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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Ex Officio BugsAway Breezr Shirt > Test Report by Brian Hartman

EXOFFICIO BUGSAWAY BREEZ'R LONG SLEEVE S
TEST SERIES BY BRIAN HARTMAN
LONG-TERM REPORT
November 30, 2014

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

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Brian Hartman
EMAIL: bhart1426ATyahooDOT com
AGE: 46
LOCATION: Westfield, Indiana
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 145 lb (65.80 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 20 years throughout Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and most recently in Western USA. In addition to backpacking I enjoy family camping with my wife and kids and being outdoors in general. I would describe myself as a mid-weight backpacker. I use fairly light weight equipment and gear but still like to bring more than the bare essentials with me while on the trail.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1
Photo courtesy of manufacturer

Manufacturer: ExOfficio
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.exofficio.com/
MSRP: US $85.00
Listed Weight: 8.5 oz (241 g)
Measured Weight: 8.8 oz (249 g)
Fabric: 100% Nylon
Mesh: 100% Polyester
Fit: Natural
Available Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, XL, 2XL, 3XL
Size Tested: Small
Available colors: Algae, Bone, Cayman, Dusty Olive, White
Color Tested: Algae

Other details provided by Manufacturer:
Uses Insect Shield repellant for effective protection against biting insects
Flow thru ventilation on front and back for increased air flow
Button placket
Security zip chest pocket
Critical seams moved off the shoulder to prevent rubbing
UPF Sun Guard 30+
Lightweight
Quick drying
Moisture Wicking

Per the manufacturer the Breez'r shirt is "part of ExOfficio's BugsAway line of insect repellant clothing which uses Insect Shield technology to aid in the battle against insects that carry diseases."

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

IMAGE 2 The BugsAway Breez'r shirt is a long-sleeve, collared, button-up shirt made of 100% ripstop nylon and polyester mesh. It is light weight and carries a UPF 30+ rating for sun protection. The UPF30+ rating means that at least 96% of all UVA and UVB rays are blocked from reaching the skin. Over the past few years I have made a conscious effort to buy UPF rated clothing to help protect my skin from overexposure to the sun's rays. In addition to providing UPF30+ sun protection, the BugsAway Breez'r shirt also repels mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers, and no-see-ums using a patented process called Insect Shield to bond a proprietary formulation of the Permethrin to the shirt's fibers. From my research, Permethrin has been used in the United States as an EPA registered insecticide for over 35 years. It is also used in lice shampoos and other products that are regulated by the FDA, and seems to have a very good safety rating. A couple neat properties of Insect Shield clothing are: 1) the bug protection does not wear off over time, 2) the active ingredient, Permethrin, is invisible, odorless and non-greasy and 3) Insect Shield clothing has been tested and certified by the EPA as well as independent labs with a 99% reduction in mosquito and tick bites among test participants.

Not only do I find mosquito and tick bites annoying, but they can have serious consequences from any one of a number of diseases such as West Nile virus, malaria and Lyme disease. The Insect Shield process is designed to prevent loss of the active ingredient Permethrin over time by tightly binding it to the fabric fibers so that the shirt retains its full effective repellency through its life. In fact the repellency of Insect Shield apparel is EPA-registered to last for 70 launderings (see charts below), which is considered the expected lifetime of a piece of clothing. In addition to shirts, ExOfficio also makes pants, hats, socks and bandannas that provide the same insect protection as noted above.

Even though from what I've read Permethrin can be bonded to cotton just as easily as nylon, I like the fact that ExOfficio chose nylon fabric for its wicking and quick-drying features. I am hoping this shirt not only keeps the bugs away but also keeps me cool and dry during our usually hot and humid Midwest summer.



IMAGE 3
Photo courtesy of manufacturer
IMAGE 4
Photo courtesy of manufacturer

INITIAL IMPRESSION

It's almost impossible to backpack in the woods of Indiana or anywhere in the Midwest, between May and September, and not get swarmed by mosquitoes and ticks. Till now I've always used DEET as my bug repellent of choice, and it does a good job of repelling mosquitoes when applied generously. However, I haven't found it very effective at repelling ticks. For this reason I was really excited about the opportunity to test the BugsAway Breez'r shirt. After going online to view the manufacturer's sizing chart I ordered a size 'small' and patiently waited for it to arrive.

IMAGE 5 The Breez'r arrived at my doorstep in excellent condition and looked exactly as pictured on ExOfficio's website. It sports a simple, stylish design and tailored fit that ExOfficio refers to as 'Natural'. The shirt has a single left side chest pocket which is 6 x 6 in (15 x 15 cm) with a zipper for securing important items. I really like the fact that the pocket is zippered as that eliminates any chance of something falling out while bending over to drive in a tent stake or light a campfire.

The shirt placket is 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide with double stitchings on each side. The stitches are inset slightly from each edge. Seven small plastic buttons are sewn onto the placket equidistant from each other while a spare button is sewn onto the care tag. It will be interesting to see how sturdy the buttons are and whether they loosen or fall off over time from the force of weighted backpack straps tugging at them.

Although the BugsAway Breez'r is tailored it fits me just fine. I looked at the sizing chart on ExOfficio's website before ordering and the chest and waist measurements they provided were accurate. With most shirts and jackets, I am right in between sizes so I make my decision to size up or down based on whether I am going to be wearing anything underneath it. In this case I sized down as I will almost always wear this shirt standalone. The Breez'r is light weight and feels comfortable against my skin with no raised seams or scratchy tags inside the shirt collar. The shirt felt comfortable and breathed well during its initial debut on a quick walk around my block this evening. Overall the BugsAway Breez'r appears to be well-made with precise stitching and straight seams. The design and craftsmanship are impeccable. I look forward to wearing this shirt a lot in the next few months.

CARE INSTRUCTIONS

For cleaning, ordinary home laundering is recommended. The BugsAway Breez'r can be bleached, starched, pressed, etc., without effect on the repellent quality; however, it should not be dry cleaned as that removes the treatment.

Care instructions for the shirt are included on one of the tags sewn to the lower left seam of the shirt. They read as follows: Machine wash cold; Wash with like colors; No bleach or fabric softeners; Tumble dry low; Iron low setting; Do not dry clean.

As mentioned above, but worth repeating, the repellency of Insect Shield is EPA registered to last through 70 launderings, which is the average life expectancy of a garment as listed by the International Fabricare Institute.

SUMMARY

The ExOfficio BugsAway shirt is a well-designed, well-made shirt that is perfect for backpacking, camping, fishing and/or hiking in warm weather. Over the next two months I plan to test it in a variety of conditions and report back on its comfort, fit, UPF protection and most importantly its ability to fight off biting insects. This concludes my Initial Report. Thanks to ExOfficio and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this shirt.

LIKES:
Bug repellant is built into the clothing so it does not need to be applied to the skin
Insect Shield lasts for the life of the clothing so no reapplication is needed
Insect Shield is not greasy, it doesn't wash off and it doesn't smell

DISLIKES:
None


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 1 During this test period, I wore the ExOfficio BugsAway Breez'r on three multi-night backpacking trips for a total of five nights in the field. I also wore this shirt on several day hikes and around my neighborhood many evenings.

1. Franklin County, Indiana (IN): My first outing during this test period was for two nights. The weather was mild this particular weekend with mostly sunny skies and daytime temperatures in the mid 70's F (23 C). Nighttime lows were in the mid 60's F (18 C) and there was no precipitation. The terrain I hiked in was hilly and heavily forested.

2. Oldenburg, IN: This was an overnight trip with my mom, dad and brother. The terrain was moderately hilly with a mix of forested areas and open fields. Daytime temperatures peaked at 78 F (25 C) with nighttime lows of 70 F (21 C). Skies were overcast for most of the day with a brief but heavy overnight rainstorm. We spent most of our time around camp on this trip and consequently I only hiked about 1.5 mi (2.4 km).

3. Hoosier National Forest, IN: The weather during this two night trip was partly sunny and humid with daytime highs in the mid 80's F (29 C). Evening temperatures dropped to the low 70's F (22 C). The terrain was very hilly and heavily forested. I hiked approximately 14 mi (22.5 km) during this trip.

I also went on several day hikes in Central Indiana, traveling anywhere from 9 - 12 mi (14.5 - 19.3 km) on each trip. Weather conditions on these outings were mild with partly sunny skies and temperatures in the low to mid 70s F (22 C).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The BugsAway Breez'r has proven to be an excellent backpacking shirt. It's comfortable, breathable, durable, and it keeps the bugs away. It's truly a great addition to my backpacking attire!

Comfort and fit: During the past two months of Field Testing the BugsAway Breez'r was comfortable to wear and felt soft against my skin. I also really liked the way it fit. There was plenty of room in the chest, shoulders and arm pits and the sleeves were just the right length. I didn't notice any rubbing or chafing of seams thanks to ExOfficio's attention to detail in moving the seams off the shoulder area. Two things I never liked about insect sprays were their smell and the oily residue they left on my skin. With the BugsAway Breez'r those issues are gone. The Insect Shield repellent is odorless and it's tightly bonded to the fabric so no residue gets on my skin. I don't know how they did it but even when the shirt was wet from rain or sweat I couldn't detect the Permethrin, which surprised me.

IMAGE 2
Performance: The nylon and polyester fabric of the Breez'r performed really well in the summer heat. It breathed well and did a good job of wicking moisture away from my skin. Even when I sweated the shirt dried out fairly quickly once I removed my backpack and rested for a while. After several days of wearing the shirt I noticed some odors but they quickly went away after washing the shirt (and myself). Another feature I really liked about this shirt was the sun protection that its UPF30 rating provided. Even though the long sleeves made me hot, they protected my arms from sunburns as well as thick brush. At this point I am very happy with the performance of the shirt and look forward to two more months of testing.

Durability: The Breez'r has held up really well so far. Exofficio has done a wonderful job of constructing a shirt with excellent durability. After two months of hauling a pack, scrambling up steep inclines and trekking thru heavy brush it only has minor wear on the shoulder and elbow areas. Although the Breez'r hasn't stopped me from getting painful thorn pricks, its tight weave and ripstop nylon fabric has most likely prevented many rips and tears that would have occurred with lesser quality shirts. The few snags I've gotten have been quite small and have not frayed. Once back home, I've had no problems removing sweat and soil stains in the washer and the BugsAway Breez'r has shown no signs of fading or shrinking despite numerous washings.

Insect Repellency: Despite rumors that last year's brutal winter killed off lots of insects, the ticks and mosquitoes were out in full force this summer. That, along with reports that some mosquitoes in Indiana tested positive for the West Nile virus, made this the opportune time to test this shirt. As it turned out, the BugsAway Breez'r did not disappoint. It worked great for me while camping with family and on my solo trips to Southern Indiana. After gathering firewood with my brother in the woods by a small creek and then making our way back to camp, my brother found 4 ticks on him yet I couldn't find any on me. In addition my parents and brother had many mosquito bites on their neck, arms and legs after fishing that evening yet I only counted four mosquito bites total on me and they were all on my legs.

A similar scenario to the events above played out while I was solo backpacking through the forests of Southern Indiana; I found no ticks on me and very few mosquito bites, which once again were mainly on my legs. For testing purposes I wish my shirt was white or some other light color instead of olive as the dark color made it very difficult to tell if the mosquitoes and ticks were landing on me and then falling off and dying or if they were repelled by Insect Shield and never touched me in the first place. Ultimately I'd like to determine if Insect Shield provides a radius of security or safety zone and if that zone extends to my hands, neck and face. I will research these questions further during the next two months and report back on my findings.


SUMMARY

I really like this shirt. It fits well and is comfortable to wear on the trail and around town. Its ability to ward off mosquito and tick bites has made it my go-to shirt for summer backpacking.

This concludes my Field Report. Please check back in two months for my Long Term Report and final analysis of the BugsAway Breez'r. In the meantime, thanks to ExOfficio and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this shirt.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During this test period I wore the Breez'r on two more backpacking trips to Southern Indiana and on two day hikes to local parks in Central Indiana before the weather got too cold for continued testing. I also wore the shirt around my house on many buggy evenings for protection from mosquitoes.

The temperatures on my outings ranged from the mid 50's F (11 C) to the upper 70's F (25 C). Skies were clear on my first overnighter and partly cloudy with a brief period of rain on my second trip. As for my trip to Wisconsin (WI) last week, the BugsAway Breez'r sadly stayed at home as WI had 6 in (15 cm) of snow on the ground and temperatures in the teens when I arrived.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The BugsAway Breez'r performed admirably during these last two months of testing. With cooler overnight temperatures during this period I wore a T shirt under the Breez'r most nights and mornings and together they provided adequate warmth while working around camp. While backpacking during the day and generating lots of heat I removed my T shirt and the Breezr's lightweight fabric breathed well and dried quickly similar to what I witnessed while wearing it during Field Testing. While busting new trails in the Charles Deam Wilderness Area of the Hoosier National Forest, I was sweating hard after a few hours and the Breez'r did a great job of wicking moisture away from my skin so it could evaporate. Despite washings after each of my trips the BugsAway Breez'r has shown no signs of pilling, fading or any other negative effects from laundering.

The shirt's ability to ward off mosquitoes and ticks during this test period has continued to be outstanding. With careful watch I have seen a few mosquitoes land on the shirt but they don't stay long, and most importantly for me they don't bite. My field research during the past two months appears to confirm what I've read about Permethrin, that it's a contact insecticide. Mosquitoes and ticks don't like it and I've witnessed a few of them fall off after coming into contact with it, although I think it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours for them to die. The shirt also seems to have some ability to repel insects although its effective radius only seems to be a few inches (75mm - 100mm) as I have gotten bit on the face and legs while doing testing.

There is not much more to say about this shirt other than to reiterate that it's a great performer. After two more months on my back it remains soft and comfortable to wear. At no time while backpacking have I had any issues with the shirt seams rubbing on my shoulders or causing discomfort. I also haven't experience any twisting or bunching of fabric under my pack straps as shirts sometimes do when they don't fit just right. The biggest thing for me, though, living in the Midwest is that I no longer have to coat myself with DEET before going into the woods or outside during summer months.

SUMMARY

The BugsAway Breez'r is a comfortable long sleeve shirt that offers great sun protection and even better protection from biting insects. It is well designed and has also proven to be quite durable. Given its outstanding performance during the past four months I plan to order a pair of ExOfficio pants for next summer to complete my wardrobe.

This concludes my Long Term Report for the BugsAway Breez'r and this test call. My sincere thanks to ExOfficio and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this shirt.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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