As a professional kayak angler, I’m constantly being exposed to the elements. Where boat anglers have the luxury of shade tops and separation between themselves and the water, fishing from a kayak means I’m rarely able to escape from the sun and never enjoy a dry day on the water. My outfit is one of the most important decisions I make before I go to work.
I’m just going to be honest: Sunscreen and I are not friends. Slathering the thick, scented, water-resistant goop all over my hands and then applying it to my body may be one of my least favorite activities. At the same time, I hear skin cancer sucks. But not only is sunscreen unpleasant and inconvenient, it also has a detrimental effect on my success as an angler. Fish have a keen sense of smell and taste, and very few baitfish naturally smell like Coconut Bahama Breeze, so transferring sunscreen to my bait or lure all but guarantees I’m going to have a slow day on the water.
If I got a nickel every time I heard this question… “Why are you wearing long pants, long sleeves and a gaiter over your face when it’s so hot outside?” I’d be rich but my answer would never change: I’ll take a little sweat over skin cancer every time. Luckily for me, the NRS Baja Sun Shirt provides the SPF I need—UPF 50—to prolong my life while also keeping me cool on these miserably hot summer days.
What I love about the Baja is that, like all of the NRS fishing apparel, it was built for paddlers and active lifestyles. All of the seams have been moved away from high-friction areas like my shoulders and elbows, so I can paddle and fight big fish without the rubbing (and eventually chafing) that comes from traditional shirts. The polyester/spandex-blended material is light, breathable and dries super quick and panels of H2Core Silkweight material under the arms and at the nook of my elbow lets air move freely in the hottest areas. (The H2Core Silkweight Shirts are pretty rad, too.)
The comfort factor and UPF protection aren’t the only features that make the Baja a damn-good-fishing-shirt. Fishing from a kayak makes for much more intimate encounters with wildlife (read: angry fish with sharp spines and/or teeth), and the Baja’s material resists fraying like no other shirt I’ve worn on the water. I have one that has endured over twenty fishing trips across two continents in environments ranging from five miles offshore to dense mangrove forests that grab and scratch you at every turn, and I’d wager my favorite kayak that you couldn’t differentiate it from a brand new one.
But what about my face, you ask. Surely I use sunscreen on my face. Have you ever been in that situation where sweat has picked up a Coconut Bahama Breeze flavored hitchhiker and forced itself into your eyeballs? I bet you have. I also bet it leaves you, like me, cursing the sun for making you join forces with this goop. And then I begin to wonder why God burdened me with these unruly, overgrown eyebrows if they can’t even keep the sweat—and sunscreen droplets—out of my eyes. Luckily, the superhero-esque H2Ozone Neck Gaiter routinely saves the day by protecting me from those UV rays with absolutely zero eyeball pain.
One handy feature that you won’t find on the tag is that the material also makes for the best lens cleaner of any piece of clothing I’ve ever worn. That’s handy for a guy who wears sunglasses and uses action cameras every time I’m on the water. I’ve always worn cotton buffs in the past, but they’re hot, make it impossible to breathe when wet and turn a few drops of water on your sunglasses into a lens-covering-streaky mess. Whatever mystical material makes up the H2Ozone Neck Gaiter (my guess is unicorn hair and puppy kisses—I mean, nylon and spandex), it’s the most comfortable thing I’ve ever put on my face.
If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you owe it to yourself to protect yourself from the elements and ensure that you’re going to be comfortable from sun up to sunset. For me personally, the Baja shirt and H2Ozone Neck Gaiter can’t be beat.