When I first slipped on a rugby jersey before a match seven years ago, I was dismayed to learn that it was the only upper-body protection I’d be getting. But the burly slab of tightly woven cotton proved to be ample armor against minor dings.
Which is why I wasn’t the least bit surprised to find out that Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard once bought one on a trip to Scotland, guessing that it would withstand the abuse of scrambling up rock walls better than the usual oxford. He was right. Durable and loose fitting, heavyweight rugby shirts like the Sender ($89) are as ideal for scaling El Cap as they are for scrumming down on the pitch. Plus, the high twill collar keeps slings from cutting into your neck.
After his Scotland trip, Chouinard started importing the shirts to the United States, where they became the de facto uniform of Yosemite climbers in the 1970s. Made of thick, abrasion-resistant organic cotton, with a relaxed cut that doesn’t restrict movement, Patagonia’s Sender is every bit as tough as the original.