By Jeannie DeLoach

There are few things in life I love more than a comfortable shirt. Whether out on the trail or having a lazy day at home, I revel in snuggling something soft. Over the years, I have accrued a whole shirt drawer that sparks joy and invites cuddles.

So I was naturally skeptical of American Backcountry’s 2019 shirts when I heard they contain recycled plastic bottles—seven bottles per shirt, in fact. Seven seems like a lot of bottles to wear around. Additionally, “plastic” and “bottles” are not words I have ever associated with “soft.”

But since sustainability is one of the few things I love (only slightly) more than comfy shirts, I was willing to give this one a try. I am so glad I did because, y’all, this shirt is soft. It is amazingly soft! I have been wearing it constantly. I resent having to take it off to wash it. It’s really that soft.

The shirt is the American Backcountry “Bearly” tee. It is a heathered rusty red with a design of a black bear. Superimposed on the bear are a smaller black bear family trio ambling through an aspen forest. It’s cool artwork. I like it because it reminds me that my family and habitat is part of me and that I’m part of them. I’m part of an ecosystem.

And then it’s neat to think about this shirt’s ecosystem. Someone uses and then recycles a plastic bottle; the bottle then become this shirt. It’s the bottle’s second life. And the bottle must have had good karma, because I think—between being a bottle and being this shirt—this super soft shirt is a major upgrade.

This shirt’s artwork, as with that of all American Backcountry’s 2019 line, was lovingly designed by Eric Iovino. American Backcountry has long been known for its Fundraiser Tees created for groups such as the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Leave No Trace, and the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative.


Details

When I took the shirt on the trail, I found that it breathes well, looks rad, and indeed was exceptionally comfortable. I’m usually militant about avoiding cotton on outdoor excursions, but I was pleased to discover that this mostly-synthetic blend* dries quickly. It has the light, soft, breathability of cotton with the damp-resistant properties of a true synthetic blend.

*50% REPREVE® Polyester; 37% Modal; 13% Cotton

Pros

  • Comfortable (very soft!)
  • Fresh color & artwork
  • Made using 7 recycled water bottles
  • No detected shrinkage when washed
  • Well-made, seems like it will last a long time
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • The 13% cotton makes me hesitant to take this shirt on more serious outdoor trips.

Bottom Line

It’s a good-looking tee that maximizes both comfort and sustainability. We really can have it all!

Check out this shirt and the rest of their 2019 collection at: https://www.americanbackcountry.com/store/national-parks-catalog/repreve-5/new-for-2019.html

Disclaimer: American Backcountry provided me with this shirt in exchange for a review.

Jeannie is an outdoor adventurer, wilderness guide, distance runner, bookworm, and ecology enthusiast based in California. Off the trail, she uses research and design to make technology more user-friendly.