Sailing Apparel: High-tech Sun Protection vs. Thrift Store Buys
Testers seek evidence that UV protective clothes are worth the extra expense.
Take a glance around the marina: One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, one in three Caucasians. In past issues, Practical Sailor has delved into the risks of sun exposure and options for protection, including sunscreens (June 2007), sunglasses (July 2009), and hats (June 2008). For this report, we took a look at clothing designed to block the sunís harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Fabrics create a physical UV barrier, a shield that is longer-lasting, more effective, and more reliable than sunscreens. Although all clothes offer some protection from UV, not all fabrics have adequate protection. Testers sought to determine whether a $50 shirt designed for sun protection is really a better choice than our stockpile of regatta T-shirts or a regular, dark-colored tightly woven shirt that can be bought at a thrift store. We tested the performance of a range of sailing-appropriate activewear from Coolibar and Columbia Sportswear.