The Best Sun-Protective Gear for Gardeners

Whenever I am introduced to someone new and the inevitable, “So what do you do for a living?” question pops up, I get to share that I am a gardener and a writer.

“Oh!” they exclaim, “It must be great to work outside all the time!”

I’ll nod and say, “Yeah, sure, it’s great,” then think to myself, “If only they knew…”

Working outdoors really is great. I’m an outside guy through and through. But man, when you spend so many days in a row outdoors from morning to evening, it gets HOT!

A close up horizontal image of a gardener harvesting fruit from a tree in bright sunshine pictured on a blue sky background.

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The sun and the warmth feels wonderful when you’re sipping a cocktail under an umbrella, but it loses some of its appeal when you’re standing or kneeling in full exposure for hours at a time.

But as ever, there is a silver lining to all of this time spent in the sun:

These years spent in the outdoors have helped me to sift through the best gear for dealing with the sun year-round, especially in the suffocating heat of summer.

And lucky for you, I’ve rounded up some of the best protective gear you’re going to find for dealing with the heat and mitigating the harsh rays of the sun.

First up, I’ll share my list of top picks. After that, I’ll share my guidelines for choosing and purchasing the best heat and sun protective gear to meet your needs.

Let’s get to it!

The Best Heat and Sun Protective Gear for Gardeners

If you spend a lot of time gardening in the summer, you’ll need clothes that are going to protect you from the sun’s damaging rays and also keep you cool.

A hat is also important, to ensure your face doesn’t get burnt – and even more so if you sport a shaved head.

And don’t forget about your eyes. A 2014 study by the National Eye Institute revealed that exposure to sunlight over long periods can increase your risk of developing cataracts and other eye conditions.

Good quality safety sunglasses will provide protection for your eyes, and sunblock on exposed skin prevents painful, unsightly sunburn.

Here are my recommendations for the gear you need for gardening in the heat of summer.

Long-Sleeved and Short-Sleeved Shirts

I favor a short-sleeved shirt, but it doesn’t offer much sun protection for my arms. With a good long-sleeved one, you can roll up those sleeves and get them out of the way when you need to.

A close up of a woman digging the soil in a raised garden bed, wearing a hat, in bright sunshine.

If you do a lot of outdoor work in sunny conditions, look for fabric that has a “UPF” rating. This stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, and the higher the number, the more effective the material is at blocking the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

The highest rating is 50+ and this equates to blocking up to 98 percent of UV rays.

To give you a comparison, your average light colored cotton t-shirt would have a UPF rating of about five – allowing around 20 percent of UV radiation through.

Other factors contribute to the effectiveness of any garment to block the sun.

Darker colors tend to be more protective than lighter ones, the thickness of the fabric and how dense the construction is each play a role, and whether or not it’s been treated with certain UV-light-absorbing chemicals affects the protection factor as well.

A close up of a man potting up flowers in the garden wearing a checked shirt pictured on a soft focus background.

When you are choosing your gardening gear, you also want to pay attention to whether or not the fabric is breathable, and moisture-wicking.

Material that “wicks” moisture away from your skin will keep you cool and dry as you dig the raised beds.

Another consideration, if you plan to garden with friends and family, is odor control. Some modern fabrics are treated with silver chloride, which has antimicrobial properties to prevent odor buildup.

Here are some of my tried-and-tested favorites for you to consider. In this list you’ll find men’s, women’s, and unisex options.

33,000ft Outdoor Short Sleeve Shirt

Like I said, I’m dedicated to short-sleeved shirts whenever I can wear them, and 33,000ft makes one heckuva good product.

33,000ft Short Sleeve Shirt in Khaki

This shirt is light and breathable, the woven polyester fabric wicks moisture away from your body, and it has a UPF 50+ rating.

Two chest pockets are handy for carrying small items, and the collar protects the back of your neck from the sun.

This short-sleeved shirt is available in 10 color options, including light blue, khaki, and white. I’d opt for the khaki color myself!

To check prices and read customer reviews, head to Amazon now.

Columbia Men’s PFG Tamiami II Long Sleeve Shirt

This is my favorite long-sleeved option. I purchased two of these early this year (in the Fossil and Cypress colors) and they’ve made great additions to my gear.

Columbia Men’s PFG Tamiami II Long Sleeve Shirt

I especially like the easy-to-use button on each arm, so I can roll up the sleeves easily, and they’ll stay there. It’s got a relaxed fit, which can feel a little large if you are used to more close fitting shirts.

Made from ripstop polyester, the Columbia Tamiami has a UPF rating of 40, and is treated with an antimicrobial to keep you odor-free.

There are back vents lined with mesh to allow for some airflow, which together with Columbia’s Omni-Wick moisture-wicking technology, helps to keep you cool and dry.

The mesh-lined breast pockets are useful for keeping a variety of small items on hand, and I like the stylish collar that provides some added sun protection for the back of your neck.

Columbia Men’s Tamiami Long Sleeve Shirt is available in 29 different colors, including Backcountry Orange, Cool Gray, Cypress, Fossil, and White.

Check prices and read customer reviews now on Amazon.

Coolibar UPF 50+ Men’s Sun-Protective Aricia Sun Shirt

Coolibar specializes in UV-protective clothing, and was the first clothing company to be given The Skin Cancer Foundation’s seal of approval.

Recommended by dermatologists, the fabric is guaranteed to block 98 percent of the sun’s rays, with a UPF 50+ rating for the life of the garment.

Coolibar UPF 50+ Men’s Sun Shirt

The 3Ddri™ fabric wicks moisture away from your skin, keeping you dry and comfortable. Added ventilation on the shoulder seams allows for some cooling airflow.

I particularly like the snap tabs to keep the sleeves in place when I roll them up. The collar provides added protection for the back of your neck.

If all that isn’t enough, the fabric is stain- and water-resistant too. There are no pockets on this one.

There are six colors to choose from including patterned options.

It has a tighter fit than the Columbia shirt described above, and for some people that’s great! Personally, I prefer something that is more loose and free fitting, but everything else about this shirt is top notch.

Head to Amazon to check prices and read customer reviews now.

Vapor Apparel Men’s UPF 50+ UV Protection Outdoor Short Sleeve T-Shirt

This is an excellent option for a more simple and straight-to-the-point piece of apparel. It’s got great UV protection with its UPF 50+ rating, and is light and airy.

Vapor Apparel UV Protection Outdoor Short Sleeve T-Shirt

Don’t let that “Men’s” descriptor throw you; this shirt has a unisex cut, and it might run a bit small for guys with some meat on their bones.

The soft polyester fabric features PURE-tech™ wicking technology that quickly moves moisture away from your body, cooling you down.

Quick-drying, and treated with zinc-based odor control, you’ll stay fresh throughout the day.

This t-shirt is a versatile short-sleeved option for gardening or other outdoor activities. You can rest assured that you’ll be protected from the sun’s rays as Vapor Apparel is also recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation.

The Vapor Apparel short-sleeved shirt is available in a choice of 14 colors, including Arctic Blue, Pale Yellow, Pearl Gray, Tan, and White.

See more customer reviews and check prices now on Amazon.

Columbia Sportswear Women’s Silver Ridge Long Sleeve Shirt

This is a nice choice for the ladies. A coworker of mine started with one of these shirts, and now she has four more!

Women’s Silver Ridge Long Sleeve Shirt

With a UPF rating of 50, this shirt provides moisture wicking and ease of movement.

The long sleeves can easily be rolled up, and the pockets are handy – it features an interior security pocket, and two chest pockets that are perfect for carrying small items.

This shirt has a stylish, loose fit, without being baggy, and the collar protects the back of your neck from the sun.

Columbia’s Silver Ridge™ fabric has quite a bit of nylon in its composition, but my coworker has zero complaints about it.

This shirt is available in a variety of colors, including shades of pink and blue, making it an attractive, versatile shirt both in and out of the garden.

Check prices and read more customer reviews on Amazon now.

Baleaf Women’s UPF 50+ Sun Protection Long Sleeve Outdoor Performance Shirt

Though I haven’t worn it myself, this one also looks to be an excellent choice for the ladies who don’t want a button-down shirt.

Baleaf Long Sleeve Outdoor Performance Shirt

My only hangup with this shirt is that it’s long sleeved, without any sort of buttons or clasps to roll them up if you need to.

That said, the 100 percent polyester fabric offers great UPF 50+ protection and is moisture wicking, so you’re likely to be comfortable in this one no matter what, even with those sleeves rolled down.

There are no pockets, and the lack of collar means you’ll need to wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect the back of your neck.

The fabric is soft against the skin, with a relaxed fit and flatlock seam construction. This shirt is an ideal choice for ladies who want full sun protection in a light, comfortable shirt.

There are 12 different colors available, including black, blue, pink, and white.

Read customer reviews and check price on Amazon now.

Pants and Shorts

I will forever love the person who invented convertible pants, whoever they are.

Getting too warm? BAM, now you’ve got shorts. Temperature dipping a bit? POW, pants again. What a great invention!

A close up of a man's legs wearing shorts while he mows the lawn with a petrol mower, with trees in the background.

You’ll need to decide what you require in terms of pockets, if you are going to be carrying a phone, keys, seed packets, or other small items. Do you typically need to wear a belt to attach the sheath of your gardening knife?

Long pants will obviously provide more protection from the sun, but you may find them too hot – and you also need to consider what kind of work you are doing.

If you are clearing away thorny bushes, you’ll need your pants to be made from a durable material to prevent cuts and scrapes.

Whether shorts, pants, or the option to convert between the two is your jam, we’ve got an option here for you that will protect your legs through the summer months.

Baleaf Men’s UPF 50+ Quick Dry Cargo Shorts

These have been pretty comfortable for me so far. With a UPF 50+ rating, the 90 percent polyester with 10 percent spandex fabric is quick-drying, lightweight, and wicks moisture effectively.

The four-way stretch allows for comfortable all-day wear. The waistband is elasticated for additional comfort, and it has belt loops.

These shorts from Baleaf have two zippered hand pockets for securely storing money or keys and two back pockets for seed packets or other small items.

Baleaf Men’s Quick Dry Cargo Shorts

The fit is relaxed, but not baggy. The sizing runs a little on the small side, so you may need to buy a size up.

I especially like wearing these when I know it’s going to be a hot and sweaty day, because they wick moisture well and dry so quickly.

These shorts are available in black, gray, light blue, navy, khaki, and sage.

While the material is durable, be aware that if you are planning to clear a large section of thorny bush, you may want something more heavy-duty – and my next selection is just that.

Read customer reviews and check current prices on Amazon.

Carhartt Men’s Relaxed Fit Ripstop Cargo Short

These are my everyday-use shorts. I buy two pairs each year, and wear through them happily.

Made from a blend of 58 percent cotton, 39 percent polyester, and three percent elastane they are slightly heavier than what I would prefer to wear, but as work shorts, I’ve never found anything better.

Carhartt Cargo Short Relaxed Fit

With reinforced belt loops, two large cargo pockets, two back pockets, and two deep hand pockets, there’s plenty of room for carrying around my phone and small tools.

Since they are made partly from cotton, these shorts do not have quite the moisture-wicking properties of purely synthetic materials, and they take a bit longer to dry.

But if your priority is to find a pair of gardening shorts that can stand up to some rough work, then these are perfect.

It’s worth noting that this pair does not have a UPF rating, but the thickness of the material should block the worst of the sun’s rays.

These Carhartts are available in two color choices: Dark Khaki and Navy.

Head to Amazon to check prices and read customer reviews now.

Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pant

These are my go-to pair of convertible pants. I admit that I use them mostly when I’m hiking and camping, but the days when I wear them to work are good days.

They are light and easy to zip on or off, they fit well and give my legs room to move, and they have enough pockets to hold just about everything I need.

Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pant

Constructed from lightweight, 100 percent recycled polyester that features Columbia’s Omni-Shade™ with a UPF rating of 50, these provide maximum sun protection.

The mesh panels feature Omni-Wick™ fabric technology that provides excellent moisture-wicking and breathability.

Although they feel very light, the slightly stretchy material is durable, and quick to dry. A webbing belt is supplied, but you can replace this with your own, should you wish to. Keep in mind that the belt loops are quite narrow.

The Silver Ridge features two front pockets, two back pockets, and two side cargo pockets.

My only slight annoyance with these is that in order to remove the lower legs and convert them into shorts, I have to take off my boots, as there are no side zippers.

These convertibles are available in 10 colors, including Ancient Fossil, City Gray, and Dark Mountain. I tend to prefer the darker ones as they show the dirt a lot less!

Read customer reviews and check price on Amazon now.

Outdoor Research Women’s Ferrosi Convertible Pants

Made from 100 percent ripstop nylon, these convertibles from Outdoor Research are lightweight and comfortable.

Outdoor Research Women’s Ferrosi Convertible Pants

The UPF 50+ fabric protects you from damaging UV rays, and it’s breathable and quick-drying to keep you comfortable on hot days.

When you zip off the lower legs and convert them into shorts, I particularly like the fact that the zippers are color-coded, making it easy to match when you want to put them back on.

They feature a zippered side pocket, front pockets, and zippered back pockets – convenient for stashing small items. The only downside is that the cargo pocket is a bit on the small side.

A wide waistband with belt loops and internal drawcord means it’s easy to adjust the fit of the waistband even if you are not wearing a belt.

The fabric is durable, and will stand up to most garden chores.

Available in Black, Light Pewter, and Sand, these Ferrosi pants run a little on the small side, so you might want to consider trying a size up from what you usually wear.

See the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible pants on Amazon now.

Carhartt Women’s Rugged Flex Work Short

These rugged shorts are ideal for rough work in the garden on a hot day. They are made from 97 percent cotton canvas, with three percent elastane to allow for extra freedom of movement.

Carhartt Women’s Rugged Flex Work Short

Being primarily cotton, they do not have a UPF rating, and they aren’t as lightweight, breathable, or quick-drying as the nylon or polyester options.

With roomy cargo pockets, two back pockets, hand pockets, and a hammer clip, you’ll have plenty of room to carry around your essentials.

The reinforced belt loops are wide and the main seams are triple-stitched. With their relaxed fit, these shorts are not baggy, and they are comfortable for a day’s work in the garden.

You can choose from three colors, Brown, Basil, and Greige. If you are looking for a durable pair of shorts that also looks stylish, you won’t go wrong with these.

Head to Amazon now to check price and read customer reviews.

Baleaf Women’s Active Bermuda Shorts with Pockets

Sometimes we just want something comfy to pull on and dash out into the garden.

These shorts provide great sun protection and functionality. The soft, 55 percent cotton, 39 percent polyester, six percent spandex material wicks sweat and moisture, and is also stretchy.

Baleaf Women’s Active Bermuda Shorts

The comfortable elastic waistband won’t dig into you as you’re moving in the garden, and the two deep front pockets will hold whatever you need.

An additional small pocket at the rear is perfect for holding seed packets or other flat items.

Landing just above the knee, they are the perfect length to offer sun protection and comfort as well. They are available in 11 colors including black, light blue, light gray, navy, and army green.

Read customer reviews and check prices on Amazon now.


Above all else, we’re looking for a hat with a wide brim if we can find it. But a regular baseball cap with an added bandanna or multifunctional Buff® will do the job too.

The key is to find a hat that fits well, doesn’t blow off in a little wind, and isn’t too hot. There’s nothing worse than bending down and finding a stream of sweat running down your forehead when you are trying to keep cool!

A close up of a man bending over in the garden wearing a straw hat, surrounded by foliage with light sunshine in the background.

Regular baseball caps provide some protection for your face, but leave your ears and the back of your neck exposed to the sun.

I find that my work hats suffer quite a bit of abuse and need regular replacement, but if you aren’t toiling away outdoors for a living, you should get a great lifespan out of yours.

Comhats Foldable Women’s Siggi Summer Hat with Ponytail Hole

According to one of my coworkers, this was an excellent purchase.

She doesn’t have to worry about crushing her ponytail, and the hat’s durable construction means it can be tossed around pretty freely without worrying about damaging it.

Comhats Women’s Foldable Sunhat

Made from 100 percent cotton, with 80 percent polyester and 20 percent cotton lining, the hat features a concealed flap at the back so you can pull your ponytail through it.

I like this idea, as it keeps the hat secure. If you don’t have a ponytail, there is a detachable chin cord as well.

With a UPF rating of 50, the wide brim gives good coverage from the sun, and the thin fabric is lightweight and breathable. This hat is available in beige, black, and navy.

According to my coworkers, it stains fairly easily, and she bought a light color. But hey, it’s a garden hat, so it should have character!

Read customer reviews and check current prices on Amazon now.

Columbia Schooner Bank with UV Protection

If you like wearing a baseball cap but need some additional sun protection, this has a nice flap that covers the back of your neck and your ears.

Columbia Schooner Bank

The folks at Columbia worked hard to develop their Omni-Freeze™ ZERO fabric.

This technology reacts with moisture from perspiration to cool the temperature of the material, actively cooling you down.

The Omni-Shade™ provides UPF 50 sun protection, and the mesh allows for good ventilation. There’s a drawcord with a back toggle to adjust the fit.

Breathable and lightweight, this is an ideal choice if you want to stay cool and protected from the sun while you get on with your gardening. It’s available in seven colors including Fossil, Black, and Cool Gray.

See more customer reviews and check prices on Amazon now.

Sloggers Women’s Braided Sun Hat with Wind Lanyard

This one has a style that I like so much, I wish it were available in men’s sizes. I love the tight weaving and ultra-wide brim. It’s like you’re walking around with an umbrella on your noggin!

Sloggers Women’s Braided Sun Hat

It has a UPF 50+ rating, and the polyester fabric is lightweight and breathable. The wide brim keeps its shape without being too stiff.

This is truly a great hat, and for the price it’s a steal.

The only headache here might be handwashing, which is recommended on the label. It’s available in six colors, including light brown, navy, and sage green.

Head over to Amazon for more information.

“Plant Daddy” Baseball Cap

This is my normal style of hat. I’ll wear something like this as often as I can, and will double it up with a bandanna over the back of my neck on particularly hot days.

This hat is ideal for all but the sunniest conditions; at that point, I’ll place the hat back in my gardening gear bag and take out a wide brimmed hat instead.

“Plant Daddy” Cap

Made of 100 percent cotton and available in eight different colors, this hat has an adjustable strap at the back and small ventilation holes on the top.

If you are looking for a good-quality baseball cap, why not try this one?

Head over to Amazon to learn more.

Fun and Sun Men’s Seagrass Outback Straw Hat

This is the hat I am most inclined towards. It is light, breathable, and has a perfectly sized brim.

The open weave at the top of the hat allows for lots of airflow, and the wire that wraps around the brim allows it to be shaped to your own style and needs.

Fun and Sun Men’s Seagrass Outback Straw Hat

With its classic “straw hat” looks, this one provides no UPF rating, but it will keep your head cool, and the sun off your noggin while you weed the vegetable patch or water your flowers.

This type won’t last, though. By the end of each year, mine is definitely ready for replacement!

Read customer reviews and check price on Amazon now.


I recommend wearing safety glasses whenever you’re working outdoors. They can function as regular sunglasses but are designed to take a bit of damage, and to protect your eyes as well.

At the very least, using a pair of these to do garden work means your good sunglasses will be kept in fine condition.

Crossfire Safety Glasses

These are the only sunglasses I wear.

When I lived in Arizona, a friend of mine had this exact pair, and was hit right in the lens with a cascading rock kicked downhill during a hike.

Crossfire Safety Glasses

A small bruise was the only damage he sustained, but without these glasses, he might have lost an eye.

Providing 99.9 percent protection from the sun’s rays, the polycarbonate lenses are scratch-resistant and robust.

The rubber temple grips keep them secure on your face, and the rubber nose bridge provides ventilation to prevent them from fogging up.

These are comfortable and just stylish enough that I can wear them most places, even beyond the garden.

They are available in six colors, including black, brown, and even pearl pink.

See more customer reviews and check price now on Amazon.

Edge Eyewear Brazeau Torque Polarized Safety Glasses

These provide excellent protection from UV rays and light in general – but on the flipside, the lenses are quite dark in anything but the brightest sunlight.

Edge Brazeau Torque Polarized Safety Glasses

With flexible, rubberized frames, these sunglasses can withstand some rough treatment.

They don’t have a nose bridge, so they can tend to fog up in hot, damp conditions, but the snug fit prevents grass clippings or other debris from getting in behind them.

For the price, these are a top choice if you need a robust pair of safety glasses. They are available in black.

See more customer reviews and check prices on Amazon.

Edge Eyewear SR116 Reclus Safety Glasses

These are a great choice for people with narrow heads. They fit snugly and do their job very well, but they aren’t the ideal choice for folks like myself with big noggins.

Edge Eyewear Reclus Safety Glasses

With flexible nylon frames that feature hypoallergenic plastic rubber temple tips to keep them stable on your face, the dark polycarbonate lenses are robust and scratch-resistant.

A rubber nose bridge allows for ventilation, and prevents them from fogging up. These are also quite dark, making them perfect for wearing on bright sunny days.

Check out customer reviews and prices now on Amazon.

Miscellaneous Gear

There are a couple of other products that I – and my coworkers – couldn’t be without.

Farmers Defense Unisex Anti-Scratch UV Cooling Arm Sleeves

This is a piece of gear that I just can’t get into. Many of my younger coworkers swear by these sleeves and wear them every single day, but us older folks tend to give them a raised eyebrow in response.

A close up of Farmers Defense sleeves in navy blue isolated on a white background.

Farmers Defense Cooling Arm Sleeves

These stretchy arm sleeves roll up and over your arms, and bridge the gap between your t-shirt sleeves and your wrist. With a UPF rating of 50, they block 98 percent of the sun’s rays.

While I’m not a fan, I see more and more of these every day, so it’s an option worth considering, particularly if you are pale skinned or particularly worried about sun damage.

These sleeves are available in a variety of colors and fun patterns.

Check these out for yourself now at Farmers Defense or on Amazon – and let me know what you think of them!

Read our review of the Farmers Defense sleeves here.

Hav-A-Hank Paisley Bandanna

This is a nice, high-quality bandanna.

I’ve used the cheapest ones I could get in the past, and I was always disappointed with their performance. These Hav-A-Hank bandannas offer great quality, they’re durable, and they serve plenty of purposes.

A close up of a bandana in black with paisley patterning in white and red.

Hav-A-Hank Paisley Bandanna

My favorite use for this product is to dunk one in cool water and wrap it around the back of my neck. Instant cool-down!

Made of 100 percent cotton, these 22-inch-square bandannas are made in the USA. They are available in 6 different colors, including black, blue, pink, green, and brown.

Find the Hav-A-Hank Paisley Bandanna at Tractor Supply Co.

Original Buff Multifunctional Headwear

I love the multiple uses that are available for the Buff, but personally I just can’t get comfortable using one.

The Buff is basically a tube of stretchy, seamless microfiber polyester fabric that has a UPF 50 protection rating, and you can use it in a variety of ways. It’s moisture-wicking, quick to dry, and breathable.

Original Buff in Zankor Blue

Some of my workers will wear one around their neck to keep cool, and then cover their nose and mouth if there’s pollen flying or they are weed-whacking. I’ve even seen one of these fashioned into a “beanie” type hat.

It’s a versatile option for many folks.

Available in a wide variety of colors, some are plain, others patterned – there’s something available to suit everyone’s taste!

Check it out now on Amazon.


Sunblock is something I would never be without during the summer. I’ve spent a long time looking for the “perfect” sunscreen, which to me means one that doesn’t feel too oily on my skin.

I recommend an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating of at least 30.

Banana Boat Ultra Sport Sunscreen Lotion

This is a product that I’ve come to rely on. Many of the other sunscreens I have used were too oily or came off too easily when I worked up a sweat, but this one gets the job done.

Banana Boat Ultra Sport Sunscreen, SPF 50

It’s a thick cream, and a little bit of it goes a long way. It definitely provides ample protection from the sun with an SPF of 50.

Eight-ounce, squeezable plastic bottles are available from Banana Boat via Amazon.

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen

This is a brand that I don’t use myself, but the people who work at our retail shop at my day job do.

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Sensitive SPF 30+

They’re working in full sun exposure while standing on the white gravel base we use, so they get hit twice with the sun’s effects.

It’s been designed in consultation with dermatologists, with an SPF rating of 30+, and contains no parabens or fragrance – perfect for those with sensitive skin.

The bottle features interesting Smart Bottle™ technology and will turn blue in harmful UV light, to remind you to put it on.

This is the only sunscreen they use at the shop, so I’m inclined to believe it’s one of the best out there!

You can find Blue Lizard sunscreen in five-ounce bottles available via Amazon.

Tips for Choosing the Right Heat and Sun Protective Clothing and Gear

Wetness, wear, and stretching will reduce the effectiveness of your clothing to block the sun’s UV rays.

Many items will need to be replaced more often than you might like, but the benefits of a well-functioning piece of sun protective clothing are tremendous and worth the expense.

A close up of a man trimming a hedge with a small machine, wearing a hat and protective glasses, on a soft focus background.

I typically replace my sun protective clothing every one to two years, depending on how often I wear it.

If you’re purchasing your gear at a store, you can skip a lot of headaches and head right to the hiking section. The features that make for good hiking gear are identical to what we want in good gardening gear!

There are a few straightforward guidelines to follow when purchasing your heat-protective clothing, and several categories and features to keep in mind:


Black clothing repels UV rays but absorbs heat, while white clothing repels heat but is not as effective at blocking UV rays.

Blue clothing blocks both heat and UV rays, and is a good middle-of-the-road option. However, clothes that are UPF rated (see more on this below) are the exception to this rule, as they are guaranteed to block the sun’s harmful rays.

Hint: the darkness or lightness of the blue impacts the UV and heat protection, and vibrant colors work better than pale ones.


Man-made materials offer the best protection from the heat by being breathable and light. Many modern technical fabrics wick moisture away from your body, so you stay cool and dry while you work.

A man standing next to a woman holding a basket of freshly harvested vegetables on a sunny day, with a garden scene in soft focus in the background.

If odor control is important, look for fabrics that have been treated with an antimicrobial such as silver.

Cotton takes longer to dry, but is often more durable than some of the lightweight fabrics. Be sure to consider what kind of work you are going to be doing when making your choice.

UPF Rating

As I mentioned above, the UPF rating indicates how much of the sun’s UV rays are blocked by the fabric. Ratings are listed in increments of five, typically starting at 15, with 50+ being the highest possible rating.

A woman harvesting potatoes in the sunshine pictured on a soft focus background.

Clothing with a rating of UPF 30 and above is the best for adequate sun protection. If you have particularly sensitive skin, or any existing skin damage or risk factors, opt for UPF 50+ to be on the safe side.

Hint: The UPF number reveals how much sun gets through the clothing. For example, a rating of 25 allows 1/25 of the total UV rays to penetrate, while a 50 allows only 1/50 of UV rays to penetrate. A UPF 50+ rating blocks 98 percent of UVA and UVB rays.


My favorite work shirts are button-down and made of a material with a high UPF rating, but I find the best feature of these is often the flexible vents lining the garment.

Almost hidden most of the time, these vents flex and open during movement, and allow body heat and moisture to evaporate on their own.

Adequate vents, combined with a relaxed fit and moisture-wicking, breathable fabric, keep me cool and dry while I’m out in the garden on hot days.


Most clothing loses some degree of its UV blocking ability when it gets wet, so if it is made of a fast-drying material, it’s going to do its job better.

A close up of a woman harvesting zucchini on a hot sunny day with a basket to the bottom of the frame and a vegetable garden in soft focus in the background.

Moisture-wicking fabrics move perspiration away from your body to the outside of the material, allowing it to evaporate and keeping you dry.

Quick-drying material also comes in handy if you accidentally spray yourself with the hose.

Loose Fitting

A loose-fitting article of clothing offers better heat protection than a tight-fitting one.

When clothing is loose fitting, it creates a layer of air to act as insulation between your skin, the clothing, and the heat.

Ladies, that means those slightly baggy men’s shirts are perfect!

That said, I don’t recommend working in garments that are too baggy, as they can get in the way and cause a safety hazard if you are using power tools.

Staying Cool in the Garden

You’ve got hundreds if not thousands of options available for each category of equipment described here, but I’ve picked out the best that I could find for you.

With these tips and our roundup of top products, hopefully your shopping experience will be an easy one.

Just remember that your ultimate goal is safety from the sun and heat, to help provide the best and most comfortable You that you can be.

A woman wearing a straw hat is wiping her brow and holding a wicker basket filled with lettuce. In the background is a large field of lettuce in soft focus.

What works for me might not work as well for you, so don’t be afraid to experiment a little bit with your options.

Thanks for reading! Drop us some of your sun protection hints in the comments below, and feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

If you are looking for more great garden apparel, check out these guides next:

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Matt Suwak was reared by the bear and the bobcat and the coyote of rural Pennsylvania. This upbringing keeps him permanently affixed to the outdoors where most of his personal time is invested in gardening, bird watching, and hiking. He presently resides in Philadelphia and works under the sun as a landscaper and gardener, and by moonlight as a writer. An incessant questioning of “Why?” affords him countless opportunities to ponder the (in)significance of the great and the small. He considers folksy adages priceless treasures and is fueled almost entirely by beer and hot sauce.
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Henry Nichols
Henry Nichols (@guest_13354)
2 years ago

Wonderful article! Very informative and useful information about garden apparel. Thanks for sharing.