Since 1987 when founded in Seattle, Washington, by Rick Hemmerling and Joe Boldan, ExOfficio has celebrated the traveller and outdoors enthusiast by crafting clothing that allow you to experience the world unhindered. Intelligently designed products with tangible benefits—including the best-selling Give-N-Go® underwear collection and lightweight, wrinkle-free fabrics with bug, sun and water protection—ExOfficio focused on one goal: comfortable performance.

Over the years ExOfficio has been a leading innovator of clothing design. They are at the forefront of fabric technology and garment features. All designed to make your travel and outdoor experience more comfortable and enjoyable.

Sun protection has been one of the key features of ExOfficio clothing for many years. In 1994 ExOfficio built UV protection into a new shirt, the award winning Air Strip®. The Air Strip® features an UPF 40+ fabric, unique venting system and is the first synthetic shirt that is as comfortable as cotton but also wicks moisture. They also introduced a 3-position sun collar for added adjustable protection from harmful UV rays.

UV rays cause sunburns and skin cancer by damaging skin’s cellular DNA. One bad sunburn in your youth, or five burns any time in your life, more than doubles your chance of developing melanoma later in life ( There are several types of UV rays created by the sun. The two of most concern are UVA and UVB rays.

UVA (long-wave): Can penetrate clouds and untreated glass, and impact skin more deeply than UVB. Can cause aging of the skin and wrinkles and weaken the immune system, as well as contribute to skin cancer.

UVB (short wave): Can penetrate clouds, but not glass. The main cause of sunburns, and can contribute to skin aging and cancer, as well as weaken the immune system. Most dangerous between 10 am and 4 pm.

Depending on where you live or travel, the sun can have a greater impact on skin. The below factors all increase UV intensity, requiring more protection to keep skin safe. Adapt to your destination, and be sure to take these into account when packing.


Staying Protected Clothing Vs. Sunscreen
UPF: ULTRAVIOLET PROTECTION FACTOR UPF is used to rate the sun protectiveness of a fabric. Unlike SPF, UPF applies to both UVA and UVB rays. Ratings run from UPF 5-50, with 8 being the rating for an average white t-shirt. SPF: SUN PROTECTION FACTOR SPF rates effectiveness against UVB (burning) rays. Unless it says Broad Spectrum, it likely doesn’t stop UVA rays, which cause skin cancer. Currently, there is no accepted rating system for UVA.
CONSTANT PROTECTION With sun protective clothing, as long as the fabric covers your skin you are protected all day long. The more intense the sun, the higher the rating you should wear, especially if you will be out for an extended period of time. REGULAR PROTECTION Apply a shot glass full at least 20 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours, (more when in the water, sweating, or using a towel). Applying a smaller amount less often decreases SPF rating. (Source:
HIGHER RATING, SAFER SKIN A cotton t-shirt is rated between UPF 5-8, meaning it allows up to 20% of UV radiation to reach skin. According to the UPF standard, no rating below 15 can be called ‘sun protective’. NOT TRAVEL FRIENDLY With current security measures in airports, it isn’t easy to travel with a bottle of sunscreen, and it is often more expensive at your destination.

All clothing offers some degree of protection. When the sun’s rays hit fabric, some of the energy is changed to heat. This converted energy is no longer dangerous to skin. The UPF rating, similar to SPF for sunscreen, determines the amount of UV rays that a garment can block.

The higher a fabric’s UPF rating (15-50), the better protected you are. The rating equates to the percent of UV rays that pass through the fabric, so UPF 50 means that about 1/50th, or 2% of rays, can get through. Another way to think of this is a UPF 50 shirt blocks 98% of UV rays.

Clothing manufacturers have many ways of improving the protectiveness of garments. Thanks to the following fabric characteristics, lightweight and breathable clothes can also provide high levels of defence.

Fabric Weave Dye
The tightness of the fabric decreases space between the fibers that UV rays can pass through. Contrary to popular belief, color does not have a strong effect on sun protection. It is the type and amount of dye in a fabric that determines effectiveness.
Fabric Type Fabric Treatments
Different materials are better at deflecting the sun, such as polyester and nylon, thanks to their molecular structure. Most natural fibers need added treatments to be more protective. Garments may have added chemical finishes to increase UPF. These treatments are not harmful to skin, but may lose some effectiveness over the lifetime of the garment.

The key to sun protection is to cover yourself from head to toe. With the ExOfficio sun protective clothing including women’s & mens shirts, pants, hats, and other accessories its easy to keep yourself covered and protected wherever your adventures take you.

Other interesting pieces of technology that can be found in the ExOfficio clothing range include

In 2004 ExOfficio became the first company to introduce EPA registered Insect Shield® insect repellent clothing to the USA. The Bugsaway® collection for women and men combines sun protection and insect repellent treatments for maximum outdoor protection.

BugsAway® apparel with Insect Shield® technology is a revolutionary tool to aid you in the battle against insects that can carry insect-borne diseases. With odourless and invisible insect protection, the only way to tell it’s there is that the bugs aren’t biting. The built-in insect repellent Permethrin provides a carefree outdoor experience, letting you focus on your adventure, not the bugs.


More information on methods of bug repellent can be found at our Keeping Pesky Bloodsuckers at Bay post.

In 2011 ExOfficio developed their Sol Cool® line with 50 UPF and Ice Fil® technology. Sol Cool is a collection of cooling and sun protective clothing featuring Icefil® technology. Sol Cool uses Icefil technology to keep you cool and comfortable in hot climates. The compound Xylitol, which occurs naturally in the birch tree, is woven into fabric. When it comes into contact with moisture like sweat, it reacts, creating a cooling sensation similar to mint gum. Xylitol can cool the skin surface up to 5°F

Sweat works to cool us by evaporating off skin, creating a cooling effect. Water conducts heat 24 times better than air, so removing moisture from skin is a very efficient way for the body to regulate temperature.Sol Cool enhances this cooling with highly efficient wicking fibers, which feature a micro-capillary structure to quickly pull moisture away from the skin and release it on the top of the fabric to evaporate. This keeps you cool and dry no matter how active you are.

Nano-particles woven into the fabric both eliminate odour molecules in the fabric
and disperse UV rays. Sol Cool is rated UPF 50+, the highest sun protection rating
possible for a garment.


The ExOfficio Kahve range features JavaTech™ technology embeds recycled coffee grounds into fabric for superior performance. Whether you’re running through the airport or on a trail, JavaTech will keep you comfortable and fresh. After the roasting and brewing process, coffee molecules are ideal for performance fabric. They reduce odour in the garment by neutralising then releasing odours in the wash. They also efficiently move moisture to the fabric surface for rapid drying, and provide UPF 15 sun protection from UVA and UVB rays.


In 2000 ExOfficio introduce their award winning odour-resistant Give-N-Go® performance underwear made of diamond-weave mesh. These and many other ExOfficio garments use Aegis® Microbe Shield® technology to eliminate odour-causing bacteria in the fabric.

ExOfficio uses strategically placed ventilation to keep you cool and comfortable while travelling or trekking in hot and humid environments.


Many thanks to ExOfficio for their help researching this post and the imagery.

About The Author

Dave Casey

Dave has worked as an International Expedition Leader and in Outdoor Education for over 15 years. He has extensive travel and guiding experience in Australia, NZ, Asia, South/North America and Europe. In his spare time Dave is a keen bushwalker, mountain biker and climber while also dabbling in some mountaineering and sea kayaking. He is currently working at Paddys as the National Account Manager, to fund all of the above.

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