Monday, January 30, 2012

Product Review - 5.11 Professional Polo

The good folks over at 5.11 Tactical asked me to do a review of some of their apparel, and since I wear polo shorts most of the day, they let me do a review of one of their Professional Polo's.

The shirt itself is a standard, but well built, short sleeved polo shirt, but with a few extras thrown in:

First, instead of having a breast pocket or no pocket at all, there is a double pen pocket on the left sleeve.  It stood up to capped pens, metal mechanical pencils, and old fashioned wooden #2's with no stretching or ripping.  The pocket is bisected so that pens can be carried without becoming tilted to one side or another.  The pen pocket is deep enough that a pen can be entirely encased in it if necessary, but isn't so stiff at the opening that you can't get it out easily or have it clipped to the outside for quick access.  It is a bit more difficult to get at your pen when you're wearing a jacket, but it's not too bad.  You just look like a goober reaching up in the sleeve of your coat for a few moments.

Pen completely inside pocket
Another touch that 5.11 added was permanent stays in the collar to keep it from curling.  I put this shirt through 10 cycles in the washer and dryer, and the stays didn't deform at all.  The collar stays folded correctly and the corners do not curl at all.

Collar Stay after 10 cycles through the laundry
5.11 also advertises the shirt as not wrinkling, shrinking, or fading, and it meets that standard.  After 10 cycles of warm water and hot dryer, the shirt stayed completely wrinkle free after being hung on a hanger, and had only minor creases after being stuffed in the bottom of a gym bag for a few hours. These minor wrinkles came out after a few minutes of wear.  The shirt did not shrink at all, and I only noticed extremely minor fading at the top of the collar notch seam.  Please note that I went over the shirt with a fine toothed comb looking for defects after use, and the fading I saw had to be looked for.  Irish Woman did not notice it until I pointed it out, and I only noticed it after the first washing and it got no lighter or larger.  It may have been excess dye in the material coming out at a point in the fabric that is held tight by the stitching.

The shirt has generous cuts at the bottom of the side seams to make it more comfortable to reach for a wallet or a something carried at the belt line.

The material used isn't the softest cotton I've ever worn, but it is very comfortable and wears well.   It's also pretty rugged.  It's not the shirt I would wear to go out and cut wood with the chainsaw, but I have snagged it on car doors, had computer equipment rub against it with sharp edges, and worn it while doing work around the house with no wear and tear.  I didn't cut at it with a blade or a sharp rock, but that's not the kind of abuse it's designed to take.  

I tested how well it took getting dirty in a few ways.  It got splattered with tomato sauce, finger paint, greasy crud from the inside of an old computer, and motor oil.  I washed it after each of these messes in warm water with standard laundry detergent, and it all came out with no staining or oil marks.  That alone impressed me.

I wore the shirt to work, while out with the family, and around the house.  It wore well, didn't bind up when I was reaching for things or wrestling with Boo, and was very comfortable to wear.  This being winter, I wore it with an undershirt, and it was warm enough that I didn't need a sweater for quick trips to the car and such.  The material is light enough that I expect it will breathe well in warmer weather.

5.11 Tactical's Polo Shirts for Men are priced between $34.99 and $49.99, which may seem a bit high for a polo shirt.  However, the quality, comfort, and ruggedness of the shirt lead me to believe that it would last and be wearable in an office environment for much longer than the less expensive polo's I wear from department stores.  They come in a myriad of colors, so you don't have to go to work looking like Tactical Tony in coyote brown if you don't want to.

So my take away on this shirt is that it's a good value, it's comfortable, and it will last as long as you care to wear it.

Disclaimer - 5.11 Tactical provided me with the material I tested for this review.  I was given no other consideration for writing it, and I am offering to return the shirt now that the evaluation is over.  

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