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Reviews > Clothing > Base Layers and Undies > Helly Hansen LIFA Active Light Top > Test Report by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes

Helly Hansen Lifa Active Light LS Shirt

Initial Report - April 9 2019
Field Report - June 14 2019
Long Term Report - August 6 2019

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
Age: 52
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 210 lb (90.7 kg)


I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions the Northwest has to offer.  I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30 lb (14 kg).

Product Information


Helly Hansen (HH)

Year of Manufacture:


Manufacturer’s Website:


$55.00 USD




Listed: Not Listed
Measured: XL   8.35 oz / 237 g


Available in 3 colors:

Product pix

Product Description:

The Helly Hansen (HH) Lifa Active Light shirt is a long sleeve technical base layer that uses "S.Cafe" (yes made from coffee grounds) yarn in its construction. It is advertised as being fast drying, uv protective (SPF50), and the manufacturers of the "S.Cafe" yarn claims it to help with odor control (“coffee grounds absorb odors your body produces ”).

Initial Report

January 18 2019

I received the “Ebony” color in size XL. The shirt is a dark grey (or black) with bold red accents. The material is soft with a little stretch and an almost cotton like feel. In addition to the flat lock seams for comfort there are also no sewn in tags to scratch or otherwise irritate the wearer.

While I care little for fashion while on the trail I do appreciate performance garments that can be worn during my everyday life as well so when I put this on and my wife said it looked good that was a real plus to me. The shirt fit nicely, seems true to size, and is not form fitting or overly loose.

When doing outdoor activities my preference is to wear a thin wicking base layer in all but the hottest weather and this appears to be a versatile garment. The dark color may make it unsuitable for summer use (time will tell) but UV protection is a good feature to have year round. Based on my initial fitting I can see me wearing this garment for at least 3 seasons (fall, winter, spring) and even summer for trips into the mountains.

Field Report

June 14 2019
  • Nordic Skiing – White Pass Ski Area Washington Cascades – 3 days
  • Backpacking – Eastern foothills Washington Cascades – 1 night
  • Camping – Central Washington Cascades – 2 nights
  • Day hike - Eastern foothills Washington Cascades - ~ 3hrs of hiking
  • Daily wear – Central Washington ~6 days

My first use of this shirt was for cross country skiing. I used it for a single patrol day (~4hrs of skiing and assorted other duties indoors and out) and for the annual pig roast where I stayed the night and wore the shirt both days for skiing and other assorted duties including assisting with cooking the pig and setting up for as well as cleaning up after the event. I also went for a midnight bike ride on the Nordic trails (~2 mi / 3 km).

The backpacking trip was a short spring shake down on a local trail where the weather was chilly enough to warrant long sleeves during the day and remained a little above freezing at night.

For camping the weather was on and off rain with day time temperatures around 55F / 13C.

The day hike was on a rather warm sunny spring day (~85F / 30C). There was little shade on the trail and a high risk of snakes (and as I was to discover later ticks) so we (my dog Meg and I) went only a short way before returning to let Meg cool off in the river.
I also wore the shirt to the office a couple of times and to do yard work one weekend.

In the cold/cool weather the shirt was quite comfortable and exactly what I look for in a base layer. Not much insulation but wicks moisture and does not chafe, rub, or feel clammy. I was worried the relatively thick material and dark colors was going to make the shirt too warm for warmer weather and/or direct sun, but this has not been the case. While doing yard work and during the hot day hike I was pleasantly surprised at how effective it was at protecting me from the sun and it kept me much cooler than I had expected.

So far I have washed it a couple times by hand and once in the washing machine.  Each time hanging it to dry. The shirt does not seem to develop or hold odors, cleans easily and drys quickly.

I am happy with its fit, feel, and performance, and can find nothing that I don't like or wish was better.

Long Term Report

due August 6 2019
  • Camping – Central Washington Cascades – 2 nights
  • Day hike White Pass (Central Washington Cascades)

I have had few opportunities to wear this shirt since the last report. It has been hot and I have been busy so not getting on the trail much.
I did wear the shirt in the evenings during another camping trip, and wore it on a day hike where the high was about 77 F (25 C) and sunny. It was sunny and the trail was a mix of open areas and shaded by trees. The main reason I chose this shirt was the area is often infested by mosquitoes and I figured the shirt would give me protection without being too hot.

I was right about using this shirt for the day hike, while it was a bit warm during the exposed portions of the trail and the mosquitoes were not as bad as I had anticipated it was quite effective in protecting me from both the sun and the bugs and wicked moisture away quickly and did not chafe under my pack so I remained comfortable. For the camping trip it performed its intended function of keeping the chill and bugs off of me in the evening.

At the conclusion of the report I have inspected the shirt for signs of wear or damage but found none. The shirt looks almost like new and has retained no odors. I am completely satisfied with this shirt and expect to get lots of use from it especially in the fall/winter/spring.

This concludes my Report.
I would like to thank the folks at Helly Hanson
and for the opportunity to test this product.


Read more reviews of Helly Hansen gear
Read more gear reviews by David Wilkes

Reviews > Clothing > Base Layers and Undies > Helly Hansen LIFA Active Light Top > Test Report by David Wilkes

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