Reviews You Can Rely On

The 6 Best Sun Protection Shirts for Women of 2024

We tested women's sun protection shirts from Outdoor Research, Mountain Hardwear, Patagonia, REI, and more to find the very best
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Best Sun Protection Shirt Women Review (Lining up the sun shirts for testing.)
Lining up the sun shirts for testing.
Credit: Abriah Wofford
By Maggie Nichols ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Tuesday April 16, 2024

On the hunt for a new sun shirt? Since 2018, we've tested over 65 UPF-rated shirts to bring you 19 of the most promising women's sun shirts. We spent months — sometimes years — putting these through side-by-side testing, wearing them for all sorts of activities, from running competitive races and snorkeling in equatorial waters to backyard gardening and alpine backpacking. We've tested hoodies, button-downs, crew neck models, and rash guards to assess key aspects like comfort and fit, breathability, durability, and, of course, sun protection. If you're anything 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.

Whether you're hitting the trail for a hike or paddling out on your new SUP, sun protection is paramount. A high-quality sun shirt is a great way to keep your skin covered. But our gear experts also have you covered with our picks for the best sunglasses on the market, as well as in-depth reviews covering the best sun hats.

Editor's Note: We updated our women's sun shirt review on April 15, 2024 to review our lineup for the summer season. We also included more information on our testing process and information on what to consider when making your purchase.

Related: Best Sun Shirts for Men

Top 19 Sun Protection Shirts - Test Results

Displaying 1 - 5 of 19
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Awards Top Pick Award  Editors' Choice Award  Editors' Choice Award 
Price $48.26 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$44.99 at REI$30.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$41.98 at Amazon$65 List
$45.39 at REI
Overall Score
81
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74
Star Rating
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Pros Super lightweight, extremely breathable, hood doesn't pull, easy-to-wear thumbholes, flat seams, ponytail slot in hoodFabric is light and smooth, flowy and highly breathable, versatile styleIncredibly lightweight, very breathable, great coverage, super stretchySleeves are long enough to use thumbholes while active, simple design, superbly soft and stretchy, great breathability, shoulder seams work with backpacksLots of features, stretchy fabric, attractive cut and style, good for diverse activities, good hand coverage, good breathability
Cons Low relative UPF, limited hand protection, light colors are see-through, slim fit isn't for everyoneStains easily, sloppy constructionGets dirty easily, too stretchy to keep heavy items in the pocketThicker and heavier than original version, has armpit seams, no pockets or other featuresWrinkles relatively easily, sleeve tab extremely high, shape isn't great for large-chested people, sunglasses loop is awkward on a non-flat chest
Bottom Line A ridiculously breathable, lightweight shirt with uniquely horizontal thumbholes and a handy ponytail exit point in the hoodBoth breathable and loosely flowing, this button-up is a great layer for versatile and stylish wear, though it readily picks up stainsA really useful sun shirt that's a great choice for just about any sunny activityA simple, yet high-performing top that's comfortable, versatile, and comes in bright colorsComfortable and stylish, this sun shirt is great for both indoor and outdoor use
Rating Categories Outdoor Research Ec... Columbia Silver Rid... Mountain Hardwear C... Mountain Hardwear C... REI Co-op Sahara Lo...
Comfort and Fit (30%)
8.0
7.5
9.0
8.0
7.0
Sun Protection (25%)
8.0
6.5
9.0
8.5
6.0
Breathability (20%) Sort Icon
9.5
9.0
9.0
8.5
8.0
Versatility (15%)
8.0
7.5
7.5
7.5
9.0
Durability (10%)
6.0
3.0
6.5
6.5
8.0
Specs Outdoor Research Ec... Columbia Silver Rid... Mountain Hardwear C... Mountain Hardwear C... REI Co-op Sahara Lo...
Sun Protection Level (UPF) 15 50 50+ 50 50
Coverage Long sleeve, hood, thumb holes Long sleeve Long sleeve, hood, thumb holes Long sleeve, hood, thumb holes Long sleeve, scooped cuff, collar
Features Ponytail hole in hood, flat-seams, reflective logo Mesh back vent, snap-close chest pocket, side entry chest pocket, small inner slip pocket Extra large hood, draw string at waist, hip pocket (zippered) Scuba-style hood Chest pockets (Velcro), tab sleeves, back vent, sunglasses loop, seams removed from armpit
Fit Slim fit Relaxed fit Slim fit Trim fit Classic fit
Material 100% recycled polyester (bluesign approved) 100% recycled polyester 88% polyester, 12% elastane 88% polyester, 12% elastane 94% nylon, 6% spandex (bluesign approved)
Odor Control? Yes Yes No No No
Available Sizes 2XS - 4XL XS - 2XL XS - XL XS - XL XS - 2XL


The Best Women's Sun Protection Shirt for 2024


Best Overall Hooded Sun Shirt for Women


Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Long Sleeve Hoody - Women's


85
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit 9.0
  • Sun Protection 9.0
  • Breathability 9.0
  • Versatility 7.5
  • Durability 6.5
Sun Protection Level: UPF 50+ | Coverage: Long sleeve, hood, thumbholes
REASONS TO BUY
Very lightweight
Incredibly breathable
Great coverage
Super stretchy
REASONS TO AVOID
Dirties easily
Can't keep heavy things in the pocket

We love this superbly comfortable top from Mountain Hardwear. The Crater Lake Hoody has almost everything you can want in a sun shirt. Features include 50+ UPF fabric, a lightweight hood that fits under a helmet, and thumbholes that work even for longer-armed folks. Made of a soft, silky polyester and elastane blend, the Crater Lake Hoody 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 happily wore under the blazing sun without rolling up the sleeves — and that's saying something. This excellent shirt also features a zippered hip pocket and the option to cinch the bottom closed, which comes in handy for inverted activities like climbing and yoga.

In our experience, the Crater Lake Hoody runs a little large. Our main tester is 5'4" and 125 pounds and rocked the small 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 means the hip pocket isn't ideal for heavier items, such as a cell phone. It also borders on being so thin that you can see bra lines right through it. Regardless, we love the Crater Lake sun shirt, and it quickly became one of our go-to pieces for everything from yoga to gardening to biking. If you want a version with shorter sleeves, no dangling hem ties, and slightly thicker material, the "Active" version of the Crater Lake might be more your speed.

Read more: Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Hoody review

The Crater Lake Hoody is a great all-around sun shirt that's ideal for hot, sweaty runs or casual lounging at the beach.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Best Overall Button-up Sun Shirt for Women


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


74
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit 7.0
  • Sun Protection 6.0
  • Breathability 8.0
  • Versatility 9.0
  • Durability 8.0
Sun Protection Level: UPF 50 | Coverage: Long sleeve, collar, scooped cuffs
REASONS TO BUY
Large back vents
Attractive cut
Good for many activities
Numerous pockets
REASONS TO AVOID
Wrinkles easily
Sleeve tab is very high

The REI Sahara is astoundingly well-rounded for a button-up sun shirt. It's stylish, comfortable, and quite breathable. It features pockets large enough to hold a smaller iPhone and sleeves cut with a scoop to cover the backs of the hands. The stretchy underarm panels provide ventilation and comfort while preventing underarm rub during paddle sports. This shirt is versatile enough to handle a full day on the trail that runs straight into a dinner date with girlfriends.

Unfortunately, the sleeve tabs are slightly too high to be overly functional. Still, we didn't mind this so much once we realized the sleeves stayed rolled pretty well without using the sleeve tabs. Our only other gripe is how easily this shirt wrinkles after living in a suitcase for a few days of travel. But overall, we are big fans of this shirt and feel it's more versatile than any other button-up sun shirt we reviewed. The Sahara Long-Sleeve is a fantastic choice for outdoor activities and can also double for Mondays at the office. If you prefer a looser, more flowy button-up that you can stylishly layer over another shirt, the Columbia Silver Ridge Utility is another great choice.

Read more: REI Co-op Sahara Long-Sleeve review

sun shirt womens - the sahara is our favorite button-up sun shirt for its impressive...
The Sahara is our favorite button-up sun shirt for its impressive stretch and many pockets that are cleverly integrated into the shirt to maintain its sleek look.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Best Value for a Hooded Sun Shirt


REI Co-op Sahara Shade Hoodie - Women's


70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit 6.5
  • Sun Protection 8.0
  • Breathability 7.0
  • Versatility 6.0
  • Durability 7.0
Sun Protection Level: UPF 50+ | Coverage: Long sleeve, hood, thumbholes
REASONS TO BUY
Relaxed fit and high-cut sides allow airflow
Smooth, soft material
Hood has a drawstring
Thumbholes are comfortable to wear
REASONS TO AVOID
Perhaps too baggy
Doesn't have any pockets
Thicker fabric is less breathable

If you're searching for a relaxed UPF layer that won't break the bank, the REI Co-op Sahara Shade Hoodie is an excellent option. This buttery soft shirt is designed to be worn slightly baggy, which is both comfortable and allows cooling air to flow across your skin. Its high-cut sides and intentionally loose design help to fan air as you move, keeping you cooler than most tops. With wide cuffs and flat seams, these thumbholes are enjoyable to wear even while paddling. It's one of the few models we tested with a drawstring to keep the hood up on windy days.

If you don't want a baggy fit, you can size down in this shirt, but its thick fabric might leave you wishing you hadn't. The breathability of the Sahara Shade Hoodie is tied to its ability to move while you're wearing it, as the fabric is thicker than most sun shirts. It also doesn't have any pockets, which may not be a dealbreaker for you, especially at this very reasonable price point. If that loose fit isn't for you, the Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoody is a similarly-priced option with a slimmer fit and more breathable fabric — though it lacks thumbholes. The affordable Columbia PFG Tidal Hoodie is another solid choice for around the same cost.

Read more: REI Co-op Sahara Shade Hoodie review

sun shirt womens - the sahara shade hoody is meant to be worn baggy and loose to better...
The Sahara Shade Hoody is meant to be worn baggy and loose to better facilitate airflow.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Best Value on a Tight Budget


Baleaf UPF 50 Crew - Women's


52
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit 5.0
  • Sun Protection 4.5
  • Breathability 5.5
  • Versatility 6.5
  • Durability 4.5
Sun Protection Level: UPF 50+ | Coverage: Long sleeve, crew neck
REASONS TO BUY
Comfortable cut
Soft silky fabric
Solid coverage
Tons of colors
REASONS TO AVOID
Holds body odor easily
Unimpressive durability
Sleeves are a bit short

The Baleaf UPF 50 Crew is a simple sun shirt that works as advertised and doesn't break the bank. It's an athletic cut shirt made of a 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.

The Baleaf UPF 50 Crew runs a little on the small side, particularly in the sleeve length. If you tend to find yourself between sizes or yearning for a looser fit, we recommend sizing up. It is a terrific choice for everyday casual wear, but it's not quite breathable enough for running in the heat. Additionally, you'll quickly discover this shirt easily holds onto body odors. The Baleaf UPF 50 Crew isn't the most “bombproof” shirt in the lineup, but it's an excellent value for everyday sun protection. If you need maximum coverage, check out the Baleaf Hoodie with Face Cover. It's also less breathable but has a built-in gaiter to protect your mouth and nose. Alternatively, you could opt for the inexpensive Jessie Kidden Safari Shirt, a lightweight button-up that can be layered over other clothing for a more polished look.

Read more: Baleaf UPF 50 Crew review

sun shirt womens - it&#039;s slightly on the thick side for truly hot days, but works well...
It's slightly on the thick side for truly hot days, but works well on milder sunny days and at high elevation.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Best for High Output Activity


Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie - Women's


81
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit 8.0
  • Sun Protection 8.0
  • Breathability 9.5
  • Versatility 8.0
  • Durability 6.0
Sun Protection Level: UPF 15 | Coverage: Long sleeve, hood, thumbholes
REASONS TO BUY
Impressively lightweight
Hood doesn't have pull strings
Horizontal thumbholes are more comfortable
Super breathable
Ponytail hole through the hood
REASONS TO AVOID
Fabric isn't smooth
Low UPF
Light colors are see-through

The Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie offers some unique features making it an excellent addition for any activewear junkie. First, this lightweight sun shirt has horizontally aligned thumbholes that are comfortable to wear, even when moving. Second, the top has a hole in its hood for your ponytail. It may not sport the most stylish look, but it's undeniably functional. Beyond these two unique features, this hoody is absurdly lightweight and impressively breathable. It is one of only a couple of shirts we tested that we could 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 hotter climates.

For all its other utilities, the Echo Hoodie doesn't offer pockets and has the lowest UPF value of any sun shirt we tested: just 15. This still blocks around 93-94% of UV rays, though (as compared to 98% blockage from 50 UPF fabric). While we adore the breathability of the thin, quick-drying fabric, it's not particularly smooth, and we've had repeated issues with snagging in past versions. The more recent versions have proved less snaggable, but they're made of the same thin fabric, which isn't one we'd feel comfortable wearing while trimming the rose bushes. Still, the supreme breathability is unbeatable, and we love that the Echo Hoodie comes in more colors now than ever before. If you have really sensitive skin and need all the protection you can get, the Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake is nearly as breathable and is made of fabric that blocks more than 98% of UV rays.

Read more: Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie review

The OR Echo is one of the few shirts we'll happily go for long trail runs on hot days without pushing the sleeves up.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Best Rash Guard


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


63
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort and Fit 7.0
  • Sun Protection 7.0
  • Breathability 5.0
  • Versatility 5.0
  • Durability 7.0
Sun Protection Level: UPF 50+ | Coverage: Long sleeve
REASONS TO BUY
Stays in place
Excellent sun protection
Rashguard seams
REASONS TO AVOID
Not versatile
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 when you're swimming laps, surfing, kayaking, or jet skiing. The seams are sewn conveniently to ensure this top won't rub even during the most active adventures. And with a high UPF rating, you can be sure you won't burn! 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 all-around sun shirt we tested. It is not the best option for most land-based activities, as the tight fit is less breathable and simply tends to pool sweat. On the other hand, if you're searching for a shirt you can rock all day in the water and look stylish without ever feeling uncomfortable, this fantastic option from O'Neill is the one to get. If a versatile, looser-fitting sunshirt shirt for on-water rather than in-water activities is what you're after, we think you'll like what the REI Sahara Shade Hoodie has to offer.

Read more: O'Neill Basic Skins L/S Crew review

sun shirt womens - the o&#039;neill basic is a tried-and-true rash guard that will keep you...
The O'Neill Basic is a tried-and-true rash guard that will keep you protected while you play in the water.
Credit: Veronica Palmer

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
85
Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Long Sleeve Hoody - Women's
Best Overall Hooded Sun Shirt for Women
$70
Editors' Choice Award
81
Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie - Women's
Best for High Output Activity
$75
Top Pick Award
80
Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Active Hoody - Women's
$65
74
REI Co-op Sahara Long-Sleeve - Women's
Best Overall Button-up Sun Shirt for Women
$65
Editors' Choice Award
73
Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoody - Women's
$95
72
NRS Silkweight Hoodie - Women's
$75
71
Columbia Silver Ridge Utility Long Sleeve - Women's
$60
70
REI Co-op Sahara Shade Hoodie - Women's
Best Value for a Hooded Sun Shirt
$50
Best Buy Award
69
Patagonia Tropic Comfort Natural Hoody
$99
68
Voormi River Run Hoodie - Women's
$139
67
Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoody - Women's
$59
63
O'Neill Basic Skins L/S Crew - Women's
Best Rash Guard
$36
Top Pick Award
60
Mountain Hardwear Sunshadow Long Sleeve - Women's
$79
58
Columbia PFG Tidal Tee Hoodie - Women's
$40
55
Jessie Kidden Safari Shirt - Women's
$37
52
Baleaf UPF 50 Crew - Women's
Best Value on a Tight Budget
$20
Best Buy Award
51
Baleaf Hoodie with Face Cover - Women's
$40
51
Roxy Whole Hearted Long-Sleeve
$40
50
Carve Designs Cruz Rashguard
$60

sun shirt womens - 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.
Credit: Kats Kitagawa

How We Test Sun Shirts


The market for women's sun shirts continues to grow every year. We spend a significant amount of time researching the latest and most promising UV-blocking tops before purchasing them to wear and adventure in side by side through several months of testing and laundering. We wore our chosen shirts for casual, everyday activities like gardening, walking the dog, and grabbing coffee with a friend. We tested the limits of these shirts by wearing them on all kinds of adventures, including mountaintop snowshoe races, snorkeling at the equator, kayaking over a mile above sea level, and running trails through the desert. We sweated in them, crammed them in backpacks and suitcases, did yoga on the beach, and laundered them all repeatedly. Some of them we've been wearing regularly for years now, and some we love to sleep in. Along with sun protection, we assess factors like fit, comfort, and breathability. Whether you're seeking a button-up with a collar, a hoody with thumbholes, or a protective rashguard, we've tested and identified the ideal options to fill that hole in your wardrobe.

Our testing of women's sun shirts is divided across five rating metrics:
  • Comfort and Fit tests (30% of overall score weight)
  • Sun Protection tests (25% weight)
  • Breathability tests (20% weight)
  • Versatility tests (15% weight)
  • Durability tests (10% weight)

For more info on our testing, see our full How We Test article.

No matter what your style, there&#039;s a sun shirt for you.
No matter what your style, there's a sun shirt for you.
Each shirt gets tested on a hot run - just to start.
Each shirt gets tested on a hot run - just to start.
Testing rash guards while snorkeling with sea lions in the Galapagos.
Testing rash guards while snorkeling with sea lions in the Galapagos.
We've taken these sun shirts across the world to test them in all kinds of environments where harsh sunlight can cause damage to your body.

Why Trust GearLab


For the last several years, Senior Review Editor Maggie Nichols has been leading the sun shirt charge, recruiting friends and family to help her test during all kinds of outdoor adventures. Maggie has been an outdoor junkie since the early '90s, spending every possible moment outside. While she started by chasing frogs and watching cicadas hatch, Maggie has worked in the outdoor industry for over 15 years, taking on everything from being a camp counselor in the Midwest to leading kayakers in the Caribbean and guiding backcountry trips across the US. She lives and works in some seriously high-UV environments, from the high deserts of northern Nevada to baking mountaintops in the Sierra Nevadas. With a family history of skin cancer, Maggie doesn't take chances when it comes to staying protected from the sun.

We wore these shirts on runs, hikes, traveling, and paddling, to learn which ones are best for what.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

How To Choose a Sun Shirt


If you spend time recreating or working in the sun, a sun shirt can be really helpful to protect your skin from the sun's powerful rays. Here are some factors to consider before making your purchase.

What Activities Do You Do?


When and where you plan to wear your sun shirt will have a bearing over which one you choose. Most of the shirts in our test are fairly quick drying, but folks participating in water sports will definitely want a top that dries out quickly. If you're swimming, you may want a body-hugging rash guard, while folks who are hiking or doing yard work will probably want a looser-fitting shirt with more breathability.

What's UPF?


UPF is the rating given to clothing that protects your skin from the sun, similar to the SPF rating in sunscreen. UPF clothing protects from UVA and UVB rays. The average t-shirt usually has a rating around 5 UPF, but dedicated sun protection shirts range from 25-50+ UPF. An easy way to understand UPF rating is to convert it to a fraction. A UPF of 25 is letting 1/25th (roughly 4%) of the sun's UV rays through the material, and a UPF of 50 is letting 1/50th (roughly 2%) of the UV rays through. So a UPF of 50 is blocking 98% of the sun's UV rays from reaching your skin.

Features


Sun shirts can have a variety of features. Some are button ups with collars, which can transition from the trail to the office, while others have hoods and thumb loops to help cover you as much as possible. Those doing paddle sports will want to ensure that the underarm seams won't be bothersome or cause chafing while performing paddle strokes. It's also good to consider the color of your shirt. Light colors will reflect the sun, keeping you cooler, while the dark colors will absorb heat and make you warmer.

Analysis and Test Results


To find the best sun shirt for every application, our team of female testers wore these shirts extensively, assessing them across a wide range of climates and conditions. By weighting each of our testing metrics according to their relative importance to wearing a sun shirt, we arrived at an easily comparable master score from 1-100 for every model. In what follows, we dive into the details, breaking down which shirts stand out from the rest in their specifics.


Value


Only after scoring each shirt's performance do we consider their price. High-scoring garments with low prices are easy to recognize as high-value items. And in this widely variable realm of sun-protective garments, price and performance are clearly not correlated.

The Baleaf Crew is a high-value shirt. It's not quite as high-scoring but offers solid, basic protection at an unbeatable price point. The REI Sahara Shade Hoodie is another highly valuable option. It's soft and smooth, with great protective features and a generous fit through the torso, and costs a lot less than many others in our lineup. Even our favorite shirt of the bunch, the Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Hoody, isn't the most expensive, despite beating all the competition for several years in a row now.

sun shirt womens - staying protected and comfortable high in the mountains with some...
Staying protected and comfortable high in the mountains with some fantastic hooded options.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Comfort and Fit


We asked a variety of women with different shapes to test the comfort of each model. We assessed shape and fit and checked how well each one moves with the body, evaluating both fit and stretch. We judged the feel of the fabric and seams against the skin and considered available features that add to the wearer's experience.


The impressively soft and stretchy Crater Lake Hoody stands out for being exceptionally comfortable to wear no matter what shape you are or the 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 that you can paddle, hike, get groceries, and fall asleep in, the Crater Lake Hoody has been and remains our favorite for years.

sun shirt womens - the crater lake is a very comfortable shirt to wear while being...
The Crater Lake is a very comfortable shirt to wear while being active, like during spring planting, summer gardening, and fall harvesting.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

The Active version of the Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake is also very comfortable but is noticeably different than the original Crater Lake Hoody. The Active Crater Lake has shorter sleeves, slightly thicker fabric (though still very soft), and isn't quite as stretchy. We also like soft and comfy OR Echo Hoodie. It's not nearly as stretchy as the original Crater Lake Hoody, but it still provides exceptional comfort for everyday wear or heading out for a run or a hike. The Echo Hoodie's thumbholes are unique in that they're horizontal rather than vertical, allowing them to be closer to the end of the sleeve, creating less pull when you're moving. The cut is also significantly more comfortable and less awkward when you need to push up your sleeves.

sun shirt womens - the or echo has very long sleeves and is superbly lightweight...
The OR Echo has very long sleeves and is superbly lightweight, helping the hood to not pull even on long runs.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

If you still have a favorite hoody living somewhere in your closet, you'll love the sweatshirt-like fit and comfort of the Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoody. With a wide hem, cuffs that hold it in place without being tight, and no seams in the armpits for comfort while moving, we confess we even enjoy sleeping in this cozy garment. The NRS Silkweight Hoodie is also superbly soft and has a pleasant, comfortable weight. With drawstrings on its hood, a relaxed fit, and seams removed from the armpits, we love lounging in this sun shirt. It does lose a few points here, though, as the sleeves aren't long enough to use the thumbholes comfortably and for a scratchy liner protecting the inside of the thumbholes.

sun shirt womens - we love how we feel wearing the super cozy alpenglow hoody.
We love how we feel wearing the super cozy Alpenglow Hoody.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

The Columbia Silver Ridge Utility and REI Sahara Long Sleeve are our favorites among collared options. The Columbia Utility has soft, thin, flowy fabric that drapes pleasantly on bare skin or over another shirt. Drop hems add a touch of shape and class without constricting any part of your body. The fabric of the REI Sahara may seem a bit crinkly at first but feels almost cool against the skin, and the shoulders have an impressive amount of stretch to keep even our broad-shouldered testers mobile. If oversized t-shirts are one of your favorite fits, the Sahara Shade Hoodie will be right up your alley. It has an oversized, drapey fit made of smooth, silky fabric and long cuffs with thumbholes.

sun shirt womens - the sahara long sleeve is a very comfortable hiking and hanging...
The Sahara Long Sleeve is a very comfortable hiking and hanging around shirt.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

The Patagonia Tropic Comfort Natural Hoody is notable for its great comfort with its buttery soft fabric and long, slim fit. Its thumbholes are a touch small, though, and not all of our testers love the extra elastic loops that go over your index and middle fingers to hold the cuffs against the backs of your hands. The Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoody is another pretty comfortable option due to its athletic cut and exceptionally smooth, soft fabric. It tends to run a bit snug, though, and shorter through the torso and sleeves than most others.

sun shirt womens - the capilene cool is super soft and cozy, though it fits a bit more...
The Capilene Cool is super soft and cozy, though it fits a bit more snugly than most others.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

The O'Neill Basic Skins is our favorite rash guard if water sports and beaches are your jam. It's absurdly comfortable and easy to wear and stays put, whether you're floating alongside a sea turtle or paddling out into the surf on your board. It has flat seams and is meant to fit quite tightly — perhaps not the most fashionable, but this fit ensures you'll be comfortable moving through the water without flowing fabric to drag you down.

sun shirt womens - 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.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Sun Protection


Much more goes into sun protection than just the UPF rating, though that's the bare minimum we require to be considered for addition to our lineup. Not all hoods, 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 stack up.


When it comes to maximal coverage, the Baleaf Hoodie with Face Cover is the cream of the crop. You might look a little out-of-the-ordinary with the gaiter pulled up over your mouth and nose, but the UPF 50+ fabric covering so much of your torso, hands, and face provides an impressive level of protection.

sun shirt womens - perhaps not winning any style contests, the baleaf hoodie with face...
Perhaps not winning any style contests, the Baleaf Hoodie with Face Cover does provide an impressive level of coverage, with UPF 50+ fabric.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

The Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Hoody offers top-notch protection. It has a hood that stays on decently even without ties, maintaining airflow while protecting your ears and neck. Its large thumbholes have plenty of fabric below them that fully covers your hands and even your knuckles from the sun.

sun shirt womens - the crater lake sleeves even cover your knuckles - and a serious...
The Crater Lake sleeves even cover your knuckles - and a serious amount of stretch ensures the thumbholes stay comfortable to wear.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

The Crater Lake Hoody is a great option for dynamic movement, as its ability to stretch farther than you'd think possible 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 Crater Lake Active Hoody is a simplified version of our favorite sun shirt with all-around great performance.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Not far behind is the Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Active Hoody. It has the same soft, stretchy hood and thumbholes to protect your hands. The differences between this Active version and the original Crater Lake are subtle. The Active Hoody has shorter sleeves, which equates to less hand protection. Its fabric is rated UPF 50 rather than UPF 50+. And it has no drawstring around the hem to keep it secured if you plan on going upside-down. All that said, this is still a very protective sun shirt.

sun shirt womens - the differences in hand coverage between the mh crater lake active...
The differences in hand coverage between the MH Crater Lake Active (left, pink) and the MH Crater Lake original (right, purple).
Credit: Maggie Nichols

The OR Echo Hoodie offers some solid hand protection with unique, horizontally oriented thumbholes. The sleeves are long and stretchy to keep them from pulling on your hand webbing as you move, making it more likely you'll keep using the thumbholes even when it's hot.

Interpretting UPF Values
To understand what a numerical UPF value means in terms of UV rays blocked, take that number and flip it to turn it into a fraction that tells you how much UV radiation gets through that fabric. For example, UPF 50 allows 1/50th of UV radiation through, thereby blocking about 98% of harmful UV rays. UPF 15 allows 1/15th of the UV rays through, which equates to blocking around 93.3% of harmful radiation. So, while the difference between UPF 15 and UPF 50 sounds vast, it's actually just over 5%.

The Echo hood features a ponytail hole, which doesn't earn any style points but massively improves your ability to keep that hood firmly protecting your neck and ears. While the UPF rating on this hoody is lower than most, it's still blocking over 93% of UV rays (just 5% less than the highest-UPF-rated shirts we tested), and its impressive suite of sun-protection features helps make up for it.

sun shirt womens - the echo has horizontal thumbholes on its very long sleeves - though...
The Echo has horizontal thumbholes on its very long sleeves - though they don't quite cover as much of the backs of your hands as some others.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

The hood on the REI Sahara Shade Hoodie has a cross-front top –- adding neck protection to its arsenal of already great sun-protection features -– and has a drawstring hidden inside for keeping your hood on no matter how windy it may get. It also has longer-than-average sleeves, making it easy and comfortable to use the thumb holes.

sun shirt womens - the sahara shade hoodie has a hidden drawstring if you need to cinch...
The Sahara Shade Hoodie has a hidden drawstring if you need to cinch the hood.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

The NRS Silkweight Hoodie doesn't have that cross-front design but does have drawstrings that can be pulled very tight for windy paddling days and gusty ridgetops. Its thumbholes are well-placed, located to the side of the sleeve seam, and angled to match your hand's shape. The Sahara Long Sleeve may not have the protection of a hood and thumbholes, but its collar and scooped cuffs add protection, and drop hems in both the front and back help keep you covered as you bend.

A Note on Patagonia's Recent UPF Recalls


We've tested several versions of the Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoody. Recently, Patagonia recalled some of their sun shirts, including this one, for inconsistent UPF ratings during their testing. While Patagonia has assured us that this fabric still has UPF properties, it's unclear exactly how much protection it provides. It's currently listed without a UPF rating for this reason, though it will still provide more sun protection than exposing bare skin to UV rays.

sun shirt womens - the tropic comfort natural has extra security to keep your sleeves...
The Tropic Comfort Natural has extra security to keep your sleeves in place in the sun.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

If you appreciate extra hood security, the Voormi River Run and Patagonia Tropic Comfort Natural Hoody both have buttons for keeping your hood up when you need it most. The Tropic Comfort Hoody has a single button, while the Voormi has three buttons in a row for customized tightness. The Tropic Comfort takes secure coverage a step further, with small thumbholes and an elastic loop at the end of each cuff. By looping this band over your index and middle fingers, the cuff stays pulled down even while you move. The sleeves aren't as long as the knuckle-protecting Crater Lake Hoody and Echo Hoodie, but the extra loops help — even if the feeling of wearing them takes some getting used to.

sun shirt womens - keep the voormi hood securely up on windy days with its handy...
Keep the Voormi hood securely up on windy days with its handy buttons for versatile closure tightness.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Among rash guards, the Basic Skins provides excellent coverage by staying put while you swim and play in the waves. The Carve Designs Cruz Rashguard adds a little extra with its collar, half-zip fit, and extendable scrunching sides to find your perfect length. If fishing is more your gig, check out the Columbia PFG Tidal Tee. This button-down provides 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, even on our most ape-armed testers.

sun shirt womens - 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.
Credit: 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, and drying speed and wore each shirt during high-output activities to see how they function when things get sweaty.


Again, the exceptionally thin, lightweight OR Echo Hoodie and Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Hoody stand out in this category for being breathable. The Crater Lake Hoody 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. Interestingly, the Active Hoody version has slightly thicker fabric that's marginally less breathable. Though the Echo Hoodie is a bit tighter-fitting, it dries incredibly quickly, helping you to cool down faster through the cooling powers of evaporation. It is both thin and very lightweight and easily lets cool breezes cut right through to keep you moving in comfort.

sun shirt womens - the echo is so supremely breathable that&#039;s our top choice for...
The Echo is so supremely breathable that's our top choice for seriously sweaty and high output activities - like building a rock wall in the middle of a summer afternoon.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

The REI Sahara Long Sleeve is also quite breathable, with buttons that allow you to open up the collar as much as you need and wide, well-placed back vents that aid in letting off steam. If you've remembered to bring sunscreen for your forearms, tabs in the sleeves will hold them up above your elbows. The Columbia Silver Ridge Utility is another great breathable option. With quick-drying thin, light-colored fabric, 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.

sun shirt womens - throwing the columbia silver ridge utility on over a tank top for an...
Throwing the Columbia Silver Ridge Utility on over a tank top for an afternoon exploring the Mediterranean city of Dubrovnik was easy, breathable, and still felt like we fit in with European summer fashion.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

The Jessie Kidden Safari Shirt is another thin, flowy, breathable button-up. Though it and the Columbia Silver Ridge Utility are both made from 100% polyester, the Jessie Kidden isn't quite as breathable, with a slightly more closed-knit texture. It's still well above average, though, and with a loose fit that maintains airflow and a massive vent across the back.

sun shirt womens - the jessie kidden safari is made of thin, lightweight material and...
The Jessie Kidden Safari is made of thin, lightweight material and features a loose fit for better air circulation and a huge back vent to keep you cool.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Interestingly, the Sahara Shade Hoodie is made of thicker fabric than most others we tested, yet it is surprisingly breathable because of the loose, flowy fit, designed to catch even the slightest breeze. It has a long drop hem on the front and back, with high-cut sides that leave plenty of space for air to pass through without exposing you to the blazing sun. Wearing this shirt in your normal size may produce a tunic-like fit — plenty baggy enough that gentle winds or even just the buffeting air caused by walking around manage to find its way inside for ventilation.

sun shirt womens - while a unique look, stepping into the barest breeze quickly proved...
While a unique look, stepping into the barest breeze quickly proved the value of these high cut sides combined with the very loose overall fit of the Sahara Shade Hoodie.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

The Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoody has higher cuffs and a shorter hem than most other tops we tested, but it still has a breathable fabric that keeps air moving through fairly effectively. The Tropic Comfort Natural Hoody takes a different approach, leaving more space around your torso, with longer drop hems in the front and back and shorter sides to allow air to move inside the shirt. The Capilene Cool Daily Hoody is thin, lightweight, and reasonably breathable but also has a more snug fit that doesn't allow for as much airflow inside the shirt.

The Tropic Comfort Natural maintains better airflow with a looser fit.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Versatility


Versatility encompasses many things, including the activities you can functionally accomplish in each top and 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 and what colors and patterns it's available in. And, of course, our barrage of testers 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 Long Sleeve. As a button-up, collared shirt, it fits better in more environments, 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 testers who normally aren't fans of collared shirts appreciated the style of the Sahara shirt and the ability to wear it in multiple settings all within the same day, eliminating the need to keep a spare shirt in your car to change into between hiking and meeting the gals for a cocktail.

sun shirt womens - the sahara long sleeve has one of the most versatile styles of any...
The Sahara Long Sleeve has one of the most versatile styles of any we tested.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Both the Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake and the Crater Lake Active scored above average in this metric. Their aesthetic is solidly sporty-chic, and each of these shirts is functionally versatile across many activities. We loved wearing them for everything from trail runs to paddling sessions to mornings at the farmer's market.

sun shirt womens - chilling in the park comfortably in the crater lake active hoody.
Chilling in the park comfortably in the Crater Lake Active Hoody.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Though a solidly athletic-looking shirt, the Echo Hoodie scores high marks for versatility across the sheer number of activities, environments, and temperatures in which we're happy to wear it. The Capilene Cool Daily Hoody is also impressively 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 a fairly versatile option. 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.

sun shirt womens - the baleaf crew comes in an astonishing array of colors.
The Baleaf Crew comes in an astonishing array of colors.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Two more athletic-looking garments, the Black Diamond Alpenglow and NRS Silkweight Hoodie, earn above-average scores for versatility because they feel like an old familiar sweatshirt (except lightweight and breathable) in all the right ways. We confess we happily slept in both of these tops after wearing them all day. The Columbia Silver Ridge Utility is another reasonably versatile collared shirt appropriate in many 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 comes in a number of different colors, so finding the right shade for your personality is that much easier.

sun shirt womens - the black diamond alpenglow is so comfy we love wearing it for just...
The Black Diamond Alpenglow is so comfy we love wearing it for just about any activity - from snowshoeing to sleeping.
Credit: 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 Sahara Long Sleeve and the Silver Ridge Utility are constructed of sturdy material that withstood a lot of abuse from our testers. The Silver Ridge Utility is even sewn with ripstop nylon to help put your mind at ease. Both of 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.

sun shirt womens - the sahara is well-built and reinforced and has stayed looking great...
The Sahara is well-built and reinforced and has stayed looking great through plenty of abuse on the trail and in the laundry.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Made of a sturdy wool blend material, the Voormi River Run Hoodie is one of the more durable models we tested. Even just wearing it feels solid and reliable. We tested it on some really scrappy trail runs through questionably maintained trails in the Wasatch Mountains and never found any snags despite scrambling through some serious undergrowth.

sun shirt womens - the voormi is made of a sturdy wool blend fabric that easily...
The Voormi is made of a sturdy wool blend fabric that easily withstood some Utah bushwhacking when our lead tester lost the trail on a run.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

The O'Neill Basic Skins rash guard performed very well 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 NRS Silkweight Hoodie also has flat seams perfectly placed for paddling and is similarly built to last (without being so tight). Behind its thumbholes, it also has a durable material to stop them from ripping or fraying. While this scratchy layer isn't particularly comfortable to wear, it effectively makes the thumbholes more durable.

sun shirt womens - the reinforced thumbholes of the silkweight hoodie are very durable...
The reinforced thumbholes of the Silkweight Hoodie are very durable, if a bit scratchy.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

The Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoody, Tropic Comfort Natural Hoody, and the REI Sahara Shade Hoodie are soft and smooth, with mostly flat-sewn seams (except for the sides). All three tops proved to be relatively durable during our testing.

sun shirt womens - we love adventuring in the tropic comfort natural hoody.
We love adventuring in the Tropic Comfort Natural Hoody.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Both the BD Alpenglow and OR Echo Hoodie seem fairly durable, with visually similar textures of fabric and flat-sewn seams. While the Alpenglow Hoody and two older versions of the Echo Hoodie picked up a couple of tiny snags during our testing, the Echo, at least, seems to have improved more recently. Our main tester took a nasty fall on broken asphalt during a run while wearing the Echo and utilizing its thumbholes. While her palms were much worse for the wear, with several deep cuts and a significant chunk of missing skin, the cuff of the Echo had just a single minor rip. In the months since that accident, despite continued and repeated wears and washes, those small tears have failed to grow any larger.

sun shirt womens - the aftermath (several months later) of a bad fall while running. on...
The aftermath (several months later) of a bad fall while running. On the left, a lingering scar from the accident is circled in red. On the right, the single tear in the OR Echo cuff is circled in yellow.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

The Carve Designs Cruz Rashguard feels solid enough at first but ripped the first time we tried to undo the side ties to make the torso longer. The seam holding the two sides of the ties split right down the middle. The shirt is still wearable with minor holes, but we're rather disappointed at how quickly it came apart with just regular use. We also found that the side ties tend to get caught in the tops of pants and swimsuit bottoms.

sun shirt womens - the ties on the bottom of the carve designs cruz rashguard catch...
The ties on the bottom of the Carve Designs Cruz Rashguard catch easily in swimsuit bottoms and the seam between the ties split the first time we tried to adjust it.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Several of the shirts we tested come with a claim of odor treatment by either blocking the odor itself or blocking bacterial growth that leads to odor. We tested every claim by going for a 6+ mile run in the midday sun and heat, then leaving the shirt in a pile on the bathroom floor to smell the next morning. Only the Alpenglow Hoody and Tropic Comfort Natural Hoody seemed to have any noticeable resistance to odor. We're unsure if this effect will be able to last through years of laundering, but we appreciate it while it's working.

sun shirt womens - take out the stress of keeping your skin protected from damaging uv...
Take out the stress of keeping your skin protected from damaging UV rays with a protective sun shirt.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

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 our intense, comparative testing process helps you identify the sun shirt that can (quite literally) help save your skin.

Looking for more ways to protect yourself? Staying safe from the sun is no easy feat. We've collected and tested a wide array of sun protection gear to help you get out there without suffering UV damage. From top-ranked sun hats to the best sport sunglasses, we want to help you keep your skin safe. We've also tested an array of the best sun shirts for men.

Maggie Nichols