Clean or dirty, the Omni-Freeze ZERO is my go-to outdoor shirt

Omni-Freeze ZERO at Desolation

Sporting my fave shirt at Lake Desolation.

Have you ever had a shirt that you can’t get washed fast enough to wear again? Or you just dig it out of the hamper and wear dirty because it feels so good? I never really did until now. Columbia Sportswear sent me a box full of goodies to test when they invited my to join the Spring #OmniTen Team, in it were two Omni-Freeze ZERO shirts, one short-sleeve and one long-sleeve. I immediately started testing the short-sleeve version at the gym and liked the light cool feel. But the long-sleeve really won me over on the trail and for spring skiing.

Here is the main reason I’m in love with this shirt, it adapts to the temperature of my body, avoiding those too hot, too cold, moments so common in spring. I can put the Omni-Freeze ZERO long-sleeve shirt on and wear it all day comfortably from sun to shade.

After wearing it for a few weeks, I wore another long-sleeve shirt on a hike up Grandeur Peak, overlooking Salt Lake City. Three times on the way up I peeled off, then put back on that shirt. I just couldn’t get comfortable. All I could think was, “where is my Omni-Freeze?” THAT was when I realized how in-love with the shirt I had become.

So what about the short-sleeve version? I think summer will let that one shine, during the shifty temps of spring, the long-sleeve was the workhorse in my closet.

Here is Columbia’s marketing spiel on the shirts:

Designed to keep you comfortable during active outdoor endeavors, this high-performing long sleeve top wicks like crazy, features UPF 50 sun protection and utilizes Omni-Freeze® ZERO sweat-activated cooling technology, which reacts with sweat to lower the temperature of the material.

I feel I must find a negative just to be balanced. The only problem I had with the shirts is that they were too cute and risked ruining my reputation as an outdoor nerd. My skiing buddy commented that I matched like a socialite fresh of the slopes at Vail. Ouch, that hurt. Somehow, the shade of green trim on the shirts perfectly matched my ski pants and backpack trim. For a girl who collects most of her gear free or used, matching is rare. Looking at the Columbia site today, I’m not certain that green trim is still available, but the plain colors include some nice options, such as a tangerine shade called “zing”.

Short-Sleeve Omni-Freeze

Testing the short-sleeve version of the Omni-Freeze ZERO shirt on Mount Wire. The shorts are vintage Columbia.

Because I’m a walking mess on the trail, I managed to dirty up the white shirts pretty good. I was pleased that they came clean in spite of my efforts. However, if I buy another Omni-Freeze ZERO shirt, I’ll pick a color that will hide my filth on backpacking trips.

The price point of the shirts at $50 (short-sleeve) and $65 (long-sleeve), is more than I would normally spend. Nevertheless, I practically lived in the long-sleeve shirt since I received it just over a month ago, so I would consider buying another.

I’ll continue to test the short-sleeve shirt over the summer, along with other products from the Omni-Freeze ZERO line, and will report back with more reviews.

I received both shirts as product samples from Columbia Sports with no obligation to be kind. In fact, they make a point of telling us to share any negative feedback we had. I am absolutely in love with these shirts and tried to find a negative. Perhaps over time I’ll find something, but at this point they get my recommendation.

Comments 8

  1. I felt the exact same way. Love the feel of the fabric, love the look, and it keeps me way cooler than any other shirt I own. Only downfall is white gets dirty easily and hard to clean when you can’t bleach. But the white looks so damn pretty. I know have one for looking good and one for getting dirty. Great review Erika

    1. So far I’ve managed to get them clean but I know when I go for days on a trail they will get baaaaad. I may invest in another one in the zing color to be my “dirty shirt” as you suggested 🙂


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  3. I have dug through my hamper for that one shirt that I just had to have more times than I care to admit! Luckily this usually only happens with workout clothes so I consider it acceptable… They only get sweatier, right?

    I can’t even do white clothes on my day to day life so I get that completely! I’m kind of a mess…

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  5. Any update on if the shirts still perform as well after over a year of use & washings? Tried briefly to search for an update on this site (you mentioned an intent to update with further info in this review) but couldn’t find anything.

    1. Hi Dan,

      I’m sorry your comment got mixed with a bunch of spam that slipped my filter! Luckily it caught my eye in a quick scan before I hit delete. I haven’t posted an update, but I will tell you that they are still my favorite shirts. I’ve bought more since I was given the first one to test. I suggest not buying white as they do hold stains. I still wear my stained ones for backcountry stuff, but people move away when I wear them to a nice restaurant…:) If you watch for sales you can pick up last season colors for a good price. That’s what I do (I try to avoid paying retail for anything.)

      Thanks for your comment and sorry again for the delayed reply!

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