Hiking hoodies have become popular for outdoor enthusiasts keen on looking good and staying protected from the sun and the elements when they are out on the trail.
Unlike other hoodies, hiking hoodies are specifically designed for outdoor activities like rock climbing, trail running and hiking. Not only are they comfortable, but they are often lightweight and quick drying.
As a nature lover who enjoys camping, exploring national parks and other outdoor adventures, getting yourself a hiking hoodie might be a good idea.
Here are some tips on how to choose the best hiking hoodie for your needs.
The Best Type of Hiking Hoodie
The type of hiking hoodie you choose will depend on when you intend to go hiking. If you are like most people, you are probably not going hiking in the dead of winter, even though that’s not exactly unheard of.
For most people, hiking is an activity that is best enjoyed in the summer when the sun is out. That calls for a sun hoodie.
A sun hoodie is a long-sleeved shirt with hoodie characteristics and is designed to protect you from the sun. Sun hoodies have hoodies that keep your neck, ears, as well as the top of your head from direct sunlight.
These types of hiking hoodies have several characteristics that make them ideal for hiking in the summer. They are breathable, lightweight and quick-drying.
Sun hoodies are inherently loose-fitting, which makes them ideal for hot day hikes as they allow you to remain cool. They also tend to have a wide range of features, such as thumb holes, kangaroo pockets, and ponytail ports, designed for your convenience.
Factors and Features to Consider When Choosing a Hiking Hoodie
Whether you are a fan of sun hoodies or would simply like to go for a sun shirt or maybe just a regular hoodie, when it comes to hiking gear, there are a few factors that you need to consider.
Here are some essential features and factors to consider when choosing the best hiking hoodie for your next hike.
Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF)
Sun protection has to be at the forefront of your mind when hiking in the summer. While it can be argued that you shouldn’t put this burden on your clothes as you can simply carry sunscreen with you, most hikers will agree that the fewer things you have to carry on a hike, the more freedom you will experience.
The best hiking hoodies try to eliminate the need for sunscreen, or at the very least, minimize just how much of it you need to use to protect yourself from harmful sun exposure. They do this by having a high Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating.
This rating tells you how much protection from UVA and UVB light you will get from the garment. The higher the rating, the better the sun protection. For example, buying a hoodie with a UPF 50 rating can block up to 98% of UV rays from reaching your bare skin.
Whether hiking in the sun, rain or snow, you need to wear breathable clothing. In many cases, breathability is often associated with your base layer, which is the layer closest to your skin and can help keep you cool and less sweaty.
When talking about hiking hoodies, breathability is all about airflow. This is particularly true if you intend to go hiking in a desert or similarly hot environs. Breathable outdoor gear will make the whole experience a bit more pleasurable.
A hoodie’s breathability depends on the kind of fabric it’s made out of; loosely woven hoodies allow for better airflow. The problem with wearing loosely knit hoodies is that you won’t get as much UPF protection as you should. The best UPF protection comes from closely knit fabric. You will, therefore, have to sacrifice one for the other.
Therefore, to pick the right hiking hoodie, you must first consider how much shade or protection from the sun you will need while on the trail. If you are hiking on a trail with lots of natural sun protection, such as shade from trees, you can afford to get something a bit more loosely knit for breathability.
You could also choose to pair your hoodie with other forms of shade protection, like umbrellas, if breathability is more important to you than UPF protection.
There are hiking hoodies like this Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie made out of recycled polyester that can dry up in less than 10 minutes under direct sunlight.
If you are someone who sweats a lot during your hikes, this is the kind of hoodie that will come in handy. Not only is it breathable, but it’s also quick-drying, which means that your sweat will be gone in no time at all.
While quick-drying hoodies are a plus when hiking in direct sunlight, they do have a small disadvantage. This applies to people who like to soak their hoodies in a river or a lake to keep their skin cool through the next few miles. If you get one designed to dry extremely quickly, the kind of relief you will get from soaking it in water and putting it on will be short-lived.
You can, however, keep replenishing its wetness by dousing yourself with water from your water bottle if you have extras.
Comfort should play a huge role in your decision-making whenever you are in the market for outdoor gear. This is particularly true for gear that you are going to have on you for prolonged periods of time.
A hooded sun shirt, for example, should be designed to keep you protected not only from the sun but also from things like your backpack. The more comfortable this hoodie is, the more enjoyable your hiking experience will likely be.
Since this shirt offers you full UPF protection, it most likely will offer you some kind of protection in all the places that your backpack straps are going to be constantly rubbing against. Places like your shoulders, your neck, and even your arms.
A hooded sun shirt inherently features a higher neckline, which will, in addition to protecting your neck from UV rays, keep the straps from rubbing against your neck and making it raw as you hike along.
When it comes to comfort, there are some features you need to consider.
- Seams: The seams on the hiking hoodie you choose can irritate your skin. The best option to consider here is flatlock seams as opposed to regular seams. Flatlock seams are flush with the hoodie fabric and don’t stick out. As such, they won’t irritate the skin by constantly rubbing against it.
- Sleeves: There are hiking hoodies that feature what are known as “raglan sleeves.” These sleeves have seams further down the arm instead of directly on the shoulders. If you buy hoodies that have seams on the shoulders, the pressure from the backpack straps will rub these seams against your skin, irritating it further.
Top Features to Consider When Buying a Hiking Hoodie
- Thumb holes: Thumb holes might sound like a vanity feature, and to some extent, they are, but they are also practical. These holes are not only comfortable, but they also help to keep the sleeves down, covering your entire arm as well as part of your hands.
- Ponytail ports: These are specifically designed for long-haired individuals and women. These ponytail ports are a good way to keep your hair out of the hood and, as a result, keep your neck cool in the process.
- Pockets: While you might not need these when hiking, some hoodies offer them just in case you want to carry a snack in your pockets as opposed to your backpack, where most of your accessories will be anyway.
- Zippered collars: In many cases, you will find hoodies that have high collars but no zippers. While this feature is excellent for keeping your neck protected from the sun, it doesn’t do much for airflow.
Finally, there are other factors to consider, such as brand, price, and durability. While brand loyalty is personal, you often find that brands such as North Face, which have been tried and found to be true in the industry, produce some of the best hiking gear. They are almost always a safe bet regarding quality and durability. They do, however, tend to cost a bit more.
When choosing a hiking hoodie, choose something comfortable and practical. The tips above will help you come to the right decision.
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Last update on 2022-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API