I was pleasantly surprised when I took my new BloqUV 24/7 long-sleeved shirt on a recent nine-day backpacking trip. BloqUV touts its clothing’s design for activities like boating, golf, tennis, and swimming, so I was doubtful of the shirt’s utility in the backcountry during cold weather. The shirt proved itself over the course of the trip and it is now my go-to base layer for hiking and jogging.
BloqUV markets their clothing for its sun protection. The 27/4 is made from a fabric that according to the company blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays and offers the equivalent of SPF 50 protection. This protection is not provided by chemical additives, so its lasts the life of the shirt. While many of us associate cancer-causing ultra-violet radiation with the hot summer sun and water, winter activities can also lead to high levels of UV exposure. Snow reflects about 80 percent of UV radiation. The backs of the hands are a common location for melanoma and this shirt design includes elongated sleeves with thumb holes to cover the back of the hands.
It is great to have base layer that provides UV protection because in the winter I like to exercise with as few layers as possible. However, my real question wasn’t the top’s protective abilities but how well it would function in the backwoods.
Out of the box, I was a bit disappointed in the shirt. It had a slight chemical smell. The shirt is designed to be form-fitting and felt a little tight around my upper arms. The fabric itself felt a little strange, not necessarily uncomfortable, just unusual. I followed the garment’s instructions, machine washing the shirt in cold water and laying it out flat to dry. The next morning I was impressed to find it was no longer wet.
On my first day out backpacking, I wore the shirt over a polypropylene T-shirt. It was a cold, clear day and I found that the combination of the two layers was slightly more warmth than I needed while I was hiking. By the second day I had adjusted to the feel of the fabric and found it very comfortable. The shirt had stretched out a little bit from use, making the fit better. I tend to hike hot and found that the shirt was great for regulating temperature. If I was cold, I would wear the shirt with my thumbs through the holes.
As I warmed up, I’d push up the sleeves and the cold air across my forearms would cool my whole body. Even though I was frequently sweating, I was amazed at how dry the shirt stayed. If sweat marks were visible, they were always very light. I hiked for several days in the rain and drizzle, often without putting on my rain jacket, and the shirt always dried quickly. I also loved how the extended sleeve interfaced with my gloves. The fabric is thin enough that my gloves fit comfortably over the shirt and there was no exposed skin gap between fabrics.
When I layered up during breaks or wore my raincoat while hiking, the 24/7 continued to perform well.
The shirt did start to smell after several days of hiking, but any of my other shirts also would have. The 24/7 held up well during my nine-day trip, showing no significant wear or damage, even where the backpack and straps rubbed against it. The shirt also has a pocket for a media device on the left sleeve. I never used it on the hike, but found that my small cell phone fit securely inside.
Overall, I would highly recommend the shirt, even to someone who is not worried about sun exposure. I’ll be taking the shirt on adventures all year-long. In retrospect I would order one size up, but even with a tight-fitted shirt, I can still pull it over a T-shirt or tank top.
For more information about BloqUV and their line of clothing check out: http://www.bloquv.com