The idea of wearing long sleeve shirts in the summer makes me want to faint, but with a big trip to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro coming up I thought it would be wise to invest in some sun shirts to protect myself from mosquitoes.
We’ve had a miserable heat wave the last week, so I took mercy on myself and wore sleeveless shirts, but before then I was able to test out a few different brands.
Ariat Sun Stopper Shirt
Ariat is one of my favorite brands, so I picked up a few colors of their classic sun shirts with 1/4 zip tops. They also make several of the above colors in polo versions.
I know it totally goes against the idea of keeping you cool in the summer, but I bought the navy and red (so I can be patriotic!) and the navy geo. I like the look of the white striped one but I just don’t love wearing light colors to the barn, and I wanted to make sure that what I invested in could be used throughout the year.
The technical polyester/spandex fabric was very light and the shirt has fine mesh panels under the arms to help with airflow. Ariat’s Moisture Movement Technology is supposed to keep you cooler by pulling moisture away from the skin.
When you hold the shirt up to the light you can see through it, but it’s not too revealing. The 1/4 zip tops have a mock collar and stock tie loop, so the plain white shirt would work well for a show shirt.
I found the shirt to fit true to size and was stylish enough to wear out and to the barn. It was long enough to tuck in if needed and had flattering seams on the sides.
The fabric isn’t the softest compared to some of the other brands I tried, but it’s very light, and I felt it cooled my skin even when I sweat.
I wish they made a red and black one, then I’d be all set for those cooler cross-country days!
SmartPak EQology 1/4 Zip Long Sleeve Top
I’ve been really impressed with SmartPak’s clothing, especially their breeches, and after trying an EQology short sleeve top I decided to try their budget sun shirt.
The tencel/bamboo material is eco-friendly and very light weight and has UV protection. I bought the turquoise first and thought it was too sheer, so I exchanged for the navy. I don’t think it wicked moisture away as well as some of the other tops I tried.
The shirt has Raglan sleeves and thumb loops. I was not a fan of the fit of the sleeves, especially towards the bottom where they were quite baggy. I ended up rolling them up several times. They sort of felt like they’d been stretched out, but that’s just the design of the shirt. The rest of the shirt fit true to size on me.
Tuff Rider Ventilated Tech Shirt
The Tuff Rider Ventilated Tech Shirt immediately felt heavier when I opened the package. The material also felt cheaper, but I think it’s just a different technology. It’s a thicker mesh with lighter mesh on the underside of the sleeves, and I felt a little “stuffier” when I rode. It’s not as sheer, so I think that contributes to the lower breathability factor.
It wasn’t my favorite for super hot days, but it comes in several sizes and with a good price!
Kastel Denmark Signature Sun Shirt
Maybe it’s the $75 original price tag, but I feel so sophisticated and European wearing the Kastel Denmark Signature Sun Shirt.
They’re on sale on eBay for $25-$30 each though, so jump on it quick!
I have a zip up and 1/4 zip top one, and these are a close second favorite to the Ariat shirts. The material, which has a slightly pocked underside to aid in moisture wicking, is very soft and has a UPF 30 factor as well as anti-microbial agents to help keep the smell down.
The shirt looks very fitted in the promo photos, but I ordered my usual size and it wasn’t tight, which I prefer. The sleeves have fitted cuffs, which felt weird at first, but I much prefer that to the loose SmartPak sleeves. They also have a very fine mesh on the underside.
I think these did the best job with cooling. When I walked in my air-conditioned house after sweating through during a ride I almost immediately felt chilled! It was also very breathable during the ride.
I bought the royal blue and dark blue, and they’re thin, but not sheer thankfully!