UPF-rated fishing clothing

13 Things You Need To Know About UPF-Rated Clothing

UPF-rated apparel is the best clothing you can buy as an avid angler. It offers the best protection against the sun, so that you can stay comfortable while fishing. The more comfortable you are on the water, the longer you can stay out, and more time on the water means more possibilities to catch a big one. Let's take a look at 13 of the most popular questions surrounding UPF-rated clothing that you need to know about.

What Is The Meaning Of UPF-Ratings On Apparel?

UPF stands for “Ultraviolet Protection Factor”. It’s a measure of how much protection your clothing provides from UV rays/radiation. This includes both UVA and UVB radiation. UPF ratings are broken down into four different categories based on how much protection the clothing provides.

  • UPF 15: Minimum UV protection.
  • UPF 16-24: Good UV protection.
  • UPF 25-39: Very good UV protection.
  • UPF 40-50+: Excellent UV protection.

To put this into perspective, your standard white cotton t-shirt would only have a UPF of 5. This falls below the minimum recommended UPF rating, so it’s not considered UV-protective clothing. The UPF rating tells you approximately what percentage of UV rays are making it through to your skin. A UPF rating of 5 means that your skin is exposed to ⅕ (20%) of all incoming UV radiation. Similarly, a UPF rating of 20 means 1/20 (5%) of all UVA and UVB rays aren’t blocked by the clothing, and a UPF50+ rating means you are only exposed to 1/50 (2%) of the UV transmission.

How Is UPF Different From SPF In Sunscreens?

UPF and SPF are two different measurements entirely. Ultraviolet Protection Factor refers to clothing, while SPF applies to sunscreens. It is also worth noting that UPF measures the amount of UVA and UVB transmission, while SPF only measures the amount of UVB rays blocked. A high UPF rating will protect you from things like skin cancer much better than a high SPF rating.

What Is The Minimum UPF-Rating Recommended For Effective Sun Protection?

The minimum recommended UPF rating your clothing needs to effectively protect you from the sun is 15. Don’t expect any clothing with a rating below 15 to provide meaningful protection from harmful UV rays. If you spend long periods of time outdoors, then you are going to want the highest UPF rating you can find. UPF 50+ clothing will block the most UV radiation. If you can’t get your hands on UPF 50+ clothing, then sunscreen is a good way to help prevent sunburn and skin cancer.

How Do Fabric And Weave Affect The UPF-Rating Of Clothing?

Fabric and the type of weave have a significant effect on the UPF rating of a piece of clothing. The best UPF-rated clothing combines maximum protection with comfort so that you can spend the most time on the water as possible.

Fabrics like hemp, cotton, and rayon have a lower natural UPF rating than other materials. Polyester, nylon, wool, and silk do a much better job at protecting your skin from harmful UV rays because of their molecular/chemical structures.

Clothing that is tightly woven also has a higher UPF rating. You may not be able to see the holes in a piece of clothing with a loose weave, but UV rays can get through very easily. Thicker fabrics also offer more protection because sunlight has a harder time penetrating them.

Can Washing And Wearing Affect The UPF-Rating Of Apparel Over Time?

Wear and tear is unavoidable when it comes to fishing outerwear, but there are a handful of ways that you can extend the life of your fishing gear. Many garments come with special treatments that help absorb or reflect UV rays, these finishes can wear off over time. Always check the tags on your apparel or check with the manufacturer to avoid damaging your clothing. Proper washing can significantly extend the life of your gear.

As fabrics thin they tend to let more UV radiation pass through the clothing onto your skin. It’s always good to buy gear that has some elasticity to it so that it can stretch without being damaged. Fading is a good indicator of a piece of clothing that may need to be replaced.

Keep in mind that some fabrics will protect better than others when wet. Gently washing and drying your clothing is the best way to avoid any unnecessary damage to your outerwear.

Are There Specific Colors That Offer Better UV Protection In Clothing?

Most people tend to wear lighter colors when spending a long day on the water, but darker and more vibrant colors are actually better at absorbing UV radiation. That doesn’t mean you have to wear all-black clothing when fishing, but going with a darker color than white is recommended.  White clothing reflects more sunlight than darker colors, keeping you cooler, but UV rays aren’t reflected as easily. That is why it makes more sense to wear a color that can absorb UVA and UVB rays.

Can UPF-Rated Clothing Replace The Need For Sunscreen?

UPF-rated clothing is best used as a supplement to sunscreen, not a replacement. Even the best clothing will have some gaps in coverage, which is where sunscreen comes into play. If your UPF-rated clothing doesn’t breathe very well, then sunscreen can be a good substitute as well. That said, UPF-rated clothing blocks UVA and UVB rays while sunscreen only blocks UVB rays. UPF 50+ clothing is always your best bet.

Are There Any UPF-Rated Accessories I Should Consider In Addition To Clothing?

In addition to your main pieces of clothing (shirts, jackets, pants, and bibs), wearing accessories like neck gaiters, gloves, hats, and sunglasses are all effective ways to block the most UV radiation possible. Polarized sunglasses are a given when you are on the water, but gaiters and hoods are some of the less-known accessories that can help block UV rays. Many performance fishing shirts come equipped with them, so you don’t ever have to worry about being prepared again.

How Can I Maintain The UPF-Rating Of My Clothing?

Proper care of your outerwear is the best way to extend the life of your clothing. Check out our article on how to take care of your gear to get the most out of your UPF-rated clothing. This includes proper storage, transportation, and washing of your clothing. 

What Type Of Activities Are Best Suited For UPF-Rated Apparel?

Any activity that involves being outside for a long time warrants the use of UPF-rated clothing. This is especially true for fishing. The sun’s rays are amplified as they reflect off of the water, so sunburns and skin cancers are very common for individuals who don’t wear proper protection.

Is It Necessary For UPF Clothing To Be Tight-Fitting For Maximum Protection?

No, it is not necessary for UPF clothing to be tight-fitting. The fit of your clothing is more of a preference, and you should choose something that will be comfortable all day long. Tighter clothing can feel uncomfortable on super hot days for some people, so it’s important to get something that fits well. You should consider what type of fishing you will be doing when you purchase a new garment. Repeated casting can become uncomfortable in super-tight clothing, and extremely baggy clothes can get in the way on windy days.

Are Children's UPF Clothing Requirements Different From Adults?

UPF ratings are the same for children and adults. That being said, protecting your kid’s skin is even more crucial, especially at young ages, because their skin can be more sensitive and prone to sunburns. Keeping your little ones happy is paramount when out on the water, so be sure to keep them happy so that you can keep yourself happy as well.

How Often Should UPF-Rated Apparel Be Replaced For Optimum Protection?

There isn’t a set number of uses or years on clothing that will determine when it should be replaced. Instead, you should spend more time caring for your current clothing so that you don’t have to spend money on replacements. Holes, fading, and stretching are good indicators of when it is time to buy something new, but proper storage, transportation, and washing will definitely extend the life of your UPF-rated clothing.

The Final Word On UPF-Rated Clothing

Older generations of anglers didn’t worry as much about UV protection while on the water, but with what we now know about skin cancer, UPF clothing should be considered a mandatory requirement for any of your loved ones while on the water. The best way to avoid unnecessary sunburns and unhappy kids is to combine UPF 50+ clothing with high-SPF sunscreen. They go hand in hand when it comes to protecting your skin, and enable you to spend more time having fun while fishing.

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