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Understanding UV protection
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Sean Passanisi
(passanis) - MLife
Understanding UV protection on 05/06/2013 14:05:17 MDT Print View

Hello. I've used (and loved) a Cap 4 hoody over the past couple of months and I'm now considering baselayers for warmer weather. My research on BPL has prompted me to consider full length garments (pants vs. shorts; long sleeves vs. short sleeves) for UV and bug protection.

After looking at the Cap 1 long sleeve options, I noticed that Patagonia has a "Stretch Crew" that is nearly twice the weight of the regular crew (8.5 vs. 4.6 oz) but offers 50 UPF.

I also noticed that the Tropic Comfort Sun Hoody I purchased last summer doesn't offer the 50 UPF of the Lightweight Sun Hoody.

Patagonia claims non-UPF rated garments may offer 15 UPF but the products aren't tested and certified. My question is whether 15 UPF is "enough" protection. I don't think I'm particularly predisposed to burning easily and can't recall ever getting burned through clothing. But I am concerned about potential UV damage even when I don't get burned. I'd greatly appreciate insights and feedback.


Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: Understanding UV protection on 05/06/2013 14:09:56 MDT Print View

I think that regular clothing provides a lot more sun protection than the makers of special sun protective clothes want you to think.

Treatments are available to boost the UV blocking properties of any clothing. Regular detergent with "whiteners and brightners" do the same thing.

RIT Sunguard is the first hit I got for a wash-in product.

Edited by jimqpublic on 05/06/2013 14:17:20 MDT.

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
upf shirts on 05/06/2013 14:31:56 MDT Print View

yeah im with Jim. I "personally" have never been burned wearing regular long sleeve shirts out in the sun. I have been a swimmer on a team since I was 4 and never had a problem on my long days in the sun(hundreds of swim meets). That being said I dont know how that would apply to say 5-6 days in relentless sun no shade.

In conclusion I have offered no help per usual and supplied my own opinion based on not facts just expierences..... also I use UPF clothing while hiking/backpacking but I am a complete sucker for marketing.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Understanding UV protection on 05/06/2013 15:03:51 MDT Print View

All of those options are going to be super hot in any kind of warm weather.

Edited by justin_baker on 05/06/2013 18:29:33 MDT.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Understanding UV protection on 05/06/2013 15:09:53 MDT Print View

I wore a Rab MeCo 120 long sleeve shirt for 12 days in the Sierra, mostly above 10,000' and very sunny, and didn't even get a tan underneath, let alone a sunburn. I haven't worn a Cap1 shirt for that many days in a row, but I have worn my Cap1 long sleeve shirt on day hikes a number of times and never got a sunburn underneath. I think tightly woven base layers, even if very thin like the two I just mentioned, offer a lot of sun protection. I wouldn't recommend trying this with a more open weave like Capilene 2, though - I've gotten sunburned through a cap2 L/S shirt before.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
albino on 05/06/2013 15:13:48 MDT Print View

The "albino" comment is pretty lame. Nothing says tough guy like skin cancer.

I think the ratings are probably a marketing thing. I think just keeping exposed skin covered with something is due diligence on the UV front. For warm weather I like a long sleeve nylon button-up, much more comfortable than a tight fitting baselayer IMO.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Understanding UV protection" on 05/06/2013 15:52:47 MDT Print View

It's not just sunburn that you have to be concerned about. Long term exposure, even without burning, can become an issue for some people. Altitude increases the intensity of uva/uvb rays.

I've also been told that the Patagonia capilene base layer that I wore for years had a upf of 15, but wasn't tested. Nowadays I want better upf, so I go with a sunshirt.

That said, I have no idea if my old base layer was good enough, sun wise.

Edited by book on 05/06/2013 15:53:22 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: "Understanding UV protection" on 05/06/2013 16:27:06 MDT Print View

yeah - cancer and skin ageing are caused by different UV wavelength than sunburn. It won't be an issue for many years. You really can't conclude anything based on whether you get sunburned on one trip.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: "Understanding UV protection" on 05/06/2013 17:12:56 MDT Print View

My Brother passed away in November from Skin Cancer so this topic hits close to home. For the last few years I only hike in long pants and long sleeves. However, the normal reaction is that must be hot. Not if you pick thin very breathable layers for each. I personally have Arcteryx Rampart pants and an REI Polartec Powerdry top that is white and breathes exceptionally well.

I have never used sunscreen in addition to my long sleeves or pants and I mostly hike in high altitude and above treeline where the sun is very intense. I think the UPF ratings on clothing are not necessary. I can slightly see my skin through my long sleeve power dry shirt and have NEVER been burned.

Mark Heiser

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Re: Re: "Understanding UV protection" on 05/06/2013 18:51:54 MDT Print View

As someone mentioned, different types of wavelengths coming from the suns rays cause burning, not the UVA/UVB. I consider burning just your body's way of telling you that you're receiving too many of those UVA/UVB rays during peak daylight hours, albeit in a roundabout way. Where I hike there is always lots of tree cover, so I usually feel confident in a t-shirt and pants (which I wear more so for bug repellent properties). This helps to lessen the effect of the sun on me.

In conditions of more prolonged, direct sunlight, trying to avoid exposure during the hours of the sun's peak height is a good idea, along with full body clothing. I figure if they wear clothing to cover everything in the deserts of North Africa, there must be something to it. It may even be that those lighter fabrics covering everything in fact make you feel cooler.

Just some observations I've made for myself, not all of what I said is rooted in science per se.

protection on 05/06/2013 20:19:13 MDT Print View

Its been a few years since I read about it, but I recall that sunscreen data does not support that sunscreen reduces skin cancer. In fact, it may even cause it, either directly by decomposition of the sunscreen into free radicals, or by short circuiting the bodys natural defense mechanism. People stay in the sun longer than they should when they wear sunscreen.

One of the interesting data points was that while sunscreen use , and skin cancers , have increase dramatically in industrialized countries over the past 25 yrs, skin cancer rates in non-industrialized countries have remained fairly constant.

Edited by livingontheroad on 05/06/2013 20:20:51 MDT.

Kimberly Wersal
(kwersal) - MLife

Locale: Western Colorado
Re: protection on 05/06/2013 20:39:20 MDT Print View

Skin cancer--a touchy subject here, too. My husband goes in tomorrow to have a skin cancer removed from his chest. Thank god its carcinoma, not melanoma. I don't have enough confidence in sunscreens to risk a life on it. We were very lightweight, and light colored long sleeves and pants, and ginormous Sunday Afternoons hats and find that cooler than sun blazing down on bare arms, legs, and head.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Burning under a shirt on 05/06/2013 20:54:53 MDT Print View

Well, I am, to be blunt, pasty. A friend once told me I was the whitest white person he'd ever seen. I am very, very white.

When I was a kid and there was no such thing as sunscreen (just suntan lotion!! Oh my!), I used to have to wear a t shirt to the beach all the time. Swimming, playing, didn't matter. I had my dorky cotton t shirt on all day over my bathing suit (EXACTLY what a self conscious pre teen girl needs!) and I still burned. All the time - every year my shoulders would blister and scab...

Granted, that hasn't happens since the 70s, and I've found good sunscreens that keep me from burning, I wear long sleeves when I hike...if I don't BAD things happen...but who knows if all that "special" UV treatment of my running and hiking shirts actually do anything.

Just my actual facts here.