I have yet to find the perfect sun shirt so I was excited to receive the Solstrale Hoodie from Grundéns.
I had planned on testing this shirt on a week-long trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho to try and recapture the glory of my youth. Unfortunately, the river trip was cancelled due to low water and a friend with a bad back.
Instead, I took the shirt on a four day camping trip to McCall, Idaho in September. The weather for this trip was sunny with highs in the mid 80’s and lows in the 30’s.
While I didn’t get as much fishing in as I had wanted, I was able to put this shirt through its paces. I hiked, ran, cooked and slept in this shirt for four days and have a good understanding of how it works.
The Solstrale Hoodie is a comfortable, long-sleeved shirt with full coverage sun protection. While the shirt is comfortable, it is a bit on the heavy/hot side and is best used for shoulder season fishing trips where the temps don’t rise above about 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Full disclosure, Grundéns gave this shirt to me to try out and review. The links in this article are affiliate links which means if you click on one and end up buying something, Outdoor Empire may get a commission. However, this review reflects my own opinions based on actually wearing the hoodie. Nobody paid for my favorable opinion and this article is not sponsored.
The Solstrale boasts an UPF rating of 50 and a host of other features that we will talk about later on.
Comfort and Fit
The first thing that I noticed when I took the Solstale Hoodie out of the packaging was how heavy it was. For a sun shirt I was expecting something a little more light and breezy. I found it to be more like a heavy base layer than a wear all day in the hot sun shirt.
Sure enough, when I started to set up camp on the first day I began to sweat almost immediately.
The Solstrale was, however, very comfortable once the temps dropped into the 70’s.
The material felt good next to the skin and I had no trouble wearing the shirt for the full 4 days. There was no irritating seams or bunching of materials.
I’m not sure how best to describe it, but the shirt just hung well on my body.
I received a size large to try. I am 5’9” and a somewhat trim 170ish lbs and I always find myself trying to decide if I need a medium or large. Grundéns states that the fit is athletic which means that it is supposed to be more form fitting than baggy.
The large was baggy on me. I would imagine that I would need a medium to achieve the athletic fit that was advertised.
The sleeves were long, covering my hands. That would not have been a big deal if the sleeves had thumb holes, which they do not.
The end of the sleeves also felt slightly flared making it easy to push up over my elbows, but they would not stay there, forcing me to constantly push them up.
This problem would most likely have been fixed for me by wearing a medium.
My Take On the Features
According to the Grundéns website Solstrale is a Swedish word meaning “ray of sunlight.” Grundéns has managed to fit a whole suite of features into a simple sun shirt.
I will go over some of the features that I found useful. Grundéns has named some of these features “HeiQ technologies.” An exhaustive 2 minute search of their website did not reveal what this stands for. I can only assume that it is some proprietary system.
1. Excellent Sun Protection
The Skin Cancer Foundation explains, “Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) indicates how much UV radiation (both UVB and UVA) a fabric allows to reach your skin. For example, a UPF 50 fabric blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays and allows two percent (1/50th) to penetrate, thus reducing your exposure risk significantly.”
For reference, a basic cotton shirt has a UPF of 5, meaning that it will allow 1 out of 5 of the sun’s rays (about 20%) to hit your skin.
I have no reason to doubt Grundéns UPF 50 rating on this and I appreciate the UV protection.
2. Good Stink Suppression
I wore this shirt for 4 days straight, with no shower. During that time, I ran, hiked, fly fished, and hung out.
I also drove home alone in my truck while my wife and kids rode in another vehicle. I’m pretty sure that the two are not related?
With the HeiQ Fresh feature, this shirt did a great job of keeping the stink at bay and I was happy with how it smelled after 4 days. Not perfect, but much better than other shirts that I have worn.
3. Doesn’t Stain Easily
The shirt has one small stain on it. I am not easy on my gear and often misuse it on trips away from home. This goes for shirts as well.
The fact that this shirt only has one stain on it is a good indicator that whatever magic formula they use for the HeiQ Stain Away feature is working.
4. Doesn’t Have A/C
There are a lot of shirts that make some sort of temperature regulating claim and Grundéns calls out their HeiQ Smart Temp feature.
I don’t know if I buy into this, mostly I think that it is for marketing.
Overall, if the temp was over 80 degrees Fahrenheit this shirt was too hot. If it was below 40 degrees it was too cold.
This is about what I would expect, however, and in line with my experience with other clothing of this type.
The hoodie wicked moisture and sweat about as well as other sun shirts that I have worn.
5. Scuba Style Hood
The hood was comfortable and functional. There is an elastic band around the scuba style hood that I wasn’t sure of at first.
After a couple of days wearing it, however, I came to appreciate this feature. The elastic allowed me to pull the shirt over my nose.
The elastic would hold the shirt in place so that I could protect my nose, ears and neck from the sun without even having to wear the hood.
I was pleased that the hood was so comfortable and did a good job covering my head and face.
Why Wear a Sun Shirt Outdoors?
When I was younger, I worked as a river guide on the Middle Fork. In the hubris of youth, I prided myself in being able to spend all summer on the water without a shirt. I would start out a ghostly white, turn bright red, then slowly transition into a nice tan.
As I’ve grown older, I no longer get to spend all summer outside. Now, as more of a weekend warrior, with the occasional week-long trip thrown in as work and family will allow, the pattern is more burn on the weekends, peel during the week and repeat. No killer tan. Just disapproving looks from my wife.
I have also become more worried about things that my past, immortal self, didn’t worry about, like skin cancer.
I’ve tried sunscreen, but hate the greasy, almost suffocating feel. That leaves me with mechanical sun protection, like sun shirts and wide brimmed hats, to protect my sensitive skin.
Conclusion and Best Use
The Grundéns Solstrale Hoodie is a comfortable sun shirt. It blocks out the majority of the sun’s rays and covers what needs to be covered for a long day of outdoor activities in the sun.
I would recommend this shirt for fishing trips that happen in the spring and fall when temperatures don’t get above 80 degrees. For summer, I would prefer something with lighter material.
Next September I will be wearing this shirt as I once again float the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Water levels and my friend’s back rehab permitting.
Photo credit: Katie Marshall
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