What To Look For When Buying UPF Clothing

Block damaging UV rays with these clothes.
Sunrise over boaters
Protect your skin while on the water with the right UPF clothing. Courtesy Unsplash/Mason Kimbarovsky

With skin cancer rates on the rise, sunscreen has become a familiar part of any boater’s lifestyle, but not everyone cares to constantly apply — and remember to reapply — the lotion, spray or stick. Enter UPF clothing, casual wear with fabrics that provide both UVA and UVB protection. Here’s what to look for.

BALEAF Women's UPF 50+ Sun Protection

UPF Rating

Looking for the greatest sun protection? Choose a UPF 50+ shirt with long sleeves, even a hood, to cover the majority of your upper body. Courtesy Amazon

SPF (sun protection factor) has become a familiar term to anyone who regularly applies sunscreen, but UPF is not as widely known. Think of UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) as a rating similar to SPF but for fabrics. Clothing with a UPF rating of 50 blocks out 98% of the sun’s UV rays when worn, offering essential protection to covered skin.

Speedo Men's Uv Swim Shirt Long Sleeve Loose Fit Easy Tee

Comfort Extras

Need help deciphering the UPF ratings? A UPF rating of 50+ means the garment will allow only 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays to get through the fabric to your skin. Courtesy Amazon

Styles can vary depending on the activity they’re aimed for, but to make UPF clothing as comfortable as possible look for features like raglan sleeves, moisture-wicking “tech” fabrics that breathe and pull moisture away from the skin, and a slightly loose fit that offers good freedom of movement and won’t cling tight to the skin.

Hanes Men's Long Sleeve Cool Dri T-Shirt UPF 50+

Can’t Miss It

High-visibility fabrics are an extra safety feature. Courtesy Amazon

Bright colors can help make you more visible to other boaters when you’re on the water. Reflective materials go even further and can improve visibility at night.

AXESEA Womens Long Sleeve Rash Guard

Increase Coverage With Arm Sleeves

Look for flat lock stitching on UPF garments as it will reduce chafing and increase overall comfort. Courtesy Amazon

Sun protection shouldn’t be limited to just your torso. UPF fabrics are also found in hats, arm sleeves, bathing suits, leggings, fishing-style button-ups and even versatile neck gaiters that can be pulled over the face, ears and head.