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

Best Sun Protection Shirts for Women of 2020

What kind of protection is enough for YOU?
Photo: Kats Kitagawa
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Thursday November 5, 2020
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Seeking the best women's sun shirt? For 2020, we researched over 70 models, then purchased the 14 best to test side-by-side. We spent months wearing these shirts running through alpine meadows, snorkeling in equatorial waters, and gardening in blistering backyards. Our team evaluated how each model fits women of different body proportions, as well as how comfortable they are to wear on a hot summer's day. We wore them paddling and hiking and washed them repeatedly to test breathability and durability. If you're like us, putting sunscreen on every 90 minutes all summer just isn't happening. No matter what's pulling you outdoors, we've identified the perfect sun shirt for you.

Top 14 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 14
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $29.98 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$64.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$59.95 at REI$55.00 at Backcountry$85.00 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Incredibly lightweight, very breathable, great coverage, super stretchySuper lightweight, built in hand covers, extremely breathable, ponytail hole in hoodFlex fabric/vent in armpit, attractive cut and style, good for diverse activitiesVery comfortable, good construction, hides dirt well, impressively soft, cute natural colorsComfortable cuffs, breathable fabric, hood fits comfortably under helmet
Cons Gets dirty easily, too stretchy to keep heavy items in the pocketSnags easily, very low UPFWrinkles relatively easily, sleeve tab extremely highFew color choices, small hood, sleeves a bit shortOdd seam in middle of neck, tight band at bottom of torso
Bottom Line A versatile shirt that's hard to beatIncredibly lightweight and easy activewear with helpful featuresWe feel this shirt is well made for a wide variety of situations and activitiesA solid choice for an everyday sun shirt hoody that's sure to be loved by women who don't want thumbholesA hooded breathable shirt that does away with thumbholes and stays put well
Rating Categories Crater Lake Long Sleeve Hoody Echo Hoody Co-op Sahara Long-Sleeve Capilene Cool Daily Alpenglow Hoody
Comfort And Fit (30%)
9
8
8
8
7
Sun Protection (25%)
9
8
6
7
7
Breathability (20%)
9
9
8
7
7
Versatility (15%)
7
8
9
8
7
Durability (10%)
6
7
8
7
7
Specs Crater Lake Long... Echo Hoody Co-op Sahara... Capilene Cool Daily Alpenglow Hoody
Sun Protection Level (UPF) 50+ 15 35 50+ 50
Coverage Long sleeve, hood, thumb holes Long sleeve, hood, hand cuffs Long sleeve, collar Long sleeve, hood Long sleeve, hood
Features Extra large hood, draw string at waist, hip pocket (zipper) Fold-over mitt cuffs, ponytail hole in hood Chest pockets (snap), tab sleeves, back vent, vented underarm, sunglasses loop, seams removed from arm pit Hood Hood
Fit Standard fit Trim fit Classic fit Regular fit Relaxed fit
Material 88% polyester 12% elastane 100% polyester 95% nylon 5% spandex 100% polyester (50% recycled) 91% polyester 9% elastane
Odor Control? No Yes No Yes Yes
Available Sizes XS - XL XXS - XL XS - XL XXS - XL XS - XL

Best Overall Women's Sun Shirt


Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Long Sleeve Hoody - Women's


Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Long Sleeve Hoody - Women's
Editors' Choice Award

$29.98
(50% off)
at Backcountry
See It

84
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit - 30% 9
  • Sun Protection - 25% 9
  • Breathability - 20% 9
  • Versatility - 15% 7
  • Durability - 10% 6
Sun Protection Level: UPF 50+ | Coverage: Long sleeve, hood, thumbholes
Very lightweight
Incredibly breathable
Great coverage
Super stretchy
Dirties easily
Can't keep heavy things in pocket

We love this superbly comfortable top from Mountain Hardwear. The Crater Lake Hoody has just about everything you could want in a sun shirt. It protects you from the sun with 50+ UPF fabric, has a lightweight hood that fits under a helmet, and sports thumbholes you can actually use no matter how long your arms are. Made of a soft, silky polyester/elastane blend, the Crater Lake is ridiculously stretchy and insanely comfortable. It's thin enough that it's both absurdly lightweight and shockingly breathable without being see-through. It's one of the few shirts we found ourselves happily wearing under the blazing sun without rolling up the sleeves — and that's saying something. This excellent shirt also features a zipped hip pocket and the option to cinch the bottom closed, like your favorite jacket, which comes in handy for inverted activities like climbing and yoga. It's no wonder this stellar piece wins our top award yet again.

The Crater Lake does run a bit large in our experience. Our main tester is 5'4" and 120 lb and rocked the XS with plenty of room to spare — even considering her self-described "ape arms." And while we love the super stretchy nature of this shirt, it does stop you from comfortably using the hip pocket for something heavy like your cell phone. As with any hooded shirt with thumb holes, this top offers a fairly specific look that might not fly in the workplace unless it's Casual Friday. All in all, however, we love this sun shirt, and it quickly became one of our go-to pieces for everything from yoga to biking to gardening.

Read review: Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Long Sleeve Hoody - Women's

High Value Hooded Option


Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily - Women's


Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily - Women's
Best Buy Award

$55.00
at Backcountry
See It

75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit - 30% 8
  • Sun Protection - 25% 7
  • Breathability - 20% 7
  • Versatility - 15% 8
  • Durability - 10% 7
Sun Protection Level: UPF 50+ | Coverage: Long sleeve, hood
Exceptionally comfortable
Solid construction
Hides dirt
Very soft
Cute colors
Small hood
Few colors available
Sleeves could be longer

The Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily is one of those shirts that's so soft you almost can't believe it's real. It feels like a fine, silky dry powder and is both stretchy and extremely comfortable to wear. By eliminating drawstrings and thumbholes, it strikes a good balance between providing adequate coverage with the neckline and hood without appearing like a technical or overly relaxed shirt. It comes in muted colors that are mixed with fine lines of white, helping to disguise dirt and sweat stains. And it's one of very few odor control-treated shirts that actually continues to smell fresh even after wearing it repeated days in the sun.

This shirt's hood is a bit small for our preference and is very difficult to keep on over the ponytail you might be sporting on a hot summer day. And though we like the colors it's offered in, there aren't very many options to choose from, so we hope you like them too. We also think the sleeves could stand to be a touch longer, as our main tester has long arms and found her wrists frequently exposed. This shirt has great appeal for any woman looking for a super comfortable everyday sun shirt that doesn't look so much like a sun shirt. And with a price that's on the low side compared to similar models, we're big fans of the Capilene.

Read review: Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily - Women's

Best Bang for the Buck


Baleaf UPF 50 Crew - Women's


Baleaf UPF 50 Crew - Women's
Best Buy Award

$16.99
(6% off)
at Amazon
See It

55
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit - 30% 6
  • Sun Protection - 25% 4
  • Breathability - 20% 5
  • Versatility - 15% 8
  • Durability - 10% 5
Sun Protection Level: UPF 50+ | Coverage: Long sleeve, crew neck
Comfortable cut
Soft silky fabric
Solid coverage
Tons of colors
Inexpensive
Holds body odor easily
Unimpressive durability
Sleeves a bit short

The Baleaf Crew is a simple sun shirt that works as advertised and doesn't break the bank. It's an athletic cut shirt made of silky smooth fabric that's comfortable to wear and fits easily. The crew cut neck provides great coverage without being so tight it chokes you. This shirt comes in a wide variety of bright colors, and, for its price, you could pick up three or four of them for the cost of some of the other sun shirts in this review.

It does run a bit small, particularly in the sleeve length. If you often find yourself between sizes or craving a looser fit, we'd recommend sizing up. And though it's a great choice for casual everyday wear, it's not quite breathable enough for running on a hot day. Also, if you sweat in it, you'll quickly find that it holds onto body odors rather easily. It's not the most "bombproof" shirt we tested, but it's a great value for everyday protection.

Read review: Baleaf UPF 50 Crew - Women's

Best for High Output Activity


Outdoor Research Echo Hoody - Women's


Outdoor Research Echo Hoody - Women's
Top Pick Award

$64.95
at Backcountry
See It

81
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit - 30% 8
  • Sun Protection - 25% 8
  • Breathability - 20% 9
  • Versatility - 15% 8
  • Durability - 10% 7
Sun Protection Level: UPF 15 | Coverage: Long sleeve, hood, hand-covers
Impressively lightweight
Cuffs flip easily over hands
Super breathable
Ponytail hole through the hood
Snags too easily
Low UPF

The Outdoor Research Echo Hoody has some unique features in this review that we think makes it an excellent addition to the closet of an activewear junkie. Firstly, this lightweight sun top has cuffs that easily fold over your hands to keep your fingers from freezing on those chilly morning runs. While this makes it impossible to use your hands as anything other than stumps, we think it's a great feature for sipping coffee in the woods as the sun comes up or early morning walks with the dog. Secondly, the Echo has a hole in its hood to fit your ponytail through. Though this isn't the most stylish look, it certainly is very functional. Beyond these two unique features, this hoody is absurdly lightweight and impressively breathable and is one of only a couple shirts we tested that we can comfortably wear in the hot sun without pushing up the sleeves, precisely why it's great for days when you're pushing hard or in more intense heat.

For all its other utility, the Echo lacks any pockets or thumb holes to add hand protection while leaving your fingers free for wiggling. The latest version of this shirt has increased the sleeve length by several inches, though, which does add some protection and makes the hand covers much more comfortable to use. It also has by far the lowest UPF value of any sun shirt we tested, at just 15! Most others are 35-50+, so this is rather disappointing. And while we adore the breathability of this thin, quick-drying fabric, we discovered that it snags quite easily during normal everyday activities and laundering. So while it may not last you for years and years, the quirky traits this top brings to the table make it super useful — and we love the bold colors it comes in too!

Read review: Outdoor Research Echo Hoody - Women's

Best for Versatility


REI Co-op Sahara Long-Sleeve - Women's


REI Co-op Sahara Long-Sleeve - Women's
Top Pick Award

$59.95
at REI
See It

77
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit - 30% 8
  • Sun Protection - 25% 6
  • Breathability - 20% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 9
  • Durability - 10% 8
Sun Protection Level: UPF 35 | Coverage: Long sleeve, collar
Flexy fabric in armpit
Attractive cut
Good for many activities
Wrinkles easily
Sleeve tab very high

For a button-up shirt with a collar, we feel like the REI Co-op Sahara is astoundingly well-rounded. It's stylish and comfortable and quite breathable. It has pockets that are large enough to hold a smaller iPhone and sleeves cut with a scoop to cover the backs of the hands. It also features stretchy underarm panels that not only make this shirt quite comfortable to wear, but also provide ventilation while preventing underarm rubbing during paddle sports. This shirt is versatile enough that we feel it's a great choice for a full day on the trail that runs straight into a dinner date with girlfriends.

However, the sleeve tabs are a bit too high to be overly functional. That said, once we discovered that the sleeves also stay rolled pretty well without using the sleeve tabs, we didn't mind so much. Our only other complaint is how easily this shirt wrinkles after living in a suitcase for a few days of travel. All in all, though, we are big fans of this shirt and feel it's more versatile than any other shirt in this review. If you want a shirt for your outdoor activities that can also double for Mondays at the office, the Sahara is an excellent choice.

Read review: REI Co-op Sahara Long-Sleeve - Women's

Best Rash Guard


O'Neill Basic Skins L/S Crew - Women's


O'Neill Basic Skins L/S Crew - Women's
Top Pick Award

$29.19
(19% off)
at Amazon
See It

61
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit - 30% 7
  • Sun Protection - 25% 7
  • Breathability - 20% 5
  • Versatility - 15% 4
  • Durability - 10% 6
Sun Protection Level: UPF 50+ | Coverage: Long sleeve
Stays in place
Excellent sun protection
Rashguard seams
Not versatile usage
Skintight fit is unforgiving

If you're looking for sun protection for spending a whole day in the water, the O'Neill Basic Skins is the shirt for you. It's tight enough to stay put no matter if you're swimming laps, surfing, kayaking, or jet skiing. The seams are sewn in convenient locations to not rub even during the most active adventures, and with a high UPF rating, you can be sure that you won't burn through this shirt! The material is thick enough to provide some protection against cold water without being too warm to wear in warmer climates.

As a skintight layer, this isn't the most versatile sun shirt. It's not a great option for most land activities, as the fit makes it not breathe well and will simply collect your sweat. However, if you're looking for a shirt you can rock all day in the water and look stylish without ever feeling uncomfortable, look no further than this fantastic option from O'Neill.

Read review: O'Neill Basic Skins L/S Crew - Women's


It&#039;s always important to protect your skin from UV rays. We&#039;re here...
It's always important to protect your skin from UV rays. We're here to help you determine the best shirt for your needs.
Photo: Kats Kitagawa

Why You Should Trust Us


This review is spearheaded by long-time GearLab Senior Editor, Maggie Brandenburg, and enhanced by Maggie's revolving troop of female adventure buddies. An outdoor girl at heart, Maggie has been perpetually sun-kissed since the '90s. She's a veteran of outdoor exploration and has been guiding folks through sunny days and scorching backcountry expeditions for over 15 years. Maggie lives and works outside in seriously high-UV settings from the mountaintops of the Western US to the sunny coasts of equatorial and tropical islands. She's spent consecutive seasons sleeping more nights outside than in and has a deep understanding of what makes a good sun shirt that can keep up and keep you covered even through blistering heat. Maggie also enlisted friends to try on these shirts to gain perspective on their fit across a wide range of women's body shapes.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Every year we scour the market to research and identify the best women's sun shirts available. While there continues to be a growing number of garments with UPF ratings, not all have the right combination of performance and breathability to make the cut. To test the most promising options, we swap out our wardrobe for these shirts, wearing them constantly throughout our testing period. We then make every excuse to go on wide-ranging adventures, from kayaking or hiking all day under the sun to summertime runs, bike rides, and gardening. We hung out on beaches and in parks, walked our dogs, did yoga, and took them on trips from peaks in the Sierra Nevadas to seasides in the Galapagos. Through some serious sweating and repeated launderings, we put these tops to the test to tease out top performers and identify which ones are best where and for who. From super comfortable options we could sleep in, to scratchy seams we couldn't wait to take off, we put each of these contenders through extensive testing so you can more easily find your perfect fit.

Related: How We Tested Sun Shirt for Women

Analysis and Test Results


We've spent numerous months over the past three years testing sun shirts in a huge range of conditions and climates, from equatorial islands during the equinox to high alpine peaks on hot summer days. We ran, paddled, biked, gardened, walked the dog, and went to picnics in the park in these shirts. By breaking down the performance of each product into five mutually exclusive metrics and weighting each metric by its relative importance to choosing the right sun shirt, we can give each model a comparable overall score. Read on to learn how they compare across our wide range of tests.

Related: Buying Advice for Sun Shirt for Women

Just some of the many sun shirts we&#039;ve tested.
Just some of the many sun shirts we've tested.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Value


Value tops many of our charts these days, as we're all trying to save a buck or three. Though it doesn't factor into our performance evaluations of each shirt, we know it always factors into your buying decision. So which ones offer the best value?


For some types of gear, more money will get you a better product. However, when it comes to sun shirts, we generally do not find that to be the case. Some expensive options don't perform very well in our testing, while some inexpensive options do just fine. The Baleaf Crew wins an award for its stellar price point — it's one of the most affordable options in our review, offering excellent protection from the sun. The Patagonia Capilene also stands out as a high value hooded sun shirt. And though some shirts are more expensive, they sometimes are so great that they're worth the extra investment. The top-scoring Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake is one such worthy investment.

Comfort and Fit


We asked a variety of different-shaped women to test the comfort of each model. We assessed shape and fit and checked how well each one moves with the body. We also judged the feel of the fabric and seams against the skin.


The impressively soft and stretchy Crater Lake Hoody stands out for being exceptionally comfortable to wear no matter what shape you are or activity you are getting after. It's silky smooth, with seams in all the right places, and provides an almost ridiculous amount of stretch, allowing it to stay comfortable all day long outside or in. The bottom can cinch shut if you need to flip upside down, and the sleeves are actually long enough (and elastic enough) for long-armed women to feel comfortable. It also features a buttery soft hood that protects without impeding vision or movement or feeling like it's smashing your ponytail. For straight-up comfort you can paddle, hike, get groceries, and fall asleep in, the Crater Lake is our favorite.

This silky soft sun shirt is one of our favorites to wear outside or...
This silky soft sun shirt is one of our favorites to wear outside or even sleep in.
Photo: Kats Kitagawa

We also like soft and comfy OR Echo Hoody. It's not nearly as stretchy as the Crater Lake, but still provides exceptional comfort for everyday wear or heading out for a run or a hike. The Capilene Cool Daily is another exceptionally comfortable option not only because of its athletic-in-all-the-right-ways cut, but because it has exceptionally smooth soft fabric. Among collared options, the REI Sahara is our favorite to wear. Both types of fabric that make up this shirt are soft and comfortable, but REI takes it one step further by removing seams from under your arms to keep even the hottest, sweatiest pits from rubbing raw.

We love the Patagonia Capilene for wearing in just about any casual...
We love the Patagonia Capilene for wearing in just about any casual setting and ended up wearing it for numerous days in a row just because we could.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

If water sports and beaches are your thing, the O'Neill Basic Skins is our favorite rash guard. It's absurdly comfortable and easy to wear and actually stays put no matter if you're floating alongside a sea turtle or paddling out into the surf on your board. For die-hard paddle fans, the the NRS H2Core Silkweight is impressive in its tailored comfort for spending a full day paddling. Buttery soft fabric and all flat seams that avoid high traffic areas make this shirt a dream to wear under a life jacket.

The O&#039;Neill is a smooth, soft rash guard with no underarm seams...
The O'Neill is a smooth, soft rash guard with no underarm seams, keeping it comfortable to play in all day.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Related: Best PFD of 2020

Sun Protection


A lot more goes into sun protection than just the UPF rating! Not all hoods or collars or long sleeves provide equal protection. And it's one thing to be covered while standing unmoving in your yard, and a whole other beast to cover up while you bike to work, push the kids on the swings, or boulder up a sunny route. We put the sun protection, coverage, and our willingness to wear these shirts during any given activity to the test to see how they really stack up.


The Crater Lake offers top-notch protection. It has a hood that stays on while you play and thumbholes that are easy to wear to keep the backs of your hands protected. The Crater Lake is a great option for dynamic movement, as its ability to stretch makes it an excellent companion to stay covered no matter how you move. A drawstring around the bottom also lets you secure it in place during yoga in the park or a particularly tricky climb.

The Patagonia Sunshade features a hood that&#039;s meant to stay up even...
The Patagonia Sunshade features a hood that's meant to stay up even in a stiff breeze.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

The Patagonia Sunshade Hoody is also a particularly protective top. Its hood needs no adjustment to be able to stay put in a brisk wind, making it a good option for boating or hiking ridgetops. If you appreciate extra hood security, the VOORMI River Run has a single button that is perfectly placed for keeping your hood up when you need it most.

The Voormi&#039;s single button gives you options. Wear it loose for a...
The Voormi's single button gives you options. Wear it loose for a breeze or tight against the wind.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

The Echo Hoody also offers some solid hand protection with optional pull-over hand covers. Their recent revamp of the sleeve is much longer than the previous version, adding comfort while using the hand covers and additional coverage for your wrists when you're not. It features a ponytail hole in the hood, which, though it detracts from style points, massively improves the ability to keep your hood firmly protecting your neck and ears.

With the armpit seams lined up, you can clearly see how much longer...
With the armpit seams lined up, you can clearly see how much longer the new version (bottom shirt) of the OR Echo's sleeves are compared to the previous version (top shirt).
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Among rash guards, the Basic Skins provides excellent coverage by staying put while you swim and play in the waves. The Patagonia Micro Swell, another rash guard, offers a nice tall neck to provide some extra coverage for your beach day. If fishing is more your gig, check out the Columbia PFG Tidal Tee for serious coverage in all the right ways, making it a perfect fishing companion. It features a large hood with a wide neck that keeps the neck protected from the sun without stopping the breeze off the water from cooling you down. The Tidal Tee also has the longest sleeves of any shirt we tested and easily covers the hands past the knuckles when using the thumbholes.

For added protection that any fisherwoman is sure to love, check out...
For added protection that any fisherwoman is sure to love, check out the extra-long sleeves and large, breezy hood of the Columbia PFG Tidal.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Breathability


Spending time in the sun with a long-sleeved shirt on isn't always the easiest feat. The breathability of your sun shirt goes a long way toward your ability to stand wearing it on hot, sunny days. We checked out the thickness and weight of fabrics, venting options, drying speed, and wore each shirt during high-output activities to see how they function when things get sweaty.


Again, the exceptionally thin, lightweight Crater Lake and Echo both stand out in this category for being very breathable. The Crater Lake is loose and flowy, in addition to being very thin. It also comes in mostly light colors, which helps it to reflect more sun than it absorbs. Though the Echo Hoody is a bit tighter-fitting, it dries exceptionally quickly, helping you to cool down faster through the cooling powers of evaporation.

Continually a favorite, the Crater Lake Hoody is so thin and...
Continually a favorite, the Crater Lake Hoody is so thin and lightweight that it's not hard at all to wear this shirt even when the days heat up.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

The REI Sahara is also quite breathable, with buttons that allow you to open up the collar as much as you need, and well-placed back vents that aid in letting off steam. The Columbia Silver Ridge Lite is another impressively breathable option. With quick-drying fabric that's thin and light-colored, a looser fit to facilitate airflow, and some large, strategically-placed vents, this shirt is very wearable even on hot days. Both these shirts can easily have their sleeves comfortably rolled up (and sunscreen applied to your hands and forearms!) if you'd rather wear them that way.

Finding a shirt with good breathability makes all the difference to...
Finding a shirt with good breathability makes all the difference to being actually able to wear it under the hot sun.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Though it's a 52% wool shirt, the VOORMI River Run manages to be quite thin and impressively breathable. It's easy to feel a slight breeze blow through the fabric, and the thumb loops help you keep the sleeves secured without trapping your hands inside the sleeves. The Vapor Apparel Solar is also a superbly breathable shirt with a fairly basic, open design and fit. You may lose out on a little bit of coverage with this relatively featureless option, but, for the most part, it will have no problem helping you stay cool during a run or when out doing yardwork.

We love running in a quick-drying, breathable shirt like the OR Echo.
We love running in a quick-drying, breathable shirt like the OR Echo.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Versatility


Versatility encompasses many things, including the activities you can functionally accomplish in each top, as well as their relative style. Style is, of course, very subjective. And clearly, the biggest reason to wear a sun shirt has little to do with looks. However, we think it's a bonus if a shirt can be both useful AND make you look like a million bucks. We carefully considered each subject's overall shape and versatility, as well as what colors and patterns it's available in. And of course, our barrage of testers each gave their input as to how much they liked or disliked every shirt during various activities and in diverse social settings.


A clear winner in this metric is the REI Sahara. As a button-up, collared shirt, it fits in better in a wider variety of settings and activities. It's as easily worn on the trail or the water as it is in the office or a cafe. It's a fairly flattering shirt across many body types and comes in colors we think are flattering without being too in-your-face. Even our testers who normally aren't fans of collared shirts appreciated the style of the Sahara and the ability to wear it in multiple settings.

The REI Sahara is an exceptionally versatile shirt. Rather than...
The REI Sahara is an exceptionally versatile shirt. Rather than being designed for one specific use, this button up top works well for hiking, paddling, and heading to the office.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

The Capilene Cool is exceptionally versatile. Not only do we love wearing it for a wide range of activities, but we also find its lack of thumbholes, pockets, drawstrings, and other "techy" add-ons to be much more aesthetically pleasing. It comes in slightly muted colors that our testers think are cute and hide dirt and sweat pretty well. The Baleaf Crew is also fairly versatile. It lacks just about any athletic-specific features, has raglan sleeves, and comes in a wide variety of colors that offer something for just about everyone.

The Baleaf Crew comes in an astonishing array of colors.
The Baleaf Crew comes in an astonishing array of colors.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

The Columbia Silver Ridge Lite is another reasonably versatile collared shirt that is appropriate in many different settings — active or casual. However, as it tends to run a bit large and be much flowier, we think it's slightly less universally flattering across a majority of body types. It does come in quite a number of colors, though, helping to find the right shade for your personality that much easier.

The women&#039;s Columbia Silver Ridge Lite has an excessively loose fit...
The women's Columbia Silver Ridge Lite has an excessively loose fit, but it's really versatile and easy to adapt.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Durability


We beat these shirts up during our testing to see if they could take it. From scrambling up rocks and scraping through twisted bushes to hauling landscaping bricks and washing them near-daily, we went beyond their "normal" scope of use. We also combed the internet to learn what failed for other people to see if it failed for us too.


Both the REI Sahara and the Columbia Silver Ridge Lite are constructed of ripstop material that withstood a lot of abuse from our testers. These shirts are well-made with reinforced seams and thoughtful features to help them last the years. They showed nearly no wear, stains, or snags throughout our intensive testing process.

Ripstop fabric is always appreciated on rough-and-tumble outdoor gear.
Ripstop fabric is always appreciated on rough-and-tumble outdoor gear.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

The O'Neill Basic Skins rash guard performed very well here, against the odds. Though it's not made for pressing through dense undergrowth, we found it excellent for water activities. Rubbing against sand, sliding along the edge of a life jacket for hours of paddling, and repeated saltwater adventures all left no marks on this impressive shirt. The H2Core Silkweight also has flat seams perfectly placed for paddling and is similarly built to last (without being so tight).

From paddling to pruning, we&#039;re impressed with the ability of the...
From paddling to pruning, we're impressed with the ability of the H2Core Silkweight to not rub raw on a PFD or snag in bushes.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

We are similarly impressed with the durability of the Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoody. Despite having a rather unimpressive appearance compared to many other hoodies we tested, this was one of the only ones NOT to pick up snags during our testing. This can also be said of the Capilene, with its smooth fabric that seems to glide over everything it touches. It offers many flat seams, reinforced with extra rows of stitching.

Despite the lack of evidence that &quot;odor control treatment&quot; actually...
Despite the lack of evidence that "odor control treatment" actually controls our odor, we're impressed by the durability of the Alpenglow.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Though several shirts we tested claim to have some sort of odor control treatment, we never once noticed that it made any difference to how quickly a shirt stunk after the pits, back, or any other section has been soaked with sweat. Perhaps it's a small improvement if you can wear the shirt without dampening it with sweat, but we think that's a pretty unrealistic expectation.

The Capilene is soft and well-made and has odor control that...
The Capilene is soft and well-made and has odor control that actually seems to work.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Conclusion


There's a lot to look for in finding the right sun shirt for your preferred activities and lifestyle. While we can't read your mind, we hope that our intense, comparative testing process helps you to identify the sun shirt that can (quite literally) help save your skin.

No matter how you play outside, keep your skin safe with a...
No matter how you play outside, keep your skin safe with a protective, UPF-rated shirt.
Photo: Kats Kitagawa

Maggie Brandenburg