Some cyclists prefer preventing sunburn with apparel rather than sunscreen. On long rides, you can easily sweat away all your sunscreen and end up burned. Others simply like to double up and use both.
We’ve rounded up the top UV blocking cycling products we could find to keep you protected from the sun. Did we miss any of your favorite sun blocking products that have performed well for you on the bike? If so, please let us know about them so we can update and add them.
I can tell you first hand that white arm coolers really work, having completed the Dirty Kanza 200 (now called Unbound Gravel) wearing a pair from sunrise until sundown. They were not noticeably hotter than bare arms, and I had no arm sunburn the next day. (My zinc-based face sunscreen also successfully lasted all day and kept my face and ears from getting burned, but several people mentioned that I looked like the Joker at the start which was a little embarrassing. Can’t win ’em all, right?)
Bellweather Sol-Air UPF 40+ Long Sleeved Sun Jersey
Known for their helmets, Bellweather also has an apparel line and offers a few items designed for sun protection. This jersey fits more like a traditional cycling jersey, so you don’t get too much flapping in the wind just because you want to protect yourself from the sun. It has a high collar in back.
See it at Bellweather.
See it on Amazon.
Coda Beanie with Neck Shade
If your cycling jersey collar doesn’t come up high enough in the back, you can end up with a wicked burn on the back of your neck after a long ride in the sun. This might not be suitable for any type of cycling where you’d worry about something flapping in the wind, but if protecting your neck from the sun is your primary purpose, it would work for that. If your helmet lets too much sun through and tends to burn your scalp, you’d also have head protection.
See it on Amazon.
Boure Men’s El Banco Long Sleeved Sun Jersey
Boure is the apparel brand from famous mountain biker Ned Overend. Boure offers an entire line of sun protection cycling clothing, with arm coolers, leg coolers and even knee coolers if you don’t need them to come down because you are wearing full length socks. Claimed UPF 50+ rating. The El Blanco has a claimed UPF-28 rating, and is made from Genesis fabric that is designed to keep you cool and allow air to pass through. Boure offers this one in a race fit version or a club fit version. So if you are looking for a tight fit that won’t flap around in the wind and slow you down, you’ve got an option for that.
See it at Boure.
Rapha Pro Team Arm Screens
High end cycling brand Rapha also offers an arm cooler sleeve, in white. Claimed SPF rating of 40. Reflective stripes.
See it at Rapha.
De Soto Leg Coolers
Don’t forget your legs! These leg cooler sleeves by De Soto claim to block 90 percent of UVB. De Soto says that when the fabric gets wet, it will make your skin cooler than going bare. They call their fabric Skin Cooler.
See it at De Soto.
De Soto Skin Cooler Short Sleeved Jersey
Made of the same Skin Cooler fabric as their leg and arm sleeves, so it’s designed to keep you cool in very hot weather. Claimed to block 90 percent of UVB.
See it at De Soto.
De Soto Arm Coolers and Beanie
The sun can really cook your scalp through many bike helmets, especially if you are bald. Sunscreen can sweat right off and get into your eyes. Fortunately, De Soto makes this arm cooler and beanie combination that is designed to wear in the sun. They also sell both items separately if you only want one or the other. Fabric is claimed to block 90 percent of UVB, and is supposed to keep you cooler than bare skin.
See it at De Soto.
See it on Amazon.
Garneau Arm Coolers
Another well established cycling brand, Garneau offers a white arm cooler. They use Icefil fabric designed to keep your skin cool. Silicone grippers to keep them on.
See them at Garneau.
See them on Amazon.
Aero Tech Coolmax Long Sleeved Sunblock Jersey
You’ve probably seen their ads in the back of Bicycling magazine for many years and might own some of their other shorts or jerseys. They also make a long sleeved sun jersey with a partial zip that is reflective. Made of Coolmax fabric and manufactured in the USA. Claimed UPF of 40+.
See it at Aero Tech.
Solumbra Full Zip Cycle Shirt
Here’s one that’s really more of a cycling shirt than a traditional tight fitting jersey, from Solumbra. High visibility colors and reflective piping also keep you seen on the road. If you feel funny riding around in a regular jersey, this could be a good solution for you. Claims UPF 100+ rating.
See it at Sun Precautions.
Da Brim Cycling Helmet Sunvisor
This one probably isn’t a good choice if you’re trying to go fast on your bike. But if shading your face is your primary goal, Da Brim makes a visor that is designed to work with cycling helmets. The visor is adjustable so you don’t block your vision, and it’s engineered to be comfortable even at wind speeds up to 35 mph.
See it at Da Brim.
Do you have any favorite sun protection gear? Leave a comment and tell us about it. Same goes for sunscreen brands!
Craig Williams says
Regarding arm coolers, you can pay $30 and up for a pair of brand name “cycling” sleeves, or get something just as good for $9. The brand I got from Amazon is Aegend.
Dick Maloney says
Cannot find good ear protection.
Stays in place compatible width ear buds.
A couple of us always wear these, it really helps reduce wind noise.
Don Muchow says
Heads-up: Most brands of leg and arm coolers use a silicone grip band. Not so cool if you’re allergic to silicone. The Pearl Izumi brand has less silicone, but still not ONLY elastic.
Check out the Mavic Cosmic UV Sleeves. They dont have any silicone 😉
Dave H says
I use arm sleeves from Armoray. No silicon, breathable and comfortable in all temps. Reasonable pricing from Armoray on amazon.
D. L. says
I use arm coolers to keep the sun off my arms. They do a great job of doing so. I soak them with cool water before putting them on and they work great keeping your arms cool and sun off. I’ve used them for a number of years and most everyone would ask me about them being hot in which I’d explain why not and how I use them, now a lot of people are using them. Another item I use for sun protection is a base layer designed for cooling. They work really well also. They create an added layer of protection from the sun but also help pull moisture away from your core as well a air gap between the base layer and jersey which creates a cooling effect. I started using the base layer because light weight jerseys would let too much sun in on my back causing skin damage. When you get older you start to pay attention to these things when they start cutting cancer off of you. Finding good high quality SPF rated jerseys is very difficult and usually looses it SPF rating after numerus washing anyway. On my face and legs for sun protection I use Sun Barrier by Zealios. It’s a broad spectrum UVA & B protection, a zinc-based sunscreen formula includes a silicone emulsion that keeps the sunscreen secure on your skin even when sweating
Because of my very very thin hair I also wear a beanie under my helmet to help keep sun off my scalp.
Bruce Miller says
Second DL’s comments. Have worn Pearl Izumi arm coolers for a decade, and a very light technical base layer under a jersey.
Jessica Hirschhorn says
Machines for Freedom long sleeves summerweight jerseys. Stunning and sun protected. I keep the sleeves wet in the heat.
What about long fingers summer gloves?
I find almost all arm and leg coolers never stay up, the Assos and Q36.5 products are the exception, but still, it’s an extra thing to put on. .. A very interesting product which is a bit of a best kept secret is made by RedWhite: 3/4 length bibs (mid-calf) in summer weight fabric. I’d use these specifically for sun blocking, and are due to be available in October 2022. Their ‘stealth’ bibs are fantastic !! Superb pad and good compression in the fabric, and at the price point cannot be matched by anyone.. so these are bound to be far preferable to leggings.
“I can tell you first hand that white arm coolers really work, having completed the Dirty Kanza 200 wearing a pair from sunrise until sundown.”
Who wrote this piece? I didn’t see any byline.
Road Bike Rider says
Lars wrote it. He is a DK 200 finisher (before they renamed it Unbound).
Ollie Jones says
My Pearl Izumi arm and leg SPF coolers work really well. (I’m not allergic to silicone, lucky for me.) They give me the illusion (maybe it’s real) that they keep me cooler than bare skin. And, less sunburn.
Jon Peck says
I have used Voler arm and leg sunskins for at least five years along with a Specialized helmet sun liner. They work very well and require no sun protection. The only problem I have had is with the leg skins sliding down sometimes, but a good choice of shorts solves that problem.
I much prefer the skins to slathering on sunscreen, and, since the skins keep the sun off, they seem to be cooler than bare skin or at least no worse.
Article is not a review. It notes some products with “claimed” SPF/UPF. Recently looking for some jerseys and see statements of protection with pictures showing see-through fabrics. Reading skincancer.org that notes see-through, wet or stretched fabrics have reduced sun protection. Still looking for a real review.