Coalatree Switchback Shirt Review: Comfortable, Cool, Eco-Friendly Shirt Made from Coffee Grounds and Plastic Bottles

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The Lowdown

The Coalatree Switchback Shirt is comfortable, can be worn more than once without becoming offensive, is wrinkle and stain resistant, and keeps you cool. In addition, the fabric saves landfills and the ocean and the company is committed to paying its employees a fair wage. What more could you ask for from a shirt?

Overall
5

Pros

  • Many of the benefits of merino wool in a strong synthetic material
  • Comfortable
  • Keeps you fresh and cool
  • Pockets are smart for travel while also useful day to day
  • Company is socially and environmentally responsible

Cons

  • Nothing
Coalatree Switchback Shirt Review: Comfortable, Cool, Eco-Friendly Shirt Made from Coffee Grounds and Plastic Bottles Listen to this article

“I’d like a shirt made from old soda bottles and coffee grounds,” said no one ever. That is, until Coalatree, purveyors of “Eco-Minded Goods,” created their Switchback Shirt. At $79.99, the Coalatree Switchback Shirt is not inexpensive, but it’s an unusual shirt with a lot going for it. Available in several colors, the Switchback Shirt is currently on sale for just $67.99.

Coalatree Switchback Shirt

I’ve always been the type of guy who wants to dress nicely but doesn’t spend a lot on clothing. (I believe the term might be “cheap.”) My T-shirts and jeans were always purchased from the Gap and only when they were on sale. My nice casual clothes were always purchased from a discount store such as Nordstrom Rack.

That changed over the course of the pandemic. I bought one merino wool t-shirt “just to check it out.” I loved it and bought another. And then another. Eventually, over the course of the last year or so, my entire wardrobe has pretty much changed. The benefits were significant. Merino wool is wrinkle-resistant, odor-resistant, and does an amazing job regulating temperature. In the winter, it keeps you warm. In the summer it keeps you cool.

When I was offered the opportunity to review the Coalatree Switchback Shirt, a shirt that claims to offer many of the same benefits as merino wool, I had to check it out. Much to my surprise, the shirt actually does what it promises. The ingenious fabric used to create the shirt has many properties that made me a merino wool evangelist. The Coalatree Switchback Shirt blocks UV rays, is odor resistant, regulates body temperature, and, yes, it is even wrinkle resistant.

Here’s how Coalatree was able to accomplish all of that with a synthetic material.

Coalatree took spent coffee grounds, mixed them with recycled plastic bottles, melted it all down, and then turned the combination of two materials into the fibers used to create a cloth they call “Ice Cafe.” Each Coalatree Switchback Shirt contains the equivalent of 3 cups of spent coffee grounds and 10 plastic bottles.

With so much plastic clogging up the world’s oceans, something is inspiring about a shirt that takes 10 plastic bottles and spent coffee grounds and keeps them out of landfills or worse.

Here’s a video look

In addition, Coalatree uses a dye method that is environmentally conscious because it uses less energy and water. They use “a “closed-loop” of CO2 vapors, not only can we reuse stored CO2, but we are able to circumvent the need for water to dye textiles.”

But the Coalatree Switchback Shirt isn’t just about environmentalism and sustainability. The fabric, created by combining recycled plastic bottles and used coffee grounds, has unusual properties that make it unlike any other synthetic material.

Coalatree Switchback Shirt

The gently textured fabric is tightly woven enough to blocks UV rays. That makes the Switchback Shirt a “chemical-free shield from the sun.” Especially with summers getting hotter in the Northeast, that’s especially important right now.

STAIN RESISTANT: Our shirt is stain, wrinkle, and odor-resistant, making it easy to clean. No need to find a last-minute laundromat when you’re on the road, smells, and messes won’t’ stick to the Switchback.

Coalatree Switchback Shirt

The Coalatree Switchback Shirt fabric is also wrinkle and stain-resistant. That makes it perfect for travel since you can roll the shirt into a ball, throw it in your bag, pull it out when you reach your designation, and it’s ready to wear. Better yet, you can actually wear the shirt while you travel and take advantage of some of its other benefits. More on that shortly.

In addition, the fabric dries quickly. That means you can rinse it out in the sink at night when you’re traveling and have a fresh shirt that’s ready to wear the next morning. If you have ever wanted to travel lighter, this shirt makes it possible to pack less but still look and smell fresh.

And there’s more. Thanks to the odor-absorbing properties of coffee grounds, the Coalatree Switchback Shirt’s fabric material is odor resistant. As the company explains,

Coffee is a natural odor-absorbing material. By weaving the grounds into the fibers odors are trapped as you sweat because the grounds are embedded into the fabric this feature is permanent and will never wash out.

That not only means that at the end of a long day, you’ll still feel fresh, but it also means less frequent washing is required. I used to be one of those people who would wear something once and then launder or dry clean it. It was excessive, wasteful, and time-consuming. With the Coalatree Switchback Shirt, you won’t need to do laundry nearly as often as you would with clothes made of cotton. That same money, time, and the environment.

Coalatree Switchback Shirt

Finally, the fabric that goes into creating the Coalatree Switchback Shirt actually keeps you cooler on hot days. As they explain,

Our fabric has been proven to lower the temperature around your body, making it perfect for those hot travel days.

Coalatree Switchback Shirt

And here’s the thing. The unique aspects of this fabric, from the wrinkle and odor resistance to its cooling effect, result from the fabric itself rather than treatment given to the fabric after the fact. As a result, the Ice Café fabric is

a sustainable yarn whose benefits will never wash out. This keeps pollutants from harming our water supplies

But there is more to the Coalatree Switchback Shirt than its unique fabric. The company set out to design a shirt that would work as well at home as it would on the road. And they succeeded.

Coalatree Switchback Shirt

For example, there are two breast pockets, but they’re not the same.

Coalatree Switchback Shirt

The pocket over the left breast has a flap and a button so you can keep items securely inside.

Coalatree Switchback Shirt

The pocket over the right breast is completely open, making it perfect for items you might want to grab quickly, like a pen or a phone.

I’ve never seen a shirt with two different styles of great pockets, but I like the approach and can see how it would be useful when traveling.

Coalatree Switchback Shirt

KEEP YOUR VALUABLES SAFE, ANYWHERE: Never worry again about pick pocketing while traveling! The Switchback has hidden zipper pockets so you can safely and discreetly stash your valuables. No matter where in the world your travels take you, pick-pocketers don’t stand a chance at getting your phone, wallet, or other valuables. Keep your mind at ease so you can relax and explore!

Those aren’t the only pockets on the shirt, however. The lower portion of each side seam hides a zippered pocket. That means there are two secure places to carry items while wearing the shirt. If you’ve ever traveled out of the country, you know how useful it is to have your wallet, some cash, or even your passport with you but safe from pickpockets.

Coalatree Switchback Shirt

The Coalatree Switchback Shirt is comfortable, can be worn more than once without becoming offensive, is wrinkle and stain resistant, and keeps you cool. In addition, the fabric saves landfills and the ocean, and the company is committed to paying its employees a fair wage. What more could you ask for from a shirt? Get one for travel, and I suspect you’ll be wearing it even when you stay close to home.

The Coalatree Switchback Shirt sells for $67.99; it is available directly from the manufacturer.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Many of the benefits of merino wool in a strong synthetic material; Comfortable; Keeps you fresh and cool; Pockets are smart for travel while also useful day to day; Company is socially and environmentally responsible

What Needs Improvement: Nothing

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.