Last Updated on 27/08/2023
What is the Best Sun Hoody?
If you burn easily or don’t like using sunscreen, then a sun hoodie might be just what you need to keep your neck and arms covered. In this guide to the best sun hoodies, we explain what to look for to maximize sun protection and which hoodies work best for hiking and climbing.
When you are hiking or climbing, it is easy to forget about the sun and your skin when the breeze is blowing, or you are exerting yourself. This can often lead to sunburns in the same places every time, which puts you at a higher risk of skin cancer. Even if you do use sunscreen, you can sweat it off very quickly, and before you know it, you get burnt again. Sun hoodies solve this problem.
Covering up with clothing is the safest and easiest way to protect yourself from UV rays, and sun hoodies are specifically designed for the job. They protect your entire upper body apart from your face and are nothing like your typical hoody.
You might be wondering why sun hoodies have thumb loops. The reason is that sleeves will typically roll up when you extend your arms for things like climbing or sailing, leaving your hands and wrists exposed. So, having thumb loops keeps the tops of your hands protected, which regular hoodies don’t.
You can find more information about sun hoodies further down the page, or keep scrolling to see which sun hoodies we recommend for hiking, climbing, and getting wet. The menu above will jump down the page, and some of our links are affiliate links.
6 Best Sun Hoodies
Black Diamond Aplenglow Pro
- MATERIAL: Nylon stretch jersey with Empel DWR finish (92% Nylon, 8% Elastane, 158 gsm)
- WEIGHT: 189 g
- FEATURES: Empel PFC-Free DWR, UPF 50+ fabric, Zippered chest pocket, elasticized over-helmet compatible hood, harness compatible length and fit, thumb loops, HeiQ Pure odor control treatment at underarm mesh
The Black Diamond Aplenglow Pro is a new and updated version of the original Aplenglow hoody and has some incredible new features. For starters, it has a 1/4 zip which is great on hot days for temperature control.
Then you have a small chest pocket that is only really suitable for very small valuables that don’t weigh much, or the shirt will sag slightly. The next one that is especially good is the underarm mesh armpits which make a big difference in ventilation. Finally, the revolutionary GTT Empel™ Technology is an environmentally friendly PFC-free water-repellent finish that helps keep you dry.
So, is this better than the original Black Dimond Aplenglow Hoody? Well, yes and no. All these new features are massive improvements. However, the one I am not convinced by is the waterproof treatment. I feel like it makes the hoody less breathable, which is why it needs extra ventilation. While it is good to have a jacket that does it all, this is predominantly designed for hot weather, and I find that whenever you add a DWR treatment to fabric, it becomes less breathable.
CONCLUSION: This is an excellent sun hoodie that ranks very highly and is perhaps best suited to less intensive activities where getting wet is more of a risk, like sailing, for example. It feels super soft next to the skin and is very comfortable under a harness, which is thanks to the length and fit. Black Diamond has really raised the bar in terms of what is possible.
Arc’teryx Remige Hoody
- MATERIAL: Thalden™ 100% polyester, DAO™ finish, UPF 50+
- WEIGHT: 5.8 oz / 165 g
- FEATURES: Articulated fit, gusseted underarms, thumb loops, UPF 50+ fabric, moisture-wicking, fast-drying, lightweight, breathable
The Arc’teryx Remige Hoody has an amazing fit that is super comfortable and can be worn next to the skin for ultimate breathability in the sun. One of our favorite features of the Remige Hoody is the low-profile hood and structured brim, which is perfect for keeping the sun off your forehead and will protect your neck even if you aren’t wearing it.
The sleeves are extra-long and super stretchy, which is ideal for wearing the thumb loops to protect the backs of your hands and keep your arms covered. The thumb loops are discreetly on the inside of the cuff, which means there are no holes in the sleeves like other sun hoodies. The whole design of the Arcteryx Remige is very minimalistic but very high quality.
CONCLUSION: This is probably the best-looking sun hoodie we have tested and is one of those tops that looks good on anyone. I would highly recommend this to hikers and backpackers looking for a top that can be worn on its own or as part of a multi-layer clothing system. It is ridiculously comfortable and well-fitted which makes it a pleasure to wear, even in direct sunlight. Unlike much Arcteryx clothing, the Remige Sun Hoody is competitively priced and not out of most people’s budget.
BALEAF UPF 50+ Sun Protection Hoodie
- MATERIAL: 100% Polyester
- WEIGHT: 7.2 oz / 204 g
- FEATURES: Thumb loops, UPF 50+ fabric, moisture-wicking, fast-drying, lightweight, breathable
The BALEAF UPF 50+ Sun Protection Hoodie is one of the best-selling sun hoodies online at the moment with high reviews from outdoor enthusiasts across the board. This might have something to do with it also being one of the cheapest sun hoodies, but the reviews don’t lie, and they are mostly very good. For the money, this is the best value and shows no signs of poor quality or cheap materials.
With so many sun hoodies being out of stock at the moment, BALEAF seems to have plenty in over a dozen different colors and sizes ranging from extra small to XXX large. The material feels just as lightweight and breathable as others, if maybe only slightly slicker/shinier. You get the benefit of thumb loops to stop the tops of your hands from getting burnt and prevent your sleeves from riding up as you move.
CONCLUSION: If you want to try using a sun hoody for your next hiking trip but don’t want to spend a fortune in case you don’t like it, then this is the perfect entry-level option. It does everything most of the other hot weather hoodies do but for half the price. You might be wondering how good can it be if it is so cheap. You have nothing to worry about here. The BALEAF hoody is plenty durable and provides breathable protection from the sun, just as well as the others.
Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoodie
- MATERIAL: Recycled polyester jersey
- WEIGHT: 6.3 oz / 178 g
- FEATURES: bluesign® approved, UPF 50+ fabric, Polygiene® permanent odor control, moisture-wicking, fast-drying, lightweight, breathable
The Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoodie is really lightweight and breathable when hiking and feels super soft on the skin. It performs exceedingly well as a single-layer top or as a second layer depending on the temperature. The material is moisture-wicking and dries ultra-fast as you are wearing it, which is good to know if you sweat even half as much as I do.
Made from 100% recycled polyester, this material is both good for the planet and for your comfort. It is super stretchy and fairly close-fitting, which makes it a suitable base layer to wear under other clothes; however, the arms are just the right amount of baggy to allow total freedom of movement. The deep hood will easily fit over the top of a helmet and helps keep your head and neck cool in direct sun. It breathes especially well and doesn’t totally block the wind so that you can cool off in the breeze.
CONCLUSION: Overall, we really rate this sun hoody for its comfort and performance first and then for the eco-friendliness of the material itself second. Patagonia is an excellent company with high moral standards which is leading the way in the outdoor industry. The flatlock seams and breathable, stretchy material make this a real winner in the sun hoody department.
Columbia Terminal Tackle Hoodie
- MATERIAL: 100% Polyester
- WEIGHT: 8.8 oz / 250 g
- FEATURES: OmniShade UPF 50+ fabric, moisture-wicking, fast-drying, lightweight, breathable
The Columbia Terminal Tackle Hoodie comes highly recommended by some trail runners I know who swear that this is the best sun hoody around. It is slightly heavier than some other models. However, it doesn’t feel any thicker or warmer. So why would I recommend this over the others? Because it is just so darn comfortable and cool in the heat, which is why most people get them in the first place, along with the UV protection.
The fit is slightly looser than other more athletic constructions, which makes this great for everyday use, and if you are carrying a few extra pounds like me, then this doesn’t highlight the fact of being so figure-hugging. You can get this in a wide range of colors. However, we do recommend lighter colors to help reflect more sunlight and keep you cooler. The one thing I am not a fan of is the massive logo down the sleeve, which makes me feel a bit like a human billboard, but it’s not a deal-breaker.
CONCLUSION: Overall, the Columbia Terminal Tackle Hoodie provides excellent sun protection that helps keep you cool as well as safe from UV rays. The comfort is second to none, and the fit is a little bit baggier than others, which means you don’t look OTT when wearing it to the shops or to laze around the house. A great sun hoody for outdoor activities and one that I would highly recommend for people with bigger frames.
Mountain Hardwear Shade Lite Hoody
- MATERIAL: 100% Polyester
- WEIGHT: around 8 oz (unconfirmed)
- FEATURES: Mesh panels for breathability, small stash pocket, high rise neck, UPF 50+ fabric, moisture-wicking, fast-drying, lightweight, breathable
The Mountain Hardwear Shade Lite Hoody offers the best sun protection for your neckline with its high-rising front collar. It is silky soft next to the skin and incredibly breathable thanks to the strategic mesh ventilation panels. The fit isn’t too baggy or too tight. It seems to hang very well and is hardly noticeable under a climbing harness.
The neckline keeps you protected from the front without covering your mouth and affecting your breathing, while the hood covers your neck and ears for total shade. When the hood is up, it has an excellent range of motion that moves with you as you look around or from side to side. You can comfortably wear the hood over a climbing helmet or wear it underneath if you prefer.
CONCLUSION: For things like desert hiking or for when you are exposed to the sun for long periods, this trusty sun hoodie will make sure you stay safe. It also helps you stay cooler which keeps you feeling fresher for longer. You don’t need to wear anything underneath as the breathable and stretchy fabric is feather-soft on your skin and also helps to reduce any chafing. I definitely recommend the white version, which will keep you the coolest and reflect the most heat.
- Rab Pulse Hoody – Extremely lightweight at just 4.1 ounces but only offers UPF 30+ fabric which isn’t enough in extreme heat.
- Rab Borealis – Less breathability and more wind-blocking capabilities make this an excellent choice for rock climbers and mountaineers who are exposed to dramatic weather changes.
- Marmot Sunrift Hoodie – A classic sun hoody with a 1/4 zip that featured some innovative breathability but seemed to have been discontinued
- Patagonia Tropic Comfort II – Another legendary sun hoody that unfortunately no longer seems to be available but has been worn by many rock climbers over the years.
- Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake – Another ultralightweight hoody that doesn’t seem to be available anymore but from the forums it seems this is still in demand.
What to Look for In a Sun Hoody
Sun hoodies are a very specific type of top that can be uncomfortable if you don’t pick the right one.
Sun Blocking Fabric
For most people, you should get a hoody with UPF 50+ fabric to make sure your skin stays sunburn-free with sun-protective clothing. We intentionally didn’t recommend any tops that didn’t have this rating, but an example of a factor 30+ UPF shirt would be the Rab Pulse which offers one of the lightest weights we’ve seen in exchange.
The benefits of lightweight sun hoodies are two-fold. Firstly they are more breathable and less likely to overheat you due to the thinness of the material. And secondly, they don’t weigh as much in your backpack if you are trying to keep your pack weight down. The potential downsides may be that you lose some durability or have to sacrifice some UPF value.
Being breathable is possibly the second most important factor after UV protection when looking for the best sun hoodies. Most synthetic materials that are used for this type of garment are very effective moisture wickers which also help to keep you cool. Vents are an excellent addition but the most important point is that the fabric can breathe without vents, as this will make the biggest difference.
Stretchy material is always more comfortable, and when it is also soft next to the skin, it is a recipe for success. The benefits of stretchy sun hoodies are that they don’t restrict your movement and can be worn quite tight-fitting if that’s what you want.
This is super important for a top that is likely being worn next to the skin most of the time and occasionally under a harness or backpack. For these reasons, the fit should have a long torso that will tuck nicely under a harness or waist belt and not constantly ride up your back. The sleeves should be extra long so that climbers can fully extend their arms without the sleeve riding up. Most people prefer a semi-tight or semi-loose fit that neither restricts movement nor is so baggy that it gets in the way.
Thumb loops are more of a personal preference, and I personally like having them and think they offer some key benefits. For instance, they protect the top of your hand from the sun when you are climbing or using hiking poles all day. They also offer some protection from the wind and cold when you are summiting a mountain. And, if you choose to wear your sun hoody in winter, then the thumb loops can be worn under gloves to keep snow from getting up your sleeve.
Long Torso and Sleeves
As mentioned above, a long torso and sleeves will help to keep you covered even as you fully extend your arms or put on a climbing harness. Generous torso and arm lengths also make the shirt more comfortable to wear under a backpack or over another base layer which helps to prevent chafing and shirt wedges.
What Are Sun Hoodies?
A sun hoody is designed to protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays as well as keep you cool and comfortable. They are made from lightweight and breathable material that is stretchy and generally features UPF 50+ fabric as standard. They are very popular among hikers, trail runners, watersports and boating enthusiasts, and mountain climbers because they are ideal for high-exertion activities and situations where sunscreen isn’t practical.
Do Sun Hoodies Work?
There is absolutely no doubt that sun hoodies with UPF 50+ fabric protect you from harmful UV rays and help keep you cool. They are also more breathable and stretchy than what you probably currently wear to hike in, which improves comfort and reduces chafing. They perform very highly when used for intensive exercise and are so comfy you will want to wear them at home and for everyday use too. With the addition of a sun hat like the Tilley Range, you can also cover your face to be 100% safe.
Sun Hoodies Vs Sun Shirts
Sun shirts, as most people know them, are the long sleeve button-up shirts with button sleeves and a collar. These are great for temperature regulation, and the collar can be used to protect most of your neck. Sun hoodies, though, are often more lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking, as well as having a hood to protect your full neck, ears, and often your forehead. They both have their uses, and you may have a preference that works for you, but sun hoodies offer the most comprehensive sun protection and comfort.
Can You Wear a Sun Hoody in Water?
Many people choose to wear a top while in water. This is mostly to block the sun but may also be due to body confidence issues. Sun hoodies are ideal for wearing in water because they completely cover your upper half, and best of all, they are moisture-wicking and fast drying. So, if you do wear it in water or it gets wet, then you don’t have to worry about wearing soggy clothes all day because this doesn’t hold hardly any water and dries in minutes.
Who Uses Sun Hoodies?
Hikers, climbers, trail runners, joggers, gym enthusiasts, and outdoor instructors are all in the know about the benefits of sun hoodies and are some of the most avid ambassadors. Many boating and sailing enthusiasts love the sun hoodie concept, which has, of course, transferred over to sports like fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and even surfing. Basically, if you are out in the sun for a prolonged period of time and either doesn’t like using or can’t rely on sunscreen, then a sun hoody will work very well to keep you safe and cool in the heat.
I hope this guide to the best sun hoodies for hiking and climbing has been useful in your search. Be sure to like our Facebook page to stay up to date.