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

The North Face Boreaz - Women's Review

A durable and techy trail shirt.
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Price:  $65 List
Pros:  Super durable, technical, large pockets, helpful button spacing, back vent
Cons:  Thick and canvas-like, not overly flattering, sleeves tight to roll and a bit short
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 23, 2019
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51
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort & Fit - 30% 4
  • Sun Protection - 25% 6
  • Breathability - 20% 5
  • Durability - 10% 9
  • Style - 15% 3

Our Verdict

The North Face Boreaz is a highly technical shirt that's built to last. It has reinforced seams, gigantic pockets, and super handy button placement for various styles of wear. A back vent and the loose fit helps to keep you cool, though the fabric of this shirt is quite thick compared to the other shirts we tested. The sleeves are also rather tight to roll very high, and the very technical look of this shirt makes it not our favorite urban wear.

Like the buttons and the technical aspects, but want something more flattering? We think the REI Sahara is a stylish, versatile choice for both the trail and the office.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The North Face Boreaz is a button-up, collared sun shirt with a 50 UPF rating. The outer fabric is 95% nylon and 5% elastane while the inner liner is 100% polyester.

Performance Comparison



This shirt is durable  but not our favorite for style or super hot days.
This shirt is durable, but not our favorite for style or super hot days.

Comfort & Fit


The Boreaz is a rather thick sun shirt, with a feel like soft canvas. It makes swishy noises while you wear it, so no sneaking in this top! We think it's a bit stiff to be properly comfortable, but the fabric does seem to stay surprisingly cool against our skin. Our main tester is 5'4" and 117 pounds and wears size XS. She thinks the torso is a good length but a bit too loose, and the arms could stand to be longer - though she also self-identifies as a woman with gorilla arms. Compared to the silky soft Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake or the ultra thin Outdoor Research Echo, the Boreaz is not very comfortable and fits too baggy for our taste. However, it does have the top few buttons placed closer together to let you open the collar to more possible widths than the average shirt.

Conveniently close together top buttons let you find exactly the right opening width for your current conditions.
Conveniently close together top buttons let you find exactly the right opening width for your current conditions.

Sun Protection


With a UPF rating of 50, the Boreaz is among the highest level of fabric protection of options we tested. It also has a collar and long sleeves to help keep the sun off your sensitive spots. The torso is slightly longer in back, to help you stay covered even in motion and the fabric has some stretch to move with you on your adventure. We find the Boreaz to have about equal sun protection to the other button-up, collared shirts we tested, like the REI Sahara and Columbia Silver Ridge Lite.

The sleeves on this model are a bit short for our long-armed testers.
The sleeves on this model are a bit short for our long-armed testers.

Breathability


Thick fabric makes the Boreaz feel a bit more stuffy than the competition. With that said, for how thick and stiff the fabric is, this shirt breathes decently. It's plenty loose as well, to facilitate air flow up and through - though any hip belt or harness will stop that right away. It also has a back vent to help your skin breathe. The Boreaz features button tabs to roll your sleeves up and out of the way (don't forget sunscreen on your forearms!), but we discovered that the sleeves are too tight to get the full three rolls it takes to reach the button to the tab. It's also a different mechanism than the other tops we tested, with a button and a small loop that you have to roll perfectly to get them matched up. We had a really tough time getting this to work and be comfortable. Fortunately, the stiff fabric then becomes a friend, as you can easily put one or two rolls in the sleeves and they'll stay without the need of a button.

We think that rolling these sleeves all the way up to the tabs is more difficult that it should be. The sleeve rolls get too tight for our liking  and you have to roll a perfect roll to make the tiny loop meet up with the tiny button.
We think that rolling these sleeves all the way up to the tabs is more difficult that it should be. The sleeve rolls get too tight for our liking, and you have to roll a perfect roll to make the tiny loop meet up with the tiny button.

Durability


This is where the Boreaz really shines. The North Face offers a lifetime manufacturer's warranty on this beefy shirt. The outer layer is 95% nylon and 5% elastane, while the inner mesh is 100% polyester. All seams are reinforced and very solid. We have absolutely no complaints about the durability of this shirt even after months of wearing it scrambling through the rocky deserts in our backyard.

The back vent is useful and well-reinforced.
The back vent is useful and well-reinforced.

Style


This is probably our least favorite aspect of the Boreaz. It's super technical-looking. For a day out hiking the local trails, it's a decent choice. But we feel a bit out of place wearing it in an urban setting. Not only because it looks pretty technical, but also because it makes a lot of swishing noises when you wear it, like a windbreaker. The Boreaz does come in several solid colors, that are sure to be a hit with just about anyone looking to pick up one of these tops.

We don't love the super technical style of this shirt for anything other than actually being on the trail.
We don't love the super technical style of this shirt for anything other than actually being on the trail.

Features


The Boreaz has a hidden zippered chest pocket and a reinforced back vent. What really makes this shirt unique though, are the HUGE hip pockets. The openings are hidden on the side seams of this shirt and the pockets themselves literally take up the whole front of the shirt. They're more than big enough to be a temporary phone pocket, hold tissues for the day, or even store a bunch of snacks in. They're also a great feature for starting your day in the cool early morning, as you can easily stick your hands inside to keep warm.

A single  concealed zipper chest pocket.
A single, concealed zipper chest pocket.

Best Applications


The Boreaz is a good technical option for hikers and sun-lovers who want a shirt that will last and love the look. It's not our favorite style we tested, but it offers decent sun protection and incredible durability. If you'd rather have a more comfortable buttoned shirt, the REI Sahara is a great choice. Want more breathability? The lightweight Columbia Silver Ridge LIte might be a better option.

Unlike the REI Sahara  the seams of the Boreaz go right into your armpit.
Unlike the REI Sahara, the seams of the Boreaz go right into your armpit.

Value


Retailing for $65, this top is in the middle of the price range of shirts we tested. The value of this shirt, we think, is somewhat subjective. If you're on the hunt for a super durable shirt that's tough enough to backpack and hike in, the Boreaz will take you there. If you want a sun shirt that's also super comfortable and stylish enough to wear into the office, you might be happier with the super versatile, REI Sahara.

Conclusion


This sun top is a decent shirt with technical applications. We don't love the stiff, thick feel of its fabric or the tight fit of the triple-rolled sleeves, but we think its durability is unmatched by any other shirt we tested.

It's not our favorite shirt for comfort or style  but it's durability is top-notch and you might like all the technical features.
It's not our favorite shirt for comfort or style, but it's durability is top-notch and you might like all the technical features.


Maggie Brandenburg