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With the warmer weather upon us, it’s time to venture out and enjoy some fun in the sun. And what better way to do so than in Free Fly apparel? As avid outdoors enthusiasts, my family and I recently traveled to Florida to soak up some sun on the coast. During our trip, we had the opportunity to test out some of Free Fly’s newest gear in the hot and humid conditions.
Originally based in Montana on some of the large Western Rivers, Free Fly has since moved its operation to South Carolina, blending both the Western and Southern cultures to create fantastic designs that are perfect for beaches, rivers, and lakes alike.
For our Florida trip, my wife Kirsten and I got to test out Free Fly’s latest Spring Apparel. We each had the chance to try out the Latitude Short, the Elevate Hoodie, and the Headwind Jacket while exploring the coastal areas of the Sunshine State.
Initial Thoughts on the Gear
We really got hooked up by Free Fly with a full set of gear made for hot and humid weather. We picked up the Latitude Short, the Elevate Hoodie, and the Headwind Jacket that should be the ticket for our Florida adventures.
Free Fly Latitude Shorts
The latitude shorts are stretch woven shorts that made for a multitude of activities from fishing to a night out on the town. The men’s short has an inseam of 7.5 inches and the women’s short with a 3.5 inch inseam. Both of these wear above the knees. The fabric used is nylon and Spandex. This allows for stretching as well as quick drying.
The men’s short has a partial elastic waist along the sides creating a perfect fit. In front there is a button top with a zipper below. The rear pocket is large enough for keys or a fishing license and is zippered as well. The women’s short has an elastic waist and drawstring. There are two side pockets and two rear pockets, one of which has a zipper.
Free Fly Elevate Hoodies
These hoodies are super lightweight! These are constructed from a recycled polyester, tensile, and spandex combination. This material is also treated with HeiQ odor control so that they won’t get as smelly as other synthetic garments.
The fit on the hoodies are designed to be slim throughout the body but also to have room for movement. The hoodie has Raglan sleeves which are one piece that connect all the way up to the opening. This makes for easy movements around the the shoulders.
The crossover hood provides maximum coverage around the head. The hood is also build large enough to fit easily over a ball cap. Around the hands there are special loops that hold the sleeves in place over the hands. This provides sun protection specifically to the backs of the hands.
Free Fly Headwind Jacket
Headwind Jacket is by far the lightest jackets that I have ever owned. This jacket is made for wind, chilly mornings, and light rain. The fit of the Headwind Jacket is made to go over a light under layer.
This material used in the construction of this jacket is nylon. Like the Elevate Hoodies this jacket has the Raglan sleeves and articulated elbows. The cuffs have half elastic material to create a perfect fit.
Testing the Free Fly Apparel
When the Free Fly Package arrived at our house in Steamboat Springs, Colorado earlier this month, we were thrilled. This package was the final piece of gear we needed for our upcoming trip to Florida. At that time, there was nearly 10 feet of snow in our front yard, and needless to say, we were ready to escape to some warm weather. Little did we realize that the temperatures at our destination were going to be hovering around 90 degrees each day. Living in the mountains has made us a bit soft in the heat, so we were counting on this new gear to keep us cool in the heat as well as protected from the sun. We had high hopes for the Free Fly’s Southern experience to shine in these products, especially since I had great experiences with a Bamboo Lightweight Shore Hoody last year when I reviewed it.
During that review, we used the hoodie day in and day out on river trips in Colorado, and it quickly became one of my favorites. However, this trip was going to be different with hotter temps and much higher humidity levels. Our hope was that the Free Fly’s Latitude shorts and Elevate Hoodies would perform exceptionally well under these conditions.
Some Like It Hot!
Our first few days in Florida were scorching hot! We spent most of our time searching the beaches for snook that had been laying up looking for baitfish in the wave breaks. This type of fishing involves lots of walking, hoping to get a shot at a fish or two. During this time, we would often chase fish running and splashing through the water to get off a good cast. This is where the Latitude shorts really shined. When wet, the shorts would shed water and quickly become dry. This was great as wet shorts and walking usually lead to chafing. Even after days of use, these shorts were comfortable and right at home for surf and flats fishing.
Although perfectly at home fishing, these shorts are nice enough to head out on the town. They are fairly short in length but have a comfortable fit. For sizing, I am 5’10 and 180 pounds, and the medium sized shorts were perfect on waist size. Kirsten is 5’6” and 110lbs, and her extra small shorts had a great fit as well. The sizing on the Free Fly website seems pretty spot on. Additionally, it should be noted that the elastic waist makes the sizing forgiving, even after an additional piece of key lime pie.
Moving on to the tops, the Elevate Hoodies are just plain awesome. These hoodies are loose-fitting and have outstanding breathability. In comparison to some of the other tops from Free Fly, these are some of the lightest and are perfect for hot and humid temperatures. Additional protection from 30 SPF was welcomed in the intense sun.
Similar to the Latitude Shorts, the Elevate Hoodie dried quickly after being submerged in water. We found this out first-hand when our fishing trip turned into an impromptu snorkel trip, and my hoodie became my swimshirt. Once out of the water, my Elevate Hoodie was completely dry in about 5 minutes. Although we did not experience any rain on this trip, we could see where if we were caught in a downpour while traveling, we could be dry quickly and comfortable in a hurry.
The Elevate Hoodies were also a perfect fit for us. I ordered mine in a size large, and Kirsten had hers in a small. I usually fit between a medium and a large on sizing, but I like loose-fitting clothing when I plan on being in the sun. Kirsten is typically a small in size, and her fit was spot on. For her, in the past, sunshirts have been a bit of a challenge on fit. She has a lengthy build and longish arms, and the Elevate hoodie accommodated her build perfectly.
Differences in the Hoodies
There were some noticeable differences between the men’s and the women’s Elevate Hoodies. The men’s sleeve had a finger loop that would wrap around the middle finger, while the women’s hoodie had a loop that was a more traditional thumb opening. At first, I did not think much of these differences, but after fishing in the Elevate Hoodie, I really liked the finger loop. This loop kept the sleeve extended over the back of my hand. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I have had some of the worst sunburns while fishing on the back of my hands. I really don’t like having much sunscreen on my hands as I feel it does not help the fishing, and I don’t like it getting on my fly line. This feature alone makes this sunshirt a winner for me. Also, by the end of the trip, Kirsten was a bit envious of this feature as well.
Smells So Good
There is no getting around it when playing outside: you are going to get dirty, and our Free Fly clothing took a beating. From sweat, fish slime, sunscreen, and rust spots, we used this gear to its fullest. There was one point that I had worn my hoodie for three days straight. What was most astonishing was that even after all that abuse, these shirts just don’t pick up smells. So much hot weather gear is made from synthetic material that just plain stinks after it is worn. The designers at Free Fly really got this right with HeiQ. I am sold on this stuff. Once the clothes were ready for the wash, they came out clean, and the grubby spots were all gone after a single wash.
I Hesitate to Use the Word Chilly
After daytime temperatures reaching the low 90s, I could not imagine needing to use the Headwind Jackets, but we did. We tried to make it a point of every evening going for a beach sunset walk. Once the sun would dip and wind would pick up, things would get just a bit chilly. This is when we would break out the Headwind Jackets that we had stashed in our beach bag. These jackets did a great job of cutting the wind and making us comfortable. These jackets will be perfect for those cool fishing mornings where you are jetting in a flats boat to a fishing spot.
What is most impressive about these jackets is they fold up to about the size of your fist. This jacket can easily be stuffed in a backpack or even a fishing vest, taken out in a hurry if a squall comes up. This jacket is a no-brainer to bring along on all of my warm weather outdoor outings.
The fit on the Headwind Jackets is a bit baggy. This baggy size is perfect for sliding over clothes. Kirsten had a small size, and I had a large size, and these were both perfect for us.
Specs Taken Directly From Free Fly Apparel
- MSRP $128
- Wind-resistant ripstop shell
- Articulated hood for security
- Raglan sleeves
- Half elastic cuff for comfort
- 45% Recycled Nylon / 55% Nylon
- Designed to fit over a light layer
- Tapered through the arms with articulated cuff
- MSRP $98
- Elastic waistband with custom drawstring
- DWR (Durable water repellant) coating
- Patch front pockets
- Back drop-in pocket
- 41% Recycled Nylon / 44% Nylon / 15% Spandex
- MSRP $88
- Crossover hood for full sun coverage
- Raglan sleeves
- HeiQ Fresh odor control
- Sun cuff offers top of hand coverage while keeping your palm unobstructed
- 83% Recycled Poly / 11% Tencel / 6% Spandex
- 175 GSM
- Slim through the body with room to move
- Fitted hood with room for a cap
Free Fly, a company based in Charleston, South Carolina, offers a range of warm weather gear that is innovative, protective, and stylish. Their use of innovative and sustainable materials provide both comfort and sun protection, while features like finger loops and thumb openings provide added protection for the backs of your hands.
If you are in need of a complete set of warm weather gear, Free Fly’s Latitude Shorts, Elevate Hoodies, and Headwind Jackets are great options. These garments are designed to keep you comfortable and protected from top to bottom, even if the weather turns bad. They are quick-drying and durable, and able to withstand the rigors of daily use.
If you are planning your next adventure in hot and sunny conditions, consider giving Free Fly a try. Their gear offers a great combination of style, functionality, and protection.