Sun Shirt Showdown: Ranking the Brands

When I got back into the horse world, I was confused when I saw people riding around in the blazing heat with long sleeves. I was a skeptic until I went into my local tack shop and picked one up for myself. It was breathable, pretty comfy, and didn’t make me overheat like I thought it would. PLUS it had UPF* protection, so I felt like I was being pretty responsible. #adulting
I’ve since tried three different brands, EIS, Tailored Sportsman and Kastel. Here’s what I think about each brand:
  1. EIS – retailing around $95 this is the priciest of the three, and I’m told it’s because they’re made in the USA. It has the mesh vented sleeve panels like the other two brands, but is for sure the heaviest of the three. This makes the material DURABLE – which I love. I’ve washed them with my Tailored Sportsman breeches and had the velcro get stuck to the fabric (amateur move) but when I pulled them apart, it didn’t snag or pill. I actually used it as a base layer in the winter and it really helped regulate my body temp throughout my ride, however a hard ride in the 70s and up doesn’t really work for me and this top. I just don’t think it breathes as well, which is a shame because I love everything else about it, plus it has UPF 50+ protection. SO – use this for early morning spring rides with a light vest and you’ll be golden or an easy hack on your day off.
  2. Tailored Sportsman – price-wise this one falls around $65. The material is silky soft and comes in an array of awesome colors, much like their coveted breeches. It’s super thin, which brings me back to my amateur-hour dilemma of washing with breeches (yes I’ve done it more than once, whoops) and this top snagged pretty badly each time I made the mistake. It’s a shame because I really like the weight and shades it comes in, and it also has 50+ UPF protection, but all in all they just aren’t the same quality as the EIS. If you’re looking to save a little money make sure to take care of them because they don’t hold up with wear and tear like you’d want a schooling shirt to do.
  3. Kastel Denmark – these retail at $75, right in-between the other two. I was skeptical as to how different they could really be from EIS & TS, but decided to give it a go. In terms of sun shirts, the material is mid-weight and soft yet durable. The zipper is legit and doesn’t snag like the TS version. PLUS it comes in awesome colors! With UPF 30 ultra-violet protection to boot, this is my winner. Not too heavy, holds up in the wash and yes, has withstood the velcro test!

TL/DR
EIS: heaviest & priciest but the quality and UPF 50+ protection makes it worth every penny.
Tailored Sportsman: pretty colors, least expensive, but you’ll burn through them as the quality isn’t stellar.
Kastel: sits pretty right in-between the other two brands, both quality and price-wise. Lowest UPF but that’s not a deal-breaker for me, so that makes this top my winner winner!

*UPF: UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) represents the ratio of sunburn-causing UV without and with the protection of the fabric, similar to SPF (sun protection factor) ratings for sunscreen. While standard summer fabrics have UPF ~6, sun protective clothing typically has UPF ~30, which means that only 1 out of ~30 units of UV will pass through (~3%).

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