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The Best Trail Running Gear For Sun Protection

We’ve rounded up the best in sun protection apparel, accessories, and skincare products to keep you cool and protected this summer.

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In a lot of ways, summer running is the best. We wait for it during those long winter months on icy trails (or maybe inside on the treadmill). And we’re so glad warmer weather is here!

But when it comes to hot-weather running, you shouldn’t be heading out the door in exactly the same way you do in the winter. Aside from causing painful sunburns, excessive sun exposure – especially for people with sensitive skin or who haven’t had a lot of UV exposure in the winter months – can be dangerous and harmful to your health, increasing your risk of multiple types of skin cancers. So when spending time outdoors, sun protection is key.

We rounded up some of our favorite trail gear that marries performance and protection, so you can run safe and happy all summer long.

RELATED: The Trail Runner’s Guide To Vitamin D

sun protection running gear
(Photo: Courtesy Buff)

BUFF Coolnet UV Insect Shield ($28) 

This is the classic Buff we all know and love, but with a major upgrade. It’s made from eco-friendly, 95% recycled performance polyester, features built-in UPF 50 protection and is infused with insect repellent that works against mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, and other pests, and lasts through 70 washes, so you don’t have to use bug spray. No matter how you wear them (we know there’s a lot of ways!) it’s a perfect summer accessory for running, hiking, camping, or any other backcountry activity. One size.

sun protection running gear
(Photo: Courtesy Dermatone)

Dermatone SPF 50 Sport Sunscreen ($19)

We won’t lie, we kind of hate sunscreen. It always ends up greasy and sticky the moment you get sweaty. But not this one. Dermatone offers U.S.-made, cruelty-free, moisturizing sport sunscreen that pairs a coconutty scent with no residue and actually no stickiness as you start sweating it up. Plus, they offer one of our favorite anti-chafe sticks ($7) and mini-tins of multi-purpose skin protectant ($7.49) that works on lips, face, and body and offers mild SPF protection. (A sidenote: Dermatone also offers mineral sunscreens, which didn’t work as well for our testers, leaving some chalky residue and getting slimy on runs.)

sun protection running gear
(Photo: Courtesy Rabbit)

Rabbit UPF 30 Deflector ($70)

This slim-fit hoodie is the perfect lightweight layer for summer protection. The airy coverage helps keep you cool and protected from the sun, with a built-in scuba style hoodie and thumboles to lock sleeves in place. This layer is great for long, exposed runs in the alpine to keep you out of the sun and help prevent overheating. Size range: XS-XL

RELATED: Why You Should Consider A Long-Sleeved Hoodie For Hot Summer Runs

sun protection running gear
(Photo: Courtesy Goodr)

Goodr Sunglasses ($25)

If only all the best running gear could be $25 each, right? Goodr sunglasses are a standby, so much so that we may or may not have multiple pairs lying around in every bag, vehicle, and pair of shoes we own. Goodr has lines designed specifically for running that minimize bounce and are shatter-proof and scratch resistant, so even if they (or you) take a tumble, you’ll be all set to get back up and keep sending. They offer UV 400 protection, and in colors like “Apollo-gize for Nothing” (above) and “What Would Keith Do?” (they’re KISS themed) there’s a style for every mood.

RELATED: The Case For Trail Running With Sunglasses

sun protection running gear
(Photo: Courtesy Outdoor Vitals)

OutdoorVitals Altitude Sun Hoodie ($49) 

Of all the sun protection gear we tried, this one was probably the most comfortable to actually run in. The vaguely turtleneck-like hood keeps your head, neck, and ears protected – all the spots we usually forget sunscreen. The material is cool to the touch and lets out body heat efficiently, preventing overheating. It’s got great stretch and, at $49, is an affordable option. This has quickly become a staple of our testers’ rotation. Size range: XS-3XL

sun protection running gear
(Photo: Courtesy Mountain Hardwear)

Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Tank ($45) 

Also available as a super lightweight hoodie ($60) and a long-sleeve crop ($55) each Crater Lake style features UPF 50+ sun protection. They’re moisture wicking, quick drying, they make a great extra layer for early-morning runs while also being light enough to keep you cool and protected in the midday sun. Size range: XS-XL

best trail running gear
(Photo: Courtesy Hoka)

Hoka Adventure Hat (currently $22)

Bucket hats aren’t just for summer camp anymore! This lightweight headgear provides great sun protection for long and exposed runs, and an adjustment strap at the back helps lock it in place when you want to drop a bit of speed. Mesh panels keep you cool, and an all-around brim keeps the sun off your face, neck, and ears. One size.

sun protection running gear
(Photo: Courtesy Sawyer)

Sawyer Insect Repellent

Okay, these may not technically be sun protection products, but we know that in the summer, sun protection and bugs often go hand in hand, especially on all-day excursions. Sawyer has a wide variety of products depending on your activity and the insects you might encounter. From fabric treatments that won’t harm gear, clothing, or tents, to family-friendly Picaridin sprays, they have what you need. Plus, their controlled-release insect repellent means you don’t have to keep reapplying all day long. And Sawyer is a company you can feel good about supporting: their efforts to provide water filtration tools to people who need them has led to improved access to potable water in numerous countries.