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.
Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe Crew Review
Cons: Poor fit, not very warm, not super durable, stinky
Manufacturer: Helly Hansen
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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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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