In the Netherlands, where we are based, Royal Robbins, is not that well known. I hadn’t heard about the brand until we came in contact with it through the Hanwag project in Fochteloërveen.
Royal Robbins was an American climber who in the 60s formed quite a well-known climbing duo in the Sierra Nevada with his wife Liz. They were part of a movement within climbing that focused on climbing as “clean” as possible. They climbed with removable nuts and, through this sought to have a minimal impact on the rocks and the rest of nature through which they moved. A nice quote from Royal Robbins:
“WHAT A PLEASURE TO CLIMB A FINE ROUTE AND FIND NO TRACES OR THOSE WHO HAVE COME BEFORE AND TO LEAVE NO MARK of ONE’S PASSAGE … TO USE ART INSTEAD OF FORCE.”
In 1967 the inspiration to start a clothing company comes from an unexpected angle. Royal and his wife Liz had come to the top of the Half Dome in Yosemite, where they asked a tourist to take a picture of them. When they came home they saw the photo: “When we looked at that picture, we said, maybe we’d better get into the clothing business.” In 1968 they started their company, which in the eighties will eventually come to be called the Royal Robbins.
A great heritage story of course but still relatively unknown in the Netherlands. During our hike through the Fochteloërveen we also received a number of Royal Robbins clothing items and we immediately noticed the very unique style of this brand. At first, to be honest, not all items were entirely our taste in style. It is very American, with fairly classic/traditional patterns and print on the shirts. The cut and size are also a bit American: where I normally wear a size Large, I wear size M at Royal Robbins. It is also clothing that really looks and wears casual-travel clothing, not necessarily huge technical clothing.
What we noticed right off the bat is how soft and comfortable the clothing feels.
This also applies to the Men’s Bug Barrier Tech Travel Long Sleeve. I have worn the shirt (in the color blue) during the hike through the Fochteloërveen as a base layer combined with a Royal Robbins shirt, with a heavy pack and the gray version in Sweden several times during camping and forest walks. Temperatures ranging from 5 – 20 degrees.
As said, the shirt is very comfortable to wear. Made from 91% polyester and 9% spandex, it feels great on the skin and due to the stretch in the shirt, it moves very well with your body when you move around. The shirt is nice and light, breathes and wicks well and dries quickly. In that respect, good technical material.
Even with size M, the sleeves are quite long and fall over your hands. What was very pleasant was the way the sleeves are attached to the rest of the shirt. The fabric of the sleeve extends all the way to the neck, with the seem running more or less along the collarbone. It looks nice but also gives a lot of freedom of movement to your arms.
The shirt, which is available in four different colors, still has a breast pocket, which I don’t quite understand why it is on. I would not know what you would use this for.
Royal Robbins uses InsectShield technology in which the fibers of which the shirt is made are impregnated with an insect repellent before the shirt is woven. It claims to provides defense against, among others, mosquitoes, ticks, ants, and midges. It is an odorless agent and because it is attached to the fiber instead of coating the fabric, the repellent should remain active even after many washes.
While making a breakfast at Fochteloërveen, I noticed that my traveling companions were being attacked by small flies and mosquitoes, partner Jimmy was stabbed dozens of times; I myself didn’t have one bite. Also in Sweden where, at nightfall, quite a few mosquitoes were active (less than I thought, incidentally), I had little trouble. I did lightly rub Deet’s neck and cheeks back then. But where I regularly experienced in the past that I was stuck through my shirt, I was not bothered by this shirt at all.
Do you want to wear an insecticide?
Permethrin, the active ingredient in InsectShield, was once sprayed over crops, but that use has since been banned in the EU. It is, however, permitted in various other means, sprays and in the form of “treated articles”. Permethrin itself is on the WHO list of essential medicines. This may sound strange, but it is a preventive measure against potentially very nasty diseases. I myself am very aware of, sometimes even wary of mosquito bites since I was stung in Nicaragua some time ago by a tiger mosquito carrying the dengue virus. It really not a disease you would want to catch, I can tell you. That is why I certainly take my measures, and from a personal sustainability perspective it may be best to wear an insect repellent close to your skin, then on or in your skin (if you rub in with Deet, for example, which is essentially a fairly aggressive product).
The products of Royal Robbins are Bluesign-approved, which means that they have a good basis in the use of materials and chemicals that are not harmful to the environment. The polyester in this product is RePET (recycled PET bottles) polyester.
The Men’s Bug Barrier Tech Travel Long Sleeve is a very comfortable, flexible, technically functional shirt that protects you against insects. A great package as far as I am concerned. And that for only $ 65,-. A successful first impression of Royal Robbins as far as I’m concerned!