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!
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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.
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% of UV rays. To give you a comparison, your average light colored cotton t-shirt would have a UPF rating of about 5 – allowing around 20% 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.
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.
Baleaf Outdoor Short Sleeve Shirt
Like I said, I’m dedicated to short-sleeved shirts whenever I can wear them, and Baleaf makes one heckuva good product.
This shirt is light and breathable, with a mesh-lined vent at the back allowing for some airflow. The woven nylon 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 three color options – 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.
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.
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% of the sun’s rays, with a UPF 50+ rating for the life of the garment.
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 12 colors to choose from including patterned options such as Blue Kauai, Navy Gingham, and Fossil Gray Barrier Reef.
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.
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.
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 Arctic Blue, Pearl Gray, Safety Yellow, Tan, and White.
Columbia Sportswear Women’s Silver Ridge Plaid 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!
The UPF rating of 30 is a bit low, but that’s a fair trade for the moisture wicking and the ease of movement it provides.
The long sleeves can easily be rolled up and secured with the tab holder, and the pockets are handy – it features an interior security pocket, and a zippered chest pocket that’s perfect for carrying small items.
This shirt has a stylish, loose fit, without being baggy. The vented shoulder seams provide some airflow, 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 plaid 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.
Columbia Sportswear Women’s Bonehead II Long-Sleeve Shirt
Similar in design to the previous shirt, this is a good choice if you prefer to wear cotton instead of synthetic fabrics.
This one offers a relaxed fit, 22 different color options including Coastal Blue, Collegiate Navy, Fossil, Mint Green, and Purple Dahlia, and it looks stylish as well as being practical.
The vented back allows for some airflow and the breast pockets allow you to carry small items. The sleeves roll up and are secured with a tab holder, and the collar protects the back of your neck from the sun.
Being 100% cotton, this shirt has a tendency to wrinkle quickly. But if you’re wearing it around the garden, that shouldn’t be a problem!
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.
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% 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.
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!
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 polyester 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 one cargo pocket on each leg with Velcro closure, two zippered hand pockets for securely storing money or keys, and two back pockets for seed packets or other small items.
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, dark gray, and khaki.
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.
Carhartt Men’s 11-Inch Relaxed Fit Rugged Cargo Short
These are my everyday-use shorts. I buy two pairs each year, and wear through them happily.
Made from 100% cotton, they are a bit heavier than what I would prefer to wear and the color fades ultra fast, but as work shorts, I’ve never found anything better.
The thick ripstop cotton canvas material and rugged construction provides good protection from thorns.
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.
The extra tiny pocket on the right cargo pocket is perfect for holding your keys.
Since they are made from cotton, these shorts do not have the moisture-wicking properties of synthetic materials, and they are not quick-drying.
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.
Finding the right size can be a bit tricky, as the material doesn’t stretch. I always buy a size up from what I typically like to buy from other brands, as I enjoy a loose, relaxed fit, and I haven’t had a problem yet.
These Carhartts are available in 5 color choices: Army Green, Bluestone, Dark Khaki, Gravel, and Tan.
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.
Constructed from lightweight, 100% nylon 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. One of the cargo pockets has a handy zippered closure, and the other has a Velcro closure for easy access.
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 Delta, Fossil, Gravel, Grill, and Olive Green. I tend to prefer the darker ones as they show the dirt a lot less!
Outdoor Research Women’s Ferrosi Convertible Pants
Made from 86% ripstop nylon and 14% spandex, these convertibles from Outdoor Research are lightweight and comfortable, with the spandex providing a four-way stretch.
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, Hazelwood, Mushroom, 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.
Carhartt Women’s Rugged Flex Original Work Short
These rugged shorts are ideal for rough work in the garden on a hot day. They are made from 98% cotton canvas, with 2% spandex to allow for extra freedom of movement.
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 two colors, Tarmac or Yukon. If you are looking for a durable pair of shorts that also looks stylish, you won’t go wrong with these.
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% cotton, 39% polyester, 6% spandex material wicks sweat and moisture, and is also stretchy.
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.
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!
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 Bucket 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.
Made from 97% cotton and 3% spandex, with polyester mesh, 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 black, khaki, navy, and white.
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!
Columbia Unisex Coolhead Cachalot 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.
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 Fossil, Steel, and a two-tone New Olive/City Gray.
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!
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.
Arbor Day “Plant Trees” 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.
Made of 100% cotton, 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? For every cap purchased, the Arbor Day Foundation plants a tree.
Field and Stream 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.
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!
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. A small bruise was the only damage he sustained, but without these glasses, he might have lost an eye.
Providing 99.9% 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 6 colors, including black, brown, and even pearl pink.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are a couple of other products that I – and my coworkers – couldn’t be without.
Tough Outdoors Unisex UV Protection Cooling Arm Sleeves with Hand Cover
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.
Recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation, 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% 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 6 different colors: black, blue, beige, dark gray, light gray, and white.
Check these out for yourself now on Amazon – and let me know what you think of them!
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.
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% 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 5-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.
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.
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.
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 5, typically starting at 15, with 50+ being the highest possible rating.
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% 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.
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.
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.
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:
- Muckster II Ankle Muckboots: A Versatile, Waterproof Gardening Shoe
- The 9 Best Footwear Choices for the Garden
© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Arbor Day Foundation, Baleaf, Banana Boat, Blue Lizard, Columbia, Coolibar, Crossfire, Edge Eyewear, Field & Stream, Outdoor Research, Sloggers, Tractor Supply Co., and Vapor Apparel. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. With additional writing and editing by Clare Groom and Allison Sidhu.
About Matt Suwak
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.