FORLOH Insect Shield
Travis Smola

Gear Review: FORLOH Insect Shield SolAir Hooded Long Sleeve Shirt

As much as we love the warm weather that comes with the summer, we hate the avalanche of mosquitoes and other pesky flying bugs that comes with it. When the mosquitoes get thick, you're left with a few choices, stay inside, address it in smart ways, or slather on the heavy chemicals. We're not really fans of that last option. Fortunately, more companies are developing clothing technology designed to keep us safe from the bugs. We recently got the chance to test out FORLOH's Insect Shield SolAir hooded long sleeve shirt. I ended up pitting this shirt against Michigan's earliest swarms of biting pests and the more established ones down in the jungles of Costa Rica while on a media fishing trip.

At the end of the day, I came away quite impressed by this shirt not only kept most of the bugs away, but its superior sun and heat protection capabilities. I really put this shirt through the ringer and tested just about every advertised capability, finding out it was more than up for the tasks at hand. To the point that I may have a new favorite shirt for all my summer activities. Here's how the FORLOH Insect Shield handled two drastically different environments in the early summer months.

Specs of the FORLOH Insect Shield

At first glance, this shirt looks a lot like the other long sleeve polyester and spandex fishing shirts on the market these days. It is also a little more expensive than some other options at $99. The key selling point here is their "Insect Shield" odorless insect protection. We're not entirely positive of the chemistry, whether it's a stronger form of permethrin or some other compound. FORLOH does say the protection will last the life of the shirt.

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This shirt also has "Brrr Pro" cooling which helps the fiber wick away moisture to stay dry. FORLOH says they incorporated a Polygiene antimicrobial odor control system to help the shirt stay fresher. It could perhaps even help shield you from the noses of big game if you were to head out hog hunting or something in the warmer months.

I will say this is the most comfortable long sleeve shirt I currently own. I've picked up dozens of long sleeve shirts the last few years because they do a much better job of protecting someone with pasty skin like mine from the sun's harmful rays. The sleeves on the SolAir shirt seem a little longer than most of my shirts and offer thumb holes that help cover and protect more of my hands when I'm moving around. It's a small touch, but one that's greatly appreciated.

Finally, there's the hood. It is light and covers my head and ears completely and comfortably. I'm starting to lean more into these long sleeves with hoods lately simply because of the extra protection they provide for my ears and the back of my neck, two areas which are very prone to burning on me.

How the FURLOH Insect Shield Performed in the Field

FORLOH Insect Shield

Travis Smola

Make no mistake, I probably subjected this shirt to more abuse than any other product I have ever reviewed before. I started off simple, using it on a couple of bike rides on dirt trails near my home just as the bugs were emerging. It did an excellent job of keeping me cool on an especially warm day. Whatever they put in the fabric of the shirt does work on keeping the insects away.

I found that to be especially true when I took the shirt down to Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica for a media saltwater fishing trip. The resort I stayed at was literally situated in the rainforest. Complete with crocodiles in the creeks and macaws chattering as they flew through the thick jungle canopy. I came home with plenty of itchy bug bites on my legs and ankles after this trip, areas that were not protected by the FURLOH. If it's good enough to handle the jungles of Central America, it's going to be more than adequate for most U.S. states.

However, the area where the FORLOH really shines is the sun protection. It got very warm down in Costa Rica, yet this shirt kept me cool and it kept me from getting roasted to a complete crisp on my final day fishing down there. I can get burned in winter if the conditions are right, so the UPF 1000+ aspect of the shirt is most welcome. Despite the humidity of Costa Rica, the shirt also did an excellent job of keeping me cool the whole time, especially when we were offshore with no shade protection at all.

On the final day of fishing, I pushed the FURLOH to the absolute limit when our captain spotted a group of spinner dolphin feeding. They feed on baitfish with big yellowfin tuna, and it didn't take long for my group to get hooked up with some 40 and 50-pound fish. When you catch a tuna of that size and pose for a photo, there's often not much you can do but hug and hold it for dear life when it starts flopping. This happened more than once on this day. By the time I got back to the resort that afternoon after six or seven fish, my new FORLOH was thoroughly drenched in tuna blood and some of the worst fish slime an angler can possibly encounter. My clothing positively reeked of fish, to the point I needed to throw everything I was wearing into a plastic garbage bag for the flight home.

It took two washings, but I eventually got most of the fishy smell out of them. However, it's worth noting the FORLOH handled this task better than the others. That antimicrobial material did a heck of a job on cutting down that fishy smell that caused some of the other anglers in my group to just throw out their clothing entirely.

The bottom line is the FURLOH Insect Shield is a first-class long sleeve shirt for hiking, camping, hunting, and fishing activities in the warmer months. It may even be the best I've ever worn. The jury is still out on that for the time being, but it's up there. If you're looking for a tough shirt that resists bugs, heat, and sunlight, this is the one to consider. FORLOH makes it in either a digital camo or white color pattern. Check out the FORLOH website for more information.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram For original videos, check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels