Sun Hoody Review

Testing sun hoodies brings back the naiveté of youth when we thought it was good to slather baby oil on our bodies, lie in the sun for hours soaking up its placid rays turning our baby soft skin to summer seasoned. We were alive, healthy and free running around in bikinis sporting tans. Little did we know the price we would pay for our vanities. 

Today’s skiers and climbers lather up with 50+ sunscreen and don hoodies as protection from the sun’s cancer causing rays. As a sun worshiper it is still hard to cower from its warmth, but after the dermatologist dug two precancerous holes out, it’s become critical. 

Sun hoodies are easy to find, though there is a need for more in varying colors, fabrics and styles. We hope our reviews of a selection of them designed for women will spur new ideas among outdoor companies for more options in the future. 

Almost all of the hoodies below use similar designs with different fits and fabrics. Thumb loops, high neck, and longer sleeves are the standard but some variety exists. Our testing and personal experience suggests that the lighter fabrics are best for true hot weather use, multi-pitch or multi-day trips. The heavier versions with spandex have more stretch but take a little longer to dry.

Best All-Around Hoody


Taema Hoody

Price: $90
Weight: 3 oz. med
Fabric: 100% Polyester UPF 50+

Fine details like the low profile marrow stitched seams and a DWR finish to repel light moisture make this more expensive hoody worth the price of entry. They use their own anti-stink technology and recycled polyester. The hood fits nicely over a helmet, which is critical for hot sunny belays. It’s silky soft and ultra light, making it one of our top choices for climbing and hot weather longer mountain adventures. Though it lacks spandex, it offers plenty of stretch for broad shoulders and pulling the sleeves up over the elbows and dries super fast. We did find that some stains are tough to get out.

Models are wearing a size small.
Sara's measurements (photos 1-4) | Bust: 35 Waist: 28.5 Hips: 38.5
Maria's measurements (photos 5-7) | Bust: 38 Waist: 30 Hips: 39

Best Cool Feel

Outdoor Research

ActiveIce Spectrum Sun Hoody

Price: $59
Weight: 6.5 oz.
Fabric: 94% polyester, 6% spandex Active Ice cooling technology UPF 50+

This slightly heavier fabric feels uniquely cool against your skin due to the Active Ice ‘special sauce’ applied to the fabric that uses xylitol, the same endothermic cooling agent used in chewing gum. It uses your skin’s moisture to cool you down. The trade off is that it’s a bit heavy and bulky, making it more of a great day use hoody than one to take on multi-pitch climbs or multi day trips. Its extra stretchy cool feel made up for its heaviness, however.

Models are wearing a size small.
Sara's measurements (photos 1-4) | Bust: 35 Waist: 28.5 Hips: 38.5
Maria's measurements (photos 5-7) | Bust: 38 Waist: 30 Hips: 39

Best Layering Hoody

The North Face

Belay Sun Hooded Shirt

Price: $89
Weight: 6.28 oz. 
Fabric: 100% Recycled Polyester with FlashDry-XD technology UPF 40+

This rather pricey hoody uses flat Lycra binding on the face opening and hem as well as half of the sleeve hole providing good recovery but adding a bit of a binding feeling as well. The grid knit fabric does a great job of moving moisture and keeping you cool yet also working well as a quick drying base layer in cooler temps. It dries extremely fast and has great stretch without the weight of added spandex. Its high collar provides the best sun protection of the group and still stretches over a helmet.

Models are wearing a size medium.
Sara's measurements (photos 1-5) | Bust: 35 Waist: 28.5 Hips: 38.5
Maria's measurements (photos 6-8) | Bust: 38 Waist: 30 Hips: 39


Capilene Cool Daily Hoody

Price: $55
Weight: 5.2 oz. Med.
Fabric: 100% recycled Polyester with HeiQ anti-stink Technology UPF 50

This hoody’s fabric has a buttery soft feel but it’s lack of spandex makes it feel a bit restricting around the shoulders and when pulling it up over the forearms. It dries quickly however, and comes in some unique stripes in addition to solids. We liked the clean, simple design and light feel.

Model is wearing a size extra small.
Jeannie's measurements (photos 1-3) | Bust: 34 Waist: 28 Hips: 32


Force Hoody

Price: $65
Weight: 5.3 oz. med.
Fabric: 100% polyester with odor control and UPF 30+

This is one of the lighter fabrics in the mix, though not as light as their old “Pulse” fabric which was our favorite for long hot climbs. The Force provides more reliable sun protection than the Pulse however. Its seams feel a bit bulky at the wrist and hem and stretch is a little limited. The cross over neck design provides excellent airflow while still giving some sun protection. There is also enough stretch to pull it over a helmet if needed. The fit is slimmer than the others in this mix. The hidden simple thumb loops eliminate the wrist gap of other designs.

Models are wearing a size medium.
Sara's measurements (photos 1-4) | Bust: 35 Waist: 28.5 Hips: 38.5
Maria's measurements (photos 5-7) | Bust: 38 Waist: 30 Hips: 39

Black Diamond

Alpenglow Hoody

Price: $85
Weight: 8.65 oz. med
Fabric: 87% textured polyester, 13% spandex UPF 50+

Though this is the heaviest hoody we tested, it feels reasonable on body. The fabric is comfy from hot to cool temps. It has a unique credit card hip pocket, cooling technology and reliable Polygiene odor control. Its high spandex content slows its dry time. The unique side seams, large folded waistband and waist level pocket feel bulky under a harness. The hood stretches easily over a helmet and offers good neck coverage.

Models are wearing a size medium.
Maria's measurements (photos 1-3) | Bust: 38 Waist: 30 Hips: 39
Sara's measurements (photos 4-6) | Bust: 35 Waist: 28.5 Hips: 38.5

The North Face

Wanderer Sun Hoody

Price: $50
Weight: 10.22 oz. 
Fabric: 100% Recycled Polyester 40+UPF

This affordable hoody comes in six colors and regular fit block. We found it to be a bit blocky and short, not ideal for under a harness but very versatile on different body types. The fabric has decent stretch but with the doubled wrist and waistband, it feels a bit bulky. It’s the heaviest of the group but comfy and affordable and has the bonus of coming in plus sizes.

Models are wearing a size small.
Sara's measurements (photos 1-4) | Bust: 35 Waist: 28.5 Hips: 38.5
Maria's measurements (photos 5-7) | Bust: 38 Waist: 30 Hips: 39

Outdoor Vitals

Altitude Hoodie

Price:  $49.97 (Membership Price)
Weight: 4oz. size M’s Lg (only comes in men’s sizes)
Fabric: 100% Polyester

This is the lightest sun hoodie fabric we tested. We loved it for long hot climbs
when a bit of sun protection was vital but the thought of any extra layers felt
oppressive. This hoodie’s fabric is airy, light and breathes well. The simple
design offers the essential neck protection without any unneeded bells and
whistles. One downside of this hoodie is that it only comes in men’s sizes. That
said, its stretch and light weight make it easy to adapt to most sizes. Be aware
that it is so thin it can only provide a modicum of sun protection, hence there is
no SPF rating.

Model is wearing a size extra small.
Jeannie's measurements (photos 1-4) | Bust: 34 Waist: 28 Hips: 32

Header photo courtesy of Lorna Illingworth

Disclaimer of Liability: Technical rock and ice climbing is inherently dangerous. Neither Broad Beta, LLC., nor any of its employees, shall be held liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information described and/or contained herein, and Broad Beta, LLC. assumes no responsibility for anyone's use of the information.
Any person using our gear in any manner is personally responsible for learning the proper techniques and good judgment. We strongly recommend that every climber seek instruction by a qualified professional.

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