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Best Lightweight (Under 150g) Trekking T-Shirt

Ronhill's Advance Zip Tee at the end of a hot and humid day

Ronhill's Advance (Momentum) Zip Tee

Preface

Ronhill have replaced their Advance range with Momentum. There are some minor differences between the Advance and Momentum zip tees and we're checking exactly what these are with Ronhill, but certainly the zip depth and overall length seem both to have been shortened fractionally. Perhaps this accounts for the minor drop in price?

As always, we're looking at the Ronhill Advance Zip T-Shirt from the point of view of long distance trekking over tough terrain.

Test subject: Chest 42", Waist 33", Height: 5ft 8"
Test item: 2015 version, size = Large
Kit Tests: Summer
Disclaimer: None required (item not provided by manufacturer)

Datasheet

Materials: Vapourlite fabric (Polyester) 100%
Weight (Size Large, 2015 model) 140g
Product Sizing Reference: 42" Chest = Large
Manufacturer RRP (Advance / Momentum) £30.00 / £28.00

Manufacturer's Page


 

Scramble Review

Introduction: Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side ...

T-shirts, for those sunny days when we've stopped complaining about the brutal cold and have begun to winge about the withering heat.

When you're lugging a heavy pack up a mountain in 30+ degree heat, you'd rather have nothing on, but you need some protection against the sun and your pack, so the next best thing is a shirt with a deep zip to vent that trapped hot air and allow sweat to do its cooling thing. A trekking t-shirt absolutely must have a zip! But what else are we looking for?

A reasonably high collar for some sun protection, but also to shield the neck against pack straps and whatever else one might be hanging round it (in my case a Granite Gear "pocket" containing maps and snacks and also a compass).

We want a fast wicking, quick drying fabric, a reasonably loose fit that feels comfortable over a baselayer (for those chilly early starts), mesh panels in those areas that require most ventilation, flat-locked seams to prevent chafing. On top of that, we'd like it light (since on very long treks we might be carrying a spare) and to be reasonably hard wearing. Not too much to ask for?

Well, we've tried a good many of these things and surprisingly few manage to tick all these boxes. The main failings are the depth of the zip, the shallowness of the collar or an overly raised seam somewhere that manages to make friends with a part of your pack you'd never felt before.

One item, that has managed to answer all these demands is Ronhill's Advance Zip Tee.

The front and the back of Ronhill's Advance Zip TeeRonhill Advance Zip T-Shirt from front to back

So typically, Ronhill decided to stop making them, or rather provided an "upgrade" (that may or may not be inferior, afterall, it's not often in these inflationary times, that an upgrade comes in cheaper than its predecessor) in the shape of their Momentum Zip Tee. But here we're going to focus on the known knowns of the Advance Zip and reserve judgment on the Momentum's known unknowns.
 

Venting

Ronhill clearly made a conscious decision to provide deep zips. Theirs are much deeper than most and deep enough to slide a sensible map case/bag into. Opening up the shirt to well below the chest (to about 6 inches above my navel) allows a very welcome degree of venting on hot summer days.

The Advance's impressively deep zipThe Advance's deep zip and sensible collar

Aside from the deep zips, the top has generous mesh / perforated panels at the armpits and down the sides.

Close up of the Advance's mesh panel ventilationZooming in on the Advance Zip Tee's mesh under-arm panels


Comfort

Ronhill's Vapourlite fabric is a very silky smooth and low friction material that is extremely comfortable. Polyester is hydrophobic meaning it's an ideal wicking fabric, able to absorb approximately only 0.4% of its weight in water. This means the Advance Zip Tee also dries very rapidly.

In the hand the top feels quite sturdy, and it's only on closer inspection, holding the fabric up to the light, that you realise how light and porous it is.


Performance

In the last Summer kit test (2016) from south of the Elan Valley to the northern part of Snowdonia, with 9 full walking days covering 160 miles, I wore the Ronhill Advance every day, sometimes over a light baselayer, sometimes under Rab's Boreas pull-on, much of the time on its own, it performed superbly. There were plenty of moments when minor annoyances incurred my wrath, but no such un-called-for drama was vented at the Advance Zip Tee. In addition, though it doesn't have any "anti-odour" treatments, I don't recall it getting at all smelly, perhaps, but not noticeable.

From the recent batch of tested tees, the one that came closest was Inov8's Base Elite Zip weighing in at a very respectable 131g (size Large) and with a nice cut, though its zip wasn't as deep as we'd like. But its biggest failing was its raised seams, or perhaps more accurately the position of its raised seams, which caused chafing to the side of the mid-lower back. Here's a close-up of the offender:

Pack, meet Inov8's raised seamsZoomed in on the Inov8 Base Elite's offending seams

Another shirt of interest is Montane's revised Sonic Zip T-Shirt (L = 112g, XL = 122g, a Montane XL is likely to be equivalent to a Ronhill L based on our experience). The 2017 Sonic looks similar to the Momentum (both with a nice high-ish collar). Whether its lighter weight will affect its durability is not clear, what is clear however, is that it's 40% more expensive than the latest Ronhill and that zip is noticeably shallower.

From left to right: Ronhill's Advance, Momentum and Montane's Sonic Zip

Hopefully this "zip shrink" isn't part of the overall shrinkflation that's so ravaged our well known chocolate bars and tea bags.
 

Any Negatives?

Not in terms of the Advance, but we'll reserve judgment on the new Momentum. It looks like the zip is still a healthy depth and the fabric is the same, we haven't had a chance to check it out yet and Ronhill, releasing only front-on product images isn't very helpful.  

 

Conclusion & Rating

The Ronhill Advance Zip Tee is an extremely comfortable, light and airy top, ideal for use in hot climates, that's surprisingly hard-wearing and which out-performs much of its more expensive competition. But what really sets the Ronhill Advance apart is that deep zip.

We're starting to see a trend, where manufacturers absolutely nail a design, and then decide to mess it up. If it ain't broke don't fix it. Let's hope Ronhill haven't "fixed" the Advance Zip T-Shirt too much with their Momentum release. We'll keep you posted. In the meantime, the Ronhill Advance (and perhaps by extenstion the Momentum) remains our top pick in the Trekking T-Shirt category.

 

Product Images

 

Rating (out of 10)

Function
 
9.0
Durability
 
8.5
Weight
 
8.0
RRP Value *
 
8.0
OVERALL RATING
 
8.4


* The value score is derived from two factors:
1) Competitive Market Price (CMP). This represents our judgement of a competitive online price point if we were to stock the item. e.g. if we feel we would need to sell an item at 40% off (i.e. 60% of its full RRP) to be competitive, then our CMP score will be 6/10.
2) Customer Value Price (CVP). We then make an honest appraisal of the maximum price we would be willing to pay for the item (and we're mean). So if we'd pay 80% of its RRP our CVP score would be 8/10.
We then average the two scores to get our final value score, which in our example would be 7/10.

 

Last Updated: 11/04/17



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