Wearable Sun Protection

Five functional tops and rash-guards to beat the burn

There’s no faster way to throw shade on a warm weather vacation (or the first few hot days of spring) than with sunburn. It takes only 15 minutes of direct sunlight exposure for skin damage to begin occurring, so protection is a must. While sunscreen remains a necessity, innovations in UV-protective fabrics, along with style-forward designs are making wearable sun protection a lot more, well, wearable. From the technical and scientific to versatile pieces that easily transition from the beach to the bar, here are five shirts to keep cool and protected in the sun.

Matuse: Delphin Long Sleeve

Blending cutting-edge materials technology with minimalist design, San Diego-based wetsuit-maker Matuse is always pushing the envelope in innovation. Building on their strong reputation for quality in neoprene construction, the brand is now expanding into performance wear. Their latest long-sleeve offering the Delphin Long Sleeve ($115) is built with amphibious athlete in mind. Moisture-wicking, quick-drying French nylon is equally comfortable in and out of the water while a 60+ ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) means less stops to reapply sunscreen. A rounded drop hem offers additional coverage while surfing or working out while ergonomic seam placements keep the garment in place during activity.

Volcom: “3 Quarta” Long Sleeve Rashguard

Volcom doesn’t shy away from getting a little weird. From their art-forward graphics to pioneering skate, surf and snowboard videos, the Southern California brand shines brightest when it’s furthest from the pack. Which is why the “3 Quarta” Long-Sleeve Rashguard ($55) makes perfect sense. Admittedly skeptical of a loose-fitting hooded shirt for surfing, after a few sessions we were convinced: the hood stays out of the way when it’s not needed and comes in handy during long lulls when the sun is overhead. The 30+ UPF fabric dries quickly out of the water and keeps you cool during tropical or midsummer days at the beach.

Critical Slide Society: Jumbled Jacket

When the sun is beating down, but the winds are up and the water has a chill on it reach for the Jumbled Jacket ($150) from Sydney’s Critical Slide Society. Impeccably styled with a subtle retro vibe, the full-zip jacket features contrasting zippers and premium Ultra Flex two-millimeter neoprene with enough weight to cut the breeze, but light enough for warmer days. With buttery smooth neoprene and a slightly lengthened fit, expect the Jumbled Jacket to turn heads on the beach and become a standby for mornings in the water.

Patagonia: RØ Long-Sleeved Sun Tee

For those who insist on traveling light, Patagonia’s RØ Long-Sleeved Sun Tee ($49) is sure to earn its place in any pack. Enjoy 50+ UPF and a miraculously fast drying time out of the water. If laundry or general cleanliness isn’t on the itinerary, not to worry: the RØ comes equipped with Polygiene odor control, a silver-based nanoparticle treatment that prevents bacterial growth. After three days of surfing, running and relaxing in the RØ, we couldn’t get a solid stench to hang around despite our best efforts. Moreover, the shirt’s looser fit makes it especially valuable for down time in hot, humid weather as increased airflow is naturally cooling. File this one under tropical essentials.

Vissla: Alltime LS Surf Tee

Style-conscious surfers have long shirked traditional rash-guards in favor of looser, fitting cotton T-shirts. While cotton in the water may have a nice rebel air about it, it’s not wholly effective as a means of sun protection. Enter the Alltime LS Surf Tee ($40) from relative industry newcomers Vissla. The brand brought everything core surfers love about rocking cotton in the lineup with the benefits of technical materials. The poly-spandex blend fabric is rated at 50 UPF and is specially treated to repel water. Simple graphics and an unassuming heather on the fabric make this shirt the most wearable off the beach.

Images by Hans Aschim