Best Sun Protection Shirts for Women in 2024 (Reviewed)

As I get older, I’m more concerned about protecting my skin, so I always wear a sun protection shirt with a UPF rating. In this post, I share my go-to shirts for covering up during a variety of activities.

Kristen Bor standing on the beach in Maui at sunset wearing a pink REI Sahara Shade Sun Protection Hoody

Long gone are my days of wearing tank tops on the trail. With all of the time I spend outside, all of that sun exposure really adds up. Between painful sunburns, visible aging, and my concern over skin cancer, protecting my skin when I’m outdoors has become a much bigger priority as I’ve gotten older. 

Rather than constantly needing to lather up with sunscreen, which gets expensive and can be loaded with chemicals, I’ve opted to simply cover up. Over the years, I’ve tried a number of long-sleeved sun protection shirts that are designed to be lightweight and breathable, making them a great option for hiking and other outdoor activities even when it’s warm and sunny. 

Here is a round-up of the best sun protection shirts for women to help you minimize your sun exposure when you’re outside on those sunny days.

Overview of Best Sun Protection Shirts for Women

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1. Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoody 

Key Features

  • Weight: 5.2 oz.
  • Fabric: 50-100% recycled polyester
  • UPF protection: 17-45 (not certified)

Where to shop

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: quick-drying and breathable, super comfortable, holds up for years of wear without piling or loose threads
  • Cons: I’ve noticed discoloration of the sleeves due to dirt build-up over time, not UPF certified
  • Great for: daily wear, hot summer days, people who don’t want to wash it every time its worn

My Review

The Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoody is my all-time favorite sun protection shirt for women. I own several colors and rotate through them when I travel in my van. It’s a go-to for me no matter the climate, especially when I hike. 

Made of recycled polyester and spandex, it is quick-drying and very breathable. With the soft, lightweight fabric, I find it extremely comfortable for hiking and hanging out at camp or even sleeping in at night. The hood is a nice feature as it provides added sun protection on your neck and ears without making you hotter, but it also comes in a non-hooded version if you prefer.

This shirt doesn’t have an official UPF rating, but Patagonia’s tests found this shirt has a UPF rating that ranges from 17-45. While not certified, this is the shirt I wear the most on my adventures, and my skin has never shown any signs of the sun penetrating through.

While this shirt has odor control, I do find that it can develop a stink, but usually only after several days of wear and that’s really the case for any of the shirts with odor control listed here.

Kristen Bor dressed in hiking gear and holding trekking poles on trail in Kodachrome Basin in Utah with red rock landscape behind her
I weigh 140 pounds and wear a size Medium in the Patagonia Capilene Cool sun protection shirts

As far as durability, these shirts last a long time. I’ve had mine for years and haven’t experienced any piling or loose strands, although I always wash my clothes on the delicate cycle and run the dryer on low.

Like other Patagonia products, this shirt is made of 50-100% recycled material, fabrics are bluesign approved, and the shirt is sewed in factories where workers are paid fair wages. 

2. REI Co-op Sahara Shade Hoodie

Key Features

  • Weight: 7 oz.
  • Fabric: 92% polyester/8% spandex
  • UPF rating: 50+

Where to buy

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: affordable, super comfortable for hiking and everyday wear, longer tunic-length, sleeves have thumbholes
  • Cons: the material is on the thicker side so we wouldn’t recommend for hot-weather activities, light colors show dirt
  • Great for: daily wear, travel, covering up your hands

My Review

The REI Co-op Sahara Shade Hoodie is another one of my favorite sun protection shirts. I especially like the price, as it’s more budget-friendly than the other shirts on this list. It’s buttery soft and comfortable with a loose yet flattering fit. 

The shaped hem is longer in the front and the back (kind of like a tunic) so it looks stylish enough to wear out in normal life. I also love the crossover style opening on the neck that provides a little extra cover.

This shirt also has thumb holes and covers your hands really well (the fabric goes all the way to my knuckles). This is a huge plus since our hands tend to get forgotten about when it comes to sunscreen or it rinses off anytime you wash your hands.

Woman hiking in front of the ocean in Maui wearing hiking shorts, REI Sahara Shade long sleeve shirt for sun protection, a hat, and a hiking daypack
Here I am 140 lbs (5’5″ tall) and wearing a size Medium

This sun protection shirt is slightly warmer and thicker than Patagonia’s Cool Capilene daily hoody so I don’t recommend it for hiking in extremely hot temperatures.

It’s perfect for milder, sunny days on the trail and for lounging at camp. It’s so comfy that I like wearing it on road trips and for travel. I will say that the sleeves on mine are almost permanently dirty. It comes in several light colors

3. Outdoor Research Astroman Long Sleeve Sun Shirt

Key Features

  • Weight: 5.6 oz.
  • Fabric: 85% nylon, 15% spandex
  • UPF rating: 30 (light colors), 50+ (dark colors)

Where to buy

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: super lightweight and breathable, hidden zip-up pocket on the right hip, easy to wear from trail-to-town
  • Cons: super lightweight and breathable, hidden zip-up pocket on the right hip, easy to wear from trail-to-town
  • Great for: hiking with a baby, going from trail to town

My Review

Since having a baby, I’ve started wearing more button-up shirts because they are easier to breastfeed in. The Outdoor Research Astroman Sun Shirt is one of my favorite sun protection shirts with buttons that I’ve tried.

It’s one of the most lightweight sun protection shirts on this list (after the Outdoor Research Echo below), so if you run hot, this shirt would be a great choice for ultimate breathability. 

A woman stands outside of her Sprinter van with the side door open wearing Outdoor Research Astroman Long Sleeve Sun Shirt
I’m wearing a size Medium in this photo

Lighter colors provide UPF 30, while darker colors are rated to UPF 50+, so it will protect your skin during long days in the sun. It has a pocket on the chest as well as a hidden zip-up pocket on the right hip, perfect for storing money or a credit card.

Made of a nylon blend, it has a soft, stretchy feel and fits true to size. Out of all of the shirts on this list, this one can most easily be classed up if you want to go from the trail straight to town. My only wish is that it came in different colors. It also wrinkles quite easily if you are planning to travel with it in luggage or a backpack.

4. Carve Designs Cruz Rashguard 

Key Features

  • Weight: 7.2 oz.
  • Fabric: 85% nylon, 15% spandex
  • UPF rating: 50+

Where to buy

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: keeps you cool when it’s wet, high-neckline and quarter zip for additional coverage, flattering cut
  • Cons: material is thicker so you wouldn’t want to wear this hiking or during strenuous land-based activities
  • Great for: the beach, snorkeling, and stand-up paddleboarding

My Review

When I’m at the beach, I always wear a sun protection shirt because it gives me much longer protection than sunscreen, which tends to quickly wash off and can have harmful impacts on aquatic and marine life.

The Carve Designs Cruz Rashguard is one of the best sun protection shirts for women who want to stand up paddle board, surf, and snorkel. I own this shirt in two different colors and any time I’m going on a beach vacation, I throw both of them in my suitcase. It was a staple on my last trip to Hawaii

A woman holds fins while wearing the Carve Designs Cruz rashguard on a beach in Maui
I’m wearing a size large in this photo

With the cinching on the sides, I find this shirt to be super flattering. It’s also got a high neckline (with a zipper) which provides a little extra skin coverage compared to some of the other shirts on this list. I wear a large in this shirt and I’d recommend sizing up if you want a more relaxed fit.

My favorite thing about this rashguard is that after I get out of the water, it continues to keep me cool as it dries, which is great for hanging out in the hot sand. If I get hot, I just hop back in the water and get it wet again. Once it dries, however, it’s a little thicker than the other sun protection shirts on this list, so I wouldn’t recommend hiking in it, unless there is water to jump into at your destination.

5. Free Fly Women’s Bamboo Shade II 

Key Features

  • Weight: 5.3 oz.
  • Fabric: 68% viscose from bamboo/29% polyester/3% spandex
  • UPF rating: 50+

Where to buy

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: soft material is great for lounging around camp, made of eco-friendly bamboo, sleeves have thumbholes
  • Cons: doesn’t wick moisture well, can’t go in the dryer and needs to be hung to dry
  • Great for: everyday wear, camping, travel

My Review

The Free Fly Bamboo Shade II is one of my favorite sun protection shirts for daily wear and lounging around camp. Made primarily of bamboo, it’s ultra soft and one of the more environmentally friendly sun protection shirts on this list. I love the neutral colors this shirt comes in and find they go well with almost anything. 

The shirt runs long and fits fairly loose which is nice for those who don’t prefer form-fitting clothing. I typically tuck it in since I have a short torso. One of the best features is the thumbholes which help keep your hands covered – an area that I often forget to put sunscreen on. 

I’m wearing a size Medium in this photo

I don’t find this shirt to wick moisture all that well so it’s not the best choice for activities where you really work up a sweat. I once hiked to the top of Alta Ski Area wearing this, and it was pretty soggy at the top. Another downside is you are supposed to hang it to dry in order to prevent shrinking and piling, which I find to be a bit of a hassle.

6. Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie

Key Features

  • Weight: 3.95 oz.
  • Fabric: Bluesign-approved 100% recycled polyester
  • UPF rating: 15-20

Where to buy

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: most lightweight shirt on our list, performs well in hot weather, ponytail hole in the hood, sleeves have thumbholes, flattering cut, fun bright colors
  • Cons: holds stink a bit more than the other shirts on this list, lower UPF
  • Great for: more technical, sweaty activities on hot days

Review

The Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie is the most lightweight sun protection shirt on for women on this list at less than 4 oz making it suitable for hot temps (like the Patagonia Cool Capilene). It’s also sweat-wicking and quick drying making it a great fit for hiking, climbing, and other high-exertion outdoor activities in the sun. 

Like all good sun protection shirts, this one has thumb holes, and a good amount of stretch that allows for plenty of movement. And the women’s version has a ponytail port in the hood – a unique feature we don’t often see.

Kristen Bor hiking at the top of Snowbird Ski Area with mountains and Salt Lake Valley in the background. She is wearing the Outdoor Research Echo Hoody sun protection shirt
I’m wearing a size Large in this photo

This shirt is a bit more technical looking than some of the others on this list, so you might not wear it out on the town. I do love the bright colors though, and it’s super functional for any sunny day outdoor adventure. Plus, this sun protection top is made from 100% recycled materials which I’m all about.

I will say that after wearing this for a couple of weeks, I’ve noticed the odor control isn’t quite as good as the Patagonia cool capilene. I wore it to Phish concert once, and was slightly embarrassed whenever I lifted my arms to cheer (lol). This one definitely needs to go through the washer more frequently.

Also, because this shirt is so lightweight, the UPF isn’t quite as high as the other shirts on this list. I’ve never gotten sunburnt through it though.

7. Costa Long Sleeve Venture Performance Shirt

Key Features

  • Weight: 7.23 oz.
  • Fabric: 88% polyester, 12% spandex
  • UPF rating: 30

Where to buy

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: sleeves have thumbholes, longer length, stretchy material
  • Cons: no hood, slightly thick
  • Great for: water sports, mild sunny day hikes

Review

This Costa sun protection shirt is similar to the Patagonia Cool Capilene daily shirt but with a couple of key differences. Also made of polyester and spandex, this Costa shirt offers UPF 50+ and is a little thicker than the Patagonia. If the temperature is a bit cooler or if it’s breezy, but I still want to cover up, this is a good choice. 

A key feature of the Costa LS Venture Performance shirt is the thumb holes. If you are going rafting or kayaking, I love that this shirt covers up a decent portion of your hands, making it my favorite choice for active water sports where sunscreen quickly rinses off.

Woman smiles on a hiking trail in Salt Lake wearing a baby carrier and Costa Long Sleeve Venture Performance Shirt
I’m wearing a size large in this photos

Finally, this shirt is longer and stretchier than the Patagonia. With the scalloped hem on the sides, some might say it has a feminine cut. I probably could have worn a medium, but I sized up to large for a looser fit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does UPF mean for clothing?

UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and is a rating that tells you how much radiation gets through your clothing. A UPF 50 means that 1/50th or 2%. of the radiation gets through the fabric. A UPF 25 means that 1/25th or 4% of the radiation gets through. So the higher the UPF the more effective the shirt is at providing sun protection.

Don’t all clothes provide sun protection?

Well yes. Any clothing that you wear is going to provide more sun protection than having exposed skin, but certain colors and fabrics do a better job at preventing UV rays from reaching your skin. To be certain, it’s best to wear clothing that has an official UPF rating.

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Do you have a favorite sun protection shirt for women? Any questions about these products? Let me know in the comments!

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