REI’s On The Trail Sun Gloves are fingerless Lycra stretch gloves with a UPF 50 rating to protect your hands from harmful solar radiation. They have a sewn-on synthetic suede palm that extends over the index finger and thumb to help prevent blisters if you use trekking poles when you hike.
Specs at a Glance
- Best Use: Hiking, paddling, cycling, running
- Palm Material: Synthetic suede
- Fabric: Lycra spandex
- UPF Rating: 50
- Gender: Unisex
- Glove Type: Fingerless
- Weight (pair): 1.4 oz
- Sizing: XS, S, M, L, XL
Why Sun Gloves?
I started wearing fingerless sun gloves a few years ago to protect my hands from ultraviolet light because I spend so much time outdoors. They’re a great alternative to suntan lotion, which is messy and has to be reapplied repeatedly during the day when you sweat it off. I find it much simpler and more comfortable to wear clothes with built-in sun protection so I can focus on hiking and backpacking and protect my skin without any additional effort.
Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF)
The amount of ultraviolet protection provided by clothing is called UPF, for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. These REI Sun Gloves have a UPF of 50 which means they block 98% of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation from reaching your skin. The rating of 50 means that only 1/50th of the UV gets through the fabric to your skin. This is the best degree of protection you can expect from clothing.
UPF is different from the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) listed on suntan lotion which measures the amount of time it takes for sun-exposed skin to redden. For example, if your skin gets red in 20 minutes without sunscreen, a suntan lotion with an SPF of 15 will block 93% of the sun’s UV light and protect you for 300 minutes before it needs to be reapplied. The problem with SPF is that the rate at which people burn without sunscreen is different, so it can be very hard to know how long it will protect you. The nice thing about sun protective clothing is that the protection is permanent and doesn’t have to be reapplied later in the day.
These REI Sun Gloves have wrist gauntlets that extend under the cuffs of a long-sleeve hiking shirt, so you can have complete arm protection from the sun. They’re fingerless, which means that the fingers are open only at the ends to maintain dexterity.
The back and top half of the gloves are made with stretch Lycra which is fast drying and conforms to the shape of your hands. The palms, index finger, and thumb are covered with synthetic suede which helps protect your hands from blisters if you use trekking poles to hike. I don’t particularly like this it acts as insulation, making the gloves quite warm to hike in. The suede also retains moisture when they get wet and they take a surprisingly long time to dry while hiking, unless the weather is hot and dry.
REI also recommends hands washing the gloves in cold water and line drying them, which frankly is far more care than I’m willing to expend to clean a product that I use five or more days of the week.
While these REI On the Trail Sun Gloves provide UPF 50 sun protection for your hands, I find that the suede palms make the gloves too warm to wear above 70 degrees, they take too long to dry if they get wet and require too much care to maintain. They’re adequate if they’re the only sun gloves you have access too, but there are better sun gloves available. I prefer Outdoor Research’s ActiveIce Sun Spectrum Gloves (link to review) and Outdoor Research’s Protector Sun Gloves (link to review) over these ones from REI because they’re less expensive, lighter weight, cooler, and easier to care for.
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