I recently went to a new dermatologist, and when I told her that I spend entire days outdoors on hiking and backpacking trips, often at high altitude, the lecture began! Plenty of sunblock, long sleeve tops and long pants, hat, sunglasses, and a new twist… UPF rated clothing!
Almost all of my hiking clothing is technical gear from great companies like The North Face, Outdoor Research, and Columbia Sportswear. When I am at the store happily buying hiking pants, tops, and hats, I have noticed the UPF rankings, but paid little attention to it until my recent doctor’s visit.
Hiking Lady’s favorite UPF rated hiking clothes and hats:
|The North Face Women’s Paramount Valley Convertible Pant: These pants are rated UPF 30. I have a pair and love them!|
|Columbia Women’s Bahama Long Sleeve Shirt: This is my favorite hiking top – it is rated UPF 30. I have 2 of them!|
|Dorfman Pacific Solarweave Mesh Trekker Hat: A hat like this is great for summer hikes when you want to protect your scalp, face, neck, and shoulders from the harsh rays of the sun. I love my Dorfman Trekker hat, and really love its UPF 50 rating!|
As we all know, it is very important to protect ourselves from harmful UVA and UVB rays from the sun. When I’m out hiking, I am pretty diligent about wearing sunglasses, long-sleeve tops, long pants, and a broad brimmed hat. The reason is I burn easily, and I want to make sure I don’t get melanoma, like my grandfather had. Over 90% of all skin cancers are because of sun exposure, and I don’t want to be another skin cancer victim. Plus, UV rays are especially high in areas where I like to explore: snow, sand, water, and high altitudes!
What Does a “UPF” Rating Mean?
I decided to do some research and get knowledgeable on UPF. UPF is a rating factor on apparel that stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. The ratings are typically between 15 to 50+. Unlike typical fabrics, UPF rated fabrics only allow a fraction of harmful rays to pass through. So for example, a UPF rating of 15 means that just 1/15th or 6.7% of harmful rays pass through the fabric. Obviously the higher the UPF number, the more protected our skin will be. This compares to a typical t-shirt that is likely somewhere between 5 and 8 UPF.
The bottom line is that if you are like me and love to be outdoors, UPF apparel is the way to go. Unless you are highly unlikely to burn, the extra few bucks to buy technical hiking apparel will be well worth it.