Baleaf Quick Dry Review
Cons: Heavy, not very breathable
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Baleaf Quick Dry
|Price||$16.99 at Amazon||$49 List||Check Price at REI|
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|Check Price at REI|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$34.63 at Amazon|
|Pros||Inexpensive, comfortable stretch, durable, 360º reflective banding||Highly breathable, comfortable, lightweight, quick drying||Great mobility, durable, soft and comfortable, good odor-protection||Lightweight, great fit, excellent ventilation||Comfortable, fast-drying, breathable|
|Cons||Heavy, not very breathable||Taped seams on shoulders less durable than sewn seams||Minimal reflective banding, pricy||Not as versatile||Unnecessary flap of fabric across the back|
|Bottom Line||A comfortable running shirt with a full feature set for a fraction of the price||Exceedingly comfortable and fast drying are the two top attributes for the best running shirt you can buy||A go-to running shirt or baselayer for day after day use with little to no signs of wear||A performance shirt for the runner logging miles in hot climates or hitting the gym||This shirt outperforms many of the best in terms of comfort and breathability without being cost-prohibitive|
|Rating Categories||Baleaf Quick Dry||Patagonia Airchaser||Black Diamond Rhyth...||Nike Dri-FIT Rise 365||Under Armour UA Str...|
|Drying Speed (20%)|
|Features & Versatility (20%)|
|Specs||Baleaf Quick Dry||Patagonia Airchaser||Black Diamond Rhyth...||Nike Dri-FIT Rise 365||Under Armour UA Str...|
|Weight (size Medium)||4.8 oz||2.6 oz||3.3 oz||3.4 oz||4.4 oz|
|Material||90% polyester, 10% spandex||Recycled polyester||57% nylon, 43% merino wool||80% polyester, 20% spandex||93% polyester, 7% elastarell|
|Reflective Areas?||Yes - 4||Yes - 2||Yes - 2||Yes - 2||Yes - 3|
|Seam Type||Flatlock and Overlock||Flatlock and Taped||Flatlock||Flatlock and Overlock||Flatlock|
|UPF?||Not Stated||Not Stated||Not Stated||Not Stated||Not Stated|
|Odor Control?||No||Yes - HeiQ Fresh durable odor control||Yes - Wool Natural Properties||No||Yes - Active biocide zinc microbes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Baleaf Quick Dry is an enigma — punching above its weight across the board in comfort, breathability, and drying speed while offering 360° reflective banding. This, in addition to a tag-less collar with incorporated sweat strip, all while remaining the least expensive shirt in our review. While the design of the shirt is very simple — no underarm gussets and simple raglan sleeves that connect to the collar — the use of 10% spandex in the fabric gives more than enough stretch to outshine simplicity and make for a comfortable ride regardless of activity. However, in comparison to some of the more expensive shirts, the quality does not stand up.
The Quick Dry is woven with 90% polyester and 10% spandex fabric, offering a great fit to a wider audience and enough stretch to move with the runner. The fabric feels great upon first wear and exceeded our expectations on the trail. Baleaf opted to use a combination of flatlock stitching over the shoulders with overlock stitching along the side seams, minimizing — though not entirely eliminating — unwanted rubbing while wearing a pack.
The medium fit was between slim and relaxed for our 5'10" and 155-pound tester. We noticed slight restrictions in the neck and shoulders as we hit our stride though the natural stretch of the spandex alleviated this tension a bit. For an enduring effort like an ultramarathon, the slight pinching under the armpits would be bothersome. For folks with stronger, more developed necks, shoulders, and biceps, the fit will feel more restricting.
Polyester and spandex have natural breathing properties, and that is the extent of the technology in the Quick Dry. The entire shirt uses the same fabric, so there are no specially mapped mesh areas to promote additional ventilation. During activities with more natural airflow like cycling, we were pleased with the ventilation performance. However, even on long runs through late spring snowpack and cooler temperatures, it was clear that something was lacking on the breathability front.
While the aforementioned four-way stretch provides great movement without underarm gussets, incorporated mesh in areas where heat is dumped would return dividends in added breathability. Underarm gussets or a more aerated weave would bring the Quick Dry from an average performer to the next level. That said, for a bargain layer, it is quite durable and breathed well during neighborhood jaunts and pick-up soccer games.
With a name like the Baleaf Quick Dry, we were eager to put this shirt through our drying tests. Since it is on the heavier side of the spectrum, we anticipated that it would effectively wick moisture quickly, and thus get dramatically lighter after the initial spin cycle and again with each 5-minute dryer cycle.
Having a fast drying speed directly correlates to the quality of evaporative cooling you experience in warm, dry climates. After the initial spin cycle, the Quick Dry only retained 22% of its weight in water, and it was dry to the touch after 10 minutes in the dryer, proving that it does indeed dry quickly. For a shirt that has limited air permeability, we were thrilled to see it wick moisture as well as it did. Our kitchen science was backed up by what we felt out on the trail: if saturated wet, the Quick Dry was heavy and cumbersome, drying adequately at best. Once wrung out or dried to a damp level, though, the fabric remained cool even on hot days.
Features & Versatility
Some of the factors that limit this layer in breathability are advantages when it comes to versatility. The uniform polyester/spandex fabric, tighter weave, and strong stitching make it a durable shirt that is less likely to show wear from friction associated with using a backpack or hydration pack. The fit is not conducive to ultra-distances but works great on long day hikes.
For an affordable option that is clearly designed for running, we were pleased to see 360° reflective banding and logos, making this shirt highly visible at night. Between the comfort, drying speed, and reflectivity, we found the Quick Dry to be excellent for evening runs and well suited for urban settings.
The collar is tag-less and has a soft, thin strip sewn in to catch sweat, an attention to detail we expect from pricier shirts. While it doesn't promote an odor-control technology, the shirt remains wearable and tolerable after many sweaty miles, making us think it does have some odor-control treatment. Despite no UPF rating, it shines with a lot of features that increase its comfort and versatility.
The Quick Dry is an outright steal. Comfortable, functional, and feature-rich, it has held up through many miles. The durability of this shirt alone makes us scratch our head at the price as it showed little sign of wear, despite accompanying us on numerous grinding efforts. What it lacks in breathability, it makes up for in evaporative cooling and features. This is the shirt for evening runs and rides around town.
The Baleaf Quick Dry is a no-brainer buy. Rotate it into the mix on casual runs and workouts. A simple design works with this polyester/spandex blend, though underarm gussets or mesh panels would help with breathability. Flatlock stitching along the raglan sleeves that cross the shoulders make it comfortable with a pack and well suited for hiking. While it may not be for the ultramarathoner, the comfort and reflective banding make it an excellent choice for urban runners or those active at night. Highly versatile and durable, but for a fraction of the price.
— Jeff Colt