The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Prana Charline Sun Top Review

Cute and ready for your beach day - though mostly from the beach, not the waves!
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $70 List | $38.97 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable water shirt, material dries quickly, cute patterns
Cons:  Doesn’t stay put in the water, material a tad stiff
Manufacturer:   prAna
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 11, 2018
  • Share this article:
62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 10
  • Comfort & Fit - 30% 7
  • Sun Protection - 25% 6
  • Breathability - 20% 5
  • Durability - 10% 7
  • Style - 15% 6

The Skinny

While we love the cute patterns available from Prana, this shirt is best suited for sitting on the sidelines on the beach. However, if that sounds like your perfect day, this might be the right shirt for you! With cool, comfortable fabric that slides easily over a bathing suit and flat seams to minimize that itchy feeling while remaining looser than a rash guard, this shirt is great for building sand castles or enjoying a mojito in a beach chair.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Prana advertised the Charlene as a swim shirt, which is why we compared it most heavily against the O'Neill Basic Skins rash guard. Not being a rash guard itself, it wasn't quite up to the same kinds of activities as the O'Neill, but still has its merits. Read on to learn how it stacked up!

Performance Comparison


Though meant for the beach  we felt the prAna Charline worked better on the drier side.
Though meant for the beach, we felt the prAna Charline worked better on the drier side.

Comfort & Fit


Though Prana advertises the Charline as a swim shirt, it is most definitely not a rash guard like the O'Neill Basic Skins. This means it's meant to have a looser, less skin-tight feel, and is generally more comfortable to wear casually. When comparing this shirt to the O'Neill, we noticed that the fabric has a stiffer feel than that of the rash guard, and when wearing it, we noticed that the fabric was a bit less breathable. It also has shorter sleeves and a shorter torso than the O'Neill, which combined with the looser fit, means it tends to float up around your middle in the water, and the sleeves float back toward your shoulders. With all this strange movement and fabric brushing in strange places at odd times, our reviewers didn't think it was the most comfortable shirt to actually swim in. And though the seams were sewn flat, they're placed in traditional spots - directly up the sides of the torso and into the armpits - which any accomplished paddler will tell you can cause rubbing after a short amount of time. No, this shirt does not wear like a rash guard, and we gave it a 7 out of 10 in this category.

The prAna Charline  size XS  on two of our 5'4" testers.
The prAna Charline, size XS, on two of our 5'4" testers.

Sun Protection


While this shirt boasts a high UPF value of 50+, it also doesn't have any of the extra features that might give it extra coverage. Designed like a swim shirt, it has no hood or collar, leaving the neck exposed. It also lacks the thumb holes that help protect the backs of your hands. While this would be less of a concern for a rash guard, the fact that this shirt tends to ride up anywhere it isn't tight on the body means even more skin exposed to the sun. If you wear this shirt to the beach, don't forget to bring the sunscreen for what it doesn't cover! We gave this shirt a 6 out of 10 for sun protection.

Much shorter than the sleeves of the O'Neill Basic Skins  we didn't feel as protected in the prAna Charline.
Much shorter than the sleeves of the O'Neill Basic Skins, we didn't feel as protected in the prAna Charline.

Breathability


The loose fit provides a way for the breeze to get in, but the material itself we found not to be nearly as breathable as many of the other sun shirts in this review. This shirt does dry quickly once wet, and since it is looser than a traditional rash guard, this process is sped up. No need to remove it and lay it aside with all that extra room for drying! Overall, we gave the Prana a 5 out of 10 for breathability.

Flat seams and a crew neck help protect your skin from damaging UV rays.
Flat seams and a crew neck help protect your skin from damaging UV rays.

Durability


A roughly 80/20 synthetic/stretch (polyester or nylon/lycra or spandex, depending on the color you choose) fabric blend gives the shirt room to move. We found this shirt to have nearly the same amount of stretch capacity as the O'Neill. Seams sewn flat also add to the durability of this sun shirt, and our reviewers had no complaints with how it held up to testing. We scored it a 7 out of 10.

With this seam placement under the arm  the prAna Charline is not our top pick for high arm motion activities like surfing  paddling  or swimming.
With this seam placement under the arm, the prAna Charline is not our top pick for high arm motion activities like surfing, paddling, or swimming.

Style


Being a bit looser, this shirt has a traditionally feminine cut to appear more flattering. It comes in only a few colors and patterns, hoping your tastes fit in with their production. All colors are medium shades too, meaning the sun's heat will be more absorbed than in lighter shirts like the Vapor Solar Long Sleeve. As much as our reviewers enjoyed the patterns on this shirt, they felt it's not overly versatile - they certainly wouldn't wear it around the office or to evening drinks with a friend. Overall, we gave the Charline a 6 out of 10 for style.

The prAna Charline (right; size XS) and the O'Neill Basics (left; size XS) on our 5'4"  115lb tester.
The prAna Charline (right; size XS) and the O'Neill Basics (left; size XS) on our 5'4", 115lb tester.

Features


A simple design, the Charline features only flat seams, though those seams aren't placed in areas that would be consistent with a rash guard.

Best Applications


With its design for the water and a looser fit, our reviewers feel this shirt would be a great option for a day at the beach - mostly on the beach. It's a great - and cute! - cover up for burying your friends or kids in the sand, playing volleyball, and maybe splashing around just a bit in the surf. If you'd rather have a shirt that can stand up to jet skiing, triathlons, and surfing, you'd be better off checking out the O'Neill Basic Skins. If instead, you're looking for a sun shirt that's good for casual activities not just at the beach (like gardening or bocce ball), consider the Vapor Solar Long Sleeve.

Value


While we liked this shirt for our casual beach moments, it bears a hefty price tag for what we felt was a limited range of activities it's best suited for. Retailing for upwards of $65, the Charline might not be the shirt you own two of. But if the activities we've described here and the adorable prints and colors have sucked you in, you might consider the purchase of this top from Prana.

Conclusion


Best used for lounging at the beach building sand castles in the tide or sitting poolside with a margarita in hand and your feet in the water, the Charline Sun Top is a cute way to protect yourself from the sun. Though our reviewers felt its uses were a bit limited compared to some of the other sun shirts in this review, its style just may make it your next choice to skip the sunblock.


Maggie Brandenburg