Outdoor Research Astroman Sun Hoodie
The OR Astroman Sun Hoodie is an extremely lightweight, long sleeve, hooded shirt designed primarily as a sun layer for climbers. However, I believe this shirt has uses far beyond that—biking, exposed peaks, glacial travel, on the water/ paddling, travelling, and as a wind layer. The shirt boasts a UPF rating of 50+, full coverage hood, packs tiny, and weighs in at 6 ounces (no reason to leave it at home!). The thin fabric requires a little extra care around rough rocks, thorns, etc to ensure it lasts.
- High 50+ UPF rating
- Fit—boxy enough to encourage air flow and not restrict movement, slim enough to tuck under a harness or blow around in the wind
- Large, oversized hood
- Tons of stretch
- Reduces use of sticky sunscreens/stops to re-apply
- Weight—6 oz
- Thumb loops poorly executed
- Price might be too high for some (I personally believe it has enough value to justify it however)
- Long-term durability may be questionable
The fit of the Astroman Sun Hoodie definitely airs (pun intended) on the boxy side. There is plenty of room underneath for air movement to keep the user cool. I've worn the hoodie both directly against the skin (it's uber soft) and with a thin merino tee, with a high level of comfort in both.
The cut is long in all proportions to allow for complete coverage. The hem comes down below the hip and tucks in nicely under a harness or backpack wait belt. It also allows full coverage of the lower back, even when bending over or stretching, I particularly noticed this when canoeing; the shirt never rode up.
The sleeves are similar in fit—long and baggy with good coverage. There are thumb loops (small pieces of cordage) that will keep the sleeve from riding up, and it is more than long enough to cover the back of the hand if desired.
The hood, ah yes, the hood. It is probably one of my favourite designs on this piece. It is massive and all encompassing, like a big awning for your head/face. I have short hair so the need to protect my scalp from burning is very important (if you've ever gotten a sunburn on your scalp you'll know what I mean!). I love that this hood works well with a ball cap, a more traditional wide brimmed sun hat, or even on its own. It manages to balance protecting the face without cutting down on peripheral vision as well.
I am 6 foot, 175 lbs and the large fits perfectly—loose enough to allow air movement without any excessive saggy fabric to flap around during dynamic activities.
Comfort wise this is about as soft as it gets. It feels great next to skin (I'd often wear nothing underneath it if I was in and out of the water frequently—at the lake or pool), while being equally as comfortable with a thin tee layered under. The Astroman hoodie has a great amount of stretch, thanks to the 15% spandex (more on that below), so movement never felt restricted or tight.
There aren't many moving parts to tinker with here. The Astroman has a 1/4-length zip to vent heat, but that is about it. No hem adjusts or velcro around the wrists, no superfluous weight. There is no option for securing the hood when not in use, which may bother some. I didn't find it moved around too much, and it's so light, that I forget about it when it's not worn.
I don't think I've ever written a clothing review about weather resistance in terms of sun protection, but that's exactly what the hoodie is deigned to do. The Astroman Sun Hoodie utilizes an 85% nylon, 15% Spandex blend to protect to the tune of UPF 50+. As someone with fair skin and a propensity to burn, this is heaven sent.
I am not a huge fan of sunscreen—the stickiness, the need to reapply, the chemicals—so this product gives me an alternative way to keep myself safe. It goes without saying that the dangers of skin cancers/melanoma is all too real, and as people who enjoy to recreate in the outdoors, it is paramount to mitigate the effects of the sun and protect our health.
Throughout the summer I can be found canoeing, rock climbing, or just enjoying a day at the beach with my kids. What these all have in common is there is often little, to no, passive sun protection. Shade is often at a premium, so having a portable, lightweight way to block the sun is important.
To go back to the UPF rating, a 50+ rating means that 98% of the UV rays are being blocked and only 2% are managing to actually get to your skin. That's a massive safety blanket and the highest rating that can be achieved by a fabric.
There is zero water resistance and only minimal wind blocking. It's meant to breathe and let moisture out, not keep it in.
The fabric is incredibly thin and light (which makes the UPF rating even more impressive), so very little heat is trapped. As I mentioned above the air permeability of this piece is Astro...nomical. Sorry, I had to. Any moisture is quickly transported to the outer fabric and evaporates. I have climbed, done stair climbing as training, run, and canoed, all high exertion activities with the hoodie with little, to no, moisture accumulating inside.
While not designed to be layered in the traditional sense, the Astroman hoodie does have uses beyond a single season. As mentioned above, it obviously works on its own, or with a thin tee underneath, but I've also been using it as a base/second layer in colder temps. The term "Be Bold, Start Cold" is common to those just about to start a high exertion activity. The reason is you never want to sweat in the winter is that it'll freeze and you'll be in trouble. You want a layer(s) that will feel cold at the start but it'll be just enough to protect you while the body warms up, but not so much that you'll overheat. I've found the hoodie does that well, even protecting the face/neck while you get slugging along. From there it is easy to fit a down or synthetic layer, over top for warmth
- This hoodie is primarily marketed as a summer-specific piece (and justifiably so). However I believe its uses far extend that. Sun can be killer at elevation and reflecting off snow, however when under exertion I don't want to be wearing tons of clothing. I see this hoodie being an interesting second layer in certain off-season scenarios, glacier travel, for example.
- This size large, full coverage hoodie weighs in at 6 ounces and packs into its own pocket. There is almost no reason to leave it at home.
- There is a carabiner loop on the interior of the pocket to clip to your harness if you are not climbing with it on.
- The dry time is incredibly quick. I've never actually measured it, but a couple minutes in the sun or wind and it is essentially dry.
The OR Astroman Sun Hoodie is a lightweight, sun-blocking hoodie that I have found to be extremely versatile from next to skin in the blazing sun, to a breathable mid-layer during aerobic activities in the cold.
High points—incredibly soft fabric protects to the tune of UPF 50+, oversized hood, lightweight and packable.
Room for improvement—I don't love the execution of the thumb loops and a little care is required around rough areas (rocks, thorns, etc) as it is very thin.
I have used the Astroman Sun Hoodie for 10 months now, in all seasons, from +35°C to -10°C (95°F down to 14°F). It has been with me rock climbing, bouldering, hiking/camping, canoeing, at the pool/beach sun protection, and as a mid-layer as temps cooled. I much prefer this type of passive, no need to re-apply approach to sun protection as I am lazy, forgetful, and not a fan of the sunscreen/sweat mixture that ends up stinging the eyes.
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps
(Sample for testing and review provided by Outdoor Research)
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