Every gardener knows the routine. You spend the day outside working, and you eventually find yourself overheating. Maybe you strip down to a short-sleeved shirt.
Only now, your arms are getting sunburnt and scratched up by thorns, poked by broken branches, or irritated by… irritants.
So you put your long-sleeved shirt back on, and now you’re sweating and uncomfortable again.
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You can’t win. It’s enough to make you consider letting your plants fend for themselves.
But Farmers Defense has created sleeves that protect your arms from scratches and sun exposure while helping you stay cool and dry.
These are available to purchase directly from the manufacturer and via Amazon.
They come in a wide range of sizes and patterns, with sizes ranging from XS to XXL+.
So, how do they stack up against the old standard of a long-sleeved shirt or some sunscreen? Here’s everything we’re going to look at to figure that out:
What You’ll Learn
Let’s see what these gardening sleeves have to offer.
What Are Farmers Defense Protection Sleeves?
At their most basic, Farmers Defense Protection Sleeves are pull-on sleeves that cover your arm from bicep to knuckle, with an opening for your thumb to slip through.
Why not just wear long sleeves? They extend further down on your arm, tucking well under where your gloves cover, and they provide protection without the buildup of heat you might experience with long sleeves.
The Farmers Defense are partially made out of a recycled plastic called REPREVE, so you don’t have to feel as guilty about contributing to the overabundance of plastic in our oceans caused by cheap, plastic-based clothing.
They’re not entirely recycled however, made with 85 percent REPREVE polyester and 15 percent spandex.
I admit, at first I felt a little weird wearing them.
My grandma wore compression sleeves after having the lymph nodes removed from her arms, and I definitely had momentary flashes of compression garment realness as I pulled them out of the package.
But grandma’s compression sleeves never looked so cool.
The Farmers Defense come in over two dozen designs, from solid to floral to faux tattoo and even camo if you want to blend in while gardening. And they don’t add any compression, so don’t worry.
I tried the skull design, which you can buy from Farmers Defense, and they made me feel like I should be wearing them on a Harley while motoring down the highway.
I have my eyes on the chili pepper design, next.
Maybe it will encourage my chilis to thrive this year? Grab some from the manufacturer and let me know if they do for you.
You could also add a bit of visibility to your outfit, if you wanted, with something like the high-vis orange color, available directly from Farmers Defense.
They also come with a 60-day money back guarantee.
To clean them, machine wash and hang to dry. Don’t use bleach. They can be ironed on low, but I didn’t find they needed ironing.
They seem to stay cleaner than my usual cotton, repelling dirt with their smooth, silk-like texture made out of tough polyester.
Most of the sleeves come in four sizes: XS, S/M, L/XL, and XXL+, so they’re suited to many bodies.
Both my husband and I were comfortable in the S/M, despite having very different sizes of arms. There’s a good amount of latitude in each size.
At the top of each Farmers Defense sleeve is a band of rubber-lined elastic to help the sleeve stay in place.
The rubber sat nicely in the dent between my husband’s bicep and deltoid, so they stayed in place for him.
I lack the same muscular definition (what, I need to start my gym habit up again, what can I say?) and I did find that the sleeves wanted to roll or slide down a little bit over time.
The XS fits biceps between eight and a half and 10 inches, the S/M fits nine- to 11.5-inch biceps, the L/XL fits 11.5- to 13.5-inch arms, and the XXL+ is made for 13.5 to 17 inches.
The band is fairly inflexible but the rest of the material has a lot of give.
Farmers Defense Sleeves claim to guard against sun, with a UPF rating of 50+.
They also claim to provide cooling properties as they’re breathable and moisture wicking. But stated claims aren’t always in line with reality, so I put them to the test.
I found that I was able to work in the garden for hours during the peak sun and didn’t get any color. My husband, who will burn after 15 minutes in the sun, was able to do the same without any burning.
I stayed cool as well. While a thick cotton T-shirt can provide the same level of sun protection, you’ll certainly sweat in a long-sleeved shirt on a hot day.
These felt like working bare-skinned without the risk of sunburn.
I could even feel the breeze through the material, which was marvelous as the temps climbed in the afternoon.
Try doing that with thick cotton.
Protection from Scratches
These sleeves are made to protect against scratches and irritants. They aren’t going to protect you from thorns or sharp tools, nor are they designed to.
Out of curiosity, I tried them out while deadheading my roses. They didn’t prevent me from getting poked, but they did lessen the impact and they protected me from light scratches.
If you’re eyeballing these as something to protect you from thorns and thistles, they aren’t going to keep your skin injury-free. Sorry.
They also snagged several times, which is the main drawback I see to these sleeves.
They catch and snag quite easily and we all know gardening is fraught with spines, prickles, and thorns, even if you aren’t pruning roses or tackling blackberry brambles.
I also tried them while harvesting some thistle, and again, they provided a little protection but the thistle spines still got through.
Where they really helped me was in harvesting stinging nettle and pulling English ivy (Hedera helix) off my trees. I’m allergic to something in ivy and I get a rash every time I go on my ivy-killing quests. These sleeves kept my sensitive skin safe from irritants.
Sadly, they didn’t protect me from mosquito bites or bee stings. But one can dream.
I would imagine that they’d be a bit more helpful in protecting against insects or spiders with shorter mouthparts, but I draw the line at trying to test that out.
Maybe pick up a pair in the Save the Bees pattern from the manufacturer to tell the insects that you’re one of the good guys?
Don Your Garden Gauntlets
A sleeve that lets the breeze in but keeps the sun out? Sign me up.
I wasn’t sure I would find these all that handy since I’m a simple gal, but I find myself reaching for these over and over.
The sun protection is nice, especially since sunscreen is expensive. But avoiding irritants? Love it. And I feel a lot less nervous about getting bitten when I stick my arm into a dense patch of weeds.
While they might not take the sting out of brambles and roses, these sleeves definitely take some of the pain out of gardening.
What do you think? Do you plan to get yourself a pair? What style is calling your name? Fill us in on the details in the comments.
If you’d like to check out some other reviews of handy garden apparel, you might be interested in the following: