Patagonia Tropic Comfort II Hoody Review
Cons: Comfort at the cost of durability
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We found the Tropic Comfort II as comfortable as a relaxed-fitting sun shirt can get due to the choice of lightweight, comfortable and breathable materials. Sun protection is also stellar, and the small little features and details make sure the shirt continues to cover the places that need it most, without wandering around. Not as durable as other workhorse shirts, we still found this layer highly versatile, giving it high marks for value.
Comfort and Fit
The Tropic Comfort II is true to its namesake, attributed to its relaxed fit and its use of Patagonia's particularly soft, 100% polyester, jersey material used throughout. The low profile stitching is unnoticeable when worn. This sun shirt feels less like a technical piece of gear, and more like a comfy winter sweatshirt magically transformed to become appropriate for summer duties. This is the shirt that your significant other is going to steal from you, again and again.
The hood is of generous size and will accommodate covering up your neck, back of your head, and can even drape down to your forehead. For those wearing a helmet, the hood is large enough to be worn over it, and the button located at the front of the neck will both help protect your neck from the sun, as well as keep the hood from flying off in a strong breeze. The button is well-placed and doesn't constrict the neck in any way.
Thumb loops allow you to keep the sleeves rolled up and your hands protected. Without the thumb loops, the sleeves are longer than a usual shirt, easily reaching to the knuckles, and beyond. The fabric has quite a bit of stretch due to its weave, but there's no elastic material embedded in the main fabric to worry about wearing out.
The hood, sleeve openings, and thumb loops are reinforced with a lining of even stretchier material. This helps the Tropic Comfort stay in place in key locations while allowing the rest of the hoody to move freely when on the go. This liner also helps with the durability of this shirt, as the light, comfy fabric is covered and protected from abrasion.
Despite the wonderful fact that the fabric of the Tropic Comfort is light and airy, it's 50 UPF rating is top-notch. Pair that with just how much area this hooded sun shirt actually covers without needing accessories such as a neck gaiter, hat, or sun gloves, and we're more than impressed. A relaxed fit helps with moving air throughout the body underneath the shirt, helping to keep you cool. A cool and comfortable shirt is important, as that means you'll actually wear the shirt, rather than not.
Sleeves and seam length are as generous as the width of the shirt, facilitating covering up the body no matter if you're reaching up to grab a fly off your pole, or bending down to net a cutthroat.
What really stands the Tropic Comfort apart from even other hooded sun shirts released by Patagonia are the little details: thumb loops and a simple button around the neck help with overall coverage. These accessories are minimal, however, and likely won't snag on brush on a bushwhack to a secret fishing hole. They're also totally optional if you find them less than ideal for most of the use you get out of the shirt, but we definitely can't live without them.
Like many sun shirts we've reviewed, the Tropic Comfort doesn't sport an athletic fit and is a little looser fitting than other shirts in our test. This looseness helps with airflow throughout. Coupled this with the soft, smooth 100% polyester fabric, and you've got a great combination of both breathability and comfort.
The worst feeling when wearing a sun protection shirt is feeling baked inside, and having to choose between relieving such discomfort by taking the shirt off, or just suffering through the trip; knowing that at least you won't get burned. With the Tropic Comfort II, you can do fairly intense activities, before it's time to dump some hot air out. Since the fabric is thinner than some of the other sun shirts we've tested, perspiration that does collect won't bog you down, evaporating quickly instead.
For a shirt this good looking, comfortable, and usable, you may as well get two of them at once and put them on heavy rotation — your significant other is going to steal their favorite anyways, so pick two colors.
The Tropic Comfort II is comfy enough to dream away in your sleeping bag, durable enough to take on a thru-hike in, take a siesta on the beach, hike up to the rocky point to watch the sunset, then down to join the beach BBQ. A good hang out at home piece, throw it on to pedal your cruiser bike to meet for drinks with friends, or even use it for what it's meant to be used for: fishin' - without looking too buttoned-up-stuffy. The only place we wouldn't wear this is in a non-casual workplace. But, if your startup also sports bean bag chairs, a mini pinball parlor, and a mess of indoor hammocks, you'll fit right in wearing the Tropic Comfort during Wednesday's catered lunch.
The only irksome thing to point out is the enormous Patagonia fish logo on the back of some of the colorways. This could be attractive to some — it's a good logo! — but it may prove a distraction to others who don't want to be mistaken as being part of the deep sea fishing world tour pro team. The hood will drape down, obscuring some, but not all of the logo. A small logo is also located on the front left chest that we find much more tasteful.
The type of comfort and breathability (and style!) that the Tropic Comfort possess does come at the cost of general durability. The snuggly fabric isn't as bombproof as some of the other shirts we've tested. If you often abuse your gear, this wear and tear will show itself on the Tropic initially through small holes and tears in the main material in high use places — usually near the bottom of the shirt, or wherever your hands tend to rest.
That said, this is the only sun shirt we've tested that has both soft, thin material, as well as material around the sleeve openings, thumb loops, and around the entire hood to help reinforce susceptible areas. Stitching throughout the garment is low profile in style, and as strong as one can make it. This shirt won't unravel on itself, that's for sure.
The Tropic is minimal on features but isn't as minimal as some of its sun hood brethren. You won't find any pockets on this shirt, but that also means there are fewer seams to break and accessories to snag. What you will find is super light and comfortable 100% polyester fabric with a UPF 50 rating — about as high as the rating goes. The fabric is treated with Patagonia's HeiQ Fresh durable odor control to keep funk at bay between washings.
As we've talked about, this fabric isn't bombproof, but key areas are reinforced with a stretchy lining that helps protect the shirt and your investment from wear and tear, as well as help the loose fit look a little sharper. Thumb loops are present and function well — once you get addicted to using them, you'll wonder why every shirt doesn't utilize them! The simple button on the front of the neck helps keep the hood around your neck, as well as the hood itself from flying off when you're bombing down that steep hill to the beach.
There are less expensive sun shirts out there, and if you're only looking for a sun shirt for work-related activities, or are going to be mistreating your shirt constantly, look elsewhere. If you find value in a functional piece of wearable gear that also looks stylish, however, then the Tropic Comfort is your catch. Patagonia itself has even more minimal sun shirts available that still feature a similar uber-comfy fabric if you would like to save a few dollars. For us, the additional features of the Tropic Comfort do really clutch the sale for us — we couldn't imagine a shirt now without them.
The Patagonia Tropic Comfort II, our Top Pick for a Sun Hoody, is where fashion, function, and versatility meet up and have a beach party. Although not as durable as some other options, it breathes and keeps you cooler far better. The price is a little higher than other options, but the added features are perfectly chosen to enhance the experience of wearing this fab hoody rather than getting in the way.
— Justin Simoni