Jolly Gear Triple Crown Button Down Sun Hoodie Review

Surely we can agree that a thru-hike has always been a chance to fly your freakiest flags. You’ve got your ever-more-swashbuckling Hawaiian shirts, your highlighter hot pink crocs, and your scandalously high cut-off Wrangler hot pants. There are so many awesome ways to buck conventional social trends (even if those bucked trends themselves become trends) on trail, and that hiker trash vogue has always been one of my most cherished and beloved little idiosyncrasies of thru-hiking.

But at what price did all of our favorite fashions come? Reduced flexibility? Hot, cotton fabrics? Extra weight in our packs? It’s like what Kim Kardashian has always said: “beauty requires sacrifice,” right? Well, let me tell y’all: that time may officially be no more.

Say hello to the Triple Crown Button Down Sun Hoodie from Jolly Gear. This groundbreaking garment has ventured so far outside traditional form-meets-fashion clothing that it may as well be reinventing the whole wheelhouse. It’s lightweight, it’s breathable, it’s very sun-resistant, but most of all: it’s completely ridiculous.

jolly gear triple crown button down

Don’t stay thirsty in the desert, my friends (credit @tylerpriest)

Jolly Gear Triple Crown Button Down Sun Hoodie At-a-Glance

MSRP:  $95
Type:  Lightweight sun hoodie
Material:  84% polyester/16% spandex ( compare to Backcountry Tahoe’s: 78% nylon, 14% spandex, 8% polyester)
UPF Rating:  50
Weight:  8.5 ounces (men’s medium)

That UPF 50 comes in clutch in mid-day desert sun (credit @tylerpriest)

Intended Use

I’d say that the intended use is pretty much right there in the name. The Triple Crown Sun Hoodie is definitely designed for thru-hikes. It’s lighter and gaudier (the topo design is also available for the more aesthetically conservative types), yet it also comes with a few functions that are built to last longer. It thrives in the desert, or anywhere else you’d need extra sun protection. So the PCT, CDT, AZT, CT, FT, and any other sunny adventures you’ve got planned are perfect.

Circumstances of Review

It’s like we finish each others’ sandwiches. (credit @jamesgoesplaces).

I took this bad boy for its first spin on a couple multi-day trips in the Chihuahuan desert of far west Texas. It was nothing but full sun the entire time, as well as a bit of bushwhacking to unintentionally test the durability of the material.

After that, I took it on a thru-hike of the Arizona Trail to really put that longevity to the test. Overall it’s got about 1,000 miles on it.

Triple Crown Button Down Sun Hoodie Features

Hood: A modern take on a classic: the hood for the Triple Crown is a bit larger than other sun hoodies I’ve worn. This makes it more ventilated but also gives it the potential to be blown around more. This is compensated for by elastic straps that let you adjust the tightness. Although I personally think that these need to be reworked, as it’s never long before they’ve loosened again and require readjustment.

jolly gear triple crown button down hood

Hood with straps in question.

Sun Protection:  UPF 50 means that this sun hoodie will effectively block pretty much all UV rays that you’re exposed to. It’s a bit higher than most other sun hoodies, and I think that the difference between UPF 30 and 50 can be pretty evident at places with high elevations like the Sierra, Arizona’s sky islands, Colorado, and northern New Mexico.

Reinforced Thumb Loops:  Reinforced for longevity, a lot of folks say this is what makes or breaks a sun hoodie. Personally I’m sort of ambivalent, but it’s undeniable that these thumb loops will outlast us all.

Lightweight, Stretchy Fabric: A 16% spandex blend means that this sun hoodie is very stretchy and loose-fitting. One might almost say that the sleeves are…billow-y…when the wind is blowing. It’s certainly not form-fitting, which means good ventilation. And these fabrics don’t run the risk of shrinking or loosening much over time, but it ALMOST feels like overkill.

Button Down: This is where the Triple Crown beats out all the others in terms of versatility. Now I can finally show off all my chest hair. Plus I can make that plunging neck tan a little more gradual and a little less Neopolitan. Ultimately though it’s just nice to have that as another ventilation option. Although some may argue that it’s superfluous, I think that the added weight is so negligible that it’s a moot point.

Two Breast Pocket Zippers: I didn’t really find much use for these, but they’re probably good for holding some money, valuables, or small snacks. They also provide a bit of extra ventilation when they’re unzipped.

The thumb loops on the Size S are pretty snug when the arm is fully extended, but you can still see how loose the fit is on the rest of the arm.

The Only Shirt You Really Need

When I thru-hiked the PCT last year, I carried two shirts: one for the trail, one for towns. Pretty straightforward, but no longer necessary. The Triple Crown Button Down renders the need for two different shirts obsolete by functioning as both at the same time. As long as you’ve got something you can wear while this thing gets washed, then it’s good for every possible situation that can arise on a hike. Including shutting down karaoke night at the bar in Kennedy Meadows with the Pina Colada Song.
With the hood and long sleeves, I find it to be a suitable replacement for a mid-layer on colder days/nights in the desert. But with the ability to roll the sleeves and unbutton the chest, it succeeds in keeping you cool too. You also don’t need to wear hardly any sunscreen, except for maybe your nose, and so the environment and all of those alpine lakes are also thanking you for your service.

Comfort

Despite the ridiculousness of the collar on this shirt, I don’t find any of it to be intrusive. Ultimately, it’s a fairly loose-fitting shirt, which gives you better circulation and ventilation, which is great for the desert. Although I personally find some of the loose fit to be a bit on the excessive side at times.

It also dries incredibly fast, which can be really useful when you get to camp or want to take a break.

Fit and Sizing

At least for the men’s version, the shirt itself runs a bit large, so if you’re on the precipice of two different sizes, I’d recommend following the site’s suggestion and go with the smaller. I’m not a particularly big dude (5’11”, 150lb) and the hem on the size small runs down past my fingertips. That said, I like the looser fit for warm weather because it allows air to circulate more, and besides that, the rest of the shirt fits fairly well.  The torso and sleeves are cut right, as my hands fit in the thumbholes of the small size correctly. Conversely though, I think that the hood could be a bit bigger, as it barely fits over my head when I’m wearing a hat, and doesn’t provide much sun protection if the sun is shining in from the side.

The thumbholes felt just a tad too short for the size S on me. But it still worked out fine.

Washing

This shirt has been through about twenty cycles now and is still holding up great. No rips in the fabric, no shrinkage, and that hiker stench is gone each time it gets washed. At least for a while. There’s a small bit of pilling on the polyester, especially where the backpack straps have rubbed against it, but I think that’s unavoidable.

Triple Crown Button Down Pros

Thumb Loops: Although they’ve quickly become a standard on sun hoodies, the fact that the thumb loops are reinforced on the Triple Crown Button Down gives them an edge over the others.

Versatility: It kept me cool out in the sun, and it kept me warm inside my sleeping bag. I’m all about the buttons here, and I think that this shirt probably offers more versatility than any other one out there right now. It definitely gives it a leg up over all of the competition.

Durability: After putting 1,000 miles on this one, I can definitely see it lasting for an entire thru-hike as long as you take good care of it. That would be a huge upgrade to my former sun hoodies, which usually didn’t make it more than 1,000-1,500 miles before disintegrating.

jolly gear triple crown button down

A low-res but high-class demonstration of the full versatility of the button down. (credit @travelsandtrails)

Triple Crown Button Down Cons

Hood: The cinch straps on the hood are currently the biggest drawback for me. As it stands, the hood performs great when it’s not too windy, but it performs poorly if it’s very windy and the elastic cinch straps are rendered fairly useless since there’s no way to keep them cinched in place. This is a known issue that will hopefully be updated in the future though (as per Jolly: “I wanted to avoid hardware on the cinch so it couldn’t break during the length of a thru hike because it will be worn every day unlike a jacket that’s usually worn at camp”).

Availability: Demand for these bad boys is naturally pretty high, and rightfully so. And since the whole operation is essentially just one dude working out of his garage, most shirts are getting snatched up pretty quick.

I took the cord lock off my old stove’s stuff sack and put on the cinch strap for the hood and it held out for the whole hike. (credit @jamesgoesplaces)

Overall Value

This definitely feels like a “buy once, cry once” type of situation to me. The Triple Crown Button Down clocks in near the top in terms of price point, since most sun hoodies tend to run between $50-$75 and this one is currently retailing at $95 on the website. That being said, I think that you really do get what you pay for here. There is a ton of craftsmanship that has gone into this shirt and it shows. Future models will only improve on the already excellent design; and if it’s true that Melanzanas are the unofficial uniform of Colorado, I won’t be surprised to see this become the new unofficial uniform of America’s long trails.

Shop the Triple Crown Button Down Sun Hoodie

Comparable Shirts

Backcountry Tahoe 22 Sun Hoodie (Men’s | Women’s)

  • MSRP: $69
  • Materials: 88% polyester, 12% spandex, DWR finish
  • UPF: 50+

Town Shirt Sun Shirt (Unisex)

  • MSRP: $85
  • Materials: 88% polyester, 12% spandex, Dri Fit
  • UPF: 50+

Columbia PFG Tamiami II Shirt (Men’s | Women’s)

  • MSRP: $50
  • Materials: 100% polyester
  • UPF: 40

The Jolly Gear Triple Crown Button Down Sun Hoodie was donated for purpose of review.

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