initial impressions were actually pretty good: the shirt is well made, with neat stitching and buttons of the slotted kind, with what can only be described as 'narrow webbing' holding them to the shirt. These are strong fixtures and the detail on the inside of the pocket buttons includes a small patch inside to stop the webbing/stitching from snagging.
The sizing is accurate - I have a 'Large' which fits very well (5'10", medium build, 40" chest).
There is plenty of venting on the back and shoulders and the two bellows chest pockets, whilst not that large, are roomy enough for basic essentials. There is a small zipped security pocket inside the left chest pocket but, other than for small items that might fall out of the main button-up pocket, it's not really that useful. It says 'passport-sized' but it feels a little small.
The blurb claims that the shirt has a "double-fold, cooling, SolarDry collar and permanent moisture control". I have to say, I'm not entirely sure how this collar works! If I fold it up one fold, it protects the back of my neck - there is also a different material under the first fold so maybe you're supposed to wet it and get cooling effect through evaporation. If I then fold it up again...I look like Harry Hill.
The material is a lightweight ripstop (100% SolarDry Supplex Ripstop Polymide - shirt weighs 270g), impregnated with an insect repellent (hence 'Nosquito' name) that is also supposed to be antibacterial. I haven't had any insect bites in the month I've been using it but is that really a 'true' test? I'm not sure. The antibacterial claim definitely appears to work as, even though I have sweated heavily in it, it doesn't smell of BO. Top! The material is also claimed to have a high sun protection factor (UPF40+ cover). I haven't burned in it but, again, this isn't really a good objective test.
The sleeves are buttoned at the cuff but can be rolled up and secured with a button tab if you want. The shirt can be quickly hand- or machine-washed and it dries outrageously quickly! This is what they probably mean by 'permanent moisture control' - it is very 'wicking'. In addition, there are two press-studded loops near the bottom on the inside that you can use to attach the shirt to a washing line/branch/dog/whatever.
There is 'Craghopper Bear Grylls' embroidered on the top right pocket flap and a small red 'bear' logo at the bottom of the shirt. If you're that embarassed, I'm sure you could unpick the stitching...
In terms of practicality, this is a good shirt for trekking, travelling and for summer bush work. The long sleeves/neck/material lead me to believe it is designed for use in hot/tropical climate and it wouldn't be out of place for light jungle work. After only one month of wear, I can't truthfully say that it is 'hardwearing' but there are no rips or big holes and only the occasional small 'puncture wound'!
Would I recommend it? Yeah...after initial use, I would actually - it does pretty much what is says on the tin. I'm sure there are other shirts around which profess to do the same thing for possibly less money but I haven't any experience of them so I can't do a relative comparison. This is essentially a Craghopper shirt with Bear Grylls' name on it - you probably pay a few quid for that celebrity endorsement. However, is this not the same as paying a bit more for something that RM or Lars Fjalt uses (knife, firestick, shirt, Fjallraven jacket, possibles pouch, etc)? Nevertheless, I'm not sure I can say it's 'value for money' yet as I have little to compare it to and I've only had it a month.
Right, I have my tin helmet and body armour on - flame me!!!