The Bluffworks Meridian Dress Shirt appeared an unlikely candidate for someone like me, but after months of wear it has cemented itself in my pack as my (professional) hiking (and traveling) shirt of choice.
I gave the Meridian a chance because I am such a big fan of Bluffwork's other products (their original pants, chinos, and travel blazer), and I am glad that I did. The shirt is marketed as a “high-performance, machine-washable, dress shirt that never wrinkles” but I decided to take it a step further and make it my hiking shirt of choice.
As a one-bag travel shirt, it's incredible. As a hiking shirt? Exceptional. The only thing it's missing? A hood.
Hooded dress shirts? A thing of the future?
I worn the Bluffworks Meridian Dress Shirt in a lot of different conditions. I used it as my default shirt traveling and hiking around New Zealand. It's been ocean kayaking, it's been to many a mountain pass, it's gotten some great rides hitchhiking, and it's kept looking flash enough to be allowed into the occasional bar or restaurant.
- Material: 98% polyester, 2% spandex
- Washing/Drying: Machine washable, line or tumble dry
- Patterns/Colors: Peak Blue Tattersall, Highland Grey Check, Deep Blue Mini-Check
- Fits: Classic and Slim
- Lengths: Regular and Tall
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
- MSRP: $125 US
- 2-way stretch fabric, built for movement
- Wrinkle-free, no iron shirt accomplished without formaldehyde or other harsh chemicals
- Pattern aligned pocket
- Anti-microbial, wear for 5 days without washing
- Lightweight breathable fabric, cool in all temperatures
- Reinforced buttons
- Brass collar stays
WHAT WE LIKE
THE COMFORT | The Bluffworks Meridian Dress Shirt is comfortable. I literally wear it traveling, hiking, eating, and sleeping (and sometimes bathing). Direct sunlight and heat? No problem. A chilly breeze and a spot of rain? Going strong. Sleeping in this shirt is no problem and I've yet to find it sticky or stuffy; the buttons offer adaptable breathability (does that count as a feature?).
THE UV-PROTECTION | I've been converted to wearing long sleeves when hiking to save myself from applying sunscreen (but as my sleeves have gotten longer, my shorts have gotten shorter so it ends up evening out). In my experience using this shirt ocean kayaking and summertime hiking in New Zealand (where the sun can be incredibly strong), I feel I've been had sufficient protection from the ball of fire in the sky trying to kill us all. But like I said, I wouldn't be opposed to the idea of a hooded dress shirt (I might be in the minority here). It would be a convertible collar sort of thing. No? Yes…
THE POCKET | I've never been one to appreciate a good shirt pocket, but now I'm scared that I won't be able to live without one. The pocket (on your left when you're wearing it), comfortably holds my 8 mm-wide phone, and it's deep/strong enough that I don't worry about said phone falling out (and it lets the camera peek above the top of the pocket so it's like a discreet body camera – you never know who's watching).
THE VERSATILITY | I generally don't carry, and I especially don't hike with, things that only serve one function. My trekking poles can spear fish and set up my shelter, my little, stuffed moose, Dog, watches over me and initiates conversations, and my Bluffworks shirt keeps me comfortable hiking and lets me pass as an acceptable member of society in town. A dress shirt you can hike in goes further than a hiking shirt you can be dressy in (but who wants to go to those places who don't welcome hikers straight off the trail, anyway?).
WHAT'S JUST OKAY
THE SMELL | The Meridian is marketed as being able to be worn “for 5 days without washing” thanks to its anti-microbial properties. I've put these properties to the test. I have worn this shirt for multiple, multi-day backpacking trips which require me to sweat profusely all day, every day. If I wear the Meridian for three or four days straight and sweat all day, this thing can work up a stink. That being said, after a quick rinse in stream or lake the smell appears to disappear entirely. Maybe my BO is just extra powerful.
THE STAIN | I wore this shirt for eight days straight during a traverse of the Tararua Range in New Zealand and at the end of the hike I noticed a stain on the sleeve. I suspect it's from bacteria that grew during my time not washing, but regardless of the cause, it's been tough getting the stain out. I don't know if this is more a function of the material, the color, or my own neglect, but I felt it worth mentioning.
WHAT WE NO LIKE
THE SIZING? | Bluffworks posts their sizing charts, but I wasn't quite sure what size and/or fit I would need for the Meridian. I got lucky and (I think) the Large/Slim/Regular fits me perfectly. That being said, Bluffworks offers free exchanges and even pays the shipping if you end up ordering the wrong size.
THE COLORS? | I feel like I'm being petty since there's nothing about this shirt I truly take issue with, but if I am going to expand my wardrobe, I am going to need a color that's not blue-inspired. The shirt comes in three styles (Peak Blue Tattersall, Highland Grey Check, Deep Blue Mini-Check), but if you're not a fan of blue then you might be saddened by the selection. My vote is purple.
WHO IS IT FOR?
TRAVELERS: If you're traveling (especially if you're wanting to take as little as possible – which you should be wanting to do), then it's absolutely worth your time checking out the Meridian Dress Shirt. It's nice enough that you can dress it up, but it's comfortable and versatile enough that you can also wear it out doing all the awful touristy stuff around town as well.
HIKERS: Love the outdoors, but are sick of the outdoor companies telling you what's cool? Thanks to Bluffworks you now have another option.
It's easy to adopt these ideas of the things we “have to hear” whilst participating in a particular activity, but the truth is that if something works for you, then that's the thing you should be wearing. The Meridian works for me and so until something better comes along (a purple, hooded Meridian), I'll keep wearing it.
The Bluffworks Meridian Dress Shirt is in fierce competion with my wool hoodie for my hiking top, but when it comes to traveling or trying to convince people I'm not homeless, the Meridian takes the cake (mmmm…cake).
Bluffworks is one of the few companies that I actively follow to see what they're going to do next because everything they put out I love (even their shorts which have since been discontinued). If you're looking to minimize your wardrobe or are just in need of a versatile and wrinkle-free shirt, then we both know what you have to do.
Disclosure: I only recommend products I love and have personally used. I never accept payment for reviews. I received a complimentary sample of this product but was under no obligation to write a review. This page also contains affiliate links which means at no additional cost to you, I may receive small commissions for purchases made via these links. This helps keep the site up and running.
Bluffworks Meridian Dress Shirt$125
- Wrinkle Resistant
- Pocket serves a purpose
- Can be worn in a wide range of environments
- Lack of color options
- Sizing might be difficult to nail on the first try
- Not as odor-proof as I would have liked to imagine