Why Is Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) Clothing Important For Cyclist

Why Is Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) Clothing Important For Cyclist

With extended hours in the saddle, cyclists are particularly vulnerable to sunburn, premature aging, and sometimes skin cancer due to prolonged sun exposure.

An online survey shows that 45.6% of cyclists claimed they experienced sunburns.

Do you also spend extended hours exposed to the sun while navigating roads and trails? Then, it's high time to prioritize your skin.

For that, you need to understand the significance of UPF clothing. But let's first understand what it is!

What is UPF clothing?

Ultra Protection Factor indicates how well clothing can block UV rays. Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) clothing is apparel specially designed to enhance protection against the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

UPF clothing is made from materials specifically chosen for their ability to block UV radiation. These fabrics may include tightly woven textiles, high-density synthetic fibers, or natural materials like cotton or linen.

This dense structure reduces the amount of UV reaching your skin. Some UPF clothing is treated with UV-blocking chemicals during the manufacturing process.

These additives enhance the fabric's ability to absorb or reflect UV rays. UPF clothing undergoes rigorous testing to determine its effectiveness in blocking UV radiation.

The fabric is exposed to UV light in a controlled environment, and the UPF rating is assigned based on how well it performs.

Benefits of UPF clothing

Let's understand why there's so much hype for UPF clothing!

1. It provides comfort and breathability

UPF clothing is often made from lightweight and breathable materials, such as high-performance synthetic fabrics or natural fibers like cotton and linen. These fabrics allow air to circulate, helping to keep you cool.

Many UPF clothing items are engineered with moisture-wicking properties. These fabrics can pull sweat away from your skin and onto the garment's outer surface, where it can evaporate more easily. This keeps you dry and comfortable.

Some UPF clothing includes ventilation features like mesh panels, underarm vents, or strategically placed vents in shirts and jackets.

These enhance airflow, promoting cooling and comfort. UPF hats, especially wide-brimmed ones, are often designed with ventilation holes or mesh panels to allow heat to escape and provide shade without trapping heat.

The weave or construction of UPF fabric is carefully engineered to maintain breathability, making it perfect for cycling sun protection. While it's tight enough to block UV radiation, it allows air to flow through, preventing overheating.

2. It protects you for long durations

Unlike sunscreen, UPF clothing provides continuous protection without frequent reapplication. Once you put it on, you're shielded from UV radiation as long as you wear the garment.

Wearing UPF clothing is straightforward. You don't need to apply or reapply sunscreen to covered areas, which can be time-consuming and messy.

Putting on UPF clothing is a quick and effortless way to safeguard your skin from the sun. It's as easy as getting dressed in the morning.

3. It offers a high level of sun protection

UPF clothing provides better sun protection compared to regular clothing. These fabrics have unique properties that regular clothing materials may lack.

UPF clothing protects against UVA and UVB rays, offering more comprehensive coverage than many sunscreens, which may primarily target UVB protection.

UPF clothing maintains its sun protection properties even when wet, making it suitable for water-related activities like swimming or water sports.

UPF vs. SPF - which should you choose?

Many confuse UPF and SPF, so let's check out the main differences.

SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a rating used for sunscreen products. It measures how effectively a sunscreen can protect your skin from UVB radiation, which is responsible for causing sunburn.

In contrast, UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) is a rating used for clothing and fabrics. It measures how effectively clothing can block UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB radiation from the sun.

SPF values indicate the level of protection against sunburn. For example, SPF 30 means that it can provide 30 times the protection of no sunscreen by delaying the onset of sunburn.

On the other hand, UPF values indicate the level of protection provided by clothing. For example, UPF 30 means that the fabric allows only 1/30th of the UV radiation to pass through, protecting against sunburn and skin damage.

There's a chance you may miss a spot while applying sunscreen. But while wearing clothes, it's obvious whether any skin is exposed.

Of course, SPF is a must-have, but with SPF and UPF combined, you can definitely keep yourself safe!

How do you understand the UPF rating?

The UPF rating is displayed on clothing labels, often alongside a UPF icon or symbol. It's a numerical value representing the sun protection level the fabric offers.

A UPF 30 garment allows only 1/30th (about 3.3%) of UV radiation to pass through to your skin.

A UPF 50+ garment provides excellent protection by allowing only 1/50th (about 2%) of UV radiation to reach your skin.

UPF 30 lets you stay outside 30 times longer than without burning or wearing them. And it's 50 times longer for UPF 50 clothes.

So, they are also pretty straightforward to understand and choose based on your needs and preferences!


Beyond traditional cycling gear, UPF clothing serves as a reliable shield against the sun's damaging rays.

Designed with specialized fabrics and construction techniques, UPF clothing enhances sun protection, providing a layer of defense that's consistent, long-lasting, and remarkably convenient for cyclists.

So, UPF clothing is not just a wise choice; it's also a commitment to your well-being!