The Best Sun Protective Clothing of 2022 for Safe Outdoor Activities

These shorts, hats, and swimsuits will let you have (safe) fun in the sun

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Verywell Fit / Amelia Manley

While many of us start our day with a layer of sunscreen on our face, we sometimes forget the sun’s rays still pass through our clothes. Wearing sun protective clothing is a simple and effective way to augment your current sun safety routine and give your body complete protection from sun damage. "UPF clothing provides a wonderful way to protect your skin and can be an important part of a good sun-protection regimen along with sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats," Carol Trakimas, MD, a dermatologist practicing in Raleigh, NC, and spokesperson for The Skin Cancer Foundation, says.

Reviewed & Approved

With a quick-drying material that can be worn in or out of the water, we like Lands' End Women's Crew Neck Rash Guard UPF 50. For a men’s rash guard, we recommend O'Neill Men's Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard thanks to its insulation, durability, and anti-chafing technology.

Ultraviolet protection factor (or UPF) clothing is like sunscreen built into your clothes. Made with specially-treated fabrics and tight weaves, UPF clothing helps prevent UV radiation from reaching your skin. "The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends choosing clothing with a UPF of at least 30 to provide sufficient sun protection. A UPF of 30 to 49 offers very good protection, while UPF 50+ is excellent," Trakimas says.

We reviewed selections for our list based on UPF rating, color, fit, coverage, and fabric.

Based on our research, here is the best sun protective clothing on the market.

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

4.8
Lands' End Women's Crew Neck Rash Guard UPF 50

Courtesy of Lands' End

Pros
  • UPF 50

  • Can be worn in and out of the water

  • Quick-drying

Cons
  • Hand wash

  • Must be rinsed after swimming in chlorine to prevent fading

Our top overall pick, 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.

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.

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. On land, it makes for a sleek base layer, sealing in warmth during the cooler months.

The Lands' End Women's Crew Neck Long Sleeve Rash Guard is offered in five colors and women's sizes 2 through 18, including petite and tall. You can also choose to add your monogram at checkout.

UPF: 50 | Available Sizes: 2-18 | Material: Nylon, LYCRA | Care: Hand wash

What the Experts Say

"Look for The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation to ensure a piece of clothing meets the stated level of UPF protection," —Carol Trakimas, MD, dermatologist practicing in Raleigh, NC, and spokesperson for The Skin Cancer Foundation

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

4.7
O'Neill Men's Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • Prevents chafing

  • Lightweight

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 14 different colors in men's sizes small through 4XL. The rash guard also comes in a tall option.

UPF: 50+ | Available Sizes: S-4XL | Material: Polyester, Spandex | Care: Machine wash

Best Hat for Hiking and Walking: Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat

Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat

Courtesy of BackCountry

Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • Neck cape

  • 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. We love that 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 percent nylon, the Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat is super lightweight and breathable with a UPF 50+ rating, meaning only 2 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.

UPF: 50+ | Available Sizes: S/M and L/XL | Material: Nylon, Polyester | Care: Hand wash, hang dry

Best Running Hat: Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap

Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • Sweat-wicking, quick-drying material

  • Snap-on cape protects ears and neck

Cons
  • Tends to run small

  • 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 keep you cool.

Unlike a traditional baseball hat, we like that 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 percent Supplex nylon and is offered in a variety of fun colors in sizes small through extra-large.

UPF: 50+ | Available Sizes: S-XL | Material: Supplex Nylon | Care: Wash cold, dry flat

Best Women's Running Shorts: Athleta Printed Mesh Racer Run Short

Athleta Printed Mesh Racer Run Short

Courtesy of Athleta

Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • Breathable, lightweight material

  • Unique print options

Cons
  • Some prefer not having a built-in brief

Athleta's Printed Mesh Racer Run Short 4" is a fashionable running short designed with runners and casual athleisure enthusiasts in mind. These shorts are made from Athleta's Recycled Featherweight Stretch fabric, which is extremely lightweight and silky to the touch. 

They’re crafted with UPF 50+ fabric for UVA and UVB protection, plus quick-drying capabilities to keep you moving in comfort. We like that 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. 

The semi-fitted running shorts have a 4-inch inseam and hit mid-to-upper thigh with a built-in liner for coverage and a drawstring mid-rise waist for security. They feature mesh detailing at the hem for style and added ventilation. 

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. 

These breathable, comfy running shorts come in sizes 00 through 26W.

UPF: 50+ | Available Sizes: 00-26W | Material: Polyester, Spandex | Care: Machine wash and dry

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

Salomon Agile 2-in-1 Running Short

Courtesy of BackCountry

Pros
  • UPF 50

  • Comfortable, flexible material

  • Inner short for anti-chafe wear

Cons
  • Small pocket

  • Only available in black

Salomon’s 2-in-1 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 Salomon Agile 2-in-1 Shorts have an 8-inch inseam with built-in, fitted inner tights and semi-fitted outer shorts. The integrated short liner prevents chafing and irritation while also providing support and modesty.

These shorts have a drawstring waist for security and a back zipper pocket to stow valuables on the go. The Salomon Agile 2-in-1 Shorts are offered in black in men's sizes small through extra-extra-large.

UPF: 50 | Available Sizes: S-XXL | Material: Polyester | Care: Not listed

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

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

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • UPF 50

  • Doesn’t ride up

  • Ample coverage

Cons
  • Limited color options

The Lands' End Women's Chlorine-Resistant One Piece Swimsuit 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 percent of the sun's rays—and is backed by The Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation.

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, according to the manufacturer. 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 suit is offered in women's sizes 2 to 18 in regular, petite, and long.

UPF: 50 | Available Sizes: 2-18 | Material: LYCRA Xtra Life Spandex | Care: Hand wash

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

L.L. Bean Men's Vacationland Stretch Swim Trunks

Courtesy of L.L.Bean

Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • 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.

These shorts sit 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 percent of the sun's UV rays and has a durable water repellent finish that dries quickly after a swim. 

Made from 50 percent recycled polyester and 50 percent 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.

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

UPF: 50+ | Available Sizes: S-XXL | Material: Polyester, Elasterell-P with Sorona | Care: Not provided

Best Leggings: CW-X Stabilyx Joint Support Compression Leggings

4.6
CW-X Stabilyx Joint Support Compression Leggings

Amazon

Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • Drawstring waist

  • Strong compression 

Cons
  • Very small pocket

  • Some may not like the snug fit

CW-X Stabilyx Compression Tights are designed to support athletes—from casual exercisers 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 around your body and joints to support you while you move without restricting your range of motion. Athletes can benefit from compression leggings, which may help reduce muscle fatigue and speed up post-exercise recovery.

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, we love that these leggings can 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.

UPF: 50+ | Available Sizes: XS-XL | Material: Polyester, Spandex | Care: Machine wash

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

Body Glove Women's Equalizer Medium Support Sport Bra

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • Breathable mesh inserts

  • Removable soft cups

Cons
  • Hand wash

  • Not adjustable

This sports bra doubles as a swim top for those hot summer runs when you need to cool off fast. Body Glove's Medium Support Activewear Sports Bra features a pull-on racerback design with removable soft cups for added shape and modesty. Made of UPF 50+ swim fabric, this sports bra keeps your chest protected from the sun, whether you're in the water or on land.

We love that 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 floral prints in women's sizes extra-small through extra-large.

UPF: 50+ | Available Sizes: XS-XL | Material: Nylon, Spandex | Care: Hand wash only

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

Vapor Apparel UPF50+ Long Sleeve T-Shirt

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • Soft, lightweight fabric

  • Breathable

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. We love that 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.

We like that this shirt is offered in 28 different colors and prints, and sizes ranging from a men's extra-small through 4XL.

UPF: 50+ | Available Sizes: XS-4XL | Material: Polyester | Care: Machine wash, hang dry

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

Columbia Women's Tidal Tee II Long Sleeve Shirt

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • UPF 50

  • Dries quickly

  • Lightweight, breathable material

Cons
  • Lighter colors may be slightly see-through

Originally designed as a fishing shirt, we like that 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 percent polyester interlock and is designed to be worn for both wet and dry activities. It comes in an assortment of bright and neutral colors in sizes extra-small through 3XL. 

UPF: 50 | Available Sizes: XS-3XL | Material: Polyester | Care: Machine wash

Best Skort: Athleta Soho Skort

Athleta Soho Skort

Courtesy of Athleta

Pros
  • UPF 50+

  • Regular and tall length options

  • 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. We also like that 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.

We like that Athleta’s Soho Skort is offered in four earth-tone colors that can be dressed up or down and it comes in women's sizes 00 through 26 in both regular and tall options.

UPF: 50+ | Available Sizes: 00-26 | Material: Polyester, Spandex | Care: Machine wash and dry

Final Verdict

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. This relaxed fit, long-sleeve T-shirt features UPF 50 material shielding the body from UVA and UVB rays.

When it comes to sun protection, we recommend taking a top-down approach, meaning start with the head. The Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat delivers UPF 50+ protection with a 4-inch brim and a 7.5-inch protective neck cape for full coverage.

How We Selected the Best Sun Protective Clothing

Sun protective clothing can be a key part of any outdoor enthusiast's wardrobe, so it's important to find versatile and effective items. We looked for best-selling products from well-known brands that have UPF ratings of at least 30, and any products with The Skin Cancer Foundation's Seal of Recommendation. We also considered the versatility of the product and if it had a wide range of sizes available.

We researched product details and read customer reviews to find the best variety of products, from hats to leggings. We also considered how easy the items were to care for and their durability, guaranteeing they will last a long time.

What to Look for in Sun Protective Clothing

UPF Rating

"UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. A fabric with a UPF rating blocks about 98 percent of UVA/UVB rays that come from the sun and helps protect you from the harmful effects of UV radiation. It indicates what fraction of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can penetrate a piece of fabric," Trakimas says. The higher the number, the less UV radiation can pass through the fabric and the more protection you have.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 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 UPF 50 rating meaning only 2 percent 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 about 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. When it comes to sun protective clothing, she favors Athleta's Printed Mesh Racer Run Short for summer workouts with their fun prints, sun protection, and just the right length. 

3 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.
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  2. Engel FA, Holmberg HC, Sperlich B. Is there evidence that runners can benefit from wearing compression clothing? Sports Med. 2016;46(12):1939-1952. doi:10.1007/s40279-016-0546-5

  3. Skin Cancer Foundation. Sun protecting clothing: A safe, simple way to keep the rays at bay.