The North Face Boreaz - Women's Review
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.
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 some of our other favorites, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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