The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe Crew Review

This top is an impressively breathable and lightweight base layer built for activities where you are creating a lot of heat.
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Price:  $40 List | $40.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Extremely breathable, lightweight, dries fast, super affordable
Cons:  Poor fit, not very warm, not super durable, stinky
Manufacturer:   Helly Hansen
By Roland Mott ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 13, 2018
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59
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 9
  • Warmth - 20% 4
  • Breathability - 20% 8
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 4
  • Drying Speed - 15% 8
  • Durability - 15% 6
  • Layering Ability - 10% 6

The Skinny

The Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe Crew was all over the map when it came to scoring in our metrics. A lightweight base layer that's super cheap, not very warm but extremely breathable, dries lightning fast, has ok durability, and a lackluster fit. It was a controversial piece and may just be an acquired taste. It competed with the big dogs in its breathability and dry time, but falls short in several other metrics. We recommend anyone intrigued by this model to also check out the Patagonia Capilene Lightweight, which performs at a much higher level for only $9 more.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The super-affordable lightweight synthetic base layer from Helly Hansen boasts superb breathability and lightning fast drying capabilities making it a great layer for high output activities in cool to cold weather. An awkward fit at best, low warmth, and mediocre durability give this an overall low score.

Performance Comparison


The far from impressive fit of the Helly Hansen Lifa Striped Crew. Runs super tight  has a short torso  and a tight neck. Sleeves are a great length with tight  2-inch cuffs.
The far from impressive fit of the Helly Hansen Lifa Striped Crew. Runs super tight, has a short torso, and a tight neck. Sleeves are a great length with tight, 2-inch cuffs.

Warmth


This layer is great for being active and creating heat but not the most impressive insulator. Its breathability is stellar but cold air cuts right through the lightweight and thin fabric. Overall it just isn't that warm.

Breathability


The super lightweight, thin synthetic fabric allows air to pass through it like light thru a bay window on a sunny summer day. It was among the top scorers in this category and is impressive, to say the least. If you are engaged in activities that require you to dump heat rapidly and dry fast this layer is awesome, and if it somehow fits you well, you're golden.

Enjoying the last of the sun before the snows on an early winter cruise.
Enjoying the last of the sun before the snows on an early winter cruise.

Comfort and Fit


This is where it all goes up in flames. We'll try and approach this as gingerly as possible. This looks and feels like a soccer jersey. The fit is odd with the entire garment running on the extremely small/tight side. The neck is uncomfortably tight, feels like you're getting choked out by Mr. T.

The way-too-tight-fo-us neck hem. If you enjoy a little choke now and again  this one may be for you.
The way-too-tight-fo-us neck hem. If you enjoy a little choke now and again, this one may be for you.

The two cuffs are very tight which is nice for layering and they stay in place but also made us feel a bit claustrophobic. The sleeves are a great length but the torso is laughably short leaving a significant portion of the belly and back exposed bending over or lifting your arms above your head.

A visual of those 2in cuffs. Some people feel safe when all of their appendages coming out of a shirt are held tight like a dog on a short leash  we personally found them a bit claustrophobic  but different strokes...
A visual of those 2in cuffs. Some people feel safe when all of their appendages coming out of a shirt are held tight like a dog on a short leash, we personally found them a bit claustrophobic, but different strokes...

The sewing pattern is not specific or on purpose at all. There are no gusseted underarms and not one, but two seams running over your shoulder where backpack straps would sit. You could probably buy a soccer jersey and it would be on par with this piece, and around the same price.

Here ya are folks. This top is tiny compared to the rest of the tops. Runs very small.
Here ya are folks. This top is tiny compared to the rest of the tops. Runs very small.

Drying Speed


And then it totally redeems itself. Well… maybe not totally but it helps. This had a great dry speed time but still came in 3 out of 9 with the Rab Merino+ 120 and the Patagonia Capilene Lightweight drying 10 minutes faster.

Durability


The durability of this piece was not very impressive but seemed on par with how light and thin the material was. The thin synthetic fabric was easy to snag and tear when bushwhacking. The general quality of construction seems lackluster compared to the other layers we tested. It did do surprisingly well in the abrasion test. Minimal pilling and some visible surface wear but no hole, which was surprising as three other tops, all made of thicker material had holes in them after the abrasion test.

With how thin the fabric was  we were impressed with how well it stood up to our abrasion test. The much thicker North Face Warm now has a hole in the elbow whereas this just experienced some ruffed up outer fabric. Kudos Lifa!
With how thin the fabric was, we were impressed with how well it stood up to our abrasion test. The much thicker North Face Warm now has a hole in the elbow whereas this just experienced some ruffed up outer fabric. Kudos Lifa!

Layering Ability


This top layered great in some ways and not so great in others. The tight two-inch cuffs did a great job of keeping our sleeves in place while sliding tight, sticky fleece mid layers over top of it and the smooth synthetic fabric helped as well. As far as using this to layer over anything, fuhgeddaboutit! The ridiculously short torso and tight cuffs simply do not allow for such things to happen.

Best Applications


This top is a great layer for sweat-inducing activities where you need a lightweight layer that is going to breathe well and dry fast. The crux is the fit and quality of construction. If your body type somehow fits into this, it does its job of breathing and keeping you dry very well.

Muscle Man showing off every curve on an early winter ride in this tight fitting top.
Muscle Man showing off every curve on an early winter ride in this tight fitting top.

Value


This is the most affordable top that we reviewed. At only $40, the price is unbeatable but matches the quality of construction and attention to detail in the fit. Hard to justify when you can spend $9 more for the Patagonia Capilene Lightweight which receives high marks across the board.

Conclusion


In summary, the lightweight synthetic Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe Crew base layer earns high marks in its superb ability to breathe and dry fast but falls short in warmth, quality of construction, and fit. An affordable option for high output activities in cool to cold weather but hard to justify with the Patagonia Capilene Lightweight being comparable in cost but leagues above in all other categories.


Roland Mott