Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie Review
Compare to Similar Products
Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie
|Price||$44.97 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
$49.95 at REI
|$35.74 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$48.69 at REI||$23 List|
$22.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Lightweight and super breathable fabric, quick drying, small pack size and weight||Incredibly comfortably, stretchy fabric, top-notch hood with hidden cinch strap, reinforced thumb loops||Off-trail style, dobbyweave fabric wears well, ideal length, good overall sun protection||Simple and effective coverage, excellent stretchy and durable UPF 50+ fabric, comfy gusseted arms and raglan sleeves||Inexpensive, bombproof, great coverage and sun protection|
|Cons||Low UPF rated fabric, durability issues||Lack of pockets, no front zipper||Tight in the yoke, expensive, not as breathable as some competitors||No added odor control to polyester fabric, lack of pockets or zipper||Durability comes at the cost of breathability, heavier than other hooded sunshirts|
|Bottom Line||An exceptional sun hoody offering category-leading breathability that's perfect for everyday runs and bike rides, or thru-hiking across the country||An excellent hooded sunshirt with a great balance of sun protection, breathability, and features||Comfortable with a great balance of features and functionality, this shirt is great on and off-trail||This simple, lightweight sun shirt offers excellent sun protection thanks to its extra long sleeves, hood, and thumb holes||A great journeyman sun shirt, packing value that anyone can easily justify|
|Rating Categories||Outdoor Research Ec...||REI Co-op Sahara Sh...||Mountain Hardwear C...||Mountain Hardwear C...||Baleaf UPF 50 Hoody|
|Comfort and Fit (30%)|
|Sun Protection (25%)|
|Specs||Outdoor Research Ec...||REI Co-op Sahara Sh...||Mountain Hardwear C...||Mountain Hardwear C...||Baleaf UPF 50 Hoody|
|Sun Protection Level (UPF)||20||50||50||50+||50+|
|Coverage||Long sleeve, hood||Long sleeve, hood||Long sleeve, collar||Long sleeve, hood||Long sleeve, hood|
|Features||Flat-seam construction, thumb holes, reflective logo||Thumb loops, anit-microbial treated fabric||Roll-up sleeves, zip pockets||Thumb loop holes, gusseted underarms, moisture wicking||Large hood for added protection|
|Material||100% Recycled Polyester||92% Polyester, 8% Spandex||Polyester Dobby||88% Polyester, 12% Elastane||100% Polyester|
|Odor Control?||ActiveFresh||Antimicrobial treatment||No||No||No|
|Available SIzes||S - XXXL||S - XXXL||S - XXL||S - XXL||S - XXXL|
Our Analysis and Test Results
A sun shirt you won't swelter under when pushing your pace – could such a thing exist? It does in the form of the Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie. The magic is in the fabric: a lightweight, gridded polyester with almost magic moisture-wicking properties. To keep things simple and the weight low, the Echo eschews many extra accouterments you may find in other sun shirts: no front zip, pockets, or snaps. This makes the Echo lighter than any other shirt in our review. It impressed us with its lighting-quick dry times, amazing packability, overall comfort, and fabric construction that won't weigh you down.
Comfort and Fit
As with most hooded sun shirts, you'll find the OR Echo Hoodie designed with a generous cut that lays loosely against your body, allowing breezes to penetrate through the interior of the shirt itself. This air circulation helps keep you cool and dry while protecting you from direct exposure to the sun. The fabric is hydrophobic, air permeable, and runs cooler than any other shirt we've tested. This is by far the biggest attraction to the Echo Hoodie and what sets this shirt apart from any other shirt we've tested. Given the thin fabric weight, any breeze will help cool you off.
Sleeves are extra long and end with thumb loops to keep your hands covered and the sleeves from creeping up. The fabric is stretchy enough that rolling your sleeves up past your elbows is reasonable. The raglan-style sleeves allow for a generous degree of movement, and by moving the side seams out to the front, this cut avoids pinch points at your pits. The torso is long, although not extra long. This hoody has no drop seat, which is something to note if you bend over frequently or plan to wear this while riding a bike.
The extra large hood easily swallows up your head with room to spare, even while helmeted. The hood continues below the chin to fully engulf your face and protect your neck from sun exposure. There's no button or zip to keep the hood tightly in place, so if you're facing a stout headwind, you may have to fight with the hood to keep it on your head.
The thin, light, breathable fabric used in the Echo Hoodie sports only a UPF 20 rating – one of the lowest ratings of any shirt we've reviewed – allowing approximately 7% of the total UV radiation to come through the fabric and reach your skin. This is over three times more UV than what we observed the most protective UPF 50+ shirts allowed through but is still far better than what you observe from a common cotton t-shirt (UPF 5, or 20% UV transmission).
Different Colors Have Different UPF Ratings
It is important to note that, according to the specs provided by the manufacturer, that the UPF rating varies for the Echo Hoodie based on colorway. While most colors – including the "Regal" colorway we tested – carry a UPF 20 rating, the light grey "Pebble" colorway only claims a UPF 15 rating.
We confirmed the manufacturer's stated UPF rating using a simple photochromic UV intensity test card, exposing the shirt to the noontime sun with the card underneath for approximately one minute. We then quickly removed the card to record the results of the UV-sensitive dye on the card itself, capturing the results using a slow-motion video camera. Results on the card confirmed better protection than the cotton t-shirt we used as a control but relatively the worst protection compared to other shirts in our lineup.
The UPF 20 protection is a big compromise for this shirt. You may not want to treat the OR Echo Hoodie as the ultimate tool in sun protection, and perhaps not your only tool to help cover up from the sun. The built-in helmet-compatible hood, extra long sleeves, extra long torso, and thumb loops work well to cover much of your upper body up. But it might not be a bad idea to wear a hat, sun gloves, an undershirt, and sunscreen on the sunniest days or if you have particularly fair skin.
But what you get from this compromise is ultimate comfort and breathability when outside temperatures and exertion levels would make you uncomfortably hot in a heavier top. When you're trudging up a mountain pass with a full pack on a cloudless, windless summer day in the Sierra, this may be one of the only sun-protective shirts you would actually want to wear. On the flip side, if you're standing in a reflective lake fishing on that same kind of day, you may feel too exposed by the Echo's svelte fabric.
If sun shirts were royalty, the Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie would reign as the absolute "Prince of Breathability". The lightweight fabric is easily one of the most breathable materials we've tested in this category. Although this shirt does not have a front zip to help dump excess heat, it also doesn't need one. The loose cut of the shirt facilitates air to circulate throughout the shirt, helping you stay cool in the sun as the temperatures rise.
Air Permeability, or how easy it is for air to pass through the fabric, is closely related to the subjective feeling of "breathability". We test air permeability using a peak flow meter, which measures the maximum force of air blown into it. We simply put the fabric we want to test between the source of this air (our mouths) and the device itself. Testing results of the Echo prove that a substantial amount of air can flow through the fabric compared to other shirts we tested.
Passive evaporation can give us another objective clue of how well a fabric might allow you to sweat through it comfortably. The Echo Hoodie performed best of class in our line-dry test, drying out much faster than any other shirt we've tested. This is partly because the fabric is so light and thin: this fabric absorbed far less water than the average sun shirt in our review, so there simply was less moisture to evaporate.
The impressive line dry results are thanks to the OR Echo's hydrophobic, moisture-wicking, proprietary Airvent grid fabric. Moisture is pulled from the skin to the fabric's surface via capillary action, allowing it to evaporate easily rather than staying trapped between your skin and the fabric like a conventional hydrophilic fabric (e.g., cotton).
Versatility is a bit subjective based on when and how you plan to wear this layer. But when we imagine all scenarios where we can use the Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie, they all involve wearing this shirt all day in the sun. The Echo would make an excellent everyday top for a long-distance thru-hike on a trail like the PCT or CDT. Also, consider it for a warm-weather base layer, where the hydrophobic breathability properties can be utilized to keep you feeling comfortable under a mid and outer layer. Because of the same excellent breathability properties, it's one of the few sun shirts we consider a realistic warm-weather, trail-running top. The Echo is also perfect as a just-in-case extra layer to always pack along, given its ultralight weight and super pack-ability.
A lack of pockets might not make this the greatest of travel shirts since there's nowhere to put essentials while on the go. It may also be less than perfect as a fishing shirt, as the fabric is just not up to the task of blocking the excessive UV rays fisherpeople experience while on the water. You probably won't get a double-take wearing this from the trail to lunch or for an aprés pint, but it's too technical to wear anywhere except the most casual of workplaces.
Stitch quality and seam strength are excellent on the OR Echo Hoodie. Flatlock seams are used for most of the stitching, which we like to see. It's an extremely strong way to join two pieces of fabric, and the seams lay flat against the skin. But the ability for the fabric to resist tearing was far less compared to other sun shirts tested. The Echo's fabric has stretch, and stretchy fabric can help avoid tears from snagging against obstacles like tree branches. Still, our take-no-prisoners abrasion test pitted it against rough sandstone, which tore right through it. Long-term durability should also be a concern as the thin material has been historically known to start pilling.
This does give us insight into what scenarios may not be appropriate for this top. Trips where coming into contact with rough surfaces is the norm – canyoneering, off-width rock climbing, extended off-trail bushwhacking, wrestling with alligators – are areas where you should probably utilize a different sun shirt.
Should You Buy the Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie?
If you naturally work up a sweat while enjoying yourself outdoors but need a bit more sun protection than your current kit gives you, the Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie will perfectly meet your needs. The thin, moisture-wicking fabric is excellent, and the hood and thumb loops help keep you covered. If you require absolute sun protection, the Echo Hoodie isn't it, and you'd be much better served by a different, heavier, better UPF-rated sun shirt found in our reviews.
What Other Sun Shirts Should You Consider?
The Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoody is the most analogous hooded sun shirt we've tested. From a comfort standpoint, you may prefer its heathered Capilene fabric over the Echo's gridded fabric. The KUHL Engineered Hoody also takes similar design decisions by using lower UPF-rated fabrics in a tradeoff for increased breathability. If you'd rather trade a bit of breathability for increased sun protection, then the Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoody and Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Hoody are excellent options.
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More