Morocco’s annual Marathon des Sables is a six-day, 150-mile solo race through the Sahara Desert. It’s among the world’s most extreme endurance events. Temperatures have reached 125 degrees some years, and it’s an unsupported race so you have to carry all water and supplies in a backpack.
RailRiders’ Eco-Mesh shirt was literally invented for this race. At the request of one of the U.S. racers, the company designed a shirt that would block the sun while letting the body breathe under the race’s ridiculously harsh conditions.
To keep you as cool as possible under the hot sun, the shirt has a three-inch-wide continuous mesh vent that runs up the side of the torso, into the armpit and back down to the wrist. There’s a large mesh vent on the upper back, and the shirt’s thin nylon fabric passes moisture to avoid any clamminess.
Weighing 5 ounces, the Eco-Mesh shirt is skimmed down to just the essentials. There are no snaps or buttons. A single pocket on the chest closes with a small patch of Velcro. The cuffs cinch around your wrist with lightweight elastic.
While my testing conditions were far from Saharan, I found the Eco-Mesh shirt to be a great top for running and other aerobic activities. Its loose fit and ample ventilation make it feel light and very breathable.
Unlike some other tops I use for running, however, the RailRiders shirt is not ideal as a base layer for cooler days. Its baggy nature and unique construction are only optimal when the shirt is worn alone and next to the skin.
In addition to its good performance, the shirt is handsome enough to wear to work or while grabbing some food after a race. Indeed, according to RailRiders, Ian Adamson, one of the world’s top adventure racers, said his wedding vows in an Eco-Mesh shirt.
Contact: RailRiders, 1-800-437-3794, http://www.railriders.com.