Gear on Test – Hello sunshine

Our gear testers, Jen and Sim Benson, test sun protection clothing and accessories, helping you stay safe during the summer months

Whether you’re heading abroad or hiking in local hills, you’ll want to protect your skin from the potentially harmful effects of the sun. While some sun exposure is important for our health, including vitamin D synthesis, too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation can damage skin cells and cause skin cancer. Cancer Research UK say almost nine in 10 cases of melanoma skin cancer in Britain could be prevented by staying safe in the sun and avoiding sunbeds.

Even on cold or cloudy days throughout spring, summer and autumn, the sun can be strong enough in the UK to cause skin damage. Add in the effects of a warmer climate, or altitude if you’re walking in the mountains, and this damage happens more rapidly and year-round. Many outdoor brands market specific sun-protection products with a high UV protection factor (UPF), but the clothing you already have may work perfectly well. Choose dark colours, which absorb UV rays more effectively than lighter ones, and close-weave fabrics, which have the most effective blocking action. Look for garments that combine light and airy fabrics, so you won’t overheat, with good coverage, including long sleeves, collars, hoods and thumb loops to protect your hands.

Remember, even fabric with a high UPF rating is only effective if it covers all your exposed skin, so combine suitable clothing with sunscreen and shade for effective protection. When wearing a t-shirt or shorts, you’ll need to apply sunscreen to any parts not covered up. The British Skin Foundation recommends applying sunscreen rated at least SPF30, 20-30 minutes before going outside, then every two hours. Don’t forget your feet, especially if you’re walking in sandals. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with CE-certified UV protective lenses. A light scarf will protect the neck and shoulders. Finally, avoid walking during the hottest part of the day. Plan outings for the morning or evening – often the most beautiful times.


Sun-protection accessories


Outdoor Research Sun Runner

RRP: £37

Or sun runner

This lightweight, breathable cap is rated UPF40 and ideal for use in hot, sunny weather. It’s vented, comfortable and includes a detachable cape to protect the neck. Made from bluesign-certified, partially recycled nylon.


Alpkit Rig 3.5

RRP: £59.99


Carrying a lightweight tarp allows you to quickly set up a shelter that protects from sun, wind, rain or onlookers. Alpkit offers a range of sizes and fabrics – this one is 2.4 by 1.4 metres, packs to the size of a grapefruit and weighs 300g/11oz. Pitch it with walking poles or tie it between trees. No cord included, so add your own.


Salewa Puez Hemp Brimmed Hat

RRP: £40

salewa puez

A classic, wide-brimmed hat made to Fair Wear standards from a tough mix of hemp, polyester and cotton. Features include airy vents and a drawcord to keep it in place during windy weather.


Berghaus Recognition Bucket Hat

RRP: £25


This simple cotton bucket hat shades your face and neck from the sun. It’s tough and features an elasticated headband for a universal fit.


Inov8 Hiking Sunglasses

RRP: £70

Inov8 Sunglasses

Perfect for sunny days, anti-UV, polarised lenses protect eyes while offering good vision and clarity. The lightweight, stylish frames are tough and flexible, with rubberised nose and ear pads for a secure fit.


Montane Trail Lite Sun Visor

RRP: £22

Montane Visor

A sporty looking, super-light visor that’s comfortable, stays put and keeps the sun off your face and the sweat out of your eyes. Made from polyester with a little elastane for stretch. 


Dewerstone Tambora X Wooden Sunglasses

RRP: £79.95

dewerstone glasses

These eye-catching shades with laminated maple wood frames are comfortable to wear and stay in place well. Polarised lenses have excellent clarity and block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. 


Outdoor Research Chroma Sun Gloves

RRP: £30


Hands are exposed to significant amounts of UV radiation. Walking with poles makes them even more vulnerable to the sun. These gloves are rated UPF50+, lightweight, cooling with ActiveIce technology, plus a silicone grip palm. Available in three-quarter or full-finger styles.


Lifeventure Trek Umbrella Small

RRP: £15.99

Lifeventure trek umbrella small

Umbrellas are a great but underrated means of protection, offering portable, instantly deployable shelter from sun, rain and even cows! This compact version is easy to stash in a pack, weighing just 206g/7oz, and has a UPF50+ rating.


Nikwax Solar Wash and Solar Proof

RRP: £6.99 and £8.99 (both 500ml)

Nikwax SolarWash SolarProof



Royal Robbins Amp Lite Hoodie

RRP: £70

Women's Royal Robins

A great choice for all-over protective coverage with minimal weight or bulk, this lightweight hoodie is made from bluesign-approved recycled polyester. It’s super soft and lovely to wear; perfect all-day long or for travel/backpacking. The thoughtful design includes thumb loops, a hood and longer-length body.


Artilect Exposure Hoodie

RRP: £130

Women's Artilect Exposure Hoodie

Innovative Nuyarn technology combines the softness and naturally antimicrobial and thermoregulating properties of merino wool with durable, quick-drying nylon. The result is a superb all-day hoodie ideal for hiking and everyday wear. Great coverage including long sleeves, thumb loops and hood (with ponytail opening) for all-over UPF50+ protection.


Páramo Socorro Shirt

RRP: £85

 Women's Paramo Socorro Shirt.jpg

Made from Páramo’s close-weave lightweight polyester Parameta A fabric, this functional shirt offers great protection from the sun (UPF50+) and biting insects. It’s light, airy and unrestrictive to wear, with a fitted collar, Velcro cuff fastenings and a discreet zipped pocket large enough to stow a passport.


The North Face Summer LT Sun Hoodie

RRP: £60

Women's North Face base layer


This lightweight, breathable hoodie is designed for running but ideal for sunny days on the hills for coverage without extra warmth. Cut for freedom of movement, it’s shorter in the body than others on test, but still offers protection with thumb loops and a hood.


Mountain Warehouse UV Dress

RRP: £39.99



WOMENS mountain warehouse ORGANIC DRESS

Made of 95% cotton and 5% elastane, this dress is soft, light and airy to wear, with UPF40+ sun protection. It has two pockets and comes in a range of prints. Cropped sleeves and a scoop neck mean you’ll need to take care with exposed areas though.


Patagonia Quandary Pants

RRP: £90

Women's Patagonia

Cool and unrestrictive, these durable trousers offer protection from the sun (UPF40+) and biting insects, and can be teamed with baselayer trousers when it’s cold. Made of a part-recycled nylon mix, with four pockets, they come in 32in or 30in inseam.


66° North Kársnes Jacket

RRP: £150 

 Women's 66North jacket

This lightweight windproof jacket is made from a soft, stretchy fabric, making it comfortable enough for all-day use. It’s versatile, too – great for keeping the chill off when you’re running or cycling, as well as in the hills, with lots of reflective detail, zipped pockets and a high collar. An ideal choice for higher altitude sun protection, and dry, breezy days. 


Fjällräven Abisko Sun Hoodie

RRP: £95

Women's Fjallraven sun hoodie

This lightweight yet protective hoodie offers all-over sun coverage with thumb loops to protect hands and a hood (with ponytail opening) to shade face and neck. Made using recycled polyester, it feels well-made and durable. Ideal for spring/summer.




Outdoor Research Astroman Sun Hoody

RRP: £95

Men's Outdoor Research Astroman Sun Hoody

A super-light, bluesign-approved (responsibly made) nylon hoody with a stylish, loose athletic fit that offers sun protection without feeling warm or restrictive. The hood and thumb loops keep you well covered, and the zip adds ventilation. UPF30 in the light colours and UPF50+ in the darker colours.  


Smartwool Active Mesh Hoodie

RRP: £94.99

Men's Smartwool Active Mesh Hoodie

This versatile hoodie mixes breathable, naturally antimicrobial merino wool with recycled polyester and Tencel (a wood-pulp-based fabric) for extra durability and reduced weight and drying times. It looks great and is comfortable to wear all year round, even in hot weather, when it offers a good level of 
sun protection.


Craghoppers NosiLife Adventure Shirt III

RRP: £85

Men's Craghoppers

With its long sleeves and collar, this shirt offers excellent protection from strong sun while still feeling comfortable in warm weather. The recycled nylon fabric has a UPF50+ rating and the flip-up collar adds extra neck protection. It also features insect protection, back vents, roll-up sleeves and secure pockets. 


Helly Hansen LIFA Active Solen Base Layer

RRP: £55

Men's Helly Hansen

This polyester/polypropylene mix baselayer is infused with innovative S.Café, a recycled coffee treatment, adding both UPF50+ sun protection and odour resistance. Cut with a more relaxed fit than a traditional baselayer, allowing more cooling airflow to circulate, it’s breathable, sweat-wicking and comfortable even in hot weather.


Bam Origin Air Bamboo Polo Shirt

RRP: £39

Men's Bam Origin Air Polo Shirt

This lightweight, soft-feel polo shirt looks smart and is cool and airy to wear in warm weather. The collar protects your neck from the sun, but 
the short sleeves still leave your arms exposed. The bamboo/organic cotton mix is ethically produced and has a UPF50+ rating. 


Jack Wolfskin Norbo Shirt

RRP: £65

Men's Jack Wolfskin shirt

Combining smart looks with performance fabrics, the Norbo shirt offers good sun protection and is comfortable and breathable to wear. The nylon/elastane mix fabric is lightweight, quick-drying and treated with Microban for long-lasting freshness. Features include a useful chest pocket and protective collar.


Rab Incline Light Pants

RRP: £90

Men's Rab Incline Pants

Breathable protection for warm weather trekking, these aren’t much heavier than shorts but keep the sun off. The nylon/elastane mix is stretchy and tough, with knee articulation.


Columbia Loop Trail II Packable Windbreaker

RRP: £90


This lightweight yet durable jacket offers wind resistance, protection against the sun and light rain, and better breathability than a waterproof. With a UPF50 rating, it’s ideal for the sunny, breezy conditions typical at higher altitudes, or exposed sections of a walk. It has a relaxed fit and features a deep hood and zipped hand-warmer pockets.