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The Best Sun-Protective Clothing for Travel

SmarterTravel

Reapplying layers and layers of sunscreen will only get you so far. The best way to stay safe in the sun? Wear sun-protective clothing. Made out of special UV-blocking fabrics, these pieces will prevent sun damage much more effectively than regular clothing. (A regular white cotton t-shirt offers a shockingly low UPF rating of around 5).

Clothing uses a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) scale to measure the amount of sun protection provided—similar to how sunscreen is rated by SPF. The UPF scale goes up to 50+. A UPF rating of 25, for example, means that the fabric will only allow around 4 percent of UV radiation to penetrate through.

We’ve rounded up our favorite stylish sun protective clothing for travel that will keep you cool and safe no matter how hot it gets. 

Coolibar Café Ruche Pants

Coolibar

Coolibar, a leader in sun protective clothing, was the first clothing company to receive The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation. Coolibar continues to make stylish and practical clothing that blocks 90 percent of UVA/UVB rays, so you can stay outside and stay safe. 

Coolibar’s trademarked ZnO fabric is a favorite from the brand. It offers UPF 50+ sun protection, but is incredibly soft, lightweight, and cool. Try it out in the versatile Cafe Ruche Pants—the stylish ruched design means you can wear these on the trail, on the plane, or even to the office—all while being protected and comfortable. 

Toad & Co Sunkissed Maxi Dress

Toad & Co

A maxi dress is great for sun protection, and Toad & Co’s Sunkissed Maxi Dress offers UPF 40+. The lightweight dress feels like air, so you can be covered up without overheating. You won’t be too covered though—there’s a cheeky on-trend cutout at the back of the dress. 

Bra-friendly straps, hand pockets, and a quick-drying fabric mean that the Sunkissed Maxi Dress gets packed for all of our warm weather trips. 

Orvis Jackson Quick Dry Pants

Two views of the Orvis Jackson Quick Dry Pants in grey
Orvis

Can’t decide between a cropped leg or full length pant? Have both with Orvis’ Jackson Quick Dry Pants. The pants can be rolled up and secured with a built-in tab so you can wear them as a 32” inseam or a 23” inseam. 

The pants offer UPF 50 protection, and were designed for fishing—so they’ll dry in a flash to keep you comfortable no matter what the day brings. 

Kuhl Freeflex Dash

Kuhl

Made from a flexible fabric, Kuhl’s Freeflex Dash pants are stretchy without looking like leggings. In addition to freedom of movement, the Freeflex Dash offers UPF 50+ sun protection, a soft waistband, and pockets that are actually big enough to fit your cell phone.

Use the ankle cinch to change the look of the pants from straight leg to jogger style, or to keep your pants out of the way when biking. 

Kaenon Venice Polarized Sunglasses

Three views of the Kaenon Venice Polarized Sunglasses with blue lenses
Kaenon

Protect your eyes (and your wallet) with a pair of sunglasses from luxury eyewear brand Kaenon’s new Essentials line. This budget-friendly line starts at just $100, but features the quality that Kaenon is known for. Essentials sunglasses are handcrafted in Japan, and use the same lightweight, polarized, and ultra-clear SR-91 lenses that the regular line does. 

Our pick from the Essentials: the Venice Polarized Sunglasses, which are durable, stylish, and work for any activity. 

Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Pant

Mountain Hardware

If you’ve ever been caught off-guard on a sunny fall hike and ended up with a burn, you know the deal—you need sun protection even in chilly weather. Mountain Hardwear’s Chockstone Pants provide both warmth and UPF 50 protection, along with plenty of pockets (two hand pockets plus a secure zip pocket in back).

The pants are available in both a women’s specific and men’s specific fit, with options for short, regular, and long inseams—so you can get the perfect fit. 

Houdini Wadi Pants

Two views of the Houdini Wadi Pants in muted green
Houdini

Long pants are a necessity on some hikes. You need protection from not only the sun, but also insects and rough terrain. However, finding a pair that won’t make you sweat even harder on a hot hike is a challenge. Fortunately, Houdini’s Wadi Pants rise to the occasion. 

Made from an ultra-lightweight Liquid Rock fabric, these pants will remain dry and breathable no matter how hot it gets. Use the adjustable leg endings to make the pants shorter as needed for water crossings or style. 

The pants pack down into their own side pocket for easy packing. Check out the men’s-specific version of the Wadis here.

Orvis Long-Sleeved Tech Chambray Shirt

Model showing two views of the Orvis Long-Sleeved Tech Chambray Shirt in light teal
Orvis

Orvis’ Long-Sleeved Tech Chambray Shirt is made out of MarinoWul+, an eco-friendly fabric that’s composed of recycled plastic and reclaimed oyster shells. You’d never guess where it comes from, since the fabric feels softer than silk. In addition to UPF 40 sun protection, the shirt is equipped with Orvis’ trademarked OutSmart Fresh odor control, so you can wear this your entire trip without needing to wash it. 

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