The Back Country Overland Long Sleeve Shirt from Morvelo is a very casual riding top that fits well, looks good and hides some useful technical features for actual riding. The breathable, windproof, four-way stretch fabric means it's just as comfy on the ride to the pub (or the lumbermill?) as it is when you get there.
Being a windproof and water-repellent polyester (with 8% lycra for that stretch), and finished with a DWR coating, the Back Country offers reasonable protection against spray, cold winds and brief showers.
It isn’t waterproof however, and soaks through fairly quickly (though it also dries pretty fast) and is no substitute for a jacket, especially as the button-up front is inevitably not windproof. The gaps the buttons leave are draughtier than even a basic zip.
While it's breathable, the fabric is fairly thick and has a soft, brushed lining. It wicks sweat fairly well though, and doesn't feel clammy or boil-in-the-bag during the kind of urban riding you're likely to do in a shirt like this.
The stretch means your movements are unhindered, and the Back Country is comfortable on the bike thanks to a loose but not baggy cut – there's little to snag on trees or bushes. But the downside of polyester is that it gets stinky easily, and eventually stays that way permanently. You might want to look like a lumberjack while ordering a flat white, but you probably don't want to smell like one.
Using this with a pack frequently could also create problems, as I noticed a little piling on wear points on my shoulders even during this test.
There are two small pockets on the back – roadie style, except with no middle pocket – and they're deep enough for a standard water bottle (or beer can). The layout is handy for riding or commuting with a pack, too, as it doesn't interfere.
What this shirt loses against proper technical clothing, it gains in other ways: the sleeves are easy to roll up or just unbutton for airflow, you can flip the collar up for a bit of sun protection, and obviously unbuttoning it means maximum ventilation. It's versatile: it’s good for casual riding and just general outdoorsy stuff. You’d probably find yourself wearing it as much off the bike as on.
The Back Country is well made and well finished, the fabric is capable, and it’s happy as a general mountain bike, commuting or gravel top. But while it actually does function pretty well, you'd probably buy this as much for the looks as anything. And that's fine, because the Back Country Overland is, in itself, as much about the looks as anything.
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