I doubt the product engineers at KUIU had me, a sweaty 6-foot-4, 275-pound squirrel hunter in mind when they started designing the Gila LS Hoodie. The Gila line, which also includes a neck gaiter and long sleeve crew neck shirt, is designed to keep hunters cool in the heat of hunting big game elk, pronghorn, sheep, whitetail, etc. But I have been using it to hunt squirrels on muggy August mornings and afternoons this summer. It’s one of the best warm weather pieces I’ve ever worn thanks to the fit of the hoodie as well as its ability to wick sweat away from my big body.
How can a long-sleeved shirt keep you cool?
I had this same question before trying out the Gila Hoodie ($69), which comes in three camo patterns and three solids. I’ve worn many of those long sleeve fishing shirts from various manufacturers, and none of the ones I’ve tried were worth it because they just didn’t help keep me cool. They were fine for keeping the sun off my back, but that was about it. The Gila Hoodie has excelled where those other t-shirts failed. It is made with a cool touch fabric (92% polyester, 8% elastane fabric). As soon as you put it on, you automatically feel cooler. It’s not the kind of feeling you’d walk into the air conditioner on a 100 degree day, but you’ll definitely notice a difference in temperature.
Now, if you’re hiking on a scorching day, the Gila Hoodie won’t keep you from sweating (although I’m sure if you’re in better shape than I am, it will certainly slow down perspiration). But you will sweat less overall. At home squirrel hunts in Illinois and recently in Kentucky, temperatures climbed into the mid-90s and I was sweating 30 minutes into the hunt. But what’s literally cool about the Gila hoodie is that the more you sweat, the cooler you feel. More breathability actually makes you feel comfortable when the heat index hits 100. Just remember to keep hydrating even if you don’t feel as hot.
I usually just wear a t-shirt early in the season to hunt, but it gets soaked with sweat quickly and gets heavy as it absorbs more perspiration. In fact, I can wipe the sweat off my shirt (yes, I know it’s gross) after a hunt. With the Gila Hoodie, the fabric doesn’t absorb a lot of sweat. It’s definitely there, but it’s capable of absorbing more than any fabric I’ve ever used.
Read next: The most effective rain gear for mountain hunters costs less than $200
Gila hoodie offers comfort and protection
One of my biggest complaints regarding sportswear is the fit. Companies like Sitka, First Lite, and KUIU are essentially taking what mountaineering brands have done for quite some time and bringing it to hunters…and they do a pretty good job of it. But many times the result is an athletic cut garment that makes sense for guys who are obsessed with MTN OPS and getting in “moose shape,” but not necessarily for people like me who eat buffet style most nights.
That’s not the case with the Gila hoodie. It’s lightweight at just 6.7 ounces and loose-fitting until wet (but all shirts will stick to you if you’re active in hot weather). So you don’t lose any points there. The Gila also stretches out with you in key areas. I’m very broad-shouldered and if a top doesn’t fit me, it’s most likely on my arms and chest. The hoodie fit perfectly in that area, and it’s not restrictive when I’m aiming my shotgun at a squirrel running up a tree or when I’m trying to rest as best I can at the base of a walnut tree with a . 22 LR in my hands.
KUIU also outfitted the Gila Hoodie with a UPF 50+ solar rating, simply by knitting the fabric tighter (which you’d think might cause a more uncomfortable fit, but it doesn’t). The hoodie is also great for when mosquitoes bite because it completely covers the arms. I sprayed my sweatshirt with insect and tick repellant and haven’t had any insects on me except on my exposed hands. It’s also nice to be able to put the hood up and keep bugs off your neck and face (it’s a deep hood, so it will cover some of your cheeks and forehead) if you’re sitting in a tree during spring deer or bear season. And surprisingly, the Gila hoodie doesn’t smell like sweat the next day if you don’t wash it. There have been many times where I have completely soaked the hoodie and put it on the next morning. As long as I left it on a drying rack overnight, it would never smell like a high school locker room.
The hoodie has become my favorite outerwear for summer hunts, and I plan on wearing it during dove and teal season in September, as well as on some early duck hunts when the regular season rolls around in October.