By Michael Lanza

Whether backpacking, dayhiking, climbing, trail running, fishing, paddling, or active outdoors in myriad other ways, sun protection becomes critical not only for preventing skin cancer, but also because the hot sun can wear you down and exacerbate the effects of heat, elevation, and dehydration—especially in the mountains and desert.

While there are a variety of styles of sun shirts, for active pursuits in warm to hot temperatures, nothing really beats a lightweight, breathable hoody for maximum protection and keeping you cool—while adding minimal weight and bulk to your kit. This review spotlights the best sun shirt hoodies.

I’ve tested these hoodies dayhiking, trail running, rock climbing, paddling rivers, backcountry skiing in spring, and on backpacking trips from trails around Idaho to Zion, the Teton Crest Trail, the Grand Canyon, Wind River Range, High Uintas Wilderness, Ruby Crest Trail, and other places where the sun sometimes gets too hot. While they are designed to keep you cool under hot sun, the hoods can provide just the right amount of added warmth when moving in cool temps and wind, too.

Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

Helly Hansen Lifa Active Solen Hoodie
” data-image-caption=”The Helly Hansen Lifa Active Solen Hoodie in Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve.
” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ width=”900″ height=”642″ src=”″ alt=”Helly Hansen Lifa Active Solen Hoodie” class=”wp-image-40219″ srcset=” 1024w, 300w, 768w, 1080w, 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />The Helly Hansen Lifa Active Solen Hoodie in Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve.

My experience includes over three decades of hiking, backpacking, climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing, and more than a quarter-century of testing and reviewing outdoors gear and apparel as a past lead gear reviewer for Backpacker magazine for 10 years and many years running this blog.

Whatever your modes of play outdoors, I think you’ll find one of these sun hoodies ideal for you—plus you’ll find some at good prices now and links to online retailers below. The reviews are arranged from lightest to heaviest. Purchasing one of these hoodies through any