I want to start by highlighting two truths: I have wanted this shirt forever; this shirt was a gift for my birthday. Next, I shall say that this shirt does not disappoint and I love it. I love it so much that I no longer look at the $345 price tag and laugh, but wonder how much of a look I might get for buying another one.
I am not saying that you should for sure go get it for $345, I am saying that I like it enough that I might be willing to justify owning more than one — I certainly want more than one.
And that’s my summary of the Planet Earth Shirt from Vollebak, the makers of the most insane clothing out there. It’s pretty awesome and I love it, and I want more of it, but the price scares.
Amazingly, for how much I like this, it is primarily a cotton shirt clocking in at: 68% cotton, 21% polyamide, 11% elastane. Now, this isn’t typical cotton/performance blend — it’s a Schoeller fabric. And in addition to that it is treated with ‘Schoeller 3XDry and an antimicrobial treatment’. If there’s one thing you learn testing a lot of performance clothing, it’s that Schoeller makes some really nice stuff, this shirt is no exception.
It doesn’t feel like pure cotton, yet it drapes and is comfortable like cotton. It’s stretchy, smooth, and tough feeling all at once. This is a great material.
Fit and Style
From a fit perspective this shirt is very trim, cut high in the arms, with a good sleeve length. The body is short, so it is easy to wear untucked, and generally a very modern fit to it.
The style though, I don’t know what in the world to tell you about the style on this. I’ve worn it all over and no one has said a thing about it, but’s nuts. The collar is crazy, let’s talk about that. It’s made to stand up and fully close over your neck for protection. Yet it can lay down like a more proper collar, with like extra wings I guess.
It looks best with the top two buttons unbuttoned if you want it laying down, but that shows more chest that I feel is appropriate for work calls. Luckily I’ve gotten away with the slightly odder look of only the top button undone for work calls.
The rest of it is pretty techno-safari-jungle feeling. With odd thermo-plastic spots on it for reinforcing. Straps to keep rolled sleeves in place, and epic pockets all over. And vents. It’s really hard to make heads or tails of this shirt, so let’s just say if an away team wore it in Star Trek you would be like “yeah that checks out”.
Ok, I am not sure how to approach this one, because I cannot tell you that this outperforms a purely synthetic shirt or merino shirt. What I can tell you is that the performance of this shirt is still awesome. With normal perspiration you get about 2-3 days of wear out of it, with more you get 1-2 days. For a high-cotton value garment that’s the best you can hope for.
But the real performance of this lies in four areas:
- Venting: while the material is dense and can keep you from being chilled in AC — the shirt has vents all over the place to keep you cool when the environment heats up. Pull your arms forward and you reveal seams across the back. Lift your arms, vented pits. Unzip two zippers in the front, and you get two more vents. It’s old school, but executed well.
- Stretch: for how dense this shirt weave is, you would not expect this level of stretch, but it moves very well. In fact the high cut arm holes work only because of the stretch, but it all works together quite perfectly.
- Repellant: the thinking here is simple, that the dense weave and the DWR coating will help things slide off the shirt. That could be mud, water, or bugs. Either way it falls off the shirt. For the most part this actually holds true. The shirt doesn’t really become impacted negatively by anything. Odors are the only reason I have had to wash it, but I also have not tried crawling through mud with it.
- Utility: lastly, this shirt makes a huge utility play. Forget the many pockets, and instead focus on two different aspects. The first is that within the pockets is more organization, whether it is the small daisy chain loop, or the slotted and protected pen pockets. You can actually carry stuff in these pockets without those items bunching at the bottom of the pockets. The second is how the color and sleeves adapt to work with the venting. Easy to roll up and pin up, the sleeves, to cool off your forearms. Likewise, the collar can be flipped up and secured to easily protect your neck from bugs, or sun.
This isn’t the standard type of performance shirt I review. I can’t say that it dries so fast it’s magic, or that it resists wrinkles so much that you can wad it up on your bag, nor that it resists odors to the degree that you need only travel with one shirt. But for the performance items it does have, it shows that you can add tremendous performance to a shirt by executing on fairly basic ideas extremely well — that’s what this shirt is. It is performance because in spite of the cotton nature, I would take it into the jungle because everything is executed perfectly on it.
I absolutely love this shirt, but I can’t say “go buy this it is worth it”. I think people generally will find it tough to blend this shirt in and look normal. I think there are likely better outdoor shirts but, there’s something about this shirt that makes me want to wear nothing about it — in fact since getting it, it’s been one of my most worn shirts.
I almost feel like this shirt in a lot of ways is like a classic pair of work boots, or selvage denim — there’s a lot of reasons not to wear it, but when you do wear those items something very special happens. It looks weird, has odd features, but all of that comes together to make for a stupidly expense shirt that I love.