Suns with bouncing arrows. Little wavy lines. Furry looking peanuts.
Just what are all those mystical symbols on the label of your sun shirt? And, more importantly, what do they mean for you as a horseback rider in the sweatiest season of the year?
We’ve decoded your favorite summer shirt labels to take the mystery out of sun protection. *Pushes glasses on firmly*
If you spy the symbol above, or a little sun with a number next to it, this is a shirt with built-in sun protection. The number, if listed, indicates the shirt’s UPF, or “Ultraviolet Protection Factor,” and tells you how much longer you can be in the sun than if you wore no protection. For example, if you have a shirt that’s UPF 30, you can be in the sun 30 times longer than you could without sun protection, prior to burning. So, the good news is that this shirt can help protect you if you’re riding horses in the sun all day. The bad news is that it can’t do anything to stop you from getting a farmer’s tan on your hands.
Like a suit of cellular armor, antimicrobial fabric helps to discourage the growth of microorganisms that cause stink and other general grossness. (That’s the technical term.) While it may help you smell less under normal conditions, the jury is still out on whether the shirt will work after laying crumpled in the backseat of your hot car during show season.
Much like antimicrobial shirts, anti-odor fabric discourages microorganism growth, which may lead to bad body odor. If you’re a horseback rider looking for a quality sunshirt though, this one doesn’t rank high on the “must-have” list. The scent of horse sweat, people sweat, and a slight hint of manure is too much for even the most high-tech of fabrics.
A shirt with moisture absorbing properties features unique textile technology that absorbs dampness to help prevent it from getting trapped next to your skin. So, really just a fancy term for “a shirt that drinks your sweat.” Which is less gross than a shirt sliding over sweat. But only by a little.
Moisture wicking/Quick dry
Much like moisture absorbing fabric, this material soaks up your sweat (ew), but it also helps that sweat evaporate quickly. This makes it much better than normal shirts at helping you stay cool, and also much less disgusting than normal moisture absorbing fabric. Win/win.
Cooling fabric goes hand-in-hand with moisture wicking fabric. Shirts made with cooling material will help sweat evaporate fast, keeping you nice and cool even on the hottest of days. Every fabric has its limits though, so if you’re expecting this one to work miracles under a show jacket in the Florida sun, you’re probably out of luck.
This probably does not need to be explained, but a shirt that’s lightweight is… less heavy. Honestly, you’re better off investing in a cooling fabric or antimicrobial shirt, because when you’re riding thousand-pound creatures and slinging saddles all day, a few extra ounces in your shirt likely register.
“Hypo” is Greek for “below” and “allergenic” is, well, you get it. A hypoallergenic symbol on the label means your shirt is contains fewer things that might cause an allergic reaction. Like irritating dyes and chemicals. Or peanuts. No word on its ability to keep hay out of your bra, unfortunately.
So whether you’re looking for a shirt that will help you smell better or a shirt that will keep you cool, there’s a whole world of options out there in technical fabrics for the discerning horseback rider. Now if only they could come up with a shirt that would clean stalls for you…