When you live at 7000′, UV exposure is a real danger. Over the past few months, John has been putting a new piece of apparel through the wringer on gravel and mountain bike rides. The Ibex Sun Hoodie looks like other sun hoodies, but it packs the power of merino wool. Let’s check out his quick and succinct review below…
I might sound like a broken record about sun damage, but ever since I had a chunk of skin cancer removed from my face, I’ve been extra careful. For years I’ve kept my arms covered in long sleeve jerseys, shirts, and a personal fav: vintage Levi’s and Wrangler shirts but all of those leave your neck, ears, and head exposed. Now, I still wear all those items, but on rides with a lot of exposed climbing, I’ll throw on my new favorite piece of gear.
Knowing we were in for a hot and sunny summer, I tried a new piece of apparel this year; sun hoodies. I’ve always used these for fishing or rafting trips, but I only recently began wearing them on bike rides. The main problem I found with the synthetic hoodies from the more prominent brands is that they felt slimy against my skin when they got sweaty, and they stunk to high heaven after only a few hours of use.
Then, I got an email from Ibex, a well-known apparel manufacturer specializing in merino wool clothing for outdoor activities. The brand had just announced its Men’s and Women’s Sun Hoodie. Seeing the price, I cringed as I hit the “add to cart,” not knowing what to expect, but I’ve spent the past few months wearing this magic cloak on rides with a lot of sun exposure.
Before we get into this well-used review, let’s look at an overview of the Sun Hoodie.
Ibex Sun Hoodie Specs:
- Price: $145
- 3 Panel hood fits over a hat for ultimate face protection from the sun
- Optional button closure allows the wearer to vent during strenuous activity
- Elastic thumb catch on the inside of the sleeve for even more sun protection
- Shoulder seam forward to accommodate a backpack
- Locker loop to hang dry easily
- No Tags for Maximum Comfort
- 45% Tencel, 45% Merino Wool, 10% Nylon
- Fabric Origin: Australia
- Garment Origin: China
The Sun Hoodie uses a mix of 45% merino wool from Australia, and 45% Tencel fabric, a brand name of a specific blend of Lyocell. This semi-synthetic fiber is used in textiles made from various plants’ dissolved pulp of regenerated cellulose. In Tencel’s case, it comes from the Eucalyptus tree.
What’s great about this mixture is it’s lightweight, fast drying, moisture wicking, and doesn’t stink to high heaven as 100% synthetics tend to after a few hours of use. It’s also very soft on your skin and light feeling. In short, you get all the benefits of merino wool in a lighter and stretchy package.
Wearing the Sun Hoodie on a Bike
I sized up from the size large Ibex recommended I buy through its Wair Your Size application to an X-large to give me more breathing room and take advantage of a longer tail on this garment. I also have long arms, so the X-large gave me some added length. Another reason for this is how I wear the Sun Hoodie when climbing long, exposed sections of gravel road, 2-track, and singletrack. When the UV index hits 15 in the mountains, I’ll undo the neck button, pull the hoodie over my head, and hook it on the sun visor of my MTB helmet. The size large didn’t fit as well when doing this as the X-large. Keep in mind, this isn’t how Ibex intended the Sun Hoodie to be worn, and it looks bizarre, but it’s a hack that made this garment so essential.
Doing so creates neck and ear protection (and you look like Cornholio) and offers some peripheral shade. Combined with my favorite sunblock, a GloStick, and a pair of sunnies, my face is protected from harmful UV radiation. I’ll also utilize the elastic thumb loops to cover gaps between my gloves and the hoodie’s sleeves.
Then, when we hit the shade, I remove the hood, and if we’re riding a section of trail with a lot of tree branches, I’ll tuck the hood into the hoodie’s body to reduce the risk of snags.
The Cool Down
I’m kicking myself for not photographing this hoodie sitting in a creek. On this one ride in particular, there’s a big, exposed, and hot climb back into town, so right before we leave the tree canopy, I’ll take the Sun Hoodie off and dip it in the last creek crossing. Then I’ll wring it out and put it back on, immediately cooling my core and offering a swamp-cooler effect to the long, hot pedal home. My favorite part about this hoodie is the wicking effect that Merino wool provides. In polyester models, it’s just not the same, and the garments often felt “slimy” or slick against my skin, but with Merino, you get a nice, wet draped fabric, facilitating airflow and, thus, removing heat from your body.
Nit Picks and the TL;DR
I paid full retail for this garment, and we don’t use affiliate links, so I have zero to gain from singing the praises of this piece of apparel. I want to normalize sun protection and talk about ways to decrease your risk of skin cancer. Getting my face flayed open and having 50+ stitches poking out was horrifying. As a lifelong “sun baby,” I grew up surfing in North Carolina, where I rarely wore sunblock. Well, a life of exposure has caught up with me, and I have to be extra careful as an adult. I wish these conversations were happening in the spaces I grew up in.
While the Sun Hoodie is by far the best I’ve used (I’ve added a full list of other alternatives for you below), it isn’t without its flaws. Like many of Ibex’s new garments, I find the arms very baggy. So much so that I thought about hemming them in, this is a byproduct of me sizing up to an X-large from the large I initially bought, but it’s worth noting.
Then, either my hip bag or backpack belt wore a hole in the front of the hoodie, which was easy enough to fix with some similar-colored thread, but I would have expected this to be more durable. (I have snagged it on numerous tree branches and cacti over the past three months of use without any tears or marks.) In all fairness, this happens to a lot of my apparel. Even the other 100% polyester sun hoodies I’ve tried developed similar wear and tear at the hip belt area.
However, compared to all other UV hoodies I’ve used, the Ibex Sun Hoodie is the most comfortable, breathable, and quickest drying I’ve used. It’s available in four colors for men and women and shipping today from Ibex.com.
- Lightweight, merino blend is soft against your skin.
- It doesn’t stink after a single wear
- Stretchy enough to pull over a helmet
- Bright colors for visibility
- Thumb loop for extra wrist-to-glove gap coverage
- Durable-ish but not immune to long-term wear from straps and buckles
- Australian merino wool
- Expensive at $145
- Made in China
- After three months of use, a small hole developed from my hip bag and backpack strap wear
- Arms can be a little baggy if you size up
More Affordable Alternatives
- Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoody $59
- REI Co-Op Sahara Shade Hoodie on sale for $24.83
- KETL No Fry Sun Hoodie $59.95
My overall critique on these (that I also bought) is the polyester material. It doesn’t feel as soft to the skin and tends to get “slimy” when sweaty for me. What I don’t “get” is that cycling jersey material doesn’t feel like this, and I prefer jersey material to these finer-knit sun hoodie materials. That said, the REI Sahara Shade hoodie had the best features (like a thumb hole in the cuff) and a hood big enough to fit over a helmet, although the material is heavier than the other options. Yet, the sale price ain’t bad either!