Designed to provide moisture management and protection from the sun, the Solen Hoodie from Helly Hansen is a minimalist, lightweight base or outer layer with built in UPF 50+ protection.
The solen hoodie is very simple in design. It is basically a single layer long sleeve shirt with a hood, and not much else. There are no pockets, loops or unnecessary features, instead putting their effort and thought into the cut and material choice. Lifa is a lightweight synthetic based on a combination of polyester and polypropylene, more or less fused into a single layer. The outside texture is tougher with a more airy surface to aid in breathability and evaporation. The inner layer has a softer texture, piles for a more absorbent texture. This is made to move moisture away from the skin to towards the outer layer for quicker drying. The minimalism in design results in a lightweight, unobtrusive garment that suits a very specific use, providing comfort and protection on hot summer days in the lightest package possible.
Lifa also naturally provides substantial protection from the sun, without requiring any additional treatment or layers. This means the protection will not fade or wash out over time, and will continue to provide a meaningful barrier from the sun indefinitely, as long as the material still holds together.
I’ve been using the Solen hoodie for hiking in the sun, biking on long exposed gravel trails, and even paddling on the lake where the sun tends to be especially harsh as it is not only coming down from above, but reflecting back up off the water’s surface. In all situations, it has performed very well. The UPF 50+ rating has proved solid, providing enough protection to be exposed continuously to the sun for 5 or more hours without the need to apply any sun block or additional layers, which is always my preference. On longer days I did eventually start feeling the sun pierce though, and in these situations an additional supplement of some sort should still be applied, be that a sunblock or additional layer. Even in the heat, under 80 degrees, it has kept me cool and dry despite my perspiration during high exertion activities. The occasional drizzle or splash also dries very quickly, usually in a matter of minutes when the sun is out, and the minuscule weight of the garment has never slowed me down.
The materials are soft, comfortable, and the inherent stretch to the fibers provides a completely unrestricted range of motion, making it great for active scenarios and even working out. It is even odor resistant, making it a smart choice for multi-day backpacking.
So far, my only complaint is that the material “picks” fairly easily, with threads getting hung up on things and being pulled out, inside and out. I’m not really sure where these picks have some from, perhaps branches as I have went off trail a few times in the shirt, but having picks show up in the underside was a little baffling.
Aside from the picking issue, The Solen has performed admirably. It is very comfortable, doesn’t get too hot in the heat, and protects my skin without requiring oily SPF lotions as a supplement. Given that, it has become one of my favorite pieces of kit at the moment and I rarely head outside without it. I do wish the fabric wouldn’t pick so easily, but given the weight and amount of protection it provides, I’ll tolerate it. I definitely recommend checking it out. At the time of writing, it is going for under 60 bucks, so it is a fair deal too. It can be found here.
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