Firstar Triple Threat T3 Sportswear Review

by Ed Lau on September 23, 2011

I know this isn’t a movie or a restaurant or something else you might expect me to write about on my personal blog and while I might not be a professional (or even amateur) athlete by any stretch of the imagination, I’m probably just as qualified as anyone to give you a real world, actual person review of a shirt like this.

Why? Well, first of all, I’m a born and raised Canadian kid and therefore, I’m built for the cold. I can go outside in the show with a t-shirt and a windbreaker and I’ll be fine but put me anywhere upward of 25 degrees Celsius and you can cue the complaints about the heat within the first ten minutes. I don’t wear anything but these sorts of shirts that are designed to keep you cool at the gym and I’ll seldom wear anything else when I’m traveling. During my Japan trip three years ago, despite being in one of the fashion capitals of the world, I couldn’t wear any of the great clothes I bought since it was damn near 40 degrees out so I needed to wear something appropriate to keep myself from melting in the heat of that rising sun, usually moving quickly on foot carrying 25 pounds of camera equipment on my back. Sure, maybe this particular shirt was designed with someone like Ryan Kesler in mind and while I don’t think I do anything as strenuous as playing 20 minutes in an NHL game, activities like climbing a mountain in Kamakura to see a giant Buddha statue or navigating the streets of Vancouver in the midst of rioters, tear gas, fire and chaos is tough work too.

I’m not exactly sure if they’ve hit the American market yet but Firstar is gaining some ground here in Canada. I can see the appeal…they’re a thoroughly Canadian company and the marketing features the likes of Kesler and James Reimer, who undoubtedly appeal to the target audience of Canadian, hockey-crazed masses. I pass by the Firstar office in Richmond almost every day and hear the commercials on our local radio station often but if I’m honest, I’ve relied on a couple of the other brands for so long that I like to stick to what I know. That being said, I was excited to take their new shirt for a spin when they asked. I buy plenty of similar shirts already. All the better if I know I’m buying from a company that’s located just down the street from my house. They mailed me one of their latest Triple Threat shirts about 6 weeks ago. What do I think of it?

The Triple Threat is made of 92% polyester and 8% spandex, available in a number of different colors. Mine is black with red accents on the sides of the torso. Since it’s probably going to be worn underneath a hockey jersey or something else most of the time, I personally don’t think the styling is all that important but it does look good and functional without getting silly like some others have with weird camouflage and the like. So when you do wear it to work out at the gym, you’ll look like a person rather than a peacock.

This particular shirt is a tighter, compression fit. Even though it’s a large, if this wasn’t made of stretchy synthetic fabric, it would be more of a small and I’d need a shoehorn to get in it. For example, pre-stretch, the shirt is about 2/3s as wide at my shoulders. However, it does fit quite nicely. It’s snug without feeling tight. I’m guessing this is what Firstar calls T3 Technology, which “reduces the muscle fatigue caused by clothing’s restrictions of the body’s movement.” Even though the shirt is snug, I didn’t feel like it was preventing me from a full range of motion.

The fabric is very thin and breathable. As stupid sexy Ned Flanders would say, it feels like you’re wearing nothing at all…nothing at all…nothing at all! While some other athletic shirts have vented sections with tiny holes for extra breath-ability, the Triple Threat is the same throughout but still feels very cool. My only real complaint about the feel of the shirt is that the stitched seams on the inside are quite pronounced and stick out while other sportswear companies have made it a point to keep the seams as minimal as possible to keep in the side of the shirt smooth.

I know this sounds like a nit-pick but these shirts are designed for movement and having those threads rub against your torso repeatedly can get irritating with all the friction. Just ask marathon runners what they have to do to their nipples before a race.

Firstar shirts use something called MST Microfibre Technology, which is their moisture wicking solution. I don’t know if I’m the person to explain the science behind it so if you want to know, click here.

Wearing regular cotton shirts and playing sports means you’ll have a heavy, sweaty shirt afterwards. Wearing something like the Triple Threat basically helps that sweat evaporate more quickly, keeping you drier and cooler, since body heat is lost in the process of boiling your sweat away. So it stands to reason that the quicker this happens, the better you feel during whatever it is you’re doing.

This is quite an arbitrary thing to test but the Triple Threat did a good job at the gym. After a 30 minute run, I still felt relatively cool and dry. After my bike ride and weights, I was getting sweaty but still felt relatively cool and as comfortable as I was going to get after a long workout. That’s not an easy thing to do, really…especially if you’re as sensitive to heat as I am. I’ve had shirts that were nothing more than fancy technology names on plain polyester shirts that do nothing. You know when you’re wearing something designed for activity and the Triple Threat does a good job.

The Triple Threat also features something called BACT-OUT, which apparently kills 99.9% of fungi and bacteria in the fabric.

When you sweat, your body is releasing water, sodium chloride, potassium, fatty acids with the chemical odorants 2-methylphenol (o-cresol) and 4-methylphenol (p-cresol). When these micro particles interact with your body’s outer bacterial skin layer, a strong odour can often be detected. As the particles are solid and are not removed as the water evaporates, Lycra (rubber), used in most performance materials, absorbs and embeds these particles at the microscopic level and, as rubber repels water when washed, a portion of the smell can never be removed. Over time this smell builds up until the garment must be discarded. BACT-OUT ensures your garments maintain their fresh smell longer.

Eeewwww. I’m not a chemistry major anymore so I can’t (and don’t want to…) put this to the test so I’ll just have to take your word for it, Firstar. I try not to smell my gym clothes afterwards but it’s nice to know this is something built into the clothing.

The short sleeve version of the Triple Threat is $49.99 while the long sleeve will set you back another $5 (prices in Canadian Dollars), which is on par with other similar products depending on where you’re buying them and what brand. I’m not a professional athlete so perhaps I won’t notice the finer details but the Triple Threat performs as well as my favorite polyester, moisture wicking shirts. I will say that I do really enjoy the fit as it’s not quite as tight as a compression fit but isn’t a loose fitting shirt either. Like the third bowl of porridge, it’s just right in allowing you to breathe and move but keeping the shirt in contact with as much of your body as possible to get sweat evaporate quickly.

The Triple Threat is a good shirt if you’re looking for a bottom layer under your equipment and jersey or if you’re looking for something to work out in. How comfortable it is for you will probably be unique to you but the fit is great for me. I might try to grab a long sleeve one for a base layer for snowboarding season.

{ 14 comments }

in Sports and Health

San Juan, Puerto Rico

by Ed Lau on August 26, 2011

San Juan, Puerto Rico

If you follow me on Twitter, you might know that I’m traveling for the next two weeks in the Caribbean. I’m currently in San Juan, Puerto Rico…swimming in the warm, blue Atlantic waters and sitting on the beach with drinks that have miniature umbrellas.

I thought about renting a car but after going by taxi for a couple days, I’ve realized how bad of an idea that is. I’m not a scared driver on the road by any means. I believe the only way to drive is fast and slow is for the weak but here…well, there’s no discernible traffic laws as far as I can tell. There’s very few ways to tell if the street you’re on is one way other than if there are a lot of angry motorists coming the other way. I don’t know how the right of way works here because I’ve seen several people merge into the tiniest of gaps in traffic and I am almost sure that turn signals are for decoration only. In Vancouver, you could get arrested for talking on the phone while driving but here, every bus driving I see has his cell at his ear and ironically, there’s a sign saying you should never speak to the bus driver while he’s driving…I’m sure that’s just because it would be rude to interrupt his phone conversation.

Things move slowly here and no one seems to mind. I thought I was rather laid back already but apparently waiting 45 minutes for food isn’t uncommon. Gordon Ramsay would explode if he ran one of these kitchens. That and the bus I mentioned before just gets there when they feel like it. I don’t see any sort of bus schedule and even if there was one, they’re guaranteed to be late so your choices for transportation are either incredibly slow and unreliable or what can only be described as certain death. Jaywalkers just walk out into the streets and hold out their hands to tell cars to stop. That would never fly in Vancouver, where pedestrians are only a small step above cyclists when it comes to people we give a crap about when we’re behind the wheel.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

That being said, this place is gorgeous. Despite the heat and humidity, it isn’t seriously uncomfortable and there’s cheap beers, sorbet and other things to cool you down for a buck or two everywhere. There’s good reason this place is one of the most traveled places in the Caribbean.

{ 25 comments }

in Photography,Travel

Spend any amount of time around me and you’ll quickly find that in terms of humor, I’m not very easily offended. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I’m of the belief that taking offense from jokes just means you take things too seriously. I’m more offended by jokes that simply aren’t funny. If you can find humor in uncomfortable subject matter, then I just can’t see that as wrong. Laughter is a good thing. It’s one part of human life that sets us apart from our animal counterparts. Maybe except the aardvark. Nothing can be named aardvark without being hilarious. That and dogs that look like Chewbacca.

Louis C.K. is one of those comics that really straddles the edge of funny and just plain wrong. I think I first saw Louis C.K.’s standup some time last year after a friend sent me a couple of YouTube clips of his routine. I had heard of him before but never really bothered to look him up. If you’re familiar with his work, then you’ll undoubtedly know what I’m on about but if you aren’t, do a search on YouTube. Maybe not if you’re the sort of person that writes in to complain when someone inadvertently drops an F-bomb or when Janet Jackson can’t keep control over her nipples…as I’m almost sure bits like “The N-Word” will make you throw up in your mouth.

His TV show, Louie, is somewhat of an anomaly as Louis C.K. has almost complete creative control over the show. According to Wikipedia, the show is shot on a RED camera setup and is edited on C.K.’s Macbook Pro. That’s amazing considering how other TV shows employ armies just to make sure the credits scroll properly. It’s a different sort of comedy show with no real structure and the only cast member that shows up in every episode is Louie himself. It seems like the sort of show that C.K. wanted to make and would not be able to if he was controlled by network executives trying to squeeze that extra bit out of the ratings.

It’s a weird show and a lot of it is unexpected. There’s segments of Louis C.K.’s standup at a comedy club weaved in between scenes that reflect his life as a comic and as a recently divorced single father of two girls trying to get back into the world. That’s the quiet portion of the show, which actually happens more often than not. Despite the sort of things Louie says about how much being a parent sucks, it is immediately evident how much he loves his children and how hard he’s trying to be a good father. The things the show says are actually quite profound statements about life, love, and happiness but then it reminds us what kind of show this is with fart, penis and butt jokes just when you’re appreciating the warm fuzzies.

The show just feels very authentic and genuine, like you’re observing an actual moment rather than seeing a show on TV. It’s all actually very well done and brings a sort of strange, artsy feel to some of the dirtiest jokes you’ve ever heard. It might make you see some situations (like with mobile phones, for example) in a different light. I know I find myself agreeing with him a lot on a lot of subjects like censorship, violence and human rights. That’s why this is a great show…there’s still tons of laughs but it’s about more than just the comedy.

{ 10 comments }

in Entertainment

The Eagle…er…Page Has Landed

by Ed Lau on August 9, 2011

I’m still not quite sure what the benefits of having a personal landing page are but after seeing a few familiar faces using free services from some specialized personal landing page sites, I decided to make one of my own. If nothing else, it will give me a URL I can put on business cards that I probably won’t need to change and shows my entire presence on the internet. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve handed out cards but had to add “Oh, but my food blog is here.” at foodie events or “But I also write for Canucks Hockey Blog.” at tweetups. Instead, I can just hand them a card that directs to a site where all my online stuff is.

That and I have to admit, I thought up a somewhat clever domain name (edlauis.me) and registered it on a whim. I don’t like using free services since I think that’s like using Blogspot or Blogger or even WordPress to host my blog rather than having my own URL. I also thought it would be fun to learn how to write a website from scratch using lines of HTML and CSS code rather than having it all done for me with WordPress.

What do you think? O

{ 9 comments }

in Random,Tech and the Net

I wanted to write my review of this summer’s Michael Bay blockbuster and the last (I think) of the Michael Bay/Shia The Beef incarnation of the Transformers franchise later…after I had seen it again…as a half-way decent, not-that-shaky camera rip I found on the internet. Let me explain why.

Transformers has a special place in my heart. I loved the toys, I enjoyed the TV shows and generally, I associate it with pleasant parts of my childhood. However, I’ve never really gotten on board with the movies. The first one I sort of enjoyed because it was a Transformers movie but I couldn’t stand the cheesy dialogue. I’ve always thought Michael Bay just states the obvious…and the movie really does with lines like “One must stand and one must fall.” sort of garbage. That’s probably why I hated the second movie so much. While the first movie had cool set pieces, fun action sequences, a little good humor and shots of Megan Fox bending over a Camero, the second was full of stupid one-liners, blatant racism and all the fights were jumbles of scrap metal tumbling too fast for anyone to see.

I had no reason to think Dark of the Moon was any different and it really isn’t but I have to say, I spent the entire movie with my eyes wide open behind two pairs of glasses (the 3D ones, which were Scotch-taped to my own. No, really.) yelling “WOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!” as one of the movie’s thousands of explosions. Honestly, I can’t remember a more spectacular looking movie since I saw Avatar. It was like staring directly into Michael Bay’s head, where I’m sure all of his thought processes have explosions and low sweeping camera angles. This is the sort of movie that Michael Bay makes when he isn’t hindered by silly things like gravity, reality or history books.

But like Avatar, without the visual flash, the movie isn’t a particularly good one. I mean, I haven’t bothered to watch Avatar since the time I saw it in IMAX 3D. There’s really no point since the movie isn’t very good without the effects. It’s like a peacock without the plumage…just not very interesting.

The script is convoluted, confusing, poorly written and the entire first half of the movie is irrelevant by the time the second hour rolls along. Watching it again without the big screen just emphasizes the movie’s flaws. Inevitably, you will come across that moment where you think to yourself “Wait…why didn’t they just ?” or “Oh come on…no one would EVER do !” because there’s no way a logical human being would stand around with her hair blowing in the wind as things blow up around her.

Speaking of which, Rosie Huntington-Whitely replaces Megan Fox in this third film for reasons that I could care less about because it isn’t like Megan Fox brings anything but hotness to the table. It’s hard to complain when the movie begins with what is basically a five minute sequence of Bay’s Victoria’s Secret footage that never made it to the commercials but it’s hard to think of her as anything but eye candy in this film since all of her scenes feel like they should be accompanied with Bay standing over your shoulder, pointing at the screen and yelling “She’s HOT! Look at how HOT she is!” in your ear. No, really…that’s her entire role in Dark of the Moon but that really could be said of all the humans in Transformers who are all rather replaceable, interchangeable and forgettable.

Actually, now that I think about it, most of the robots are insignificant as well. Other than the main players like Optimus, Megatron, Bumblebee, and a few others, most of the rest look the same and unless you’re a huge Transformers nerd fan, you aren’t even going to know their names. Most of the time, I had to lean over and ask my buddy who many of the indistinguishable piles of metal were. “Oh, so that’s Shockwave? Wait…which one is Soundwave, then!?” The original cartoon versions were always very easy to tell who’s who but in this movie and the previous one…why do all the Decepticons look the same?

The real star of the show is Michael Bay, who has someone managed to make a movie I absolutely hate but love at the same time. Seeing this film in the theater was just amazing. The visual effects are incredible and the CG is actually quite seamless when you consider how much of the movie takes place on a motherboard somewhere. However, even the best Michael Bay movie is still a Michael Bay movie. Also, I’m not sure if this was the case in the first two movies but I thought this was a much more violent movie than before. People actually die and the robots fight in a really brutal way, tearing each other’s parts off and spraying blood or motor oil or whatever everywhere. If the Transformers were made of flesh and blood, this would be more like Saw than Transformers.

None of the dialogue makes sense. None of the scenes seem to play out in a logical order. None of the characters are close to believable. You walk out of the theater thinking “THAT LOOKED AWESOME!” but also “…wait, what just happened for damned near 3 hours!?”. Bay’s storytelling is not as much storytelling as it is taking a story and using it as an excuse to make things blow up. Who needs narrative when we have guns, robots and pretty girls, right? Oh, and the ending is one of the worst I’ve seen in movies. I know that sounds harsh but it’s made worse by how abruptly the movie ends. Right then, it will hit you how awful the whole thing really was. Pretty, but awful.

Dark of the Moon is pointless…about as pointless as movies get…but it’s fun. I tried to write this review without saying “…for some reason” but that’s what you’re going to find yourself saying a lot of the time to explain the plot. I actually recommend you watch it but do so in a theater in 3D (the 3D is actually not terrible this time) or on a 60+ inch TV. I can live with it if it’s on a big screen but otherwise, it’s about as pleasant as eating your own hair.

Verdict: 6.5 out of 10

{ 16 comments }

in Entertainment