ExOfficio is clothing designed for travel; for life on the road. Their ever-popular Nio Amphi line is amphibious (i.e.: quick-drying), offers a UPF of 50 and has a stain-repellant peached finish. The Logic System’s jackets and vests seem to be better organized on the road than I am, thanks to a selection of creatively labeled interior pockets. And the Give-N-Go underwear is somehow fittingly advertised to be worthy of seventeen countries, six weeks and one (okay, maybe two) pair of underwear.
The brand is well entrenched in the travel and outdoor industries, and is making a concerted effort in the ever-growing fly fishing realm. With a past in outdoor retail, I have sold a plethora of ExOfficio products to world travelers and fishermen alike. Mentally, ExOfficio is one of the brands I reach for when outfitting a certain customer. Someone who needs to looks presentable but also needs clothing that performs.
I’m hard on my gear. And I’m picky. I expect it to be able to keep up with me in the field and, ideally, turn around to go out to a client dinner and drinks in the evening. The fact that I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the past year means my clothing needs to do double – or even triple – duty.
ExOfficio always comes through, and the Dryflylite shirt is a consistent favorite. It’s taken me from a four-month stint above the Russian tundra where I wore it kitting out guides in the morning, hopping Mi-8s on supply runs in the afternoon, and then to guest dinners in the evening. It’s survived disaster relief training sessions in the south Texas brush, lasting three and four days of hiking, rolling in the dust, and crashing in tents. I’ve met clients in the shirt, soaked it in water to cool down during hundred and ten degree climbing sessions, and fished all over the West.
A classic long-sleeve button down, the Dryflylite is a breezy 80% nylon / 20% polyester blend with a “floramesh” lining which helps keep the slightly heavier fabric off the body and allow cooling. A smooth peached finish dresses the shirt up a bit and also means avoiding the dreaded “crinkly” sounds that many travel and fishing shirts make – this shirt is in stealth mode.
It hand-washes well, and has more than once jumped into the shower – or river − with me when I’ve been away from facilities. Quick-drying fabric means it is dry enough to wear eight hours later, even in cold, damp conditions. I’ve seen it dry in twenty minutes in extreme heat.
I spend most of the time with the sleeves rolled up (the sleeves are just a bit too short for me, as most shirts are) and tabbed back, and usually layer a tank underneath so I can leave the shirt unbuttoned. Two vertical chest pockets are just large enough to hold a few lens caps.
Fabric notwithstanding, the Dryflylite is a pretty basic shirt. No fancy odds and ends, no miraculously hidden pockets hiding inside. The bottom hem is straight with basic slits on each hip to accommodate a bit more movement. It’s utilitarian, and gets the job done.
My oldest Dryflylite – the green one pictured − is a little over five years old and is just now starting to show some wear-and-tear. The fabric is sweat-stained in strategic spots and, at some point or another, has been caught on barbed wire fences and flies, but it’s still kicking and I foresee getting a few more years use of it. And, hopefully, continuing to see the world.
I’m spending the next eight months camping out on one of the great rivers of the West documenting the heart of the fly fishing industry, sleeping on a cot and living, once more, out of a duffel. I know the Dryflylite will be a shirt I reach for (far too much, likely).
The Dryflylite is available for women in sizes XS to XL in a variety of colors from bone (basically a light tan) to a highly pigmented plum. It also comes in striped and checkered patterns and in a cap-sleeve version. For me the cap sleeves defeat a bit of the purpose – sun protection – but some may find it a cute casual style.
For the guys, the classic Air Strip long sleeve shirt features the same lightweight fabric, with larger, pleated bellows chest pockets.