Zpacks X Evolved Supply Co Mirage Sun Hoody Review

When you think of “Hiker Trash,” a strong mental image comes to mind. For me, I see a dirty sunshirt, a dirty trucker hat, a dirty 50L backpack, and a pair of sunburnt legs. On many long trails, especially those in the mountain west, the sun hoody has become an indispensable base of a hiker’s layering system. A 12-hour day of hiking with 14 hours of sun can get the best of anybody. A long-sleeve hooded top goes a long way to keep your skin away from the sun’s harmful rays.

The Mirage Sun Hoody is a slightly different spin on a classic garment. It was co-developed by the notorious Zpacks and the new-in-town Evolved Supply Co. While you may not have heard of the latter, it is backed by one of the thru-hiking world’s biggest YouTube stars, Darwin.

Zpacks X Evolved Supply Co Mirage Sun Hoody At-a-Glance

  • MSRP: $100
  • Material: 96% Merino Wool, 4% Spandex
  • Fabric Weight: 135gsm (4oz/square yard)
  • Total Weight: 8.8oz (size medium, my measurement)
  • Colors: Blue, olive, or light grey
  • Sizes: XS to XXL

Intended Use

This lightweight sun hoody is great for day and thru-hikers looking for sun protection, reduced BO, and natural fibers.

hiker in red sandstone desert wearing grey zpacks mirage hoody

Making miles in western Colorado. This was the first hot day of spring, but I felt comfortable in the Mirage.

Circumstance of Review

This shirt made its way into my closet in February, meaning it saw more cold weather use than warm. It served as a base layer for backcountry skiing, running, and hiking into the spring. It also saw some hot days in the desert up to 80°F.

Zpacks X Evolved Supply Co Mirage Sun Hoody Features

Lightweight Wool Fabric

The obvious curb appeal of this shirt is the merino wool material. Many people prefer natural fibers like wool over synthetics. They generally smell less, are nicer on skin, and in the case of wool, perform well when wet. Traditionally, wool is used for thicker, colder weather layers. At only 135gsm (grams per square meter), this sun hoody is about as light and breathable as wool can get.

Long Sleeves with Thumb Holes

The Mirage has longer-than-average sleeves and provides a thumb hole loop. This should provide a better level of protection to the wrist and back of hands, up to a certain point. Your fingers and upper part of the hand will still need sunscreen or another method of protection.

Quarter-Zip Design

For when the temps get too scorching or you’re cranking up a steep hill, a quarter-length chest zip helps get sweat out of your layers.

Well Designed Hood

Like many sun protective shirts, a hood is provided to cover the back of the neck, ears, and the side of your face. I generally wear sun hoodies with a wide baseball or trucker’s hat, which matches nicely with the shape of this hood.

READ NEXT – How To Pick the Perfect Sun Hoodie for Your Next Hike

hiker wearing gray zpacks mirage sun hoodie on snowy trail

Thankfully, someone had already flattened down this section after a spring dusting of wet snow.

Zpacks X Evolved Supply Co Mirage Sun Hoody Pros

Good Sun Protection

Between the extended sleeves, large hood, and UPF 40+ claimed rating, this garment provides some serious sun protection. In a lot of ways, warm winter days are a better test of a layer’s sun protectivity than the average summer days due to the amount of light bouncing off the white snow. My covered skin never burned while wearing this garment, even on snowy 12,000ft passes. Unfortunately my uncovered skin did incur a gnarly sunburn that same day, attesting to the difference the shirt made. It held up to spring desert hikes just as well too, where I was smart enough to use a hat and sunscreen to fill in the gaps.

Keeps the Stank to a Minimum

I was initially interested in this shirt due to the fact that wool is known to smell better than synthetics after extended use. This held true for the Mirage. I wore it for up to six days without so much as a rinse. It was not smell-free at the end, but noticeably less ripe than my seasoned Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily hoodies. I still felt confident wearing it to work after a wash, something I can’t say for the Capilenes.

Permanent stink is often earned over months and years, not weeks, but I’m confident the Mirage will keep me relatively fresh for as long as the material holds up.

My first run of the year. I was sweaty and tired, but the shirt didn’t give away any secrets.

Longer Sleeves than Most

The sleeves of this shirt were intentionally lengthened in order to get the thumb hole all the way up to the palm. While I believe this works for the majority of body types out there, it unfortunately still falls a little short for my spaghetti noodles that are sometimes called arms. I’m still overall happy, however, since it at the very least reaches my wrists (this is a rare occurrence for me outside of tall-specific sizes).

Light Enough for Summer Use

While wool probably isn’t on the short list of summer shirt materials for most people, it actually performs surprisingly well. At just 135gsm fabric weight (most wool garments start at 150 and quickly get to 200-250 for colder use), it’s comparable in many ways to traditional synthetic sun hoodies. I did find it slightly warmer overall, but I like that it doesn’t get as clingy when wet, and feels more consistent through light winds. On the scale, the entire garment rang in just about one ounce over my synthetic sun shirts.

Preshrunk Fabrics

Zpacks claims to have prewashed and shrunk their material before manufacturing. We have all heard stories of wool garments coming out of their first machine wash in childlike proportions. Thankfully, this process seemed to have worked.

While testing garments, I always machine-wash and dry them regularly as a simulation of on-trail usability. Thru hikers do not have the time or energy to hand-wash garments effectively, so even when not recommended by the manufacturer, things still end up in the machine at every town stop.

I did not notice any significant shrinkage in the ~10 washes I put this shirt through. If you are a weekend warrior or have a zero day, hand wash and line dry is still advised for longevity.

An EE Copperfield wind shirt layered over the Mirage. I found the relatively slim fit matched well with a variety of midlayers and shells.

Zpacks X Evolved Supply Co Mirage Sun Hoody Cons

Lack of Color Options

The Mirage is offered in just three colors: light gray (my selection), a classic Zpacks blue, and a military-esque olive green. I prefer sun shirts in as light of colors as possible to avoid solar heat gain. While none of the options are particularly dark, providing some options like baby blue, yellow, or white may be preferable to some.

Quality Control is Questionable

I have had a longtime blasé attitude about Zpacks for what I perceive to be delicate products with questionable quality control, despite their popularity and innovation. My unboxing experience of this garment served as a little confirmation bias. I found several large balls of untrimmed wool inside, as well as a handful of untrimmed threads. These small QC oversights ultimately caused no issue after correction but make me wary of how well they are being checked in the factory.

grey zpacks mirage sun hoody with yarn glob hanging from internal seam by long thread

A cluster of wool and thread from unboxing. I found a few large ones like this, and a handful of thread-only misses.

Fabric Pills at Contact Areas

After my first use of the Mirage there was already a noticeable amount of pilling everywhere my pack makes contact. With a conventional backpack, that is unfortunately going to be the entire back panel, shoulders, outside edges of the chest, and the lower stomach/hips. It’s not extremely noticeable on the slightly heathered gray I chose, but it also doesn’t stay as sharp as your average synthetic base. If appearance is a big concern for you, keep this in mind.

Hood is Best Worn with a Brimmed Hat

People using this shirt are most likely trying to maximize their sun protection, and are thus wearing a hat. On the occasions I wasn’t, I found it stayed a little farther back on my head and was more prone to slipping off than I would have liked. I suspect this was mostly due to a lack of friction between my hair and the smooth fabric that a hat helps mitigate.

Not as Cool as Some Options

Wait, didn’t I just say it’s light enough for summer use? Yes, it works in summer and is breathable and light enough for hot temps, but there are still lighter and breezier options out there. In particular, the evaporative cooling effect of a breeze on a hot day feels less noticeable than on some competing shirts. If the absolute coolest top is your main priority, you might find better options elsewhere.

Overall Value

The Mirage’s wool construction brings a new angle to the sun hoody market that many will appreciate. It provides good coverage while handling a wide range of temps and doesn’t skip any important features. At $99, its actually pretty cheap for a wool garment (but expensive compared to many synthetic sun hoodies).

Shop the Zpacks x Evolved Supply Co Mirage Sun Hoody

A Few Comparison Items

Ridge Merino Solstice Lightweight Hoody: $85. 87% Merino wool, 13% Nylon, 145gsm

Icebreaker 125 Cool-Lite™ Merino Blend Sphere Hoodie: $180. 60% Lyocell, 40% Merino Wool. 125gsm

KUIU ULTRA Merino 120 LT LS Hoodie. $109. 70% Merino, 30% Nylon. 120gsm

Duckworth Vapor Hoody: 38% Merino Wool, 50% Polyester, 12% Modal (beech wood pulp). 150gsm

The Zpacks X Evolved Supply Co Mirage Sun Hoody was donated for purpose of review

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Comments 2

  • Merino Wool Dude : May 10th

    40 UPF at 135 gsm, very questionable claim…

  • jon Zebill : May 10th

    I have the Duckworth hoodie and absolutely love it. It is also the only one that is 100% USA grown, knit, sewn . Read about their supply chain.


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