We tested UV protective gear on runs in the abundant Southern California sunshine to find our favorites.
Written by: Sabrina Grotewold
This piece first appeared in the May issue of Competitor Magazine.
“As a runner, the sun is my only job hazard,” said 2004 Olympic marathon bronze medalist Deena Kastor. “I try to stay inside during the middle of the day when the sun is directly above, but even morning sun can do damage, so always be cautious.” Kastor, the American female record-holder in the marathon, has endured three bouts of malignant melanoma and now never runs without a hat and sunscreen—she’ll also don sun protective clothing if she’s running for more than two hours.
We tested UV protective gear on runs in the abundant Southern California sunshine to find our favorites. Click through the image gallery below to check ‘em out!
*UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor and indicates how much of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation is absorbed by a person. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, Skincancer.org, clothing manufacturers that indicate their fabrics to have a rating of 50, for example, will allow only one-fiftieth of the sun’s UV rays to pass through the fabrics, translating to significant reduction in UV radiation exposure.
ASICS Favorite Short--$30
If it’s hot enough to wear bun huggers, slip on these incredibly comfortable 100 percent polyester shorts, complete with curved ventilation stripes on the sides that encourage air flow. These unisex, silky 50+ UPF bottoms—constructed with the company’s trademarked Hydrology moisture-wicking, anti-odor technology—are breathable, even in black. Asicsamerica.com
Lululemon Run: Sun Blocker LS--$98
This oh-so-cute UPF 40 sheer jersey long sleeve, constructed with circle mesh panels and an anti-stench chitosan finish, is as protective and practical as it is flattering. Attention to feminine details makes this body-skimming top a stand-out: The extended sleeves, fitted with thumb holes, cover the sunspot-prone backs of the hands and a back zippered pocket stashes a gel, ID or cash. The model we tested featured flattering ruched seams along the arms and bosom, and a crisscrossed neckline cut high enough to stay covered. Lululemon.com
ASICS Sol Shade 2N1 Cap--$30
Sporting this lightweight, water- and wind-resistant hat with the ventilated sun skirt velcroed and snapped into place may make you look like a Badwater racer, but it’s far better than the alternative: a scorched scarlet neck. With a 50+ UPF rating and 360-degree reflectivity, it’s clear that this cap, with thoughtful features such as a comfy, sweat-absorbing terry headband and adjustable cinch strap, was designed by runners for runners. Asicsamerica.com
Brooks HVAC Pulse Synergy Short Sleeve--$42
While it’s tempting to run in a wicking tank top or sports bra—or shirtless, if you’re a guy—on blazing days, the right short sleeve top protects sensitive areas without bulk. The light-as-a-feather HVAC with a 40+ UPF rating features moisture-moving mesh where runners need it most—the torso, back, underarms and interior neckline, where sweat collects. The flat-locked seams deliver excellent chafing protection; however, runners with lengthy torsos should know that the bottom hem hangs lower in the back, curving up slightly on the sides and in front. Brooksrunning.com