Ibex Indie Merino Wool Sun Hoodie Review

When I heard about the 100% merino wool Ibex Indie sun hoodie, I was intrigued. We all know that merino is king when it comes to staying warm on the trail, but could it be just as effective at keeping you cool on bright summer days?

Merino wool clothing powerhouse Ibex says it can. The superfine fibers of their summerweight merino “wick moisture instantly” to keep the wearer feeling cool and dry, according to the company. The Indie hoodie also boasts merino wool’s well-documented odor-inhibiting capabilities.

Is this just marketing spin, or are the thermoregulating properties of merino a real thing? Should we all be rocking wool on sweaty summer hikes? Let’s find out.

Ibex Indie Sun Hoodie At-a-Glance

ibex indie sun hoodie scuba hood

MSRP: $170
Fit: Regular
Materials: 100% merino wool
Fabric origin: Australia
Garment origin: Vietnam

Circumstances of Review

I tested the Ibex Indie sun hoodie acros a wide range of conditions this summer—from 95 degrees and humid in North Carolina to low-60s in Colorado’s San Juan mountains. I put the hoodie through a combination of casual wear, day hikes, and one overnight with a loaded pack.

Who is this hoodie best for?

Sun hoodies are the ideal thru-hiking garment for any trail with significant sun exposure (deserts, burn scars, alpine traverses… I’m looking at you, PCT) where full-coverage sun protection is necessary. They’re lightweight, breathable, and provide significantly more coverage than a standard crew-neck or button-down long sleeve. The hood, paired with sunglasses and a baseball cap, provides nearly complete sun protection even in the most exposed conditions. Sun hoodies must be very lightweight and breathable to make sense as an active layer in hot conditions, of course.

The Ibex Indie merino wool sun hoodie would be a great choice for any hiker who prefers natural fibers to polyester and other synthetics. In addition to its excellent wicking performance, merino has several advantages over polyester, including next-to-skin feel and natural odor management. This hoodie also stands out from the crowd because of its quarter-zip neckline, which gives the wearer more control over ventilation.


ibex indie sun hoodie thumb holes

Thumb loops: Pretty standard for any sun hoodie worth its salt, thumb loops pull the sleeves down over the hands so that just the fingers are exposed to the sun.

Quarter-zip neckline: Less standard—this is actually the first sun hoodie I’ve ever tested that has a zip neck. The zipper can be pulled down when the sun isn’t blasting to introduce a little more airflow.

Anti-chafe: Seams are sewn flush with the rest of the shirt to minimize chafing. The shirt also features raglan sleeves, meaning they connect at the collar rather than the shoulder. This design improves mobility and also minimizes seams in the shoulder area where backpack straps could otherwise promote chafing.

100% merino wool: I may risk belaboring this point, but this shirt’s most distinctive feature is the material. Merino is soft, all-natural, naturally odor-inhibiting, flame retardant (if that is for some reason a concern for you), and, yes, surprisingly cool for summer wear.

MECool Finish: Ibex uses a proprietary steaming process to make the fabric feel cooler to the touch than regular merino wool. (I couldn’t feel the difference between this and any of my other merino clothes.)

UPF 50+: Universal protection factor is the most important characteristic of any sun hoodie. It’s a measure of how much UV a garment will transmit. A thin cotton shirt, for instance, has a UPF of around five, and you can still burn through the fabric if you’re out in the sun for a long time. The Indie hoodie is UPF 50, which is about as good as it gets. The rating indicates that the fabric transmits only 2% of UV.

Ibex Indie Sun Hoodie Pros

Zip neck provides additional ventilation: I keep the neck unzipped whenever possible (ie if the sun’s behind a cloud or I’m walking away from it) to get a little more airflow going on. It makes the shirt significantly cooler.

Hood stays in place: Even when the shirt is fully zipped and the hood is up, the scuba hood design is very comfortable. It isn’t tight around my throat and head the way some hoods are. The hood stays snug and doesn’t slip down, but there’s lots of room around the neck. Not only is it less constricting/dumb-looking than other hoodies, but it’s also a tad cooler as there’s more room for air circulation.

Yes, it actually does keep you cool—at least as much as any other sun hoodie: I wasn’t sure what to expect the first time I wore this shirt on a hike. In my opinion, any long-sleeve shirt is going to feel a little warm on the trail regardless of its moisture-wicking ability, and this sun hoodie is no exception. I’ve tried lots of different synthetic sun hoodies, though, and I wouldn’t say this one was any stuffier or hotter than the competition.

Did I sweat in it? Of course I did, I’m a sweat monster. But I could feel the breeze right through the fabric, which tells me it’s very breathable, and I never felt overheated when wearing it.

Long hemline doesn’t ride up: Nothing could be more atrocious than pulling on your heavy backpack only to realize your shirt has bunched up above the hipbelt. Nothing! This shirt does not do that. The hemline is long and the shirt stays smooth and orderly when I hoist my pack. I never have to worry about it riding up.

Ibex Indie Sun Hoodie Cons


Not pictured: gigantic, incredibly obvious pit stains.

Shows sweat: This shirt shows sweat stains like it’s its job. Seriously, they are so bad, like armpits-of-a-grey-cotton-shirt bad. As an extremely sweaty human being, this alone is almost bad enough to keep me from wearing the shirt altogether. I tested the burnt orange, aka “ginger bisquite,” color. It’s possible that one of the other six colorways would do a better job of hiding sweat.

No ponytail hole: The Indie lacks a hole in the back of the hood to feed your ponytail through. I would love to see this simple feature added, as having my hair trapped inside the hood makes things heat up fast. I have a shitload of hair, so it feels vaguely like wearing a fur-lined parka when I have the hood up.

Pro tip: With any sun hoodie, if you put your long hair in a bun on top of your head, it holds the hood up and away from your neck and improves airflow signficantly. It looks quite stupid, but that cool breeze is worth a small portion of your dignity.

Price: $170 for a shirt. Wow. A standard long-sleeve merino base layer (sans hood, zipper, thumb loops, etc.) typically costs around $80 – $100, which is already expensive but feels like a bargain compared to this. I like the shirt, but for me, the performance doesn’t justify the pricetag.

Overall Value

ibex indie sun hoodie


What have we learned? Despite my preconceived notions, merino wool is surprisingly a great option for hot summer hikes. I like the idea of wearing a natural fiber while hiking, and this garment breathes well enough to make that a reality. The quarter-zip neck is also a huge draw for me. Most hoodies don’t have this feature, and the additional ventilation the zipper provides makes this shirt more functional than the competition.

Realistically, the extent to which this shirt shows sweat will limit how often I wear it. Perhaps I’ll try a different color someday, but for the price, I’ll probably just stick with this shirt and limit its use to casual wear and moderate hikes.

Shop the Ibex Indie Merino Wool Sun Hoodie – Women’s

Shop the Ibex Indie Merino Wool Sun Hoodie – Women’s

Comparable Shirts

Outdoor Research Echo Sun Hoodie Men’s | Women’s

MSRP: $70
Materials: 100% recycled polyester
UPF: 15

Ridge Merino Solstice Hoodie Men’s | Women’s

MSRP: $80
87% merino wool, 13% nylon
UPF: 30+

Jolly Gear Triple Crown Button-Down Sun Hoodie

MSRP: $95
Materials: 86% polyester, 14% spandex
UPF: 50
Read our review of the Triple Crown Button-Down here.

The Ibex Indie sun hoodie was donated for purpose of review.

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