Sun hoodies, hiking tights, and hot weather

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    AK Granola
    BPL Member


    On my recent Tahoe Rim Trail hike, I saw so many people in long pants and long shirts, or hoodies and tight hiking “tights.” I would have sweltered and passed out in those clothes! Temperatures ranged from 70-90F. I wore shorts and tshirts the entire hike, even at night most of the time (once or twice I put on a long sleeve shirt at night). Plus a wide brimmed hat. One lady warned me I’d regret not wearing long sleeves for the mosquitoes (there weren’t any, that I noticed anyway). I did once put on my zip off pants and long sleeve button down, to prevent being bitten by more horseflies; had about 50 bites at that point. And I sweltered. People in all that garb looked pretty miserable.

    Is there actually some advantage to wearing these heavy coverings? I know in the middle east deserts people wear long white flowing robes to protect from sun, but not hoodies and tights. Not clothing tight on the skin. I wanted as much air flow as possible to dry my sweat, and hiked early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day whenever possible. Tights in particular seem like a recipe for chafing and rashes, not to mention odor. But I saw plenty of people in tights or even compression shorts.

    What am I missing? I see so many discussions on here about sun hoodies, and I have tried them and hated them. How can they possibly keep you cooler?


    Alex Wallace
    BPL Member


    Locale: Sierra Nevada North

    I like long pants and sleeves to keep the sun and mosquitoes off. After a few week long trips in the alpine coming home burnt and bitten, feeling like an old piece of beat up leather, I made the switch from shorts and a t-shirt. Light & airy as reasonably possible, for sure. Not “heavy coverings.”

    Tights do sound hot, but I guess it depends on the fabric.

    As for sun hoodies, I tried one a few years ago and it was OK, but the fabric wasn’t durable enough and the shoulders were wearing thin so I went back to my trusty button down long sleeve.

    BPL Member


    Another that wears long pants and sleeves.  Found a set of “running” pants from REI that work really well.  For tops, I wear the typical sunwear hoodies from Columbia Fishing or Mountain Hardware.  I’ve tried knockoffs and they wore out pretty quickly.  I wear both tops and bottoms as well as a wide brimmed hat so I can avoid wearing sunscreen.  I’d rather deal a bit with more temperature and sweat than with the greasy feeling from sunscreen, especially at the end of a hiking day with no shower in sight.  Spend enough time outdoors with them on, and you’ll get acclimated pretty well.  Finding something breathable and, for shirts, loose, is key.

    I even wear them around home doing yardwork.  I’ve had enough trips to the dermatologist from youth stupidity of laying in the sun, that I’m doing what I can to prevent any further skin damage.

    Michael Gillenwater
    BPL Member


    Locale: Seattle area

    If your default is shorts, then you must be hiking more maintained trails.  I can’t imagine doing most of the routes I do in shorts and and probably short sleeves.  My legs would be thrashed from brush and blow downs.

    Gary Dunckel
    BPL Member


    Locale: Boulder

    For a wide brim hat, I’ve recently discovered a company called Mission. They incorporate  a unique water- absorbent material into the headband, which one soaks with water. The moisture dramatically cools your forehead while you walk, and it lasts maybe 2 hours. When it finally dries out, you just re-wet it in a stream, wring it out, and continue walking. It really shines when I’m walking in direct sun on a hot day.

    AK Granola
    BPL Member


    I was actually soaking my hat and shirt, and occasionally shorts too, in whatever body of water was handy, even a tiny creek. Put it back on soaking wet and my clothes were dry in about 15 minutes, it was just so freaking hot. I don’t mind sunscreen; I put it on once in the morning and that’s all that’s needed.  I use Neutrogena, so it’s not greasy at all.

    Yes, the TRT is a fairly wide trail. I got a lot of scratches and cuts on my legs, but not so bad that I wanted to be swaddled in long pants. The small amount of time I spent in full layers, the beastly heat and sweat reminded me of those old “weight loss” suits they sold in the 1970s. Basically a rubberized suit so you could sweat off the “fat.” lol

    BPL Member


    Locale: The West is (still) the Best

    I hated sun hoodies .. until I found the Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily (realizing it sounds like a 1950s commercial).  The fabric actually cools down, but also seems a tad bit more substantial than the OR Echo which will hopefully translate into more durability (which is has for 400 miles that made yet another LS synthetic UPF 50 my “holy” shirt like an ‘80s rock video ..).

    Back to the Pata, it worked 98% of the time in the desert amplifying a breeze into an almost chill in the garment.  I’ve been too chicken to use the hoody version in more humid areas tbh, but about to try the crew neck version .. anytime now, … really

    Mission hats

    I had their ball cap and it worked fine.  Ended up lost so maybe it’s time for a reorder.

    Also read where some just can’t put up with any long-sleeve and just go with short-sleeve plus sun-block.

    To each their own …


    Some use Hawaiian shirts, alone or over a base, ..  and now there’s a button up/sun hoody/Hawaiian-ish hybrid shirt out from “townshirt” I believe.  That’s really growing in popularity though some may wonder if mind-altering drugs were introduced into the design process.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Mid Atlantic

    After having the dermatologist freeze five spots off my face at one visit and cut another off my back at another visit, at her insistence, I’m a fan of sun hoodies, sun gloves, and light long pants

    BPL Member


    I exclusively hike in long sleeves long pants. 100% of the time regardless of heat. But some smart choices can make this comfortable –

    1. If you’re wearing pants, they MUST be vented. a single vent per leg is ok like the RR Ecomesh These are the best overall pants for relatively-cold to relatively-hot weather (like 30-85* approximately).

    If the nights wont get below the 50’s and daytime highs are >high 80’s I switch to the RR Bone Flats pants – the greatest hot weather hiking pants ever (after you treat them with permethrin)  The dual leg vents on the BF pants makes them as cool as shorts IME. They are loose and billow-y, so each step pumps some air through them. Also if there is any wind the double vents on each leg let wind blow through them freely similar to shorts. Choose the lightest color. They show dirt quickly and the mesh wont hold up to thorny brambles very well, but they are Awesome for hot weather. I really cant say enough good things about the bone flats pants in hot hot weather.

    Without mesh vents even the lightest weight pants are miserable IME.

    Similarly, I hike in a 50/50 Merino/Poly 120gsm shirt from Icebreaker. The entire back panel has the knit holes in it and is quite airy. The 1/4 zip helps too. It isnt as cool as a UL 100% poly shirt, but poly smells so quickly I cant stand it on a multi day hike. Again, choose a very light color like off white or light gray.

    Last, the sun umbrella is GOD in exposed hot weather (from Zpacks, GG, SMD, and others). I have done multiple tests and depending on the intensity of the sun and surrounding vegitation, the temp difference under the umbrella vs full sun is 15-35*. For example, 2 weeks ago I was hiking in the lockwood valley of southern california – full desert essentially. Shade temp under my umbrella was ~95*. After 20 mins in the sun my thermometer said 130* and I believe it.

    If you hold the umbrella in a perfect line between you and the sun, I can shade 70-90% of my body (including most of my legs). The difference of the umbrella is incredible. Yes most people consider holding the umbrella annoying, but I consider being SOAKED in sweat, sticky, and miserable the worse option. Also since my sweat load is reduced by >50% from the umbrella, I can carry less water and be comfortable.

    So if you’re going long sleeve & pants –

    1. Light colored pants with 2 or 4 vents is mandatory for comfort

    2. A light colored LS shirt is critical. 100% poly or Poly-Merino blend is recommended. Knit holes in the fabric help a lot. A 1/4 zip helps a lot.

    3. Portable shade from an umbrella makes your life 15-40* cooler and pays for itself via less water requirement and increased overall comfort. The only time I miss my 2nd pole is doing steep descent, but in that case I usually put away the umbrella and suffer in the heat for a little while to save my knees

    W I S N E R !
    BPL Member


    What am I missing?

    Skin cancer?

    I grew up surfing in Southern California, barefoot and shirtless was the norm 80% of the year. Fast forward to having a few chunks of my face and shoulder removed by a surgeon at age ~40, sun hoodies suddenly didn’t seem so annoying anymore.

    BPL Member


    Good point Wisner – cancer.

    even sunblock will only stop UVA and UVB rays, but UVC spectrum still penetrates and is the band that causes skin aging (wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and the leathery look). So even if you apply sunblock religiously and dont get cancer, your skin will still look aged if exposed to direct sun. This is the primary reason use near 100% physical barrier (clothing) for my sun block

    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    Columbia makes a very light and cool spf sunshirt. I wear loose long REI nylon pants as well. Honestly, I wonder if this combo isn’t cooler than short sleeves and shorts. My skin isn’t directly exposed to the sun.

    And as for this last: yes, I’ve had a cancerous melanoma sliced out of my face (I’m not disfigured) and it wasn’t a good moment. Nor was waiting to see if the cancer had spread. At altitude, sun rays are far more potent than at sea level. Not getting burned doesn’t mean that your repeated exposures to intense sun isn’t putting you at risk. This last is according to every dermatologist in the world. (It’s a dematologist that will operate on your skin cancer).

    In any case, long sleeves and long pants protect from mosquitos and other insects and brambles and poison ivies. And you don’t need to reapply them every hour and half.

    S Long
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wasatch

    Another fan of sun hoodies and long pants here. I find that I stay cooler with less skin exposed to the sun. I really like my Kuiu Gila sun hoodie, and the OR Echo is nice, although very thin. I usually wear OR Ferrosi pants or Prana Alameda pants, but I may try the RR Bone Flats one of these days. I also had melanoma removed and don’t care to repeat the experience.

    Edit: I also love my chrome umbrella. Great for non-windy rain and wonderful in strong sun.

    BPL Member


    Locale: The Cascades

    Count me in the sun hoodie/long pants/sun gloves camp. Like others, I’d rather not have another dime-sized chunk of my face removed, and I hate sunscreen.

    Chris K
    BPL Member


    Sun hoody + light pants, or when mostly on trail without heavy mosquitos, sun hoody + shorts.

    The sun hoody is just a t-shirt with higher UPF fabric and more flexibility – push up the sleeves, take off the hood, and so on. It’s nice to have the option for complete coverage on the back of the neck, ears and forehead all in one piece. When the sun is low in the sky, treat it like a t-shirt. In higher exposure, bring out the hood. This leaves your nose, lower face and front of neck partially exposed, but for high exposure a buff or small bit of sunscreen can work. At least that’s my system.

    obx hiker
    BPL Member


    “if the nights wont get below the 50’s and daytime highs are >high 80’s”

    If we’ve HAD a night BELOW 80 in the last two weeks or so it’s been maybe like 79.

    And people still actually sleep outdoors in the nearby Cape Hatteras National Seashore. But less and less all the time

    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Colorado

    I find that keeping my skin covered keeps me cooler than letting the sun hit my skin. I live on the Colorado Plateau so I generally deal with lots of sun and dry weather. I might feel differently in I lived elsewhere. I think one of the keys to being comfortable while covering up is to keep your clothing loose. I too hated sun hoodies until recently when I picked up a REI Sahara sun hoodie. I don’t know what voodoo they worked on it, but it’s very cool and breathable and works really well for me. My favorite tops though are simply slightly oversized long sleeve shirts, either cotton/linen or poly cotton. The cotton/linen shirts don’t last long though. For my legs, I hike in a slightly oversized pair of Columbia Silver Ridge pants and open the leg zippers halfway. While walking I can feel the air pumping in and out. And for a hat, I use the widest brim one I can find.

    Brad W
    BPL Member


    @PaulW Have you tried the OR Echo Hoody? I have tried nearly all of the sun hoodies. The Echo is the leader in breathability by a large margin. It’s hood it fantastic too.  It’s not as durable and doesn’t offer the same UPF as other but if you are hiking in hot, humid, weather, it’s my first choice every single time.

    Daryl and Daryl
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth

    Couldn’t ignore the repeated endorsements of the OR Echo Hoodie.  Just got one this week and based upon my in-town use of it I ordered a 2nd one.

    Brian H
    BPL Member


    Count me in as the guy who is in long pants, long sleeve shirt, an huge unattractive sun brim hat, and most likely OR sungloves too.  Granted the majority of these items are as light weight as I can find.  The pants were some discontinued convertibles from Sierra Trading post that are incredibly thin (brought 3).  Shirt is the el cheapo one from amazon that is spf 50.

    A short time ago I came off another PCT section hike from Tahoe to Yosemite and once again I cringe on the running shorts and short sleeve shirts of the majority of PCT’rz going NOBO.  Legs all chewed up by skeeters, scratched like a cat went crazy, and bodies sunburned to a crisp.  Again, I just don’t get it?

    I despise crawling in my quilt covered in sunscreen and stale DEET.  No thank you!  I’ll stay covered up and at least for me, way more comfortable.  Matter of fact, I don’t even carry DEET or sunscreen any longer.  I spray my cloths with permethrin and no problemo.


    BPL Member


    I’m another completely covered in fabric guy.  UL, Insect Shield treated and as high a UPF as possible.  I avoid chemicals applied to skin if at all possible.  It’s hard enough to keep myself (and gear) clean without smearing “stuff” all over myself.

    AK Granola
    BPL Member


    And you all don’t sweat and roast in those clothes? Or you get used to it, somehow. I tried a couple different sun hoodies.  They were truly awful. And when I do have to put on my zipoff pant legs because of biting insects (horseflies only, I don’t care about mosquitoes, or getting a few scratches from plants, not a big deal), it feels really terrible. Just so freakin hot and slimy and sweaty. Like I’m stuck in a sauna and can’t leave. I can’t wear regular socks in hot weather either, I have to wear no-show ones, or I get a nasty ankle rash. I just can’t take that heat. My sunscreen, Neutrogena, only requires one application per day and it isn’t greasy at all. I use Deet sparingly; I don’t worry about “chemicals” at all. Deet is vital in Alaska at times, or a full bug suit.

    I’m not sure if I would adapt to the heat eventually. I struggled up every hill in the late afternoon heat on my recent Tahoe Rim Trail through hike. I tried to get miles in early but ended up hiking in heat anyway. Folks in long pants and sleeves and hoodies looked miserable, but maybe we were just all miserable!

    Brad W
    BPL Member


    @AK Granola can’t say it enough. OR Echo sun hoodie. It’s not hot in the least. Much cooler than bare skin slathered in sunblock. It breathes like no other fabric. I hike in 90-95F and wouldn’t consider any other shirt. But do whatever works for you.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Mid Atlantic

    I was just in REI yesterday and saw some Sun Sleeves and decided to get a pair as an alternative to my sun hoodie. I figure I can wear them with a short sleeve shirt and hat and get about the same coverage with a little more ventilation. They have thumb holes to hold the bottom in place and a bead of silicone at the bicep part. It’s cloudy here for the next few days but I’ll try them out next week

    BPL Member


    I think this is a great example of how hiking in different scenarios/regions require different gear/strategies.  In the SE US, I simply don’t hike in the summer.

    1. When both the temp and humidity are in the mid to upper 90s, and that is a minimum of July thru Sept, it is downright dangerous to be out hiking.
    2. Regardless of the time of year, ticks are everywhere in the SE…big ones, little ones, numerous types carrying all kind of diseases.  Yes, Lime is an issue, but ticks are so prevalent that you can easily pick up tens of them in one day.  Even if you don’t contract anything, a tick bite is a messy, itchy awful thing that can take weeks to heal.  Staying covered up is simply a necessity.
    3. Being an extremely pale caucasian I burn very easily.  Again, staying covered up is a necessity.
    4. And when I occasionally do find myself on the trail in the heat, I’d rather be sweaty than covered in goop.

    If I can’t stand being outside and covered up then I don’t go outside. Through trial and error, I have identified the materials and clothing styles that work for me in the hiking scenarios I frequent.  I think we all have. So unless our scenarios are similar, I’m not sure there will be any commonality in our clothing choices.

    Lastly, all my clothing, from head to toe (with the exception of underwear) is Insect Shield treated.  In effect, “a full bug suit”.  :)

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