UPF Clothing for Runners: 3 Cool Shirts to Run in the Sun

Can UPF clothing protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays?
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🏃‍♂️WeeViews runner Bill Thach had to find out.
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🔥He lives in Richmond, Texas, where summer temps hover above a blazing-hot 90 degrees all summer long.
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But there's an even bigger reason he needed to block the sun when it's time for a run...
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"With my new cancer treatment, one of the side effects is having phototoxicy," says Bill. "It's a chemically-induced skin irritation that may look like a bad sunburn. So I need to wear clothing that protects my skin."
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So we hooked Bill up with some UPF clothing (three long-sleeved shirts). Here's what he learned...

😎The sunny-side of UPF clothing for runners

Tired of sweating like a polar bear at a beach party when you go for a run?
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As the temperatures continue to rise (thanks, global warming), it's time to invest in some serious sun protection that doesn't involve wrapping yourself in tinfoil.
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😎Enter UPF clothing - the superhero capes of the fashion world, ready to shield you from those relentless UV rays while keeping you cooler than a penguin in a freezer.
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With UPF fabrics, you can finally ditch lathering up with sunblock or bathing in aloe vera and embrace the great outdoors without fear of turning lobster-red.

  • Who needs another ozone layer when you've got threads that block UV radiation better than a teenager avoiding their parents?
  • So go ahead, let global warming do its worst—you'll be the trendsetter smugly sipping piña coladas in your UPF clothing while everyone else is desperately seeking shade. 
  • Just don't be surprised if people start asking you for behind-the-scenes details on the next Marvel movie!

👉UPF clothing, which stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor clothing, is specifically designed to protect the skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. 

5 things to know about UPF clothing

Wondering if UPF clothing can help you go for a run in the sun?
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Here are five things you need to know...

😎1. What is UPF clothing?

Definition

  • UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing is a type of specialized garment designed to protect the wearer from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. 
  • Unlike regular clothing, UPF garments provide consistent, proven protection against both UVA and UVB rays, making them an effective measure for reducing skin cancer risk and premature skin aging caused by sun exposure.

What’s it made of?

  • UPF clothing is made from fabrics that are tightly woven or treated with UV-absorbing or UV-reflecting agents, which block or absorb a significant amount of UV radiation from reaching the skin beneath the clothing. 
  • The UPF rating measures the fraction of sunburn-producing UV rays that can penetrate the fabric.

UPF Rating

  • The UPF rating system is similar to the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) system used for sunscreens. 
  • For example, a UPF rating of 50 means that only 1/50th (or 2%) of UV radiation can pass through the fabric, effectively blocking 98% of UV rays.

😎2. How does UPF clothing work?

Fabric Construction

  • The effectiveness of UPF clothing is determined by several factors, including the tightness of the weave, the type of fibers used, and any special treatments applied to the fabric.

Fiber Type

  • Synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon generally provide better UV protection compared to natural fibers like cotton.

Fabric Treatments

  • Some UPF fabrics are treated with UV-inhibiting ingredients to enhance their protective qualities.

Color and Weight

  • Darker and heavier fabrics tend to offer better UV protection than lighter and thinner ones.

😎3. Benefits of UPF clothing

Sun Protection

  • UPF clothing helps protect against both UVA and UVB rays, reducing the risk of sunburn, premature skin aging, and skin cancer.

Convenience

  • Unlike sunscreen, which needs to be reapplied every couple of hours, UPF clothing provides consistent protection as long as it is worn.

Coverage

  • UPF clothing often includes long sleeves, high collars, and wide-brimmed hats to cover more skin.

😎4. Applications

Outdoor Activities

  • Ideal for activities such as running, hiking, swimming, gardening, and any prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Sensitive Skin

  • Beneficial for individuals with sensitive skin or those prone to sunburn.

Daily Wear

  • Increasingly incorporated into everyday clothing for regular use, particularly in regions with high UV exposure.

😎5. Limitations

Partial Protection

  • While UPF clothing offers excellent protection, it should be used in combination with other sun protection measures, such as sunscreen on exposed skin, sunglasses, and seeking shade.

Effectiveness Over Time

  • The protective ability of UPF clothing can diminish with wear and washing, although high-quality UPF garments are designed to retain their effectiveness longer.

UPF clothing for runners: Is it worth it?

While UPF clothing offers many benefits for sun protection, there are also some downsides to consider:

1. Cost

  • Higher Price: UPF clothing is often more expensive than regular clothing due to the specialized materials and manufacturing processes used to enhance UV protection.

2. Comfort and Style

  • Limited Styles: The range of styles, colors, and designs might be more limited compared to regular clothing.
  • Heat and Breathability: Some UPF fabrics can be less breathable and may feel hotter, especially in warm weather. This is because tighter weaves and heavier materials that provide better UV protection can also trap more heat.

3. Durability

  • Wear and Tear: The UV protection of UPF clothing can diminish over time with wear, washing, and exposure to the elements. This means the effectiveness of the garment can decrease, necessitating replacement more frequently than regular clothes.
  • Care Instructions: UPF clothing might require special care instructions to maintain its protective qualities, such as avoiding fabric softeners or harsh detergents.

4. Effectiveness

  • Partial Protection: While UPF clothing provides excellent protection for covered areas, it does not protect exposed skin. It should be used in conjunction with sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses for comprehensive sun protection.
  • Coverage Limitations: Some UPF clothing might not cover all areas effectively, especially if the design is not comprehensive (e.g., short sleeves or low necklines).

5. Availability

  • Accessibility: High-quality UPF clothing may not be widely available in all regions, requiring online purchases which can be less convenient and involve additional shipping costs.

6. Environmental Concerns

  • Synthetic Materials: Many UPF fabrics are made from synthetic materials like polyester and nylon, which have environmental drawbacks including reliance on fossil fuels and potential microplastic pollution.
  • Chemical Treatments: Fabrics treated with UV-inhibiting chemicals may raise environmental and health concerns, particularly if they leach into the water supply during washing.

7. Aesthetics and Fit

  • Bulky Feel: Some UPF clothing may feel bulkier due to thicker fabrics or additional layers needed to enhance UV protection, potentially affecting comfort and fit.
  • Fashion Preferences: Fashion-conscious individuals might find UPF clothing less appealing if it does not align with current trends or personal style preferences.

UPF clothing for runners: I tested 3 shirts in hot-Texas weather

I tested out three long-sleeved UPF shirts and rated them based on six factors:

  1. Price 
  2. Style & Design 
  3. Comfort & Fit 
  4. Durability 
  5. Sustainability 
  6. Material

The three UPF shirts I tested include:

Janji Sunchaser Hooded Long-Sleeve Shirt

Price:

  • Higher price point due to its sustainable materials and stylish design.

Style and Design:

  • Trendy and vibrant designs, suitable for those looking for fashionable activewear.

Comfort and Fit:

  • Comfortable with a relaxed fit and flatlock seams to prevent chafing. Had the softest material and comfort.

Durability:

  • Good durability with a focus on quality materials.

Sustainability:

  • Strong emphasis on sustainability and use of recycled materials.

Material:

  • 84% recycled polyester, 16% spandex
REI Sahara Shade Hoodie

Price:

  • Mid-range price, offering good value for its durability and versatility.

Style and Design:

  • More utilitarian and practical, with a focus on functionality.

Comfort and Fit:

  • REI Sahara: Comfortable but may have a more utilitarian fit. Almost as soft as the Janji but noticeable difference

Durability:

  • Known for its durability, designed to withstand rugged use.

Sustainability:

  • Generally good environmental practices, but less specific focus on sustainability compared to Janji.

Material:

  • REI Sahara: 55% polyester/37% recycled polyester/8% spandex.
InGear Sun Protection Shirt

Price:

  • Most affordable option, ideal for budget-conscious buyers.

Style and Design:

  • Basic and functional, with less emphasis on style.

Comfort and Fit:

  • Comfortable with a relaxed fit, though fabric feel may be less soft.

Durability:

  • Less durable than the other options, with potential issues over time.

Sustainability:

  • Less emphasis on sustainability, focusing more on affordability.

Material:

  • 100% Polyester

UPF clothing: A cool way to run in the sun

Here's my take on this UPF clothing for runners:

  • 😎Janji Sunchaser: Best for those who prioritize style, sustainability, and are willing to invest more for high-quality, fashionable activewear.
  • 🏃‍♀️REI Sahara: Ideal for those seeking a versatile, durable, and practical UPF shirt at a reasonable price.
  • 💲Ingear Sun Protection Shirt: Perfect for budget-conscious individuals who need basic, functional sun protection and are willing to compromise on durability and style.

Final thoughts...
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While UPF clothing is an effective way to protect against UV radiation, it comes with trade-offs in terms of cost, comfort, durability, and environmental impact. Balancing these factors with the need for sun protection is important for making an informed decision before you go for a run.

Do you wear UPF clothing when you run?

Let us know in the comments, or create a WeeView and tell us more about your favorite UPF clothing for runners.

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Bill Thach
Richmond, TX
1 Follower
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Stage 4 Neuroendocrine Carcinoma cancer patient who enjoys cycling and running

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