Synthetic shirts definitely have their benefit in the outdoors. Quick drying, wicking, and highly breathable, they are the ideal material for excursions. Their downfall? Let's be honest; they are never all that attractive. All my synthetic shirts have been for active pursuits, and never leisure endeavors -- until now.
I love Patagonia, and own a ton of their stuff; so much so, in fact, it's why I started working there. However, these shirts are so amazing, I own three. Not only are they comfortable and classy, they perform brilliantly. Since I bike just about everywhere, and I tend to be more on the hotter side, it's nice to be able to get a little sweat going and not have to worry about it once I've reached my destination. Untuck it, undo a couple of the snap-buttons, let it flap in the wind and you'll be cool. Snap it up, tuck it in, and you'll still be cool, but more in the fashion sense.
The super light 2.5oz material makes it good for those long distance excursions where you can't worry about how you look, and need something lightweight that performs well. In true Patagonia fashion, it is quite durable as well. How do I know this? Well, a few weeks a go I had a little run in with a cab while on my bike. I flew over the handle bars, skid on the pavement, and got some road rash on my side... under my shirt. The shirt was fine -- my skin? Not so much. Granted it wasn't really that bad of a crash -- and I'm fine by the way -- the El Ray gave me a pleasant surprise.
So if you're looking for that balance between a well performing synthetic shirt for hikes, but want something that won't scare away town members when you jump off a trail to get some grub, get the El Ray. You can bet your old gusseted synthetic shirt that I'll be hiking the PCT with one.-Ian