UV Sun Protective Clothing
A Game Changer!
Nowadays, with the hoopla around sun exposure becoming more widely discussed than ever, companies are developing more options for protection from UV rays than ever before. Being completely 100% safe, you need more than just sticky, nasty sunblocking creams or lotions. We are now seeing more activity-specific and stylish lines of UV protective clothing on the market for both children and adults, all of which will add additional layers of protection so that we can safely enjoy the outdoors.
UV Protection is not all that is required! I'm rough on clothes, I get it, but they still need to hold up under their normal intended use. If I am fishing it better be able to handle blood & guts, if I am kayaking, it needs not to snag on the plastic, if I am biking I don't want sweat stains - oh god, blah!
Anyway, let's talk about what the different abbreviations mean (UV/UPF/SPF), and we'll get to the other aspect later.
UV is short for "ultraviolet" radiation is a significant risk factor for most skin cancers. There are several types of UV rays: UVA which causes wrinkling and premature aging, UVB which causes sunburn and cataracts, and UVC which are the strongest, but are blocked by the Earth's ozone layer.
UPF is short for "Ultraviolet Protection Factor" and is a numerical rating given to clothing to indicate how effectively the fabric blocks ultraviolet (UV) radiation. A UPF rating of 25 means that only 1/25th (or 4%) of the UV radiation can penetrate the fabric. UPF clothing (or "UV clothing") is specially designed to protect against both UVA and UVB.
SPF is short for "Sun Protection Factor" and is a relative measure of how long a sunscreen will protect you from ultraviolet UVB rays. The chief cause of reddening and sunburn and different forms of skin cancer. More accurately, SPF measures the amount of time it takes UVB rays to redden exposed skin. This is somewhat confusing because each person reacts differently to the UVB rays, and while I might take 60 minutes to redden, you might only take 10. Not a very good system!
So what is UV protective clothing?
Unlike regular clothing, the material used to create UV Protective apparel will block up to 98% of of the UVA and UVB rays, and when combined with other protections, can provide you the highest level of overall protection from the sun's rays.
The fibers of UV Protective apparel are woven much closer together, making them denser to better shield against UV rays. The materials used for this type of clothing include nylon, lycra, and polyester, which have their benefits beyond being protection from the sun. Cotton and other materials can become too hot to wear on hot days, even with denser fiber levels, but these materials are more breathable and will make wearing them that much more comfortable.
Perfect, so let's go shopping!
Not so fast! Personally, I love the UV Protective Active Apparel and wear them all the time. There are so many companies making functional and stylish clothes it becomes challenging to know what is good and what to look for, especially at these higher than cotton prices. I started with one brand and quickly found several problems that really ticked me off! Snagging, staining, and yellowing were the top issues I was dealing with.
I finally ran into a company called Hook 360. Their tag line is "Premium Gear + Conservation = Outdoor Happiness" sounds good, but does it stand up to the outdoor lifestyle? In a single word, "yup!" Their UPS clothing line boasts a 50+ UPF rating, meaning they block up to 98% of the suns UV rays!
Now that I am protected, what about durability? Yup, they got that covered too! These two shirts have seen roughly the same amount of action. But obviously, the one on the right is not doing so great! My wife and I have tried all sorts of commercial and home-grown solutions to get this shirt clean without any luck. Hook 360's on the left have only had normal everyday washings and it comes out excellent every time. It's not stretched, no snagging or stitching issues and is as white as the day I got it.
Breathability is critical when it's 95 degrees outside and your kayaking on the ocean. Both shirts are 2XL. Hook 360's comes in at 5.7oz (162g) and the other at 6.8oz (193g), that over an ounce lighter. Lighter, thinner and breaths better, yup, check off that box as well!
The Hook 360 is a little more expensive than the other, but seriously if you are going to invest into protective ware, you want it to last. If I have to buy 4 of the "other" shots to look and function as well as the Hook 360 - am I really saving any dough? Nope!
Now nothing is perfect and with that said, the way the design and logo are printed on the fabric vs. printed in the fabric make me a little nervous. While this method does make for more vibrant solid colors with super crisp lines, I am not sure of the durability. It looks like to logo and size on the inside of the collar are printed the same way and they are showing some lifting. But the design on the back and the logo on the front are not showing any signs of lifting at all!
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Archetype Performance Shirt$34.99
UVA & UVB Protection10.0/10
What I liked
- Stays White
- Stains Don't Set
- Super Thin
- Great Designs
What I did not like
- The designs "might" lift over time
- Costs a little more than some others
- But I am really nitpicking on both these points!