On the left, the Desert Mariposa TownShirt Co. Sun Hoodie. On the right, the Casa de Luna Manzanita Forest Short Sleeve by TownShirt Co. In the background, one of the nicest cow ponds I’ve had the pleasure of eating lunch in front of.
Overview: I’m no stranger to sun hoodies. I have been a huge proponent of them for years, and have reviewed quite a few of them. They provide instantaneous shade to your neck, face, and hands while on the move. Your torso is covered in light wicking material that offers a pleasant and needed cooling effect on hot sunny days.
However, there are few cottage makers of sun hoodies. Enter Pickle, from TownShirt Co. Not only does this company have style, they do it from a place of loving hikers and the trails they recreate on. After getting one of their sun hoodies, I put it through its paces and have good news.
Locations Tested: Off trail peak bagging in West Texas, trail running in the Sonoran Desert, casually around town, and along the Arizona Trail this past spring.
For the AZT - https://lighterpack.com/r/ydu7z7
For General 3 Season - https://lighterpack.com/r/dyxu34
- 229g / 8.08 oz
- UPF 50+
- Kangaroo Pocket
- Elastic cuffs
- 88% Recycled Polyester and 12% Spandex
- $85 with free shipping
- Size Medium
Me: 5’10” (178 cm), 182 pounds (82.55kg)
Setting off on the AZT with a midday start and a high of 80 degrees. Stayed cool on the way up to Miller Peak while wearing the Desert Mariposa.
Pros of the TownShirt Co Sun Hoodie
Fun, Nostalgic, Hiker-Inspired Patterns! The patterns that TownShirt offers on their clothing is what makes them stand out in the saturated sun hoodie market. They’re fun and are nostalgically chosen to represent important markers within the long distance backpacking community.
The Green Tunnel Short Sleeve invokes the green forests the AT is well known for, while the Casa de Luna Manzanita Forest Sun Hoodie is an homage to the famous PCT Trail Angels, the Andersons. Pickle even got permission from the Andersons to use the “Case de Luna” name for the special print pattern, with 5% of all proceeds from the Case de Luna Manzanita Forest Sun Hoodie going to the Pacific Crest Trail Association!
The relaxing patterns also do a great job at hiding dirt, sweat stains, and even blood!
Customer Service. Pickle, whose government name is Dylan, is one good dude. From the moment I showed interest in the TownShirt Sun Hoodie, he had plenty of answers for my numerous questions. We even traded stories about life, and how we got to where we are. Basically, he’s very approachable.
The guy also stands behind his products. If one of TownShirt’s products doesn’t meet your expectations, you can get it repaired, refunded, or replaced. In today’s world, that’s one hell of a policy, and certainly one that is hard to find in the ultralight backpacking cottage industry.
Durability. The Mariposa has handled everything I’ve thrown at it with relative ease. I’ve used it off trail to travel through thick brush and cactus, and to scale up and down gullies. I even just straight up landed on my face after rolling my ankle on a log on the AZT. My face and hands didn’t fare too well, but the Mariposa didn’t miss a beat. Even the shirt’s cuffs, which are in constant contact with either the environment or trekking poles, show little signs of wear.
Dry Time. I was skeptical of how fast the TownShirt Sun Hoodie would dry, given that they are made with 12% Spandex. So I tested this both in my lab (...my shower), and out on trial. I wore my sun hoodie into the shower after a long trail run, then hung it in my cold dark bathroom afterward, checking it periodically to see how it dried over time. In two and a half hours, the entire shirt, with the exception of the kangaroo pocket, was dry.
I also performed a Color Paper Water Test on the Desert Mariposa. The idea behind the test is simple. A colored piece of paper is placed inside the shirt, and three drops of water are dropped onto the shirt. The less water absorbed by the piece of colored paper, the better the shirt is at wicking. As you can see below, hardly any water transferred to the paper.
Out on trail, the TownShirt Sun Hoodie performed extraordinarily well in terms of dry time. I sweat heavily, and the Arizona sun is unrelenting. Not too soon after a stop though, my shirt would be bone dry, leaving me cool and refreshed. By the time I had laid down my Gryphon Gear Aries to cowboy camp each night, I was set.
UPF Rating: I bought a UV Test card to test how effective the TownShirt Sun Hoodie is at protecting my body from the sun, as well as to see how it performed against other sun hoodies on the market.
I chose to test the TownShirt Co. Hoodie against the Black Diamond’s Alpenglow Pro, with a UPF rating of 50, and the Rab Pulse with a UPF rating of 30. I also included a common white cotton shirt with a known UPF rating of 5 as the “control”.
I checked if the UV Test card worked, then directly exposed each sun hoody to the harsh Arizona afternoon sun three times. After each exposure, I insured the card reset before moving onto the next trial. All four garments were clean and laundered, but had previously been worn at least one time.
As you can see, the TownShirt Sun Hoodie performed very well, only letting the feeblest of UV rays penetrate. Such a result is on par with the garments that sport high UPF ratings — and in line with the parameters that state UPF 50 rated clothing allows up to 2.5% of UV rays to reach the skin.
The long and the short, the UPF 50+ rating on the TownShirt Sun Hoodie is accurate and substantial.
Kangaroo Pocket. The Kangaroo pocket has been an unforeseen huge benefit while backpacking. I usually hike with just one trekking pole, which leaves one hand free to grab snacks, take pictures, and check Guthook or Caltopo. A lot of the time though, my free hand isn’t doing anything. Rather than hide it in my sweaty pockets, I put it in my kangaroo pouch. The polyester fabric is very breathable, yet protects against the sun’s rays. The kangaroo pocket is also incredibly handy for stashing your water filter or stakes while completing camp chores.
The Fit. I found it to be one of the more flattering sun hoodies I’ve reviewed, while still remaining practical. The sleeves and thumb holes completely protect my hands up to my knuckles, and the kangaroo pocket sits below where any hip belt or climbing harness would be. The overall hoodie has a relaxed fit, allowing for the flow of air that keeps you cool in the hot desert heat while moving. Five out of five stars, hands down!
Weight. Most people don’t consider their worn weight, the weight of clothing and accessories on their bodies, to be important. However, you still have to carry that weight up and down the slopes regardless. At eight ounces, the Mariposa is actually a fairly light piece of gear — especially given the feature set. Yet it is far from being the lightest sun hoodie on the market.
Hood Could Be Bigger. A properly sized hood, when paired with a hat, should shadow most of your face when worn. Very little skin, if any, should be exposed to direct sunlight. The hood on the TownShirt Sun Hoodie comes up a little short. Although I always make sure to add sunscreen to my face when backpacking, I was extra diligent to do so when wearing this sun hoodie.
However, there is some good news. I spoke with Dylan about how the field testing went on the AZT and brought up my concerns about the hood. Rather than dismiss my concerns, he replied seconds later with, “that’s a pretty easy fix!” He went on to ask me a bunch of questions on what I thought about the garment, and other things that could be improved. Since our conversation, Dylan has been working on making the hood bigger on the next version of the TownShirt Sun Hoodie, which would yield a nearly perfect garment for sun exposure.
Me, wearing a size Medium TownShirt Co. Sun Hoodie. For reference, I’m 5’10”, 182 pounds, and have a 42 inch chest.
After talking to Pickle from TownShirt Co., I can say I had one of the nicest experiences with a cottage vendor, and can confirm that he's a solid person. The TownShirt Co. Sun Hoodie performed very well in extreme conditions, and looks good while doing it. Be on the lookout for new patterns and products coming down the pipeline.
I am feeling good after some nice trail magic by Cooper and their dad on the AZT. Thanks for reading: )
Rafael is a freelance writer and adventurer based in the Mountain West. You can find him trail running, backpacking, or sampling the best tacos during his free time. Follow all his adventures over on Instragam @horsecake22, or read more of his work over on his website.