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

HELLY HANSEN LIFA ACTIVE LIGHT TOP
TEST SERIES BY MARINA BATZKE
LONG-TERM REPORT
August 05, 2019

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Marina Batzke
EMAIL: mbbp2013 (at) yahoo (dot) com
AGE: 59
LOCATION: Los Angeles County, California, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 5" (1.65 m)
WEIGHT: 132 lb (60.00 kg)

I converted from day hiking and car camping to backpacking in 2013. My backpacking trips are one or two weekend excursions per month in Southern California. The locations range from Joshua Tree National Park desert areas in the cooler months to mountainous elevations in the summer months. I always hike with a group and like the gear talk in camp. While I am looking for ways to lighten my pack, I am not an ultra-lighter: I like sleeping in a tent with a sleeping bag on a comfortable pad. In January 2017, I added snowshoeing to my winter activities.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Helly Hansen (U.S.) Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2019
Made in Bangladesh
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.HellyHansen.com
MSRP: US$55.00
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight of size L: 6.3 oz (179 g)
Other details: I do not find my dark blue women's LIFA Active Light shirt on the manufacturer's website. I only find a similarly cut and designed women's shirt in either 435 Pool Blue or 197 Goji Berry color in sizes XS, S, M, L and XL. Some of these colored sizes are temporarily out of stock.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

HH LIFA Active top is a performance base layer shirt, said to combine superior moisture management and lightweight insulation designed for year-round activities. I received this long-sleeve shirt in Women's Large Regular Fit in graphite blue color. The shirt is black on the inside. Attached to the shirt were three tags:
Tag 1 calls out UPF 50+. The UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rate indicates how much of the sun's UV radiation is absorbed by the fabric. This 50+ UPF value may decrease up to 35% when the shirt is wet.

Tag 2 provides the name HH LIFA ACTIVE LIGHT along with the shirt's color and size Large, plus Made in Bangladesh.

Tag 3 explains S.Cafe Sustainable Performance with its slogan 'Drink it, Wear it': the S.Cafe patented technology is based on the idea to incorporate coffee grounds into yarn to make clothes, thereby increasing the performance and value of an eco-friendly, sustainable product.

Sewn into one inner seam is a fabric tag that calls out the fabric combination:
50.6% Polypropylene
49.4% Polyester
IMAGE 1
Front: note the white stripes on the sleeves
IMAGE 2
Shirt backside
IMAGE 3
close-up view of fabric inside and out


A few dimensions:
Long sleeve length: 25 in (64 cm)
Shirt backside: 28 in (71 cm) measured from crew-neck top to low seam
Shirt frontside: 23.5 in (60 cm)
Since the crew-neck cut-out is lower in the front, the shirt frontside appears to be 4.5 in (11.3 cm) shorter. Yet when I lay the shirt flat, the back is about 1 inch (2.5 cm) longer than the shirt front.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The fabric tag that is sewn into one inner seam explains that I shall wash this shirt inside out and shall wash it with like colors up to 104 F (40 C) lukewarm water. I shall neither bleach nor tumble dry, iron or dry clean this shirt.

WARRANTY:
If I am not satisfied with this shirt for any reason, I can request an exchange for a different size or I can return it to Helly Hansen within 90 days of receiving it. Helly Hansen will issue a full refund for the price that I had paid for the shirt, if I have not yet worn the returned shirt, the tags are still attached and the shirt is in new, resellable condition.

TRYING IT OUT

Helly Hansen has a Fit-Finder link on their website, where I can enter my height and weight to determine which size I should get.

The L size Regular Fit Helly Hansen LIFA Active Light Top fits me well. I like that it is not slim fit; not tapered. I also like that the shirt back is about 1 inch (2.5 cm) longer than the shirt front. The fabric in the armpit area is not tight - not cutting in, thereby allowing breathability. At first glance I thought that the long sleeves were maybe a minimal touch too long for me but then again, any extra fabric gives my upper hands a bit more sun protection and once I mimicked arm movement with hiking poles, the sleeve length was just right.

The fabric is pleasantly soft. The dark blue color looks great and I like the white stripes near the lower ends of both long sleeves. The flat lock seams give the shirt a quality look, in my opinion. I particularly like the horizontal flat lock seam in the center front. The company logo HH is imprinted in white on the left chest area.

I like that the shirt does not have a wide neck cut-out which usually just means I get a sunburn in the neck area. This shirt has a crew neck circumference of 14.5 in (37 cm). The crew neck depth itself is 0.625 in (1.6 cm).

The shirt has a tagless neck label: the HH logo, "Designed and Developed in Norway since 1877", the size L/G REGULAR and Made in Bangladesh are imprinted. Imprinted is nice since there is no fabric tag that can irritate my skin.

SUMMARY

The Helly Hansen LIFA Active Light Top is a lightweight shirt, developed to provide 50+ UPF protection and moisture management.

LIKES:
great looks - dark blue color with a few white stripes and white logo
soft fabric - pleasant to wear
great fit - not tapered
I like the long sleeves for sun protection
crew-neck with good circumference - not too wide

DISLIKES:
a little pocket in one of the seams would be a neat appreciated feature


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Mission Creek Preserve, Southern California, USA
3 day/ 2 night car camp
Elevation: 2450 - 3600 ft (750 - 1100 m)
Sunny and pleasant with just a light wind on Sunday
Temperature: 69 - 45 F (21 - 7 C)

Henninger Flats, Angeles National Forest, USA
3 day/ 2 night backpack
Elevation: 2600 - 4400 ft (790 - 1340 m)
Cool and foggy
Temperature: 65 - 48 F (18 - 9 C)

Croatia, Europe
2 week vacation with dayhikes
Elevation: 100 - 4000 ft (330 - 1200 m)
Cooler than expected Spring weather
Temperature: 66 - 48 F (19 - 9 C)

Huntington Lake, Fresno County, USA
4 day hiking trip
Elevation: 7000 ft (2130 m)
Winter cold weather with fresh snow fall
Temperature: 60 - 30 F (16 to -1 C)

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The manufacturer describes the Helly Hansen LIFA Active Light Top as a baselayer which to me is more like an undershirt. I have worn the top as a T-shirt. This baselayer top feels thicker than any of the baselayer undershirts that I otherwise own.

Overall the weather in Southern California has been cooler this Spring than in other years. Kind of unimaginable that the highest temperature I have worn this top in was 69 F (21 C) and that through May. So I have frequently appreciated the thicker fabric of the Helly Hansen LIFA Active Light Top.
IMAGE 1
Henninger Flats
IMAGE 2
Beautiful Croatian Coast
IMAGE 3
Plitvice, Croatia

While in Croatia for two weeks of exciting day hikes in beautiful locations, I had anticipated late Spring/ early Summer temperatures ... and again the weather in Europe was much cooler than in other years. We had storm with dangerously high wind speeds one day, rainy downpours two days, crossed mountain passes where the snow canceled our planned route that day. But there were also gorgeous (cool) days with blue sky and the sun shining brightly. Overall these were perfect conditions for the Helly Hansen LIFA Active Light Top. I wore a thin, light undershirt underneath and often a vest over the HH shirt. And when it was really cold or windy or rainy, I wore my rainjacket as outer rain and wind protecting layer. During this vacation, I hand-washed the shirt three times in a hotel room sink. Air drying while hanging on a hanger in the bathroom at room temperature took about 24 hours, since I was only able to hand-wring the shirt to squeeze the water out plus even the room temperature was colder than usual. It helped when the hotel had heating on and the shirt dried a bit faster.

Back home here in Southern California, I usually wear the shirt for two days of hiking, then I machine wash it. I do smell a bit of odor after two days of wearing the shirt during a strenuous outing. Once machine-washed, I place the shirt on a hanger and let it air-dry. The shirt dries fully overnight. As instructed by Helly Hansen, I have not once placed the shirt in the dryer.

The shirt is still in good shape, has no pulled threads or other issues.

SUMMARY

The Helly Hansen LIFA Active Light Top is a well fitting shirt that I have really liked to wear the last two months, while I experienced cooler than usual Spring temperatures. I am looking forward to learning how the shirt performs in the coming warmer summer months.

LIKES:
nice blue color with white stripes at the sleeve ends
easy to hand-wash and machine-wash
great fit
has kept me comfortably warm during a cold Spring

DISLIKES:
pocket (e.g., near the waistline) would be nice


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Little Jimmy Campground, Angeles National Forest, USA
2 day/ 1 night backpack
Elevation: 7500 ft (2300 m)
Pleasant daytime temperature.
Temperature: 70 - 53 F (21 - 12 C)

Mt. Pinos, Los Padres National Forest, USA
2 day/ 1 night car camp
Elevation: 8850 ft (2700 m)
Nice cool temperature with sunny skies.
Temperature: 65 - 47 F (18 - 8 C)

Little Jimmy Campground, Angeles National Forest, USA
2 day/ 1 night backpack
Elevation: 7500 ft (2300 m)
Warm weekend.
Temperature: 74 - 55 F (23 - 13 C)

Islip Saddle to Throop, Angeles National Forest, USA
2 day/ 1 night backpack
Elevation: 7500 - 9000 ft (2300 - 2750 m)
Hot and sunny weekend.
Temperature: 79 - 53 F (26 - 12 C)

Yosemite National Park, California, USA
4 day/ 3 night backpack
Elevation: 8600 - 10200 ft (2620 - 3100 m)
Nice temperature for the high elevation.
Temperature: 73 - 35 F (23 - 2 C)

Mt. Pinos - Sawmill Mtn - Grouse, Los Padres National Forest, USA
2 day/ 1 night backpack
Elevation: 8500 - 8850 ft (2590 - 2700 m)
Hot and sunny.
Temperature: 75 - 57 F (24 - 14 C)

San Jacinto, Southern California, USA
2 day/ 1 night backpack
Elevation: 8500 - 10800 ft (2590 - 3300 m)
Nice temperature for the high elevation.
Temperature: 67 - 57 F (19 - 14 C)

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I have worn the Helly Hansen Lifa Active light top on all my dayhike and backpacking outings these last two months. Even when the temperatures reached the mid- to high 70s F (around 25 C), the Helly Hansen was a perfect shirt for my needs. I was never sweating heavily but felt comfortable wearing the shirt. I love the long sleeves that protect my arms against sunshine and reach all the way down to the gloves that I have started wearing as additional UV protection. The fabric with its 50+ UPF protection is soft and pleasant on my skin.

I can comfortably wear the shirt at least two days in a row without noticing any odor, which is perfect for my typical Sat - Sun weekend outings. On the longer Yosemite outing, I wore the shirt all four days but then it for sure needed a wash. At home, I place the shirt in my darks laundry at warm water temperature and hang the shirt to dry in the evening and find it all-dry the next morning.
IMAGE 1
Sawmill Mountain
IMAGE 2
Yosemite still had lots of snow
IMAGE 3
Thread coming loose in just one spot

Just now when I closely inspected the shirt for my final report, I found one loose thread on the flat-stitch seam below the HH logo. I will fix that before I wash the shirt and before the thread could loosen anymore. The shirt must have caught on something during my last weekend's backpacking trip. Apart from this one issue, the shirt still looks really great.

SUMMARY

The Helly Hansen LIFA Active Light Top has been my shirt of choice during all my summer outings. I will continue to wear it on my future outings.

LIKES:
the fabric (pleasant on my skin plus 50+ UPF protection)
the fit
keeping me comfortable with sunshine or a light breeze
the dark blue color with the white sleeve stripes
great sleeve length
neck circumference protecting my neck against sun exposure

WOULD BE NICE:
a pocket in one of the side seams to stash my smartphone in would be an appreciated feature

A big thanks to Helly Hansen and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this nice shirt.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

Read more reviews of Helly Hansen gear
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