Boating Sportswear With UV Protection

Stay protected on the water from the sun's rays with this apparel.

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Sunrise over boaters
Protect your skin while on the water with the right UPF clothing. Courtesy Unsplash/Mason Kimbarovsky

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Ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) is a measurement of how much ultraviolet light is blocked by a fabric. UPF 50, the most common rating on clothing tags, means the fabric will cut out all but 1/50th of the sun’s cancer-causing UV rays. Basically, 98 percent of the UV rays do not penetrate a UPF 50 fabric. For all-day fun in the sun, choosing lightweight garments that offer this protection is beneficial for comfort and long-term skin care.

How We Tested

Using a UV black light and a UV meter, we shined the black light on the UV meter’s sensor from 5 inches away and measured the output. Next, we covered the UV light with a UPF-rated fabric, being careful to avoid stretching and opening the weave, and measured the residual light. While all of our test garments passed, some even exceeded the UPF 50 standard.

Magellan Pro Angler Shirt
Deeper colors block more UV light than pale colors. Courtesy Magellan

Magellan Pro Angler Shirt

Caped sport shirts with button-down collars are the staple of anglers and boaters thanks to their cooling nature and sharp looks. Side panels and underarms are perforated for added ventilation. A sunglasses cleaning cloth is sewn into the shirt tail, and the left breast pocket has three cool tools. One is a line-cutting button. There is also a sunglasses loop and a rod loop. The right breast pocket is zippered and holds a large smartphone. The left one uses hook-and-loop fasteners, and both have drain holes.

  • Price: $34.99
  • Color: Royal blue
  • UPF Rating: 50
  • Test Results: Passed
Simms Brackett shirt
Wrinkle-free, the fabric is enhanced with baked-in UPF blockers. Courtesy Simms

Simms Brackett Shirt

This shirt is cool, soft to the touch and wrinkle-resistant, a feature proven by the number of days it was left in the laundry pile. Stainless-steel-trimmed pearl snaps make it easy to get on and off, and the cuffs have two snaps for a snug or loose fit. The collar buttons down, and the pockets snap shut. A sunglasses cleaning chamois is sewn into the tail, near the hip. The look is sharp, and the fabric is tough for rough use and durable good looks. 

  • Price: $89.95
  • Color: Nightfall window plaid
  • UPF Rating: 50
  • Test Results: Passed
AFTCO Rangle shirt
Our favorite for a sporty cut, soft, flexible fabric and stain-resistant finish; it easily passed. Courtesy AFTCO

AFTCO Rangle Long-Sleeved Shirt

The ultralight polyester fabric feels like a feather, and it remains cool in sweaty weather. A stain-resistant treatment protects it from even splattered fish blood and splashed wine. Pleated pockets have nylon snaps on the flaps. A sunglasses cleaning cloth is sewn into the tail, front and center. The sleeves can be rolled above the elbow and kept there with button-up straps. 

  • Price: $48
  • Color: Light blue
  • UPF Rating: 50
  • Test Results: Passed
Pelagic Defcon shirt
Comfortable and cool, with a mask and a tight weave. Courtesy Pelagic

Pelagic Defcon Hooded Fishing Shirt

This techie fishing shirt has a face mask, hood and a kangaroo pocket, in case July and August turn cold. It’s a snug-fitting shirt in a highly elastic nylon. It’s water-repellent and stain-resistant to dry quickly and remain stain-free in hard use. Thumb slots keep the sleeves over the back of your hands—one of the most UV-exposed areas of the body. 

  • Price: $85
  • Color: Smoky blue
  • UPF Rating: 50
  • Test Results: Passed
Grundéns Solstrale Pro Hoodie
Sleek cut will be a favorite among fly-fishers. It would also make a comfy underlayer. Courtesy Grundéns

Grundéns Solstrale Pro Hoodie

The sleeves and bottom half of the shirt have a waffled woven weave that is both tough and light to the touch. It feels as if it enhances ventilation. Underarms are seamless for comfort, and the hood covers the chin and extends far enough to shade the face. It provides full sun protection in the summer and would make a good wicking underlayer for cold weather.

  • Price: $89.99
  • Color: Quarry
  • UPF Rating: 50
  • Test Results: Passed
AFTCO Adapt Tactical HD Hoodie
Tactical camo is suitable for a hot season of waterfowl and stealthy sight-fishing trips. Courtesy AFTCO

AFTCO Adapt Tactical HD Hoodie

Fashioned from 84 percent recycled polyester and 16 percent spandex, the stretchy shirt form-fits to the body, and the mask conforms to the face. The weave is less dense at the mouth and nose for comfort. When thumbs are in the sleeve slots, and the hood and mask are up, only the fingertips are exposed to the sun. Using recycled fabric material is just one way AFTCO pursues sustainability.

  • Price: $85
  • Color: Light-gray Digi Camo
  • UPF Rating: 50
  • Test Results: Passed
Grundéns Sidereal Pants
Knife pocket and key loop add versatility. The flat-front cut doubles as sportswear, even with a drawstring waist. Courtesy Grundéns

Grundéns Sidereal Pants

These pants are so light that they feel like pajamas, but they look perfectly street-ready. The fabric is stretchy, and 57 percent is Econyl, made from recycled fishing nets; 38 percent is virgin nylon, and 5 percent is spandex—the stretchy part. Two front pockets are fast-draining woven mesh. The right front pocket has a heavy-fabric knife-sheath pocket for a clip knife, and the back pocket has a drain hole. A snap and flap would’ve been a nice addition there. The pants are designed to be airy and cool, and they are.  

  • Price: $99.99
  • Color: Golden brown
  • UPF Rating: 50
  • Test Results: Exceeded standards
AFTCO Cloudburst Shorts
Shorter shorts are coming back. These are tough for the beach and look sharp for waterfront dining. Courtesy AFTCO

AFTCO Cloudburst Shorts

These 8-inch shorts exceeded standards for their UPF 50 rating, blocking 99.8 percent of UV light in our tests. A Teflon coating ensures stain resistance for hard-use fishing, and the crisp style makes them Saturday-afternoon sporty. The right-side pliers pocket is handy for fishermen or to hold a smaller smartphone. 

  • Price: $59
  • Color: Charcoal heather
  • UPF Rating: 50
  • Test Results: Exceeded standards
Simms Skiff Shorts
Extra protection from higher-than-promised UV blocking down to the knee tops. Courtesy Simms

Simms Skiff Shorts

The shorts are even softer than the shirt, with slash front pockets that are mesh-lined for fast drainage. So is a zippered phone pocket on the side, and patch pockets on the hips can hold a wallet or your hands. Belt loops give them street cred, and the fast-drying fabric is waffled inside for better cooling. 

  • Price: $69.95
  • Color: Storm
  • UPF Rating: 50
  • Test Results: Exceeded standards
Magellan Pro Angler Hybrid Boardshorts
Sporty and tactical, with a zippered pocket and line-cutting button. The tight weave reduces light. Courtesy Magellan

Magellan Pro Angler Hybrid Boardshorts

The fabric is water-repellent to dry quickly for all-day comfort. The 10-inch lace-up shorts with a zippered fly are comfortable and stretchy. The longer legs cover sun-vulnerable thighs to the knees. Side and hip zippered pockets are fast-draining and hold a large smartphone securely. A line-cutting button at the waist adds a touch of style and utility. 

  • Price: $29.99
  • Color: Caviar
  • UPF Rating: 50
  • Test Results: Passed
Pelagic Ocean Master Shorts
Patriotic, protective of skin and gear with zippered pockets, and ready for the beach, boat or pool. Courtesy Pelagic

Pelagic Ocean Master Shorts

Born for the Fourth of July, these 10-inch red, white and blue boardshorts are for celebrations, boating weekends and fishing adventures. Zippered front and back pockets, two each, are complemented with one pliers pocket with three tool slots. The lace-up front is all about board sports, but the stain-resistant fabric is all about bloody fishing decks.  

  • Price: $95
  • Color: Americano
  • UPF Rating: 50
  • Test Results: Exceeded standards
Whitewater Rapids Long Sleeve
Performance fishing shirt with a comfortable fit. Courtesy Blocker Outdoors

Whitewater Rapids Long Sleeve

Extremely comfortable and possibly the coolest feeling shirt in muggy weather, the Rapids shirt has all the attributes of performance fishing shirt, including button chest pockets, roll up sleeves with keeper straps and cape back with polyester mesh vent. The front pockets have a slanted slash look. The poly spandex fabric blend is relaxed in size and flexes with the body. Hang it and it relaxes to an ironed look.

  • Price: $39.99
  • Color: Lagoon
  • UPF Rating: 50
  • Test Results: Passed
Columbia Sportswear Men's PFG Terminal Tackle Shorts
Fast-drying shorts that also include a handy tool. Courtesy Columbia

Columbia Sportswear Men’s PFG Terminal Tackle™ Shorts

Beer and fishing must be inseparably bound and Columbia includes a beer opener on an elastic lanyard to scratch that itch. Anglers fear not, it also has a line cutter built in and the flat tool tucks into a handy thigh pocket. Slash front pockets, a zippered side pocket and two button up hip pockets keep gear, phone and wallet secured. Belt loops give it street creds and 10-inch pant length gives it board shorts creds. The fast drying fabric is stain resistant and fast drying. We’ve already gotten grease and barbecue sauce out of them.

  • Price: $55
  • Color: Cool Grey
  • UPF Rating: 50 Omni-shade
  • Test Results: Passed
Columbia Sportswear Men’s PFG Terminal Tackle Long Sleeve Shirt
Sun protection and moisture wicking fabric. Courtesy Columbia

Columbia Sportswear Men’s PFG Terminal Tackle™ Long Sleeve Shirt

Omni-Wick is Columbia’s trade mark for this fast drying, moisture moving polyester fabric. The long sleeves provide optimum sun protection to the wrist and neck. It’s comfortably cool to wear and comes in 17 colors from whites, to pastels to deeper colors and black. It would make an ideal wicking garment for any outdoor application, but is designed specifically to give anglers the freedom of motion plus sun protection needed to succeed on the water.

  • Price: $35-40
  • Color: Vivid Blue
  • UPF Rating: 50
  • Test Results: Passed
Columbia Sportswear Men's PFG Terminal Tackle Pants
Durable pants that are stylish. Courtesy Columbia

Columbia Sportswear Men’s PFG Terminal Tackle™ Pants

Select waist size from 28- to 44-inches and inseams of 30-, 32- or 34-inches. Light airy fabric with Omni-shield boasts water and stain repellency so fish blood washes out. Omni-Shade raises the UPF to 50. The un-pleated pant has slash front pockets, snap up hip pockets and a zip cargo thigh pocket. Belt loops complete the comfort package. Sizing is true but polyester with 9% Elastane offers a forgiving fit. They are tough enough to fish and sharp enough for dinner out.

  • Price: $55
  • Color: Cool Grey
  • UPF Rating: 50
  • Test Results: Passed
HUK Kona Covered Up
A sturdy shirt with sharp looks. Courtesy HUK

HUK Kona Covered Up

This is the sportiest sport shirt in our test and it passed. Not only is fabric tightly woven but the dark color absorbs UV light before it penetrates to the skin. The fabric, cut and stitching are sturdy, the design sharp looking. The print is subtle shadows of fish. It’s comfortable on, soft, flexible and the least sweaty of any of our other shirts—short sleeves helps with that. There are dozens of colors in the Kona series, but this is our favorite.

  • Price: $55
  • Color: Titanium Blue
  • UPF Rating: 50
  • Test Results: Passed
HUK A1A short
Breathable fabric that also offers sun protection. Courtesy HUK

HUK A1A Short

UPF 50 is approved by BoatingLAB thanks in part to its tight fabric weave. However, a light twist to the fabric is laser perforation to aid in breathability. A thigh pocket holds all but the biggest smart phones and slash pockets in front are deep. Belt loops get you from board shorts status to dockside dining. They go perfect with the Kona Covered Up.

Price: $70
Color: Overcast Grey
UPF Rating: 50
Test Results: Passed

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