Baleaf UPF 50 Hoody Review
Cons: Durability comes at the cost of breathability, heavier than other hooded sunshirts
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Baleaf UPF 50 Hoody is an inexpensive, no-nonsense sun shirt that's made with comfortable and durable polyester fabric strongly stitched together. Durability of this thick fabric is high, although when the sun gets strong, you may wish you had something a little more breathable. Features are minimal. The 50+ UPF rating is its greatest asset, followed closely by its generous hood and useful thumb loops. This shirt won't turn heads when worn, but if protection is of utmost importance, it won't let you down.
Comfort and Fit
Expect a relaxed fit from the Baleaf, which is advantageous for a sun shirt. The particularly generous length of this shirt from neck to waist will help cover your belly and lower back when your arms are extended overhead, or if a backpack you're wearing starts to ride up the shirt.
The sleeves are long enough to cover up your hands beyond the knuckles, and the thumbies help keep the sleeves in place. However, the sleeves are tapered, so it is difficult to comfortably roll them up past the elbows. The hood is generous in its size and will keep most of your head covered. There isn't a way to cinch down the hood, so it will fall off if there's say, a gust of wind. Even running will be enough to have the hood fly off.
Although the 100% polyester fabric is soft and stretchy, it's also thick, so you'll find the shirt not as comfortable in the warmest, sunniest settings, where your activity level is intense, or a breeze is missing.
True to its name, the main feature of this hoody is the 50+ UPF rating on its tough, 100% polyester fabric. The highest rating given to any fabric, no more than 2% of the total UV power from the sun will pass through the garment and reach your skin. The polyester material is a little thicker than other options, but for sun protection, this comes as an advantage.
The long sleeves, long seam length, long sleeves, and thumbholes help with keeping that fabric actually covering all of your upper body. The hood is of the same generous size, which helps cover more than just the back of the head. However, there's no real way to cinch the hood down, so one of the weaknesses of this shirt is that the hood will fly off in breezy situations.
The Baleaf UPF 50 fairs somewhat lower than other hooded sun shirts when it comes to breathability. The thick polyester fabric is to blame, helped little by sleeves that don't roll up very easily. The generous cut of the shirt helps matters, but in the end, you will perspire more in this shirt than in most any other shirt we've tested.
Versatility isn't this layer's strongest suit. This is a workhorse shirt. It would look out of place on any inside job, except in a building supplies warehouse. Outside though, is where it shines.
The Baleaf Hoody isn't a lightweight garment either, weighing in at 8.1 ounces, so it's not the perfect shirt to bring on a potential thru-hike, unless you're on a strict monetary budget. The rugged polyester material is also on the thicker, heavier side, which does affect breathability and how baked you'll feel when afternoon rolls in.
The lack of features, details, and a journeyman cut would look a little out of place when wooing a potential love interest on a first date. Instead, get this shirt messy on the job site while rigging lights at an outdoor concert — it won't mind the good-job beer spilled on it aprés with coworkers. Just keep it with your job team, as this shirt will keep an air of sweat from the day's effort until washed.
Baleaf takes on a no-nonsense design philosophy throughout the UPF 50. This has the fantastic quality of also making the piece extremely durable. For its economical price, it's really hard to beat when you want to reach for something you know is going to not only be tested to its limits but simply abused.
The thicker-than-most, 100% polyester fabric weave is naturally slightly springy, without fear of it getting stretched out. This helps with its comfort while also making it very durable. This hoody would be at home on a deep-sea fishing trip in choppy seas, or even working construction on a hot summer day.
This sun hoody is also bereft of many details and features. No buttons to lose or zippers to get clogged up. There's no drawstring to cinch up the hood. The stitching on the shoulder, neck, and hood are absolutely industrial in strength, looking very similar to more fashionable, expensive, and better well-known brands and their offerings.
If you're a fishing guide, find yourself bushwhacking through thick underbrush often, or if your job includes a bush plan ride, the Baleaf UPF 50+ Hoody will feel right at home.
This layer is on the verge of being minimalistic. It does have some good qualities that we hope to see on any good sun shirt, including a relaxed fit to help with breathability, longer sleeves that can cover the arms and hands, as well as a generous hem length to keep the belly and lower back covered.
The tightly knit 100% polyester fabric carries the highest UPF rating (50+) there realistically is, which gives us a lot of confidence under the sun. To round off everything, the hood of the Baleaf is generously sized — big enough to fit a helmet over/underneath, and the ends of the sleeves feature simple thumb loops, to keep the sleeves covering as much of your upper body as possible.
Some features lacking on this shirt include pockets and a drawstring for the hood. No other cinches/straps will be found. This lack of accessories adds to the shirt's durability — less things to break or snag — though it also limits versatility.
It would be difficult to find a sun shirt of similar build quality at a lower price. None of the other sun shirts that we've tested even come close. The inexpensive price is almost unbelievable considering the durability of the fabric and stitching.
The Baleaf UPF 50+, our Best Buy winner for a hoody, is a modest choice sun shirt at an unbeatable price. What it lacks in style and additional features, it makes up for by successfully protecting you from the sun, its most important job. If you're uncertain about the entire concept of sun shirts, this is an inexpensive option to take the plunge with.
— Justin Simoni