Helly Hansen Base Layer Review

The Lifa Stripe Crew base layer is a tried and true option from one of the biggest ski apparel brands in the world. It’s been the go-to base layer for myself, as well as many skiers I know, for years. What makes the Lifa Stripe stand out is its solid overall performance and cheap price. It might not be the most technical item out there, but it gets the job done right. 

Quick Summary

Why Trust Me

I’ve been skiing almost as long as I’ve been able to walk. I have skied all over the world and have decades of experience skiing on, testing, and reviewing different skis and skiing equipment. I used the Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe Crew Base Layer for many seasons. Below is my detailed review. 

Detailed Review

The Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe Crew is one of my favorite base layer garments in terms of both performance and comfort. It’s extremely reliable and well-made. It can easily last for 10 seasons of steady wear without breaking down. This is a classic option from a classic brand that happens to be one of the cheaper base layers on the market.

Warmth

This isn’t the warmest base layer out there, but a good base layer doesn’t always need to be the warmest thing on your body. Rather, it only needs to provide an extra level of insulation and warmth while helping you manage any moisture you may build up while sweating. That’s the key to the warmth this item provides. It actively helps you not get cold by absorbing excess moisture and drying quickly. 

That’s why this is one of my favorite base layers. I’m a skier who sweats, especially on good days where I can’t get enough. While that’s part of the fun, it also means you’re undergarments or lower layers are going to soak through. That’s problematic because it means you can get extremely cold, extremely quick.  The Lifa Crew helps with that issue by quickly drying out thanks to its incredible moisture wicking properties. 

That being said, this base layer will not provide much warmth on its own. It’s thin and form-fitting, but doesn’t provide any real insulation or protection against the elements. If you’re an experienced skier, you should know that. Just make sure to put on the appropriate other layers when you’re out in the snow.  

Comfort

This is a comfortable base layer option, as long as you get the right size. The Lifa Crew runs fairly true to size, in my opinion, but you might want to get a size up if you don’t like a tight base layer that hugs your torso. It is stretchy and flexible, however. That means you’ll be ok even if you have a size that’s a little small. If you want a more free-flowing feel, you’ll want to get the next size up. 

Put this on as your base layer, and you’re barely going to notice that it’s even there. That’s a nod to the jacket’s comfort and a testament to the minimal but effective design Helly Hansen created when they first came out with the Lifa Crew decades ago. It’s comfortable enough to be worn as pajamas or around the house, and holds up great when you’re skiing as well.

Fit

The Lifa Crew fits like any other base layer. It snugly hugs your upper body and can run a little tight if you sit in the upper end of a particular size range. While it’s stretchy enough to not have that matter all that much, it can be a little tight if you prefer a looser base layer. I find that a tighter fit works a bit better when I’m on the mountain when it comes to wicking sweat and drying quickly. 

One downside to the tighter fit is that the arms can ride up a bit, especially if you’re in the backcountry or using your poles a lot. Depending on what sort of mid-layer you have on, that can be annoying and uncomfortable. I don’t think it really affects the garment’s performance (unless you have sweaty forearms) but it’s another reason to consider a size up if you don’t want your base layer to be too constricting. 

Construction

The Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe Crew is lightweight and made out of 100% Lifa Polypropylene. That unique material allows for excellent moisture wicking properties and helps keep sweat away from your body. It also allows the top to dry quickly, which adds to the excellent overall performance. 

The wrist is slightly form-fitting, which can help them stay in place if you aren’t moving too hard, and there is a slight collar. However, it’s not much. Some wouldn’t even consider it a collar. Well-constructed and built to withstand years of steady use, the Lifa is a durable base layer that I know from first-hand experience will last a long time.

Price and Value

The price is certainly right on the Lifa Stripe Crew. It’s one of the most affordable big brand name base layers you can find, and is more than worth what it costs. That gives the item excellent value. With a small investment, you get a quality base layer that will last you for season after season. That’s pure quality.

What I Like

Simply put, I like this base layer a lot. It’s one of my personal favorites and has been on my body for probably 75 percent of all ski days I’ve ever had. You don’t need to think much about this one, because it’s a no-brainer. For an affordable and effective option that is going to work for you on a daily basis, it doesn’t get much better than this.

I also like how minimal the jacket feels. Once you put a layer or two on over it, you’re barely going to notice that you even have it on. That comes in handy when you’re gearing up for a big snow day, but also means that this can be used in a variety of other conditions: both on the slopes and around town.

Another big advantage of the Lifa Crew is how quickly it dries. I sweat a lot on almost every ski day, and the garment dries as I ride the lift back up the mountain. That’s a big advantage when it comes to comfort and warmth because, if you’re wet all day long, it’s hard to stay in the zone.

What I Don’t Like

There isn’t a lot to dislike about this Helly Hansen base layer. It’s nearly perfect if you ask me. However, as nothing in life is perfect, I’d have to say that the fit around the neck and wrists can run a bit too tight. I get around that by ordering a size up, but I can definitely feel some annoying tightness around the lower neck area. It isn’t bad, but it’s there. 

Other than that, the only other negative aspect I have is that the wrists can ride up your arms a bit. That goes double if you have a tighter mid-layer on. It’s not a huge deal, and won’t be something you notice all the time, but it’s worth mentioning. 

The Alternatives

There are plenty of other base layers out there if the Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe Crew doesn’t sound appealing. Here are some recommended alternatives that are worth checking out. 

  • Smartwool Merino 250 BaselayerThis is another one of my favorite base layers. I use it on days where I need something a bit warmer than the Lifa Stripe. It’s made of Merino wool, which is both soft and comfortable, and provides excellent warmth. It’s a little heavier than some may want, but it’s still pretty minimal and will keep you cozy on those cold powder days. 
  • Icebreaker 200 Oasis Long Sleeve CrewThis is another wool base layer that’s more similar in fit and feel to the Helly Hansen option. It fits tight around the torso and offers good moisture-wicking and insulation properties. It’s also naturally odor resistant, which is a nice touch because every skier knows a base layer can start to stink pretty quickly. Durable and reliable all-around.  
  • Patagonia Capilene Midweight CrewThis is a good option for skiers who don’t like a traditional base layer and want something with a little more heft. It sits on the border of a base and mid-layer, giving you decent insulation and comfort without a tight fit. It’s made out of recycled polyester, so it doesn’t quite have the insulation properties of wool, but it’s still effective at keeping you dry and warm.

FAQs

Is this base layer waterproof? 

No, it’s not. It’s made to be worn underneath your other skiing layers and doesn’t offer any water-resistant properties at all. 

Do I need to wear a mid-layer if I use the Lifa Stripe Crew? 

How you layer when you ski (or do any other outdoor activity) is completely up to you. On a warmer day, you could get away with just this and a shell. For most other skiing activities I would recommend a base, mid, and shell. 

Is this a wool baselayer?

No. This base layer is made of 100% polypropylene, which is a synthetic fiber material. 

Final Verdict

I have yet to meet anyone who’s truly disappointed with the Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe Crew base layer. It’s a quality garment that will meet the needs of most skiers, and it’s one of the most affordable options as well.

There’s a reason the item has been around for decades with little changes to the design – it works. If you want a cheap base layer that offers superior performance, especially when it comes to quick-drying, this is for you.

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