Are you someone who spends a lot of time outdoors, soaking up the sun while kayaking, hiking, or golfing with friends? Do you ever worry about protecting your skin from the harmful effects of the sun?

We all know that too much sun exposure can cause serious damage to our skin, but let’s be honest—slathering on sunscreen every time we go outside (and every hour once we’re out there) is a chore that most of us aren’t consistent with. Luckily, there's a convenient alternative: enter UPF clothing. However, not all UPF clothing is created with your active life or personal style in mind, so it helps to know what qualities and features to look for.

Let’s walk through the basics of what makes a great piece of sun-protective clothing so you can get outdoors in confidence, comfort, and style.

Man fishing on the front of a boat while wearing sun protective clothing

Your Best UPF Clothing Should Feature These Six Qualities

1. Natural UPF protection

The foundation of any well-made UPF clothing is its fabric. Look for breathable fabric (the sun is pretty toasty, after all) with a UPF rating of 20+, 50+, or somewhere in between. UPF 20+ fabrics naturally block out 95% of rays, while UPF 50+ will block out 98%. For instance, viscose from bamboo is one of the best fabrics for sun protection, offering the highest levels of natural UV protection without added chemicals or plastic-feeling fabric blends.

READ MORE: UPF vs. SPF: What’s the Difference?

2. Soft, breathable, quick-dry comfort

The best sun protective clothing is determined by more than UPF ratings. Whether you’re hitting the beach or running your favorite trail, you rely on your clothing to keep you cool, dry, and comfortable, which is why breathable, quick-dry comfort is a must.

While one of the shining features of clothing made from bamboo is its natural UPF protection. It's also more breathable than hemp, cotton, wool, and synthetic fabrics. Oh, and it’s buttery soft on skin.If you’ve ever worn a scratchy shirt that causes chafing and irritation during bouts of movement, you already know how vital next-to-skin softness is when you’re outdoors. 

Softness and breathability aside, clothing made from bamboo also naturally resists bacteria, odor, and moisture, so you’ll never be left feeling wet and stinky from sweat, salt water, or whatever else the day splashes your way.

3. Loose fit

    Another important quality to pay close attention to is fit. Your UPF clothing should fit loosely on your body. This is important for two reasons. 

    According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, loose-fitting apparel is preferable for optimal UV protection compared to tight-fitting clothing, which can stretch and reduce the level of sun protection. Additionally, a loosely fitting shirt or shorts offer optimal breathability and movement—a must-have when being active outdoors.

    At Free Fly, we design all of our men’s sun-protective clothing and women’s sun-protective clothing to offer a flattering fit, and a bit of extra room for fabric to lay comfortably on the skin. Also, many of our sun protective layers are made with 3% of spandex, offering the perfect level of performance stretch to move with you, no matter what you’re doing.

    4. Thumbholes for top-of-hand protection

      The top of your hand is one sneaky spot the sun tends to find on a sunny day. Whether you’re biking, hiking, fishing, or reading outside at the beach, this small but significant feature can save your hands from a world of hurt. Many of our sun protective layers are designed with thumbholes for extra top-of-hand coverage without causing discomfort while you grip your reel, handlebars, steering wheel, or your newest page-turner.

      5. Sun hood

        The scalp is a common place on the body that often goes unprotected. That's why sun hoods are a must-have for any sunny day adventure. Lightweight sun hoods will protect the delicate scalp skin and the tops of the ears, which most people commonly forget to put sunscreen on. If you have ever burnt the tops of your ears, you'll understand how valuable a sun hood really is for all outdoor activities—and one of the many reasons you’ll love our sun hoodies.

        5. Extra neck protection

          If you’ve ever had a bad sunburn on the back of your neck, you already know how important neck sun protection can be. When shopping for quality UPF clothing, look for UPF apparel designed with extra neck protection. Our best-selling sun layers, like our lightweight hoodie, are designed with stylish crossover hoods that resist UV rays—perfect for when you’re out on the boat, reading on the dock, or having a Sunday funday with the family.

          Read MoreSPF 30 vs. 50: What's the Difference?

          Stay Sun-Safe in UPF Apparel From Free Fly

          When you need practical and comfortable UPF clothing for the entire family, Free Fly Apparel has you covered. With our selection of sun-protective clothing, you can enjoy all your favorite outdoor activities without worrying about damaging your skin. We even offer accessories like hats and sun masks for extra protection when the sun is at its worst.

          Shop our entire collection today and experience the comfort and protection of Free Fly Apparel for yourself. For more sun-safe inspiration, be sure to check out the Free Fly Blog.