The 10 best places to shop for summer running gear in 2021

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Best places to shop for summer running gear in 2021 Lead Photo

  • Staying cool and comfortable on summer runs requires breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics.
  • To stay safe on hot runs, you also need sun protection and hydration systems.
  • We love these 10 brands for all the gear you need for a safe, comfortable summer run.
  • Athleta is the best overall hot-weather running brand, thanks to its performance fabrics, extended sizing, and stylish gear.

Running is one of the cheapest, most accessible ways to boost your cardio fitness, improve your overall health, and enjoy the mental benefits of exercise. And while all you truly need is a quality pair of running shoes, having comfortable, functional gear can make running a lot more enjoyable – especially as the temperature starts to heat up.

As an avid runner and personal trainer myself, I’ve run in my fair share of both cheaply-made and luxury gear. What I’ve learned: Cotton and cheap fabrics will either absorb your sweat or trap it next to your body, causing it to literally weigh you down and heat you up.

If running is your sport of the summer, it’s worth it to invest in performance fabrics that have sweat-wicking, quick-drying features and apparel designed to be breezy, lightweight, and move with your body, comfortably (no one needs chafing to interrupt their flow). It’s also crucial that you don sun protection – UPF clothing, polarized sunglasses, sweat-proof sunscreen – and have a comfortable way to carry water, no matter how many miles you’re logging.

Lastly, in an effort to shop smarter and make the fitness world more inclusive for everyone, the brands most worth your money should be able to perform during both speed training and long runs, and offer extended sizing.

To help you figure out where to shop for the best summer running gear, we laid out our favorite go-to retailers. These brands will become your best new run buds so feel free to go all in.

Here are the best places to shop for summer running gear:

  • The best place to buy running clothes overall: Athleta
  • The best brand for budget running apparel: Amazon’s Core 10
  • The best boutique brand for run apparel: Tracksmith
  • The best brand for running socks: Balega
  • The best brand for running hats: rnnr
  • The best brand for sports bras: Brooks
  • The best brand for running sunglasses: 100%
  • The best brand for hydration systems: Nathan Sports
  • The best brand for running shoes: Hoka One One
  • The best brand for sport sunscreens: Coola

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The best place to buy running clothes overall

Athleta not only has cute, comfortable, and 100% functional gear for going on the run, but they also offer extended sizing and sustainable apparel.

Athleta not only has cute, comfortable, and 100% functional gear for going on the run, but they also offer extended sizing and sustainable apparel. 

For starters, Athleta has great workout clothes that hit that sweet spot of quality and price. I always turn to leggings and shorts with pockets — a must when trying to stash your phone, credit card, keys, and maybe even some fuel on the run. Plus, many of its bottoms feature moisture-wicking fabrics and waistbands that won’t slip as you speed up. Its range of silky soft and extra lightweight tanks also offer that nearly-naked feel I crave on hot, sweaty runs. Lastly, its sports bras provide the support you need to withstand the impact of your stride. In other words, you can wear Athleta from head to toe and feel good through every mile. 

What’s more, earlier this year, Athleta expanded its sizing in more than 70% of its collections to offer everything from XXS to 3X. It also plans to offer extended sizing across all categories by the end of 2022. The brand worked with thousands of women to create clothes that work for all sizes and it’s on a mission to feature diverse body types across its catalogues and in-store mannequins, too. 

In addition to inclusive sizing, Athleta is also a certified B corporation, meaning it treats its employees and the environment well with fair trade practices and sustainable materials incorporated into its clothes.

What to buy:

Phenomena Bra B-DD (small)Vapor Scoop Tank (small)Ultimate Stash Pocket 7″ Short (small)Accelerate Shortie (small)

The best place to buy budget running apparel

Amazon’s Core 10 brand makes cheap workout gear that fits and stays put.

If you’re looking to save money but still want comfortable gear that moves with you and feels good as you go, Amazon’s Core 10 collection has you covered from head to toe. 

With most pieces in this Amazon line checking out at under $30, you can’t go wrong with a set of hot weather run gear from this brand. I felt pleasantly surprised by the touch and feel of the pieces I tried on the run, including the soft, stretchy fabrics and lightweight materials. 

The gear on Amazon’s Core 10 line-up ranges from shorts and leggings to tanks and tees, plus sports bras and jackets too. The clothes also offer features you want from your warm weather apparel, including moisture wicking to soak up the sweat and four-way stretch so the clothes move with you, not against you. Look for the cuts and styles you prefer on the run, but a few of our favorites are below.

What to buy:

Tri-Blend Muscle Workout Tank (small)Knit Waistband Woven Run Short (small)All Day Comfort High Waist Yoga Short with Side Pockets (small)

The best boutique brand for run apparel

Tracksmith is a boutique running brand with great performance fabric and an ethos that gives back to the sport.

For a brand that promotes running in its next-level clothing and athlete-supporting programs, Tracksmith brings the best in fashion and function. 

Tracksmith honors the sport of running in several ways, including making clothing that looks good and feels even better on the move. Each piece of its line has a retro varsity track team vibe, which looks cool on the road. But it’s not all about the style: Each top and bottom also rocks technical properties to help you stay comfortable, like merino wool (a moisture-wicking and anti-odor fabric, which you’ll find in its Harrier collection) and a super lightweight and breathable mesh (which you’ll find in its Van Cortlandt collection). My favorite, the Twilight collection, also features a super lightweight and silky-smooth mesh material that helps to stop you from overheating on those humid days. 

We love Tracksmith because it also has a few initiatives that support runners: Its Amateur Support Program offers help for non-professional athletes looking to compete for the podium, giving them stipends for gear; its Fellowship Program funds creative projects that elevate the sport of running, like film, poetry, or podcasts. So, when you buy Tracksmith clothes you can also feel good knowing you’re supporting a brand that’s advancing the sport.  

What to buy:

Harrier Tank (small)Twilight Crop Tank (small)Twilight Split Shorts (small)Merino Tube Socks (small)

The best brand for running socks

Balega running socks are the best and most comfortable for long runs with more cushioning.

You’ll want to wear Balega socks every day, but especially on the run thanks to their tech, support, and supreme softness. 

You know how good your feet feel after a pedicure? Well, that’s the sensation you get when you slip into Balega’s socks thanks to their ultra-soft material that feels so good against the skin. The brand has a few stand-out performance features, too, including a deep heel pocket that adds comfort and support as you stride, a seamless construction that shields your feet from blisters, plus supreme moisture wicking materials and ventilation that keep your feet cool, even when the weather (and you) heat up. 

In addition to those general performance features, Balega also has a few collections with other technology that makes them ideal for running. For example, the Balega Silver sock line features an anti-microbial finish that keeps stink at bay. If you prefer more cushioning, the Hidden Comfort line also acts like a pillow for your feet, while the V-Tech arch support in the Enduro collection adds extra comfort underfoot, cushioning your stride through plenty of miles. 

What to buy:

Ultralight Crew (small)Hidden Dry (small)No-Show Socks (small, Preferred: Balega)

The best brand for running hats

The best brand for running hats - rnnr

 For a lightweight running hat that looks cool and keeps you cool, too, rnnr has a line-up of caps you’ll love wearing. 

Founded by a former special education teacher and track and cross-country coach, rnnr aims to get more people to lace up and hit the road via affordable gear. That gear includes their extremely lightweight and breathable hats, perfect for blocking the sun without locking in heat. Its collection of hats feature mesh materials that allow for airflow and ventilation, plus quick-dry and moisture-management properties — all features you want in a good run hat and at an affordable price point (the most expensive one is $35). With each hat, you can also style it to your liking, with a flat, curved, or popped-up brim, or choose to get in on the trucker hat trend.

In an effort to get more people to fall in love with running at an early age, the brand also donates  a portion of the proceeds from each purchase to initiatives that fund local youth running programs.

What to buy:

Lightweight Running Hat Pacer Oreo (small)Lightweight Distance Hat Unicorn (small)

The best brand for sports bras

Brooks makes incredibly supportive sports bras for small and big chests alike.

To find a great fit at any size, along with high-impact support, Brooks sports bras bring all the features you want to keep things in place — without too much restriction. 

Brooks has long been making bras that offer max support during high-impact activity like running and the brand particularly beloved by ladies with a large bra size (some items go up to 44E) for being comfortable, not too restrictive, and reliably supportive. That’s why it’s one of our top picks among the best sports bras you can buy.

You’ll also find more customization throughout its collections, with straps you can arrange multiple ways, straps that you can tighten in the front for easier access, and hook-and-eye closures in the back. They also offer bras with or without molded cups, and some even have pockets for storing keys or more with ease. There’s truly an option for all women at all sizes, with any preference.

Brooks recently launched a new running bra collection called Drive, meant to offer full support through every run. Based on research and testing in partnership with the University of Portsmouth and 1,000 runner reviews, this line stops the bounce, no matter your speed or size. This line features four new bras, including those with high necklines, mesh materials, and fabric that holds you in — and while all these bras stop any uncomfortable movement on the run, they don’t make you feel restricted.

Like their shoe search, Brooks also offers a Bra Finder so you can find your best fit before buying. It’ll ask you a series of questions on fit, preferences, issues you’ve had in the past, and what you like about your sports bras, and then it’ll serve up some suggestions.

Drive Convertible Run Bra (small)Drive 3 Pocket Run Bra (small)Dare Racerback Run Bra (small)

The best brand for running sunglasses

100% performance sunglasses are light weight and non-slip, even when you’re sweaty.

You can’t get much more lightweight and non-slip than 100% performance sunglasses, which stay comfy through every mile. 

Sunglasses not only keep you from having to squint from the brightness of the sun, but they’ll also protect your eyes from harmful rays, especially if you get a quality set. The problem: I’ve always found it tough to run (especially when super sweaty) with glasses. That is until I found a solid, lightweight pair that didn’t slip off my nose as I hit my stride. These from small-business 100% do just that. They feel incredibly light on the face, courtesy of the carbon material, and have a rubber nose piece that keeps them from sliding down with sweat. 

100% sunglasses have plenty of tech on each pair, too, in both their active performance and sports performance lines. For starters, they offer color contrasting lenses to make various hues on the street or trails pop and enhance your depth perception. The polarized lenses also reduce glare and, if you choose the Photochromic lenses, they also adjust to the lighting outdoors to better your vision. Finally, you get superior UV protection on all 100% glasses, as well as a treatment that keeps dirt, oil, and water from smudging up your lenses. And just in case you take a spill, this eyewear is also impact- and scratch-resistant. 

What to buy:

Lagere Round (small)Rideley (small)Racetrap (small)

The best brand for hydration systems

Nathan Sports makes water bottles and hydration vests for cheap, ideal for running in the summer.

Stay hydrated on the move, without feeling like you’re carrying around tons of weight with Nathan Sports bottle, belt, and vest options. 

During long, hot runs (and even during some especially humid short ones), water is crucial to not only finishing your miles, but also making sure you’re still standing at the end. For that, you need to take some water with you on the go, and it should be easy to carry along. Enter Nathan Sports’ hydration systems from bottles to vests to waist belts. 

Handheld bottles work perfectly for any short- to medium-distance mileage and you have several options from Nathan. The brand’s line-up of handhelds includes insulated bottles that not only feel easy to hold (no grip required, thanks to comfy straps), but also keep your liquids cooler for longer and some have extra pockets, too. Nathan also offer belts, complete with water bottles tucked into the sides, so you have plenty of H2O for longer distances. And for those going extra far, you can opt for a vest that makes drinking up easy and carrying convenient. 

The new line of Pinnacle vests is a solid go-to. Created from years of feedback from customers and athletes, these vests weigh 20% less than others in Nathan’s line-up, plus they have 13 pockets to stash all your snacks and other belongings, a more comfortable carry design, and they hold up to 12 liters of water. 

What to buy:

Pinnacle 12L Women’s Hydration Vest (small)Peak Hydration Waist Pak (small)Quicksqueeze Lite 12oz Insulated Handheld (small)Speeddraw Plus Insulated Flask (small)

The best brand for running shoes

Hoka One One makes well-cushioned running shoes for distance running, sprints, and recovering from injuries.

For that sweet spot between cushion and responsiveness, Hoka One One brings the shoes that keep you going the distance. 

Shoes hold the top spot for must-haves when it comes to running gear, no matter the temperature. Finding a sneaker that works for you and your gait often takes a little trial-and-error to see what keeps you comfy and ache-free through all the miles. And sometimes, you might love a shoe for your long runs and a totally different one for some speed work. But one brand I love myself as a long-time runner and that I hear the most raves reviews about again and again is Hoka One One. 

Known for being super light but mega cushioned, Hoka shoes tend to have a thicker sole that provides the support needed for longer miles. They also have a heel cup that helps to keep the foot stable as you land and take off. Depending on which shoe you choose, you may also experience the ProFly technology, which provides a bouncy, more responsive ride, or if you’re really looking to pick up the pace, a carbon fiber plate in some shoes will help to propel you forward. For those who pronate, Hoka also offers stability shoes, thanks to their J-Frame construction. And another feature that helps with the impact on landing is Hoka’s extended heel. So whether you’re looking for light and bouncy or something more stable, Hoka has an option for you.  

What to buy:

Clifton Running Shoes (small)Mach 4 (small)Speedgoat 4 (Women’s) (small)

 

The best brand for sport sunscreens

Coola

In addition to your typical body and face sunscreens that feel lightweight and smell delicious, Coola also has tons of products to fulfill all your UV protection needs. 

Coola has a few stamps of approvals from third parties, including maintaining formulas that are cruelty free, vegan, organic, paraben free, and safe on our coral reefs. So, you always have the benefit of feeling good about what you’re putting on your body with this brand! But beyond the label, each product in the brand’s line-up also feels lightweight and great against the skin — and most smell delicious too. 

In addition to your typical non-greasy body lotions and sprays, the brand also features several facial products that don’t feel oily when you rub it on and those that keep your eyes from burning when you start to sweat. The brand also has a few products you wouldn’t even think you need but are totally helpful, like the Scalp & Hair Mist SPF 30 — perfect for those who wear braids and need some protection for their part as they run. 

What to buy:

Full Spectrum 360° Sun Silk Drops SPF 30 (small)Classic Body Organic Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 (small)Classic Body Organic Sunscreen Spray SPF 70 (small)Liplux with SPF 30 (small)

 

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The 5 best sun shirts for men for added UPF protection while spending time outdoors

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • While sunscreen keeps sunburns and cancerous skin cells at bay, the best prevention is to wear a sun shirt.
  • Sun shirts have UPF protection which is designed to protect against the sun’s harmful UV rays.
  • Our top pick, the Hanes Cool Dri, is affordable, durable, and comes in a variety of colors to match anyone’s style.

Sun shirts have 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 old, tattered shirts I have always tried to wring a second life out of by wearing while outdoors.

I, like many of you, do not 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 becoming a little more innovative to accommodate diverse, mainstream aesthetics, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Now, brands like Patagonia, Columbia, and even Filson have begun introducing their own take on the sun shirt – 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 five 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.

For women-specific styles and sizing, check out our guide to the best sun protection clothing for women.

Here are the best sun shirts with UPF protection:

The best sun shirt overall

hanes cool dri shirts

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.

Pros: Price, tag-less, moisture-wicking, low-profile, short- and long-sleeve versions

Cons: No hood, no loop for tying to board shorts (helpful if surf-bathing)

When it comes to getting something practical and affordable, Hanes does the trick. You can spend three or four times as much and get something more stylish, more technical, and/or lighter weight, but UPF is UPF, and after having tested Hanes’ Cool Dri for a good two years, I’m sold that this is all you need.

Plus, another thing to keep in mind when buying a sun shirt is sunscreen damage: Is this something you’re going to stain with sunscreen? Are you going to be rolling around in the mud? Are you really, really concerned with the way it’s going to look after a few trips to the beach or the lake?

The Cool Dri comes in long- and short-sleeve, and several colors. They’re plain, tag-less, and logo-free, so if blaring logos down the shoulder or across the chest aren’t your thing, that’s another reason to save some money and just buy Hanes.

As for general quality, I have worn these shirts for two years, surfing and fishing my way around North and Central America for months on end. The four-ounce polyester jersey is usual cotton t-shirt thickness but moisture-wicking, the UPF treatment is still going strong, and I’ve not gotten burned through the shirts once. The stitching, while far from top-notch, hasn’t given way at all, either.

My only gripe with these shirts is on the technical side, and for most people, they’re perfectly fine as they are. But a loop to tie them to your board shorts and an option with a hood wouldn’t hurt.

Lastly, note that the long-sleeve version (which I recommend most) is sold in a two-pack on Amazon — go for that option. These things are only so great as the amount of time you use them, and it’s always good to have a spare.

The best hooded sun shirt

patagonia sun shirt with hood

Patagonia’s Sun Shade Technical Hoody is soft, lightweight, and comes with an all-plastic zipper that won’t corrode, no matter how many times you take it swimming and forget to wash it afterward.

Pros: Soft, comfortable, effective, and technical for anglers, button to cover face with hood, a handy and corrosion-free chest zipper

Cons: A little bulky, and not as cooling as Columbia’s Solar Shade

Patagonia’s Sun Shade Technical Hoody has been a personal favorite among hooded sun shirts for a while. I find them to be the softest, best-fitting, best-styled of the UV shirts, designed for outdoors enthusiasts. In a sea of abysmally large, flashy logos and prints, Patagonia stays true to tone. And you might just catch me out and about in one of these. No shame here.

I’ve been fishing, surfing, and occasionally swimming in these shirts for over five years, and as a small disclaimer, I may be somewhat partial, but they’re too comfortable and low-profile to ignore for this guide. I should also note that, unlike with some other sun shirts, stains seem to lift from these better than others. Sometimes, however, I’ve noticed that it takes a few washes.

It’s hard to ignore Patagonia within this realm, with its loyal legions whose reviews are probably best taken with a grain of salt. Do you need to spend this much on a sun shirt? Of course not. But I can’t say how many Patagonia sun shirts I’ve owned, and through fishing, hiking, camping, living on boats in the tropics, and all the rest, I still haven’t managed to loosen even a stitch on any of mine. 

The only thing I’d recommend is that you not order it in black if you’re in particularly warm water or weather, or especially prone to getting overheated. And, if you like a more relaxed fit, check out the Tropical Comfort Hoody II, which is a little more casual and a lot more comfortable out of the water.

The best sun shirt for fishing

Columbia sun shirt

Columbia’s PFG button-down shirts are lightweight, comfortable, and subtle enough to be worn just about anywhere, but shine when fishing.

Pros: Lightweight, well-ventilated, many pocket arrangements to choose from

Cons: May run large according to your taste, some customers complain of them being wrinkle-prone (but remember, you’re probably not going to the office in one of these — congratulations if you are, though!)

Yes, Columbia’s PFG button-down is a bona fide bonefishing shirt, so whether you’re wading the flats or touring the pyramids, Columbia’s classic PFG button-down will serve you well. This is the brand’s bestselling shirt, and it’s no surprise why. Unlike Columbia’s newer technology that makes concessions where many people’s style might be concerned, these shirts pass off just about anywhere.

You’ll see the ubiquitous presence of this shirt around bonefishing lodges and on safaris, but you’ll also see newscasters and wildlife biologists in them, too. Why? Well, the simple fact that they work, they keep you cool, and they’re also shockingly lightweight and full of pockets, which make them ideal shirts for the field. I left my favorite PFG shirt behind in a hotel room in Fiji years ago, and I’ve lamented that day ever since.

I also tried Columbia’s new Solar Shade Zero Woven Long Sleeve, and while it worked wonders, I felt like I was wearing a bowling shirt, a la Charlie Sheen’s character in “Two and a Half Men.” For me, that was a problem.

I’ll continue to wear it because it works every bit as good as all of Columbia’s highly technical, if sometimes busy-looking clothing, but again, only on the boat. I did love the plastic zippered pockets in it, though.

The best lightweight sun shirt

filson ultralight

Filson’s Ultralight shirt is 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.

Pros: Lightweight, breathable, versatile

Cons: Pricier, probably overkill for most people

If you’re looking for something in the featherlight category, which we highly recommend if you’re in hotter, muggier climes, look to Filson’s Ultralight Shirt, made with breathable 2.6-ounce polyester ripstop (that’s basically parachute material).

Filson’s Ultralight Shirt is the best of both worlds, and it’s something you might get away with in the office just as soon as you would on a flats fishing boat — depending on where you work. The double-breasted pockets could be a bit of a giveaway.

But I’ve found nothing more lightweight and after a few months, I’ve managed to avoid ripping, staining, or otherwise degrading this shirt. And like all of my picks, I haven’t seen the UPF treatment wear out. Despite a slightly lower UPF30 treatment (as opposed to the 50 you’ll see on most shirts I recommend), I haven’t gotten a sunburn in it, either.

This shirt is truly paper-thin, and it’s the shirt I choose for the best and worst summer has to offer. If you tend to overheat, if you’re out in direct sunlight all day long, and especially if you’re hiking or fishing, this shirt is a sound investment.

The specific features make this shirt a little sporty, which is to say that double-breast pockets, button tabs for rolled-up sleeves, and a spread collar might be a bit excessive for someone just looking to spend the day at the beach. But for an almost impossibly light adventure-ready shirt, I dare you to find one better.

The best hybrid hoodie

oneill sun shirt

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. 

Pros: Stretchy, soft, comfortable, versatile, just tightly woven enough to keep you warm on a crisp morning or night

Cons: Too hot in certain climes, maybe a little short for some tastes and torsos (which I didn’t mind while surfing as it stayed out of my way)

It might seem counterintuitive to buy a UPF sun shirt that keeps you warm, but on chillier mornings and evenings, as well as more temperate days in spring and fall, I have come to be extremely grateful for my O’Neill 24/7 Hybrid UPF shirt.

When I first tried these shirts on a sultry South Carolinian summer day, it was more than I could bear. This shirt is by no means breathable, and the first one I tried was a pullover. I was drenched in sweat within seconds. I ripped it off, and, lo and behold, received a fine licking from the sun.

But this year the team at O’Neill released a zippered version that allows for controlled ventilation — and it makes all the difference. Like the shirt of years past, this one is made of a spandex and nylon blend, which is soft and stretchy, and I often find myself wearing one well past sundown. 

I’ve also found it to work well for surfing, though I’d recommend a proper rash guard for any swimming beyond casual surf bathing. Also, because it’s loose-fitting, I wouldn’t recommend anyone learn to surf in it, nor would I suggest wearing it in large or rough surf, where it will act as a sea anchor and weigh you down.

For an all-around summer top, it’s hard to beat in and out of the water, apart from real scorchers in the Palmetto State, at least.

What else we considered

sunshirts

Backcountry Tahoe Sun Hoodie: If you’re looking for a generic sun shirt with a hood, the Tahoe Sun Hoodie from Backcountry fits the bill. It’s not within the budget price zone of our overall pick from Hanes, but it does tend to be somewhere in the middle of the price range for sun shirts, and might save you a few bucks, depending on what you’re after.

Duck Camp Co.: Duck Camp Co.’s fishing shirts are a lot like Columbia’s PFG line. The quality of the fabric is all there and the technical aspects of the shirt are great. We’ve only spent a bit of time with these shirts, and we’re a little skeptical of how the zippers will fare over time compared with Columbia PFG’s tried and true, but after two months of use and exposure to the brine, they’re still doing well.

Orvis Drirelease Pullover Hoodie: The Drirelease Pullover Hoodie from Orvis is moisture-wicking and fast-drying, and it’s somewhat comparable to Patagonia’s answer in our pick above, but it’s not quite as soft, and it’s a little more expensive. Still, this is Orvis quality and if you’re a devotee, you won’t go wrong.

How to shop for a sun shirt

When shopping for a sun shirt, there are a few things to keep in mind, namely the features the shirt comes with and its UPF rating. Much of the decision about which shirt to buy comes down to how and where you’ll be wearing it.

Here’s what to consider when picking out a sun shirt:

  • UPF vs. SPF: Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) measures the amount of UV light that passes through fabrics, while Sun Protection Factor (SPF) measures the amount of time it takes sun-screened skin to redden, or, in other words, the effectiveness of sunscreen.
  • Temperature: If you’re going to be somewhere really, really hot, like Death Valley, or the Atacama Desert, forego your choosy inklings and buy something with the newfangled cooling technology, most notably by Columbia or Under Armour. They’re a bit loud, though, so if you want to strike a pose for your Instagram post, consider throwing in another shirt for photo ops that you’re willing to be caught dead in.
  • Style: Your style is your style, and we’re not telling you what to wear, not ever, and not now. Sun shirts come in all cuts, and it really comes down to personal preference, for most. If you’re going to be doing a lot of swimming, surfing, or spending time in direct sunlight, a hood is beneficial, if not paramount to outwitting the sun and its rays. You also might want thumb holders and a loop to tie it to your shorts. If you’re fishing, pockets are also kind of a must, and a button-up with plenty of pockets is arguably the best way to go.
  • Weight: If you’re traveling — or living — lightly, some of our picks are a bit on the heavy or bulky side. Consider passing on those for our other picks.

A note on fit

Although the sun shirts featured in this guide say they’re for men, anyone can wear any style, size, or brand of shirt they desire, regardless of the gender the brand says it’s actually for. The sizing of men’s shirts does differ from women’s, most notably by having broader shoulders and a less shapely or fitted cut.

However, the most important consideration is that the gear fits properly and functions how you need it to.

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