Best Sun Hoodies

Best Sun Hoodies


Don't forget to follow us on Instagram for the latest gear news!

Hiking all day in the sun can be utterly draining. The heat. The oily sunscreen. It all adds up to make it hard to keep moving. But that’s exactly why we have sun hoodies! These shirts are designed to both protect you from the sun’s rays and keep you comfortable at the same time. The trick is finding the best sun hoodie for your adventure, and that’s why we’re here.

From exploring sunny Arizona on Sedona hiking tours to heading into the mountains on Yellowstone backpacking trips, a good sun hoodie always comes in handy. To that point, we’ve compiled this list of the best sun hoodies currently on the market. Read on to learn about how to choose your hoodie and explore these top suggestions to make sure you can weather the sun in comfort on your hike!

All-inclusive Backpacking Adventures

QUICK LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS

Honorable Mentions

KEY CONSIDERATIONS for the best Sun Hoodies and Shirts

There are a surprising number of considerations when it comes to sun hoodies. We’re aiming for what’s traditionally thought of as a warm, comfy layer for cooler days, the hoodie, and combining it with an oftentimes hot portion of our hike, the sun. Therefore, let’s take a closer look at all the aspects of the sun hoodie that make it such a fantastic layer in the backcountry.

Material

The hoodie material is everything when it comes to finding the perfect sun layer. In this regard, we often find synthetic fibers such as polyester or occasionally nylon or natural materials like merino wool or periodically bamboo (or a combination of both synthetic and natural). Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both options.

Synthetic materials tend to offer the best durability for those long days on the trail. Polyester holds up very well to constant use and can maintain this durability even with very thin weaves (this is particularly important to keep the shirt light and cool in the sun). The downside, however, is that synthetic materials typically hold on to bad smells and odor-causing bacteria. Odor treatments have come a long way in recent years to minimize this downside, but it’s still worth factoring into your decision-making process. With these points in mind, synthetic sun hoodies and shirts tend to be the top choice for hot weather activities since they’re thin, light, and durable.

Natural materials like merino wool or bamboo are almost the exact opposite of synthetics. They’re naturally odor-resistant, which helps cut down on bad smells during your adventures. However, the fibers tend to be more delicate and require more careful cleaning as well as not being as abrasion-resistant as their synthetic rivals. Additionally, these materials are naturally insulative, which means they tend to retain warmth and feel a little thicker. Therefore, we love natural materials for sun hoodies and shirts in the cool shoulder seasons, or up at altitude when we tend to encounter cooler temperatures.

UPF Ratings

Of course, we want our sun hoodie to protect us from the sun, and the best metric to measure that protection is the UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating. This number will range from 15 to 50+ and indicates the amount of sun radiation that is passing through the shirt. A rating of 15 means that 1/15th (or 6.66%) of the light rays are reaching you, while a rating of 40 means that 1/4oth (or 2.5%) of the light is reaching you. Therefore, the higher the UPF rating, the better the sun protection.

For reference, the Skin Cancer Foundation ranks a UPF rating of 30 to 49 as “very good protection” and a rating of 50+ as “excellent.” Since the whole point of a sun hoodie or shirt is to protect you from the sun, we recommend a UPF rating of at least 30.

Moisture-wicking and Quick-Drying

Since hiking is an often sweaty experience, the best sun hoodies and shirts will offer excellent moisture-wicking capability in order to keep you cool and comfortable by preventing your shirt from getting saturated with moisture. In this category, synthetic materials tend to offer the best performance since natural fibers like wool or bamboo like to absorb moisture.

Breathability and Ventilation

As we’ve mentioned, temperature control is pivotal to the best sun hoodies in order to cover your body and protect you from the sun while still keeping you cool and comfortable. Once again, synthetic materials – or at least a blend including synthetics – tend to offer the best inherent breathability for keeping you cool.

Additionally, you may notice that some sun hoodies or sun shirts include built-in vents to further optimize ventilation and keep you cool. These vents can be very handy for hot-weather hiking, but keep in mind that they may downgrade the garment’s around-town style since built-in vents often stand out and make the shirt less suitable for social gatherings.

Price

Most of the best sun hoodies and sun shirts tend to hover in the $50 to $100 range, with some budget-focused and premium options hanging out at either end of that spectrum. Like most of your gear, it’s best to consider how often you’ll be using your new layer and if you’re ready to pay for more premium features and materials, or if an entry-level, budget-friendly, option is for you. Some things to think about are: how often do you participate in activities that need a sun hoode? Will you use the sun hoodie to its full potential? Is your budget limited for new gear purchases, or are you willing to pay a little bit more?

Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Hoodie

Best Synthetic Sun Hoodie Overall 

  • best sun hoodie mountain hardwear crater lakeMSRP: $70.00
  • MATERIAL: 88% polyester/12% elastane
  • UPF RATING: 50+
  • WEIGHT: ~4.5 oz.

PROS: Soft and stretchy fabric – Very comfortable – Great Price – Very quick drying

CONS: Odors might build up over time

LOOKING CLOSER: The Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Hoodie is everything we look for in the best sun hoodies. First off, the polyester/elastane blend is ridiculously comfortable and super stretchy, allowing this shirt to move with you wherever your adventures take you. We also found the Crater Lake to be extremely quick-drying, another important feature for sun hoodies, along with decent breathability. Our only note is that the Crater Lake relies on this quick-drying capability to prevent odors (as bacteria like a moist environment) and doesn’t have any additional treatments or materials to prevent odor build-up, which may be an important consideration for some. Overall, with such an accessible price, fantastic materials, and UPF 50+ rating, the Crater Lake is one of the best sun hoodies on the market.

Check out our complete Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Hoodie Review for more information.

View on REI.com

MEN’SWomen’s

View on Backcountry.com

MEN’SWomen’s

Black Diamond Alpenglow PRO Hoodie

Best Multi-Sport Sun Hoodie 

  • best sun hoodie black diamond alpenglowMSRP: $120.00
  • MATERIAL: 92% nylon/8% elastane
  • UPF RATING: 50+
  • WEIGHT: ~7.0 oz.

PROS: Fantastic durability – Odor control treatment – Helmet compatible hood – Very comfortable

CONS: Expensive – Heavier than other options

LOOKING CLOSER: If you want a sun hoodie for every flavor of outdoor adventure from the trail to the crag, then the Black Diamond Alpenglow may be the perfect option. This heavy-duty hoodie comes with top-tier materials and features that have yielded stunning performance in the field. We’re particularly fond of the under-arm mesh for improved breathability and drying, along with the DWR (Durable Water Repellent) treatment. For some hikers, all these high-end features may be overkill if all you want is a simple sun hoodie and nothing more (and the high price reflects this premium build). But if you’re in the market for a top-notch hoodie that you can take out for any activity and you know you’ll be using it again and again, then the higher price may well be worth it for you.

View At Black Diamond

MEN’SWomen’s

View on REI.com

MEN’SWomen’s

View on Backcountry.com

MEN’SWomen’s

REI Sahara SHADE Hoodie

Best Budget Sun Hoodie

  • best sun hoodie rei sahara shadeMSRP: $49.95
  • MATERIAL: 92% polyester/8% spandex
  • UPF RATING: 50+
  • WEIGHT: ~6.5 oz.

PROS: Extremely affordable – Relaxed and comfortable fit – Stretchy material

CONS: Heavier material – Not as quick-drying as more lightweight options

LOOKING CLOSER: When it comes to choosing a very reasonably priced sun hoodie that still performs well in the field, the REI Sahara Shade is our top choice. This shirt focuses on comfort and mobility. The raglan sleeves eliminate seams on your shoulders (so that your pack straps don’t grind them into your skin), and the hood has a very handy and well-hidden cinch that allows you to tighten it up in heavy wind or bad weather. Moving on to the hoodie as a whole, the Sahara Shade has a nicely relaxed and comfortable fit with super stretchy material. Put all these points together with the UPF 50+ rating, and we have one of the best sun hoodies at an excellent price. Be aware that the heavier weave tends to make the Sahara Shade retain slightly more heat and moisture than other lighter options on the market, but this may be a very worthwhile tradeoff for such an accessible price.

View at REI.COm

MEN’S  Women’s  

Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie

Best Lightweight Sun Hoodie for Packability

  • best sun hoodie outdoor research echoMSRP: $75.00
  • MATERIAL: Recycled polyester
  • UPF RATING
    • Dark Color Options: UPF 20
    • Light Color Options: UPF 15
  • WEIGHT: ~4.0 oz.

PROS: Very lightweight – Easily packable – Quick drying material

CONS: Low UPF Rating – Non-stretchy material seems less durable

LOOKING CLOSER: If pack weight is one of your primary concerns for hiking, then the OR Echo Hoodie is worth a look. This hoodie is super light (just 3.9 oz for the women’s and 4.0 oz for the men’s) and packs down incredibly small. Both these features make the Echo hoodie a breeze to stuff into your pack and forget about it until the need arises. However, be aware that you trade some durability and UPF protection for that low weight. With a UPF 20 rating for the darker colors, this is one of the lower-rated options on our list (but it’s still blocking 95% of the sun’s rays). Additionally, the 100% polyester blend doesn’t have any elastane or spandex to add stretchiness, and we’ve noticed that the material seems more susceptible to abrasion damage (such as snagging or pilling). But all that said, the incredibly lightweight build is hard to beat, and may very well make this one of the best sun hoodies for folks counting every ounce on the trail.

VIEW AT OUTDOOR RESEARCH

MEN’S Women’s

View on REI.com

MEN’S Women’s

View on Backcountry.com

MEN’S Women’s

Patagonia Capilene Cool Days Hoodie

Best Low-Key SUn Hoodie for Around town

  • best sun hoodie patagonia capileneMSRP: $65.00
  • MATERIAL: Recycled polyester
  • UPF RATING: Not listed – research indicates UPF between 15 and 30
  • WEIGHT: ~6.0 oz.

PROS: Casual and stylish design – Excellent breathability – Quick drying – Good odor control

CONS: Minimalistic with few features – Lower durability than other options – Unclear UPF Rating

LOOKING CLOSER: The Patagonia Capilene is a very popular sun hoodie and with good reason. At a solid mid-range price, it offers comfortable sun protection in a very low-key design that looks perfectly at home on the mountain or going out for the evening with friends. Its casual versatility makes the Capilene Cool Days one of the best sun hoodies, in our opinion, but it does have a couple of drawbacks. Specifically, the UPF rating is not currently listed on the Patagonia website and stated ratings on 3rd party websites indicate that it falls between 15 and 30. This ambiguity is a little confusing, and we wish Patagonia would firm up that number. Apart from this drawback, simply be aware that the minimalistic design means that the Cool Days Hoodie doesn’t have as many high-end features as other purpose-built adventure sun hoodies.

View on Backcountry.com

MEN’SWomen’s

View on REI.com

MEN’SWomen’s

Honorable Mentions

Best Sun Hoodies

Smartwool Merino Active Hoodie

  • best sun hoodies smartwool merino active hoodieMSRP: $100.00
  • MATERIAL:56% merino wool – 44% polyester
  • UPF RATING: 20 (Not listed for women’s)
  • WEIGHT: ~6.0 oz

PROS: Very cozy feeling – Naturally odor resistant – Durable material blend

CONS: On the pricey side – Not as quick drying or breathable as other options – Lower UPF Rating

LOOKING CLOSER: We loved the wool Merino Active hoodie during our cooler hikes. The merino wool is extremely comfortable, and retains more heat than other hoodies with synthetic materials. This is definitely a downside to hot weather hiking, but ideal for shoulder seasons or heading up in altitude (as we did on our test). The wool-polyester blend is also very comfortable and soft to the touch – artfully avoiding wool’s common problem of feeling scratchy. This hoodie is also very basic with no pockets, zips, or cinches, which, depending on what you’re looking for, may either work in the hoodie’s favor or against it. Regardless, we wish the Merino Active had a slightly higher UPF rating, but all in all, it’s a solid sun hoodie that’s proven its utility in the backcountry.

View on REI.com

men’sWomen’s

View on Backcountry.com

men’s Women’s

Outdoor Research Astroman Hoodie and Shirt

  • best sun hoodie outdoor research astromanMSRP: $90.00
  • MATERIAL:85% nylon – 15% spandex
  • UPF RATING: 30 (light colors) – 50+ (dark colors)
  • WEIGHT: ~7.0 oz

PROS: Nice relaxed fit – Button-up shirt option – Quarter zip for more airflow

CONS: Material isn’t as soft as other options – Tends to get wrinkly if you’re not careful

STRAIGHT TALK: The Astroman from Outdoor Research comes as either a stylish button-up hiking shirt or as a hoodie, and both have good UPF ratings to protect you from the sun while on the trail. The somewhat unique nylon-spandex blend is certainly effective and durable but tends to feel a little stiffer than the more supple material blends of other options. Along these same lines, the Astroman can show wrinkles a lot more readily than soft options, especially after it’s been stuffed in your pack for a couple of days! But overall, the Astroman hoodie or shirt offers good sun protection for a reasonable price in a stylish and durable build – so we can’t argue with that!

View At Outdoor Research

Men’s Hoodie Women’s Hoodie

Men’s ShirtWomen’s Shirt

View on Backcountry.com

Men’s Hoodie Women’s Hoodie

Men’s ShirtWomen’s Shirt

Award Winning Trekking Adventures

Since 2005, Wildland Trekking has been providing all-inclusive, guided hiking and backpacking trips across the USA and the world. Explore your world with the hiking experts!

Explore Now!

More Information About Sun Hoodies

Do You Even Need a Sun Hoodie? What About a Sun Shirt? 

The question between a sun hoodie and a regular shirt (or even just a t-shirt and sunscreen) is a longstanding debate and largely comes down to your personal preferences. But here are a few points to consider.

Strictly in terms of the amount of your skin that gets covered, the sun hoodie easily wins since it covers your neck, ears, and part of your face. That said, many hikers may find hiking with a hood up in sunny weather to be much too hot and uncomfortable. In that case, a regular sun shirt paired with a good sun hat may be a better option.

Continuing with this trend of temperature control, some hikers may find that hiking in the sun in long sleeves is too hot. Period. In that case, a short-sleeved hiking shirt with sunscreen may be the best avenue to stay cool and still have some sun protection. However, remember that the very best sun protection will always be a physical barrier between you and the sun, which good UPF protection hoodies and shirts offer. It’s for this reason that we at Wildland Trekking always recommend bringing a good sun shirt and hat on our adventures so that you get the maximum amount of sun protection possible.

Why Trust Us?

Choosing the right outdoor gear and apparel can be difficult. But at Wildland Trekking, we live and work with hiking gear every single day. It’s an integral part of what we do, and we understand better than anyone how important it is to have the right equipment. In addition to our vast knowledge of backpacking gear, we also offer:

  • Independence – our recommendations are not influenced by partnerships or sponsorships with outdoor gear and apparel manufacturers.
  • Experience – as one of America’s top guide companies, we take 8,000-10,000 people on hiking and backpacking tours annually. Since our inception in 2005, we have guided more than 75,000 people into the wilderness.
  • Cutting Edge Knowledge – we regularly attend trade shows and pay close attention to the leading edge of new developments.
  • Up To Date Recommendations – we update our recommendations regularly as new products are developed and released.
  • Dedication to our Readers – we know that the gear we select as our top picks will end up in the field with our readers, and we take that responsibility very seriously. We view our readers as guests on our guided trips, just without the guides. We are committed to helping you be as well-outfitted and prepared as possible for your adventures.

*Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. At no cost to you, we earn a commission on any products purchased through these links. Any proceeds go to supporting our blog and operations. These affiliate links do not influence the products that we include in our gear round-ups. We only recommend products that we 100% support and that we have used in the field.