7 Best Sun Shirts of 2024

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A backpacker wearing the Baleaf Procool sun shirt in front of an exposed and marbled mountain ridge
Baleaf Procool (Men’s / Women’s) – Photo credit: Heather Eldridge (CleverHiker.com)

Sun shirts are becoming increasingly popular because they provide consistent and complete coverage – as long as you’re wearing it, you’re protected, and (unlike with sunscreen) there’s no chance you’ll miss a spot. You need to wear a shirt anyway, so why not make it a top that keeps you protected?

The CleverHiker team has logged over 5,000 miles in 20 of the best sun shirts on the market to narrow down this list of our top picks. In this guide, we’ll use our experience to help you find the top that fits your budget and protection needs to keep you happy and healthy on your next sun-kissed adventure.

If you want full body coverage, we also recommend checking out our favorite hiking pants for women and men. However, if you’re set on showing some skin for the sake of keeping cool, be sure to layer on the sunscreen and find your perfect pair of hiking shorts (men’s and women’s) among our favorites.

Quick Picks for Sun Shirts

Check out this quick list of the best backpacking tents, or continue scrolling to see our full list of favorites with in-depth reviews.

Best sun shirt overall: Outdoor Research Echo Men’s ($75)Women’s ($75)

Best budget sun shirt: Baleaf Procool Men’s ($30)Women’s ($30)

Best button-down sun shirt: Columbia Silver Ridge Lite Men’s ($60)Women’s ($60)

Unique hooded button-down sun shirt with tons of style: Jolly Gear Triple Crown Button Down Men’s ($95) / Women’s ($95)

Affordable sun hoodie for cooler weather: REI Sahara Shade Men’s ($50)Women’s ($50)

Stylish button-down sun shirt: Mountain Hardwear Canyon Men’s ($70)Women’s ($70)

Best sun shirt for travel: prAna Men’s Sol Shade ($75)Women’s Sol Searcher ($85)

Best sun shirt for cold weather: Voormi River Run Men’s ($139) / Women’s ($139)

What’s new

We’ve been catching some rays in our favorite sun shirts as well as testing some new threads to make sure we’re recommending the best of the best.

  • The Outdoor Research Echo (Men’s / Women’s) remains our number one pick – four years after we first put one on, this is still the sun shirt we reach for again and again.

  • The Baleaf Procool Hoodie (Men’s / Women’s) – our top buget sun shirt pick – moved up into the number two spot affter proving its mettle on the 800 mile Arizona Trail.

Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie

Best sun shirt overall

Price: $75

Weight: 5.2 oz.

UPF Rating: 15

Pros

  • Ultralight
  • Great value
  • Breathable
  • Full coverage
  • Very comfortable
  • Inclusive sizing men’s / women’s)

Cons

  • Not as durable
  • Holds odor
  • Lower UPF rating than others

The Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie (men’s / women’s) has been our go-to sun shirt for years since it’s ultralight, highly breathable, and incredibly comfortable. The hood and thumbholes provide ample coverage, while the fabric – quite frankly – feels like you’re wearing nothing at all. The light fabric sacrifices a bit of durability to remain cool and breathable, so you’ll want to treat it with care to make sure it lasts for years. That said, we’ve worn ours extensively without issues and think it’s an awesome choice for those who prioritize comfort above all else.

BALEAF Procool Hoodie

Best budget sun shirt

Price: $30

Weight: 7.7 oz.

UPF Rating: 50+

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Full coverage
  • Zipper pocket
  • Breathable

Cons

  • Thin underarm material (less durable)

The awesomely affordable Baleaf Procool Hoodie (men’s / women’s) was an instant win for us. Its thumbholes, well-fitted hood, and built-in face mask/neck gaiter provide a ton of coverage on exposed trails. The main material is a bit heavier than some, but this shirt is still plenty breathable in hot conditions thanks to the venting fabric on the sides and underarms. It really was a toss-up for us between this shirt and our top pick, the OR Echo Hoodie (men’s / women’s). If you want maximum protection, go with the Baleaf. For those who value low weight and breathability the most, go with the Echo Hoodie.

Columbia Silver Ridge Lite

Best button-down sun shirt

Price: $60

Weight: 6.5 oz.

UPF Rating: 40

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Stylish
  • Comfy fabric
  • Button downs make it easy to regulate termperature
  • Nice pockets
  • Inclusive sizing (men's/women's)

Cons

  • Not as much coverage as others (no hood or thombholes)

The Columbia Silver Ridge Lite (men’s / women’s) is our favorite button-down sun shirt because it’s comfortable, affordable, and the fabric keeps you cool. The lightweight polyester breathes well when you’re working hard on the trail, and it wicks moisture effectively if you work up a sweat. This shirt looks stylish and resists wrinkles as well to keep you feeling your best both on and off the trail. The Silver Ridge Lite is one of the lightest and most affordable shirts on our list, so it’s a great value for hikers who prefer the button-down style.

Jolly Gear Triple Crown Button Down

Unique hooded button-down sun shirt with tons of style

Price: $95

Weight: 8.5 oz.

UPF Rating: 50

Pros

  • Great value
  • Fun colors & patterns
  • Style & temperature regulation of a button-down with the protection of a hoodie
  • Full coverage
  • Durable

Cons

  • A bit expersive
  • Thumb holes are a bit tight

Ever wished you could rock the casual and cooling style of a button down shirt but still have the full protection of a sun hoodie? Enter the Triple Crown Button Down from Jolly Gear (men’s / women’s). This hoodie has a great mix of everything – breathability, protection, durability, and style. This young company is barely off their first run of shirts, but they’re already making a big splash in the thru-hiking world and beyond thanks to their fun patterns and unique design. You can’t help but feel happy when you wear the Triple Crown Button Down, and we highly recommend it for anyone gearing up to log some serious miles in the sun.

REI Sahara Shade Hoodie

Affordable sun hoodie for colder weather

Price: $50

Weight: 8.1 oz.

UPF Rating: 50

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Soft & comfy fabric
  • Full coverage
  • Inclusive sizing (men's/women's)

Cons

  • Not as breathable
  • Seams are a bit thick

The affordable Sahara Shade Hoodie (men’s / women’s) from REI has a buttery soft feel and provides excellent coverage. The hood can be cinched to get a perfect fit, and the thumbholes give you some nice coverage on your hands. We found the women’s version to be a bit less breathable than some of the lighter options on our list. But overall, the Sahara Shade Hoodie is a great choice for hikers on a budget who don’t mind trading a bit of added weight for dollars saved. We think this hoodie is especially appealing for those who live in mild climates and need a little bit of extra warmth for their adventures.

Mountain Hardwear Canyon

Stylish button-down sun shirt

Price: $70

Weight: 7.4 oz.

UPF Rating: 50+

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Button downs ame it easy to regulate temperature

Cons

  • Less coverage (no hood or thumbholes
  • Fabric isn't as breathable

The Mountain Hardwear Canyon (men’s / women’s) is equally at home in the backcountry and on the patio of your favorite brewery. Button downs make it easy to keep cool on hot days, since you can unsnap the front and secure the sleeves at half length with the button tab. This shirt doesn’t provide head, neck, or hand coverage, so it’s not our first choice for long hikes with a lot of sun exposure. But if you prefer a classic look that transitions well from trail to town, the Canyon button down is a stylish option.

prAna Men’s Sol Shade / Women’s Sol Searcher

Best sun shirt for travel

Price: $75 / $85

Weight: 9.9 oz.

UPF Rating: 50+

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Very comfortable
  • Durable
  • Full coverage

Cons

  • More of a fashion shirt than a hiking shirt
  • A bit heavy & warm

The style-forward prAna Sol Shade Hoodie (men’s) / Sol Searcher (women’s) are ready to do the work on your next sunny vacation. The incredibly soft fabric is comfortable enough that you’ll never want to take it off and durable enough to withstand repeated stints of multi-day wear. Sorry guys, the women’s Sol Searcher is a little better with its ¼ length button-down front and kangaroo pocket. But the men’s version still has the same flattering and comfy relaxed fit. We feel the Sol Shade/Sol Searcher shirts are better suited to casual use since the fabric is a bit heavy and warm for high-output activities. But we wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to strut your stuff on the trail in it.

Voormi River Run Hoodie

Best sun shirt for cold weather

Price: $139

Weight: 7 oz.

UPF Rating: 30

Pros

  • Comfortable fit
  • Wicks moisture effectively
  • Full coverage
  • Doubles as insulating layer

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Thin material needs to be treated with care
  • Not as breathable as some

The Voormi River Run Hoodie (men’s / women’s) is made with a unique wool/polyester blend, so you get the natural comfort and moisture wicking of wool plus the UV protective and quick drying properties of polyester. This fabric is a bit less breathable and a touch on the warm side, so we think the River Run Hoodie works best in cooler spring/fall weather and for active winter days. It has a comfy loose fit, and the buttonable hood and thumb loops allow you to adapt the coverage to the conditions. While the River Run Hoodie is pretty spendy, we think the impeccable quality and the fact that it can insulate and protect is worth the cost if you’re in the market for a nice looking sun shirt to wear in cooler weather.

Outdoor Research Echo (Men’s / Women’s) – PHOTO CREDIT: Casey Handley (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

What’s Most Important to You in a Sun Shirt?

PRICE

An affordable shirt with a UPF rating of 50 will protect you the same as a more expensive sun shirt with the same rating. Spending more doesn’t mean you’ll get a more UV resistant fabric, but it often means you’ll get a shirt that’s more comfortable, fits nicer, and is more durable. Clothing that will last a long time and has a well-designed fit usually trumps cost in our books, but we recommend quality options for any budget in our top picks below.

Best value sun shirts

Best budget sun shirts

Best high-end sun shirts

WEIGHT

We prefer lightweight clothing that breathes well and dries quickly for most of our hikes. But a heavier sun shirt may be the better choice for long term durability or cooler weather.

Best ultralight sun shirt

Best lightweight sun shirts

Best heavy-duty sun shirts

STYLE / COVERAGE

Style is a personal preference, but there are some factors to consider when deciding on a sun shirt. It can be easier to regulate your body temperature with a button-down, and this style transitions nicely from trail to town. But button-downs leave sensitive areas like your head, neck, and hands exposed. Sun hoodies are often made with more breathable fabric and provide ample coverage for your head and hands (if it has thumbholes).

We prefer sun hoodies for their added protection on long trips, but button-downs are great for dayhikes that end with a stop at a brewery.

Best button-down sun shirts

Best hooded sun shirts

Best hooded button-down shirt

UPF RATING

The UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating tells you how much light can penetrate a fabric. At the bottom of this list, you’ll find more detail about what various UPF ratings mean, but in the most basic terms – the higher the UPF rating, the less light can get through.

Most protective sun shirts

INCLUSIVE SIZING

The outdoors is for every body. Every hiker deserves clothing that performs well, fits great, and is made with quality materials. The following sun shirts come in a wider range of sizes to make the outdoors a more inclusive space.

Sun shirts with inclusive sizing

Critical Sun Shirt Considerations

HOW DO SUN SHIRTS WORK?

The sun’s rays can get through the little micro holes between the threads of most shirts, leaving you vulnerable to UV exposure. Sun shirts are made with UV resistant fabrics that are tightly woven to prevent gaps so light can’t get through.

UVA VS. UVB

The sun emits two types of skin damaging UV rays – UVB and UVA. UVB rays are what cause sunburns on the top layers of your skin, and they’re a main cause of skin cancer. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin, and can cause cancer, wrinkles, and other early signs of aging.

Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie (Men’s / Women’s) – PHOTO CREDIT: Casey Handley (CLEVERHIKER.COM)
A backpacker wearing the Columbia Silver Ridge Lite sun shirt fishing in an alpine lake
Columbia Silver Ridge Lite (Men’s / Women’s) – Photo credit: Heather Eldridge (CleverHiker.com)

Outdoor Research Echo (Men’s / Women’s) – PHOTO CREDIT: HEATHER ELDRIDGE (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

WHAT UPF RATINGS ACTUALLY MEAN

First things first, UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. This differs slightly from SPF, which measures the UVA protection of sunscreen. UPF measures how much light – both UVA and UVB – can penetrate fabric. The higher the UPF, the less UV rays the fabric lets through. The difference between a UPF 15 shirt and a UPF 50 shirt, however, is relatively small. This is how it breaks down:

  • UPF 15-24: Blocks 93.3-95.9% of UV rays
  • UPF 25-39: Blocks 96-97.4% of UV rays
  • UPF 40-50+: Blocks 97.5-98+% of UV rays

SUNSCREEN

Sun protective clothing is better at protecting your skin than sunscreen since it blocks both types of harmful UV rays, and you can be sure that you’re completely covered. With sunscreen, missed spots can lead to sunburns and skin damage, and you have to reapply it fairly frequently to be effective. We still usually apply a facial sunscreen when we’ll be out for long periods, but we generally avoid the smelly, greasy mess on the rest of our bodies.

Mountain Hardwear Canyon (MEN’S / WOMEN’S) – PHOTO CREDIT: Casey Handley (CLEVERHIKER.COM)
Outdoor Research Echo (Men’s / Women’s) – PHOTO CREDIT: HEATHER ELDRIDGE (CLEVERHIKER.COM)output activities

OTHER SUN PROTECTIVE CLOTHING

Baleaf Procool & Outdoor Research Echo – PHOTO CREDIT: HEATHER ELDRIDGE (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Technical Fabric Care

MAINTENANCE

Repairing minor tears and holes or maintaining a bug repellent treatment on your sun shirt is easy and affordable to do on your own.

  • Water – We don’t recommend adding a water repellent treatment to your sun protective clothing because it can affect the breathability of the fabric. Most sun shirts dry very quickly on their own.
  • Bugs – To maintain or add bug repellency on your clothing we recommend Sawyer Permethrin Pump Spray. This treatment will repel and kill ticks, mosquitoes, mites, and chiggers. It lasts about 6 weeks or 6 washes before needing a new application.
  • Tears/holes – To patch holes and tears, we recommend using Noso Patches. They don’t require any sewing or ironing, they can withstand repeated trips through the washing machine, and they’re UV protective and waterproof.

GENERAL CARE

Technical fabrics need some special care to maintain their performance characteristics. Read and follow the care instructions on the tags carefully, but the following tips can serve as a general guide:

  • Use a front loading washer – The agitator in top loading washers can damage seams and can catch zippers and drawstrings. Zip all the zippers and tie drawstrings before throwing your clothing in the wash to prevent wear and tear.
  • Use a technical fabric wash – We recommend using gentle detergent, like Woolite, to wash technical clothing.
  • Only wash when you really need to – Technical fabrics are often designed to be antimicrobial and they shouldn’t hold odors. You don’t necessarily need to wash your hiking clothing after every trip. We recommend hanging your shirt up (preferably outside) to air out thoroughly before giving it the sniff test. If it doesn’t reek and isn’t caked in sweat or mud, you can probably take it on one or two more trips before putting it through the washer.
  • Don’t use fabric softener or dryer sheets – Fabric softener and dryer sheets can deposit residue on the fabric that affect their overall performance. It can make fabric less breathable, less water-resistant, and less odor-resistant.
  • Hang dry when possible – Heat and agitation in the dryer can damage technical fabrics. Hang your clothes outside when possible to prolong their life.
– PHOTO CREDIT: HEATHER ELDRIDGE (CLEVERHIKER.COM)