Sun hoodies are the latest outdoor item that works well on a practical level yet somehow becomes fashionable.
Go to places like Boulder, Moab, Bend, or other outdoor meccas, and you’ll see people sporting shirts that block the sun and look good off-trail.
I tried a sun hoodie a few years back, and it was too hot for me overall, especially when I put the hood up. What’s the point of a sun hoodie if the hood’s down and you don’t use it for sun protection?
I figured I’d make better use of a sun hoodie during cool weather. And others told me that Merino wool would work better due to its breathability.
This past winter, Montbell sent me a Merino Wool Plus Light Hoodie to look at, use, and give some impressions of throughout trail work, hiking, backpacking, and paddling. I used it in cold weather and up to 65F while backpacking. Overall, I feel that I gave the hoodie a thorough test in different conditions.
The Montbell hoodie weighs in at 8 oz for men’s medium and is a 78/22 wool/poly blend, with the poly providing quick-drying properties and more durability than pure merino wool. Being a sun hoodie, it has a stated UPF of 50+. The fabric itself is 150 g/m2.
This means a light, very comfortable, and surprisingly durable (for Merino wool) shirt that provides sun protection in the cold or cooler weather.
In cold weather, paired with my grid fleece, I had a combo that gave the appropriate warmth without overheating.
I found it a piece I’ve worn quite a bit, and it is just the right thickness for many different conditions. I’ve used it over the cold and wet winter and early spring in southeast Utah.
However, this past weekend when the mercury climbed up to nearly 70F and with a stillness in the air, I overheated. I had to put the hood down. Wearing only a ballcap, minus the hood, I did not get the sun protection I needed. My gut feeling is that I’ll find this shirt too hot for anything roughly 65F or above due to how hot I get when I hike.
I should also mention that, as with all Montbell clothing, it’s crafted and designed well. The neck is more open than most sun hoodies and vents well for a garment of this type. It is not inexpensive at $119. As with most Montbell clothing, it is functional clothing that happens to be aesthetically pleasing. Anyone who regularly uses the garment will find the sun hoodie reasonable in price compared to other clothes of similar quality.
Merino wool traditionally does not last well, but the polyblend should make it last longer. The shirt may not last as long for hotter weather use with more sweat and the potential of rubbing against a pack. However, I can’t see using this clothing in those conditions.
Overall? If you pump out as much heat as I do, the piece works best for cool to cold weather. I also found the Montbell Merino Wool Plus Light Hoodie extremely comfortable. Now that spring is warming the temperature up a bit (finally!), as it turns to summer, I suspect I’ll return to my button-down polycotton shirts. But the Montbell hoodie will again be a “go-to” piece come fall. People who hike cooler may find it an effective piece in all four seasons.
Disclosure – Montbell provided the hoodie for my review.