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Shirts That Protect from the Sun

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I'm a white guy who burns pretty easily if I spend too much time outdoors.  I live in Texas too, where the summers are even fiercer than in a lot of places with more shade and milder climates. Of course that means I worry about having sun block when I go outside, along with a water bottle and a hat.  In recent years, I've added another weapon to my arsenal of sun defense: my shirt.

Like most people, casual outdoor attire usually calls for me to wear a T-shirt. When I'm out with the scouts, that usually means I'm wearing a "Class B" T-shirt.  The problem with the typical Class B is that it isn't as well suited to the bright sun of a typical Texas day.  It provides some protection from the sun --- but not a lot --- and it quickly gets soaked with sweat, making it not just uncomfortable, but less protective than a dry shirt. 

Today, there are a lot of clothing options, and there are quite a few shirts that provide better sun protection, that dry more quickly, retaining less moisture than your typical cotton blend T-shirts.  Outdoor stores, like REI, sell some high-dollar "Sun Protection" clothing, and that's great for those with the dollars to spend on such things, but you can get good, high-tech, sun protecting shirts for quite reasonable prices.

My 2 favorite shirts these days are a stylish shirt from Columbia that provides 40 UPF of sun protection, dries completely in just a few minutes on the line, and that looks sharp no matter how many times I crumple it into a roll to stuff in a backpack. The other shirt is one that I love for it's utter simplicity and lack of pretension:  it's made by Hanes and I got it at a local Target for about $9 ---   it's called the Cool DRI and it protects even better than the Columbia shirt (50 UPV) and also dries in just a few minutes on the line. (I really should suggest to the troop committee that we get our Class B shirts printed on Hanes Cool DRI instead of whatever el-cheapo T-shirt the printing company uses).

Sun protection is important. You'll still want to pack the sun block and hat because a shirt isn't going to completely cover you, but it's one more thing you can do to make life outdoors safer and more comfortable.

Sun protecting shirts --- pack 'em, wear 'em, love 'em!

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Most people have noticed that even the thinnest, cheapest basic cotton T-shirt provides pretty good protection against serious sunburns. (Seriously!  When is the last time your chest was burned while wearing a shirt....any shirt?)

What might surprise people is that those light cotton T-shirts have a rating of only about 4-5 UPV, and even heavier cotton fabrics, don't go much over 10 UPV.

The acid test though isn't whether my skin turns red today, but whether I'm able to dodge a skin cancer bullet 20 years from now....with that perspective in mind, I will continue looking for shirts like that Hanes Cool DRI even if I'm not noticing a big immediate payback in the redness department...

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