8 High-Performing Merino Sun Hoodies For Outdoor Adventure

Merino sun hoodies are trending among outdoor adventurers, and in some sense it’s easy to see why. Full-coverage sun protection is important for skin health, and merino wool is beloved by those of us who go many days without showering.

When I’m out in the wilderness for days or weeks at a time, there’s nothing I’d rather wear than merino thanks to its excellent moisture management, wide thermal range, and magical anti-stink properties.

But merino does have its drawbacks: durability, cost, and the challenge of making a truly lightweight fabric that’s comfortable in the heat. I’ll admit that when I first started seeing merino sun hoodies everywhere, I was skeptical.

Over the last two years, however, I’ve gradually come around. I value sun protection, especially as I get older, and synthetic hoodies just don’t work for me on rugged multi-week journeys where showers and laundry machines are few and far between.

Merino sun hoodies work well for backpacking because they keep the sun off your neck and don’t get stinky after days on the trail.

By now I’ve thoroughly tested several of the best merino sun hoodies out there. I’ve bikepacked and backpacked in them for weeks and months through the western United States, Central Asia, and Northern Africa, to name a few.

I’m still on a mission to find the all-around best merino sun hoody, but I’ve found several pretty darn good ones and learned a lot about what makes this unique garment successful. This roundup includes all the hoodies I’ve personally tested plus a few still on my wishlist. I hope it helps you find the perfect merino sun hoodie for your next adventure.

Woman takes selfie in yellow Wuru sun hoody in desert of Morocco
The Sahara desert of Morocco is a perfect test environment for a lightweight merino sun hoodie!

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Why Wear A Merino Sun Hoodie?

A sun hoodie, in general terms, is a lightweight long-sleeve shirt with a hood. Compared to a regular shirt it offers better sun protection for your arms, neck, ears, and even face, especially when combined with a hat. Since sunny weather is often hot weather, most sun hoodies aim to be light and cool while still providing meaningful coverage. Many are made from synthetic fabrics which are often lighter, cooler, and cheaper than merino.

A merino sun hoodie is, as you would expect, a sun hoodie made from lightweight merino wool or often a merino-synthetic blend. This has many benefits for outdoor adventure — odor resistance, temperature regulation, moisture management — but also some significant drawbacks. Compared to synthetic sun hoodies, here are the major pros and cons of merino sun hoodies.

Advantages of merino sun hoodies:

  • Odor resistant
  • Excellent breathability and moisture management
  • Wide thermal comfort range
  • Natural sun protection

Disadvantages of merino sun hoodies:

  • More expensive
  • Less durable
  • Often a bit heavier and warmer

Makers of merino sun hoodies need to minimize those disadvantages in order to make a compelling product. Fortunately a number of brands are stepping up and striving to develop light, durable, and affordable garments we can all appreciate.

Bicycle traveler wearing blue merino sun hoody beside road sign in Kazakhstan
Merino sun hoodies are excellent for skin protection on long and rough outdoor adventures, like this bike trip in Central Asia.

Best Merino Sun Hoodies

Without further ado, here’s a roundup of popular merino wool sun hoodies along with their pros and cons from personal experience, buyer reviews, and expert reviews.

Wuru Nuyarn Lightweight Merino Hoodie

Price: $96
Fabric weight: 125 gsm (equivalent warmth: 168 gsm ringspun fabric)
Fabric type: 85% Merino, 15% Nylon with Nuyarn® Technology
Features: hidden thumb loop, offset shoulder seams
Stands out for: excellent balance of hot weather comfort and robust fabric
Limitations: not much, it’s my current favorite

Woman takes selfie in yellow Wuru Nuyarn Lightweight Merino Hoodie while bikepacking in Morocco
Wuru Lightweight Merino Hoodie in Morocco

My detailed review: Wuru Nuyarn Lightweight Merino Hoodie Review

Smartwool Merino Sport Ultralight Hoodie (Women)

Price: $80
Fabric weight: 120 gsm
Fabric type: 53% merino wool / 47% lyocell
Features: minimalism
Stands out for: light enough for very hot weather, affordable price
Limitations: thin, delicate, insufficient sun protection, no men’s version

Woman wearing merino sun hoodie takes selfie while bikepacking in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan.
Smartwool Sport Merino hoody in Kyrgyzstan

My detailed review: Smartwool Sport Merino Hoodie Review

Ridge Merino Solstice Lightweight Hoodie

Price: $85
Fabric weight: 145 gsm
Fabric type: (m)Force™ Merino – 87% Merino wool 13% Nylon
Features: large hood, drawstring neck, thumb holes
Stands out for: durable fabric, smooth and soft, affordable price
Limitations: too heavy for hot weather

Women wears Ridge Merino Solstice sun hoody with hood pulled over bike helmet
The Ridge Merino Solstice sun hoody somewhere in Utah

My detailed review: Ridge Merino Solstice Sun Hoodie Review

Voormi River Run Hoodie

Price: $139
Fabric type: 52% wool, 48% polyester
Fabric weight: 100 gsm
Features: button neck closure, thumb loop, extra large hood
Stands out for: soft textured light fabric that works in hot weather
Limitations: expensive, no bright colors

Detailed review: Halfway Anywhere

Duckworth Vapor Hoodie

Price: $120
Fabric type: 38% Montana Merino Wool, 50% American Polyester, 12% Modal (beech wood pulp)
Fabric weight: 150 gsm
Features: extra large hood
Stands out for: light fabric suitable for hot weather
Limitations: expensive, low wool %

Arc’teryx Lana / Ionia Merino Wool Hoody

Price: $120 / $140
Fabric type: Merino / Nylon core spun jersey 16.5mn: 87% Wool, 13% Nylon
Fabric weight: ?
Features: structured hood brim, thumb loops on Lana
Stands out for: light weight that works in hot weather
Limitations: expensive

Ibex Merino Sun Hoodie

Price: $145
Fabric type: 45% Tencel, 45% Merino Wool, 10% Nylon
Fabric weight: 150 gsm
Features: button neck closure, hidden thumb loop, extra large hood, offset shoulder seams
Stands out for: roomy hood
Limitations: a tad too heavy for hot weather, not cheap

Icebreaker Cool-Lite Merino Long Sleeve Hoodie

Price: $180
Fabric type: 60% TENCEL™, 40% Merino Wool
Fabric weight: 125 gsm
Features: thumb loops, offset shoulder seams
Stands out for: smooth and light fabric suitable for hot weather
Limitations: expensive, prominent logo, low wool %

What to Look For

As you’re shopping for the perfect merino sun hoodie, consider these factors.

Fabric weight: Typically denoted as “GSM” or “grams per square meter,” this is a measure of fabric weight and therefore warmth. For warm weather look for lower GSM values. Heavier merino sun hoodies, though still very breathable, are best for cooler temps.

Hood shape and size: Some hoods are sized large for more face coverage or to fit over a helmet, while others are designed to be smaller and sleeker.

Thumb loops: Depending on the activities you use your sun hoodie for, you might appreciate these loops that pull the sleeves down over your wrists. They’re also very helpful when adding layers atop your hoodie.

Shape and fit: There’s loose and boxy, trim and athletic, and everything in between. Your preferred fit will depend on your body, the activities you do in your hoody, and whether you like to layer other shirts below or above it.

Color: Largely a matter of personal preference, but some hoodies come in muted colors while others are bright. Light colors are generally best for hot weather since they absorb less heat, but they also show stains more easily and can be a bit see-through when thin.

Shoulder seam placement: If you plan to wear your hoodie with a backpack, it’s important that the seams don’t chafe your shoulders. Many brands offset their shoulder seams for this reason, though non-offset seams can work fine too if they’re well-constructed.

Ethical wool sourcing: Merino wool comes from merino sheep, and no one wants to be wearing the product of an animal’s suffering. Check for details from the specific brand to see how they’re committing to cruelty-free and ethical merino wool.

Caring For Merino Sun Hoodies

Merino wool is notoriously delicate, especially when pushing the limits of lightweight fabrics for hot weather. To help your merino sun hoody last as long as possible, follow these practices:

  • Don’t wash it too often. Merino wool resists body odor and doesn’t need to be washed as often as other fabrics. Only wash it when needed.
  • Turn inside-out before washing
  • Use a cool and gentle cycle in the washing machine
  • Use only mild soap, and avoid fabric softener and bleach
  • Air dry if possible by laying flat, or tumble dry low

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About the Author

Hi there, I’m Alissa, founder of Exploring Wild. I’ve had the pleasure of hiking the Arizona Trail, Colorado Trail, John Muir Trail, Tahoe Rim Trail, and countless shorter amazing trails throughout the US and abroad. I love solitude, big views, and a good lightweight gear setup. Learn more here.

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2 thoughts on “8 High-Performing Merino Sun Hoodies For Outdoor Adventure”

  1. I love merino wool however you don’t mention it has low UPF. I wore a nice Ibex shirt on the GDMBR and found on day 4 that my shoulders and upper back were getting sun burn through the shirt. I had to put sun screen on every morning to prevent this. I do agree that for resistance to body odor merino is king.

    Reply
    • Sorry to hear that! I’ve had that problem too, specifically with the Smartwool Ultralight Sport hoodie. That’s what I meant by “insufficient sun protection” in that section. But in my experience most other merino shirts have been fine, or at least not problematic enough to notice a sunburn.

      Reply

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