ExOfficio Baja Shirt Review
I have no bias against fishing, I’ve just never done much of it. But fishing was the focus of a recent family trip to the Abacos in the Bahamas, bone fishing at that! From what I’ve been told and experienced, bone fishing is more like hunting—you see a tell-tale swirl on the surface of the water and cast your fly to the fish, hopefully enticing him to bite with your fancy rod handling skills. My rod skills are deficient at best, thus looking the part and being a good sport were the best I had to offer.
That’s why I took along the ExOfficio Baja™ with Insect Shield® shirt. It didn’t help catch any fish, but I looked good, wasn’t attacked by Bahamian bugs or burned by the blazing island sun. In fact, I would really like to give it another go!
The Baja is touted to protect against insects, UVA and UVB rays and offer an SPF of 30. I was standing in the midst of a sand flat, surrounded by mangrove trees (aka bug haven) and had no bites—fish or insect. With the collar flipped up I had sun protection from my ears to my hands and suffered no sunburn.
ExOfficio’s Insect shield, repellant apparel receives an odorless insect blocking treatment that can last for 70 washings. I’ve washed my shirt about 4 times. So far so good, plus it comes out of the dryer wrinkle free—my mother-in-law actually thought I had ironed it (big bonus points!).
The Baja is a 65% polyester/35% cotton blend and weighs in at 6oz for women and 12oz for men. It has under arm and back yoke ventilation for climate control, but did feel a bit heavy on a humid 95 degree day. As long as there was a light breeze or some shade, I was comfortable, making this a fall, winter, summer shirt in warmer climates and a spring, summer and fall shirt in cooler ones.
Button utility tabs keep sleeves put when you aren’t worried about the sun, and low profile chest pockets with Velcro flaps and zippers hold money, a map and even your passport.
Front pin tucks made me look like I was actually wearing my shirt and not my husband’s, although the medium was generously cut. A tacked back pleat provides enough fabric for full range of motion when you are putting on a pack, casting a line or reaching for your cocktail at the tiki bar.
The one thing missing was collar buttons. If you are riding on a boat, button down collars are critical for keeping the collar from flapping in your face. But I was wading off the beach and had no problems.
I also tested this shirt on a family hike outside of Carbondale, CO. We’ve had a wet spring and summer resulting in a burgeoning bug population—but I didn’t notice when I was wearing the Baja. It was a comfortable all-around hiking shirt, and I appreciated the heavier fabric on the cool shaded trail. Even more so when it protected me from the scrapes and scratches generally delivered by encroaching plants.
The Baja retails for $85. Check it out at Exofficio.com