The Best Sun Protective Clothing of 2021

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Our Top Picks
"The layering piece can be worn over a swimsuit in and out of the water and works to seal in warmth and wick away moisture."
"Made from a blend of polyester and spandex, it doesn't trap heat and delivers quick-drying properties to keep you dry and cozy."
Best Running Shorts for Women:
Athleta Printed Mesh Racer Run Short at Gap.com
"Designed with runners and athleisure enthusiasts in mind, it's complete with a built-in inner brief and hidden reflective details."
Best Running Shorts for Men:
Salomon Agile 2-in-1 Running Short at Amazon
"It provides coverage, compression, and chafe protection for runners and athletes alike thanks to its liner and lightweight fabric."
"Featuring UPF 50 sun protection, this one-piece promises to hold up to any sand, sun, chlorine, and sunscreen thrown its way."
"Its fabric blocks at least 97.5% of the sun's rays while delivering a water-repellent finish so you can get drier quicker."
"Designed to offer support through intense workouts, its support panel contours to your body without restricting motion."
"This packable running hat features UPF 50+ protection with dark fabric underneath the brim to help shield your eyes from glare."
Best Hat for Hiking and Walking:
Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat at Amazon
"It boasts a down sloping brim with a protective neck cape for full coverage sun protection on beach or pool days."
"Doubling as a swim top, it's designed for maximum breathability and range of motion during athletic endeavors."

While many of us start our day with a layer of sunscreen on our face, we sometimes forget that the sun’s rays still pass through our clothes. Wearing sun protective clothing is a simple and effective way to protect the rest of your body from sun damage. Sun protective clothing is complementary to your current sun safety practices—like sunscreen, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, UV-filtering sunglasses, and staying in the shade whenever possible. 

Ultraviolet protection factor (or UPF) clothing is like sunscreen that’s built into your clothes. Made with specially-treated fabrics and tight weaves, UPF clothing helps prevent the penetration of UV radiation through your clothes and to your skin. Ranging from UPF 15 to 50+, the higher the number, the better the protection. 

Here is the best sun protective clothing on the market, whatever the garment you're shopping for.

Best Women's Rash Guard: Lands' End Women's Crew Neck Rash Guard UPF 50

Pros
  • UPF 50

  • Offered in tall and petite sizes

  • Can be worn in and out of the water

  • Great for layering

  • Quick-drying

Cons
  • Hand wash

  • Needs to be rinsed out with mild detergent after swimming in chlorine to prevent fading

Get a boost of confidence with an extra layer of protection. The Lands' End Women's Crew Neck Long Sleeve Rash Guard is a lightweight, soft, and stretchy shirt that provides modest coverage with UPF 50 sun protection.

For beach and pool days, this long sleeve rash guard is meant to be worn over a swimsuit—both in and out of the water. It’s also the ideal layering piece on land. It makes for a sleek base layer during the cooler months, sealing in warmth and delivering a smooth physique.

Backed by the Skin Cancer Foundation under its Seal of Recommendation, this crewneck rash guard keeps you comfortable on land and in water. Made from nylon and LYCRA, it’s super moisture-wicking and the ideal weight—not too thick or thin.

The Lands' End Women's Crew Neck Long Sleeve Rash Guard is offered in Black, Deep Sea Navy, Pineapple Bliss, Classic Cobalt, and White in women's sizes 2 through 18, including petite and tall.

Pro tip: Choose to add your monogram at checkout.

Best Men’s Rash Guard: O'Neill Men's Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard

Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • Great insulator

  • Durable, holds up well

  • Prevents chafing

  • Keeps you light—doesn't add drag

Cons
  • Tight fit

For surf, sand, and sun, the O'Neill Men's Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard delivers a tightly-sealed, second-skin fit that won’t weigh you down or add drag. This long sleeve rash guard features UPF 50+ sun protection and is touted by The Skin Cancer Foundation under its Seal of Recommendation.

Made from a blend of polyester and spandex, this long sleeve shirt doesn't trap heat and delivers quick-drying properties to keep you dry and comfortable after reaching land. Equipped with four-way stretch, the O'Neill Men's Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard comfortably moves with you for restriction-free wear. It's intended to be worn alone or under a wetsuit for chafe protection during water sports. 

This body-hugging rash guard features the iconic O'Neill logo in varying colors in men's sizes small through 4XL. The rash guard also comes in a tall option.

Best Running Shorts for Women: Athleta Printed Mesh Racer Run Short

Athleta Printed Mesh Racer Run Short
Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • Not overly short—4-inch inseam

  • Breathable, lightweight material

  • Unique print options

  • Flattering fit and cut

  • Offered in a wide range of sizes

Cons
  • Some prefer not having a built-in brief

Athleta's Printed Mesh Racer Run Short 4" is a fashionable running short that's not too short—with a 4-inch inseam—and is designed with runners and casual athleisure enthusiasts in mind. This gorgeous pair of shorts is made from Athleta's Recycled Featherweight Stretch fabric, which is extremely lightweight and silky to the touch. 

The recycled polyester and spandex blend is wrinkle-resistant and super easy to care for—simply throw the shorts in the washer and dryer after a workout. They’re crafted with UPF 50+ fabric for UVA and UVB protection, plus quick-drying capabilities to keep you moving in comfort. These breathable, comfy running shorts feature mesh detailing at the hem for style and added ventilation.

The semi-fitted running shorts hit mid-to-upper thigh with a built-in inner brief for coverage and a drawstring mid-rise waist for security. For an added safety bonus, hidden reflective detailing lights up the night for safe jogging. Keep your phone and keys close with the internal hanging envelope pocket and a side zipper pocket. 

The shorts come in sizes 00 through 26W.

Best Running Shorts for Men: Salomon Agile 2-in-1 Running Short

Pros
  • UPF 50

  • Comfortable, flexible material

  • Cool and breathable

  • Inner short for anti-chafe wear

  • Tailored, flattering fit

Cons
  • Small back pocket

  • Only available in black

Salomon’s two-in-one running shorts provide coverage, compression, and chafe protection for runners and athletes alike. Made from lightweight AdvancedSkin ActiveDry technical fabric, these shorts keep you dry and comfortable all run long. Reflective detailing down the sides provides visibility at night along with UPF 50 sun protection for daytime runs.

Delivering a tailored, active fit, the Agile 2-in-1 Short flaunts an 8-inch inseam hitting mid-thigh with a fitted built-in inner tight and semi-fitted outer short. The integrated short liner prevents chafing and irritation while also providing support and modesty.

This pair is equipped with a drawstring waist for security and a back zipper pocket to stow valuables on the go. The Salomon Agile 2in1 Short is offered in black in men's sizes small through extra-extra-large.

Best Women's Swimsuit: Lands’ End Women's Chlorine-Resistant One Piece Swimsuit

Lands’ End Women's Chlorine-Resistant One Piece Swimsuit
Pros
  • UPF 50

  • Won’t sag when you get out of the pool

  • Doesn’t ride up

  • Inclusive size range

  • Ample coverage

Cons
  • Limited color options

Calling all tall, petite, small, and full-busted women! Lands' End offers customers the opportunity to fully customize their swimsuit—the length, bust size, bra style (soft cup, lined, or shelf) and choose to add tummy control or not.

Even better, this swimsuit features UPF 50 sun protection—blocking 98% of the sun's rays—and is backed by The Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation. For most of us that can't just choose a size off the rack, this is a dream come true! 

This Lands' End one-piece swimsuit is made from LYCRA Xtra Life spandex which lasts up to ten times longer than a swimsuit made from the typical spandex blend. This durable swimsuit stands up to your active lifestyle, from sand and sun to chlorine and sunscreen. 

Boasting a modest, classic scoop front and back silhouette with a lower cut leg for extra coverage, this swimsuit keeps you covered and confident throughout pool workouts and beach days. This sporty bathing suit is offered in women's sizes 2 to 18 in regular, petite, and long.

Best Men's Swimsuit: L.L. Bean Men's Vacationland Stretch Swim Trunks

L.L. Bean Men's Vacationland Stretch Swim Trunks
Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • Trendy, unique prints

  • Flattering and current fit

  • Mesh liner

  • Pockets

Cons
  • One length option

Update your swim style this season with L.L. Bean's Vacationland Stretch Swim Trunks. Boasting a current cut, these 8-inch swim trunks deliver a flattering fit for men of all ages. The trunks are perfect for both leisurely lounging and water sports.

The standard fit sits lower on the waist with a drawstring elastic waistband and a straight cut through the hips and thighs. Featuring UPF 50+ sun protection, the fabric blocks at least 97.5% of the sun's UV rays and delivers a durable water repellent finish that dries efficiently after a swim. 

Made from 50% recycled polyester and 50% Elasterell-P with Sorona, these swim trunks deliver a comfortable four-way stretch that moves with the body. The soft inner mesh lining keeps everything in place and dries quickly when you get out of the water. Always keep your valuables close with handy side seam pockets and a back zipper pocket with a mesh insert.

Unlike other swimsuits, L.L. Bean Vacationland Stretch Swim Trunks are fade- and abrasion-resistant so they'll look as good year after year. They come in men's size small through extra-extra-large.

Best Leggings: CW-X Stabilyx Joint Support Compression Leggings

Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • Drawstring waist

  • Fantastic compression 

  • Flattering fit

Cons
  • No pocket for a cell phone—only a small internal pocket

  • Some may not like the snug fit

CW-X Stabilyx Compression Tights are designed to support athletes—from casual joggers to professionals—through their most intense workouts. 

These CW-X leggings are engineered to simulate the support and benefits of kinesiology tape. The patented 2-Way Stretch EXO-WEB support panel contours to your body and joints to support you while you move without restricting range of motion. Athletes can benefit from compression leggings, which may help enhance circulation, shorten recovery time, and reduce muscle fatigue.

CW-X Stabilyx Compression Tights have it all—stretch, breathability, moisture-wicking technology, and UPF 50+ sun protection. Delivering a mid-rise fit with an interior flat drawstring waistband, slip-in pocket for tiny valuables, and flat seam construction for chafe-free wear, these leggings support you both in the gym and outdoors.

These CW-X leggings come in women's sizes extra-small through extra-large in a variety of cool yet subtle styles.

Best Running Hat: Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap

Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap
Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • Offered in sizes S-XL

  • Sweat-wicking, quick-drying material

  • Snap-on cape protects ears and neck

  • Built-in sweatband keeps sweat from dripping into eyes

Cons
  • Tends to run small. Order a size up, specifically if you have a thick head of hair

  • Some feel the bill could be longer

The Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap has everything a runner needs to keep cool, covered, and protected during an outdoor trek. This packable running hat features UPF 50+ protection with dark fabric underneath the brim to help shield your eyes from glare. 

This two-in-one training cap with a snap-on sun cape is crafted from lightweight, breathable, sweat-wicking fabric that keeps you dry and comfortable, no matter how high the temperature. The built-in TransAction Headband soaks up sweat and keeps it from dripping into your eyes. External breathable mesh panels deliver extra airflow to supply a much-needed breeze throughout your run.

Unlike a traditional baseball hat, the Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap features a removable cape that snaps onto the bill with an adjustable cinch cord that provides sun protection for the ears and back of the neck. For shady days, simply snap off the cape to reveal a classic-style baseball cap with a hook-and-loop closure.

This hat is made from 100% Supplex nylon and is offered in a variety of fun colors in sizes small through extra-large.

Best Hat for Hiking and Walking: Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat

Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • Stain- and water-resistant fabric

  • Neck cape protects the back of the neck

  • 4-inch down sloping brim

  • Adjustable

Cons
  • The neck cape can flap around in heavy wind

For the best protection, a hat must have a brim of at least 3 inches to shield the face, scalp, ears, neck, and upper body from harmful UV rays. The Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat boasts a hearty 4-inch down sloping brim with a 7.5-inch protective neck cape for full coverage sun protection. The brim is made from closed-cell foam that floats in water, so you’ll never lose track of your hat at the beach, pool, or on a kayaking expedition. On windy days, the cinch cord chin strap keeps it secured.

Made from 100% nylon, the Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat is super lightweight and breathable with a UPF 50+ rating, meaning only two percent of UV rays can penetrate the fabric.

The under brim is lined with dark material to protect your eyes from glare along with a built-in sweatband to keep sweat from dripping down your face and into your eyes. This ultra-durable hat is also stain- and water-resistant.

The hat comes in a range of bright and neutral colors in sizes Small/Medium and Large/Extra-Large.

Best Sports Bra: Body Glove Women's Equalizer Medium Support Sport Bra

Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • Doubles as a bikini top

  • Breathable mesh inserts

  • Removable soft cups

  • Fashion-forward colors and prints

Cons
  • Hand wash

  • Non adjustable

This sports bra doubles as a swim top for those hot summer runs when you can't help yourself from jumping right into the water without changing into your swimsuit. Body Glove's Medium Support Activewear Sports Bra features a pull-on racerback design with removable soft cups for added shape and modesty. Flaunting UPF 50+ swim fabric, this sports bra keeps your chest protected from the sun, whether you're in the water or on land.

This medium-support sports bra is designed for maximum breathability and range of motion. It features back mesh inserts with a chic, strappy cutout design, and moisture-wicking fabric to keep you cool during interval training or after hopping out of the pool or ocean.

The sports bra comes in both solid colors and in a variety of beautiful floral prints in women's sizes extra-small through extra-large.

Best Men's Long Sleeve: Vapor Apparel UPF50+ Long Sleeve T-Shirt

Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • Soft, lightweight fabric

  • Large range of color options

  • Breathable material that’s good for hot weather

  • Washes well

Cons
  • Shirt tends to run small

  • Sleeves tend to run long

Backed by the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation, the Vapor Apparel Sun Protection Long Sleeve T-Shirt fits and feels like a soft and comfy casual T-shirt, yet features built-in UPF 50+ sun protection. This long-sleeve tee is moisture-wicking and quick-drying to keep up with your active lifestyle. It also incorporates zinc-based technology which helps fight odor.

The Vapor Apparel Sun Protection Long Sleeve T-Shirt is neither tight nor baggy and won't stretch out or cling to the body. No matter your sport, the fabric won’t fade—whether it's faced with chlorine or saltwater.

This shirt is offered in an extensive range of colors, prints, and sizes ranging from a men's extra-small through 4XL.

Best Women’s Long Sleeve: Columbia Women’s Tidal Tee II Long Sleeve Shirt

Pros
  • UPF 50

  • Dries quickly

  • Lightweight, breathable material

  • Roomy, comfortable fit for physical activity

  • Wide range of color options

Cons
  • Some may prefer not to have the logo or visible branding

Originally designed as a fishing shirt, this relaxed fit, moisture-wicking long-sleeve T-shirt keeps you active without weighing you down or feeling wet and soggy. If you get splashed, fear not, Omni-Wick moisture management moves moisture away from the skin and into the shirt where it’s dispersed and evaporates. 

This sporty tee keeps your skin cool and protected, whether on a boat or on land. Columbia's Omni-Shade provides UVA and UVB protection with UPF 50 technical fabric.

This roomy-fit long-sleeve T-shirt is made from 100% polyester interlock and is designed to be worn for both wet and dry activities. It features the iconic Colombia logo down the sleeve and on the left chest. It comes in an assortment of bright and neutral colors in sizes extra-small through 3XL. 

Best Skort: Athleta Soho Skort

Athleta Soho Skort
Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • Comfortable fit—the shorts don’t squeeze or ride up

  • Can be casual or dressy

  • Regular and tall length options

  • Offered in a wide range of sizes

  • Stretchy, breathable, quick-drying material

Cons
  • Thinner outer material doesn’t always lay flat

This stylish, active-focused skirt with built-in shorts is designed for hiking, climbing, golf, tennis, walks, and adventures of all kinds. Made from silky smooth fabric that's breathable and quick-drying, the Soho Skort is comfortable and stretchy, moving with your body. 

Athleta's Recycled Featherweight Stretch fabric has a UPF 50+ rating to keep your skin safe during outdoor activities. This cute and comfortable skort features a wide, knit waistband that keeps the skirt in place. The inner mesh shorts give you peace of mind, allowing you to jump, bend, and squat to your heart's content without flashing anyone. The comfortable material doesn’t ride up or squeeze your thighs like other skorts.

Athleta’s Soho Skort is offered in a wide range of gorgeous earth tones that can be dressed up or down. It comes in women's sizes 00 through 26 in both regular and tall options.

Final Verdict

When it comes to sun protection, we recommend taking a top-down approach, meaning start with the head. In fact, basal and squamous cell skin cancers are the most prevalent types of skin cancers and often appear on the head and neck. The Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat (view at Amazon) delivers UPF 50+ protection with a 4-inch brim and a 7.5-inch protective neck cape for full coverage.


If you’re searching for a versatile T-shirt that can be worn in the water, at the gym, on hikes, and for lounging, we suggest Columbia Women’s Tidal Tee II Long Sleeve Shirt (view at Amazon). This relaxed fit, long-sleeve T-shirt features UPF 50 material shielding the body from UVA and UVB rays.

What to Look for in Sun Protective Clothing

UPF Rating

This indicates how much of the sun's rays are blocked by the garment. UPF ratings range from 15 to 50+. The higher the number, the less UV radiation can pass through the fabric.

Color

Choose either dark or vibrant colors as they absorb UV rays more efficiently than pale hues, helping protect your skin from UV radiation and sun damage.

Fit and Coverage

Loose clothing is preferred, as tight-fitting clothes pull and stretch the fibers reducing the effectiveness of the protective garment. Additionally, the more coverage, the more protection you'll get. Opt for long sleeves, pants, and higher-cut necklines. 

Fabric

Synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester offer the best protection against the sun's rays and are preferred over natural fibers like cotton, wool, and silk—unless they've been treated. Overall, choose a tight, dense weave as it permits the least amount of UV radiation to pass through.

FAQs

Does sun protective clothing really work?

UPF clothing helps block, absorb, and reflect UV radiation to reduce the skin’s exposure. UPF ratings range from 15 to 50+ UPF—with a 50 rating meaning only 2% of the sun's UV rays can pass through the garment and reach the skin’s surface.

Dark and brightly colored garments work best by absorbing UV rays, keeping them from penetrating the fabric and reaching the skin’s surface. Additionally, loosely fitted UPF clothing is preferred, as tight clothes stretch the fibers which make the garment lose effectiveness. Overall, the higher the UPF rating, the better the protection. When in doubt, choose UPF 50+ clothing.

Does UPF wash out of clothing?

UPF clothing is typically produced through two key methods, or by a combination of the two. The first is by treating the fabric with special coatings, like dyes or chemical UV absorbers that obstruct UVA and UVB rays. Oftentimes, the tag of the garment will say the number of washes the protection will last. A typical life cycle seen on UPF 50+ treated garments is around 40 washes. 

The second method to produce UPF clothing is through a delicate weaving process. The tighter the weave, the better the garment is at blocking UV radiation. With regular wear and tear, UPF clothing made from a weaving method can stretch out and cause the weave to loosen and become less protective, letting more light pass through.

All clothing—sun protective or not—eventually begins to break down with wash and wear. Similarly, as UPF garments stretch, get wet, and go through the wash, they begin to lose their protective features. 

When choosing the right UPF clothing for your lifestyle, refer to the item’s specific washing instructions and lifecycle.

Why Trust Verywell Fit? 

Emily Stone is a Chicago-based journalist specializing in fitness and lifestyle content. As a health and wellness writer, she researches and reviews products for Verywell Fit, Verywell Health, and Verywell Mind. She favors Athleta's Printed Mesh Racer Run Short (view at Athleta) for summer workouts with their fun prints, sun protection, and just the right length. 

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Skin Cancer Foundation. Sun protecting clothing: A safe, simple way to keep the rays at bay. Updated June 2019.

  2. The American Cancer Society. What are basal and squamous cell skin cancers? Updated July 26, 2019.