If you spend time hiking, backpacking, or thru-hiking and you haven't already made the switch, I strongly recommend investing in a sun hoody. Lightweight sun hoodies are excellent for a wide variety of conditions and in addition to keeping you protected from the sun, they can keep you warm when the wind picks up.
Since hiking the Continental Divide Trail, I've been experimenting with every sun hoody I can get my hands on and my collection has grown to an almost embarrassing level.
All of the hoodies listed in detail here, I have personally used. The chart included at the bottom includes some of the other (similar) hoodies available right now. If you have a favorite that you don't see here, I'm always looking for another sun hoody to try out!
Best Overall: Ridge Merino Solstice Hoodie
+ 87% Merino, 13% Nylon
+ Lightweight, comfortable, breathable
+ Drawstring-adjustable hood
+ Easy to pull up sleeves to regulate temperature
– Color selection not great
– Frequently out of stock
The Ridge Merino Solstice Hoodie, from Mammoth Lakes, CA-based Ridge Merino, is my top pick for backpacking hoodies. I have two of them (in blue and citrus – I got a second in citrus because this color wasn't released until after I had my first one) and I love them both. I've recommended this hoodie to multiple thru-hikers and backpackers and I have yet to hear anyone complain. The Solstice Hoodie sports thumbholes, a drawstring hood, and a UPF rating of 30+. Check it out here.
Runner Up: Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoody
+ Made from 100% recycled materials
+ One of the most affordable (i.e. reasonably priced) options available
– Current voluntary recall due to improper UPF rating
– 100% polyester can get stinky
The Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoody is another great choice. I have one that I used on the final leg of my Sierra High Route journey and numerous other high-altitude adventures since. It's made from 100% recycled polyester which is awesome because recycled, but not awesome because it can get stinky if you're wearing it for a week straight without washing. It has a medium-volume hood with a fixed closure. It's fairly close to my chin but not so much that it chokes me when pulled over my hat. It's also got thumbholes and feels nice next to your skin. Check it out here.
The Lightest Option: Rab Pulse Hoody
+ Lightest hoody (I can find)
+ Comes in bright colors
+ Very quick drying
– Not as silky next to skin as some other options
– Suited for warmer climates (not great for keeping warm)
The Rab Pulse Hoody is the lightest option (I can find) for those looking for a sun hoody. At just 4.1 oz / 116 g, it comes in just below the Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Hoodie. The Pulse comes in bright colors (as well as darker colors) and is 100% polyester (which means it can get stinky). As any good sun hoody should, it also has thumbholes. You probably don't want to use the Pulse on its own if you're venturing out into colder climates because it's so lightweight, but it will do great as a layer. Check it out here.
The Alternate Materials Option: Free Fly Bamboo Lightweight Hoody
+ Lightweight with a small amount of stretch
+ Sleeves easy to pull up
+ Nice feel against skin (70% viscose from bamboo, 30% polyester)
– Women's version is slightly different
– Why is there a pocket?
– Hood a little tight to neck/chin
The Free Fly Bamboo Lightweight Hoody is the only hoody here made from a blend of 70% viscose from bamboo fibers and 30% polyester. The result is a slightly stretchy material that feels soft against the skin. This is the only hoodie listed here that has a chest pocket. What this pocket could be for, I do not know (maybe it could be useful if I was wearing a sun hoody while out fishing – something I have zero knowledge of). There's a slightly different version of this hoody available called the Bamboo Shade Hoodie that doesn't have a pocket and costs $5 more. As far as I can tell, it is slightly heavier and offers a UPF rating of 50 instead of the Lightweight Hoody's 20. Check out the Bamboo Lightweight Hoody here.
The Expensive Option: Voormi River Run Hoodie
+ High volume hood that doesn't feel like it's choking you
+ Made of a wool blend (stink resistant)
+ Comfortable and breathable, even in hot conditions
– Weird thumb straps instead of holes
– Rougher feeling on skin than others
– Why so expensive?
The Voormi River Run Hoodie is one with which I have a love-hate relationship. I wore one for over 700 mi / 1,127 km through the desert in one of these and can't say I hated it. However, it's more than twice as expensive as some of the other options here. It can also feel a bit itchy or scratchy before you get some serious use on it (and wash it a few times). Lastly, it's got weird elastic thumb straps instead of thumbholes – not sure if I'm missing something here, but I really prefer the standard thumbholes. Check it out here.
The Stretchy Option: Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Long Sleeve Hoody
+ Lightweight and incredibly stretchy
+ Feels silky smooth on skin
– Women's version is completely different – has a drawstring waistband and a zippered pocket for some reason
– Gets incredibly, next-level stinky
The Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Long Sleeve Hoody is the stretchiest hoodie I've ever used. It's stupidly stretchy. It's also one of the stinkiest hoodies I've ever used. I would not recommend sweating profusely for multiple days – or even a single day – when using one. That said, it feels silky smooth next to the skin – definitely one of the silkiest-feeling hoodies I've used. Did I mention how absurdly stretchy it is? Check it out here.
Sun Hoodie Detailed Breakdown
|Ridge Merino Solstice||9 oz / 255 g||$80||87% Merino, 13% Nylon||30+||Yes||Drawstring|
|Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily||6.3 oz / 179 g||$55||100% Recycled Polyester||20+||Yes||None|
|Free Fly Bamboo Lightweight||8.5 oz / 241 g||$60||70% Viscose from Bamboo, 30% Polyester||20||Yes||None|
|Voormi River Run||7 oz / 186 g||$129||Blended Wool||30||Yes||None|
|Duckworth Vapor||9 oz / 255 g||$110||38% Merino, 50% Recycled Polyester, 12% Modal||30||No||None|
|Smartwool Merino Sport 150||N/A||$100||56% Merino, 44% Polyester||20+||Yes||None|
|Rab Pulse||4.1 oz / 117 g||$80||100% Polyester||N/A||Yes||None|
|KÜHL AirKÜHL||11 oz / 312 g||$75||85% Polyester, 15% Spandex||50+||Yes||None|
|The North Face Wander||5.6 oz / 159 g||$50||100% Polyester (54% Recycled)||50+||Yes||None|
|Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake||4.2 oz / 119 g||$65||88% Polyester, 12% Elastane||50+||Yes||None|
|REI Co-op Sahara Shade||N/A||$60||92% Polyester, 8% Spandex||50+||Yes||None|
|Patagonia Tropic Comfort Hoody II||8.3 oz / 235 g||$60||100% Recycled Polyester||20+||Yes||Button|
|Backcountry Tahoe 2||7.2 oz / 204 g||$70||88% Polyester, 12% Spandex||50+||Yes||None|
|NRS H2Core Silkweight||5.4 oz / 153 g||$60||92% Polyester, 8% Spandex||50+||Yes||None|
|Kuiu Gila LS||6.7 oz / 190 g||$69||92% Polyester 8% Spandex||50+||No||None|
|prAna Watchtower||N/A||$79||76% Polyester, 18% TENCEL lyocell, 6% Elastane||50+||No||None|