I’ve been a late convert to fancy synthetic top layers in the backcountry. Yes, I know “cotton kills,” which is why I’ve always had synthetic layers with me when on a multi-day trips or day trips in the snow. But for summer hiking, backpacking, fly fishing, or whatever I’m up to, I’ve usually worn a ragged cotton button-down or t-shirt unless weather dictated otherwise.
But now that I’ve discovered the Voormi River Run Hoodie, my favorite stained and weathered backpacking shirt has been relegated to the back of the closet.
The Voormi is a merino wool (60 percent) and polyester (40 percent) blend, and they’ve hit on a near-perfect ratio that makes this thing warm in the winter, but shockingly breathable in the summer, even in roasting temps. I’ve taken to wearing River Run on brutally sunny, hot days on the trail, something I usually don’t like to do, even in “performance merino wool” shirts. I recently clocked a few ten-mile days on hike/fishing loop in Shasta/Trinity National Forest that included lots of plodding uphill and light scrambling in 90-pus degrees, and I was never tempted, not even once, to break out a cotton tee.
The long sleeves and the wide, billowy hood keep the sun off bare arms, and the big hood—seriously, we’re talking Obi-Wan Kenobi’s hood here—kept my neck cool and not burned without slathering on the sunblock (it’s UPF 30). It’s also so, so light (about six ounces) it’s a perfect layer to stuff in a pack pocket somewhere to pull out when a little sun protection is wanted.
It’s a wonderful piece underneath chest waders while fly fishing too, if that’s your thing. If gets sopping wet, it dries out in mere moments.
I also wore this hoody as a standalone piece in cold-ish mornings (very low 40s) in the Grand Tetons and it was insulating enough to fend off the sunrise chill when worn over pants. Can’t wait to get this thing hot and bothered on some nordic ski hut trips later this winter. I can already tell it’ll work great.
A caveat: The first month or so I wore the River Run, I was less than pleased with a scratchy sensation against the skin. The wool, maybe? After a few washes though, the scratchiness went away and it’s now smooth as butter. So, push through the break-in, it only gets better.
But that’s about it when it comes to potential problems. It’s light but feels plenty strong, with only little evidence that I’ve worn it pretty much every single moment I’ve been outside the past few months, regardless of any bush-whacking or granite hopping I’ve done.
Also, it refuses to stink. Trust me, I’ve tried. And tried and tried and tried. I’ve only washed it because I know the foul things I’ve done in it. Not because it smelled like it needed a wash. I think this is a good thing.
Also, also, it’s the rare bit of technical garb that I’ll actually wear around town. I usually keep a strict separation between urban and outdoors clothes, but the Voormi is officially part of my wardrobe wherever I go.
Light, warm, breathable, adventure-ready, and just plain cool. It might be the perfect shirt.
$129 • BUY
More epic all-around adventure shirts
For about half the price, the Outdoor Research Echo Hooded Shirt gives lots of the benefits of the Voormi, in a lighter, tighter, more athletic-y package. $69
Full synthetic and UPF 50, the Patagonia Tropic Comfort II is also a great shirt to ward off summer rays. $59
Unbelievable stretch and plenty of sun protection, the Black Diamond Alpenglow Sun Hoody is awesome. $79