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Sun-protective clothing has never really been an interest where the style-savvy are concerned. They’re sporty, synthetic, and generally emblazoned with giant brand logos. But we’ve had decades now to process the grim reality that even our beloved sun can give us cancer and I, for one, am tired of getting sunburned through the standard shirts I tend to wear while outdoors.
I also don’t enjoy slathering sunscreen all over my torso and making myself into a greasy mess for the day just to ward off UV rays. Moreover, sunscreen is expensive, especially if you tend to use a good, chemical-free mineral-based sunscreen, and find yourself in the sun often.
But the market for sun shirts is now far more innovative to accommodate diverse, mainstream aesthetics, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Now, brands like Patagonia, Columbia Sportswear, and even Filson have begun introducing their own take on sun-protective clothing — and they make for a great addition to anyone’s outdoor kit.
Now that sun shirts are permanent staples in my own spring and summer wardrobe, I decided to test a few of the newer styles across activities like surfing, fishing, hiking, and camping. Below, I’ve compiled six of my current favorites, and have also included some tips on what to keep in mind while shopping, as well as a few other shirts I tested that didn’t quite make the cut of “best of” but that I still recommend.
For women-specific styles and sizing, check out our guide to the best sun protection clothing for women.
Here are the best places to shop for sun-protective clothing:
Best overall: Eddie Bauer
$52.50 from Eddie Bauer
Eddie Bauer’s line of sun-protective clothing is versatile, comfortable, and, above all, just works — and its Solarfoil UPF hoodie is one of the best in its lineup.
Best budget: Hanes
$19.60 on Amazon
Hanes’ UPF-treated Cool Dri shirts are plain and simple but sturdy and serviceable. They’re also some of the most affordable ones you can buy.
Best for outdoor adventures: Patagonia
$79 from Patagonia
One of our favorites from Patagonia is the Sun Shade Technical Hoodie, a soft, lightweight piece that comes with an all-plastic zipper that won’t corrode, no matter how many times you take it swimming.
Best versatile: O’Neill
$88 from Moosejaw
Filson’s sun-protective shirt are tissue-paper thin, moisture-wicking, and styled enough so that should you find yourself at a bar, restaurant, or possibly even the office after some time outdoors, no one would be the wiser.
Best for plus-size options: Columbia Sportswear
$39.95 on Amazon
Columbia’s PFG button-down shirts are lightweight, comfortable, and subtle enough to be worn just about anywhere, but shine when fishing.
Best casual: Filson
$69.95 on Amazon
On a late summer day at the beach, with a vague chill in the air, you’ll be glad to have O’Neill’s 24/7 Hybrid UPF Shirt in your bag.