FOR athletes the sun can be every bit as punishing as a tough workout. Sportswear companies now build extra sun protection into clothes by washing in sunblock, applying a coating to absorb rays or choosing tightly woven fabrics that keep out ultraviolet light.

Garments with a high ultraviolet protection factor or UPF a rating comparable to SPF are much more protective than cotton apparel, said Dr. Darrell S. Rigel, a professor of dermatology at the New York University School of Medicine. (White cotton T-shirts offer just UPF 7.)

Our tester, Kerry Ecker a desert guide for Sawyer Adventures, which runs trips leaving from the Boulders Resort in Carefree, Ariz. found all the sunblocking apparel he tried effective. "I really think the clothing works better than sunscreen," he said.

It is specially designed to stay cool, so even wearing pants or a long-sleeve shirt, Mr. Ecker didn't overheat. Some garments, he said, proved bulky or constricting. But for people who are too busy working up a sweat to stop for more sunblock, high-UPF clothing can be a way to keep protected all day. LAUREL NAVERSEN GERAGHTY

PHOTO: Jeff Topping for The New York Times

GEAR TEST WITH | Kerry Ecker, Adventure Guide

How to Dress for a Meeting With the Sun


Published: May 4, 2006