3 Simple Steps to Better Sun Protection

After four consecutive weekends of ACK events this month, I’ve gotten my fair share of sun. It’s been a lot of fun, but the bad news is that I haven’t done my best to consider sun protection while I’ve been out there. It wasn’t until a visit to my grandfather’s house prompted me to reconsider my way of thinking.

I had just spent the day working at the Texas Ski Ranch for our San Marcos Demo Days and decided to pop in to say hi to my grandfather who lived nearby. We caught up and watched some football and eventually he commented on the sun burn I had gotten that day. I told him I had put on sunscreen but still managed to get a little burnt, no big deal. He proceeded to tell me about how he’d recently been fighting with skin cancer, brought on by some carelessness to protect his skin when he was younger and spending a lot of time outside just like me. He gave me a info sheet he had gotten from the doctor and that was the end of the conversation.

What the info sheet had on it and what he told me wasn’t anything new. I knew sunburns were bad and could lead to long term skin problems, but for some reason it’s an easy danger to dismiss. It’s also an easy danger to beat, and next weekend when I was out at the National Hunting and Fishing Day I took some extra precautions for the sake of protecting my skin. Just 3 simple steps to protect myself from the sun that’s easy for anyone to follow.

Step 1: Keep Sun Protection in Mind When Planning

Even on a cloudy day like this one you need to consider sun protection.
Even on a cloudy day like this one you need to consider sun protection.

Start protecting yourself from the sun before you even get going. When you plan an outdoor adventure, consider the time of day you’re going out. UV rays are strongest when the sun is directly overhead (usually between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM) and during the summer months. If you’re going out during these times, be extra conscious of protecting your skin! On the other hand, you probably don’t have much to worry about if you’re going out for a night paddle.

Also, don’t let the weather fool you. Fall often means more overcast days, but a cloudy sky doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about the sun. UV rays can penetrate cloud coverage and sometimes even reflect off of a patchwork of clouds to result in more rays on the ground. Even on cloudy days, you need to prepare yourself with proper sun protection.

Step 2: Cover Up What You Can

ACK Developer Jeremy covered up for a summer paddle.
ACK Developer Jeremy covered up for a summer paddle.

Protecting your skin involves covering it up. No, this doesn’t mean that you need to be covered head to toe, but covering up in a comfortable and responsible manner is important.

Something for your head is a must have – I don’t know about you, but when I try to apply sunscreen to my scalp, my hair usually gets in the way. The problem is that hair usually isn’t enough to protect your noggin from the sun and an easy and effective way to compensate for this by putting on a hat. Ideally, your hat should be wide brimmed giving 360 degree coverage to your whole head, neck and face. A popular option to do this are the sun hats from Outdoor Research, including the Seattle Sombrero which is perfect for colder Fall weather because of its GORE-TEX fabric crown. Buffs are a popular alternative to hats and come in a wide selection of styles that can cover your entire face. In the end, it’s a personal preference whether you prefer wearing a buff versus a hat, or both like Jeremy choose to do in the picture.

In addition to covering your face, it’s a good idea to wear clothing that offers sun protection as well. Find long sleeve shirts or pants that offers a UV Protection Rating (UPF) that are loose fitting and comfortable so they don’t interfere with your adventuring, like our apparel from Columbia. Gloves, closed toe shoes, sunglasses and other apparel accessories are there if you want to go completely covered, but remember you can always use sunscreen to take care of anything not covered up. In colder weather, you’ll probably want to wear clothing that provides extra coverage to keep warm anyways!

Step 3: Use Sunscreen – and More Than Once

Applying a first application before a paddling trip.
Applying a first application before a paddling trip.

For anything not covered, bring a tube of sunscreen and keep it with you. Aim for one that has a SPF rating of 15 or greater and if you’re planning on participating in some water sports make sure you get a brand that’s waterproof! When applying, cover everywhere from your ears to your toes – easy to forget spots like these are often the first places to get burnt.

Finally, it’s important to remember is that you need to apply more than once if you stay out for an extended period. Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule for how often you need to re-apply as factors like the SPF rating, weather conditions and even your propensity to burn play a factor in how often you need a new layer. When participating in activities where I’m not heavily perspiring or constantly getting wet, I’ve found that it’s best to re-apply every 3-4 hours. Even if you are using a waterproof brand of sunscreen, water sport activities require more frequent re-application of sunscreen, approximately every hour and a half.

Remember Sun Protection on Your Next Outdoor Adventure

Don’t let the sun keep you from adventuring, but remember to take the appropriate steps to be protected. Even if you don’t see direct results of it now, improper steps to keeping your skin healthy can lead to long term problems in the future. It’s best to just be safe!

So how do you protect yourself from the sun? Do you have a favorite brand of sun screen or wear a buff to cover your face? Comment below and let me know!

 

 

 

 

Winter Buffs to the Rescue!

Last month my wife and I took a long weekend trip to Wolf Creek Ski Resort near Pagosa Springs, Colorado. I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to put the Polar Buff to test. Considering it would be early winter skiing I wasn’t sure if the Buff would come in handy but boy was I wrong. The winds blew all weekend and early morning temps were in the single digits — I was glad that I decided to bring them along.

If you’ve never seen a Buff then I should make you aware that there are 8-12 different ways that you can wear these things. I chose to use my as a combination neck gaiter and head cover. The Polar Buff consists of an 8” Polar Fleece section connected to 12” of wind blocking fabric with a seamless ‘sleeve’ to keep the cold out and the warmth in.

I’ve been wearing a helmet for the last 3-4 years while skiing and I never really liked how the helmet felt on my head when the cold wind blew through the vents in it, so I always wore a really thin cap under it. Now with the Buff, I was able to pull the elastic over my head and ears. The Fleece section of the Buff covered my neck area and served it purpose as a gaiter. The elastic part could even be pulled up over my mouth and nose if the conditions warranted – which was the case early in the mornings. I also liked the fact that the Buff is seamless so no bumps between the Buff and the inside of my helmet making it a comfortable combination. It was so comfortable that I wore the Buff all weekend, even when temps reached the 40’s. Another nice thing about the Buff is that is dries fast and has been treated to resist odors. Oh, and my wife used hers in the same fashion all weekend as well, enjoying the flexibility and warmth of the Buff.

How do you use your Buff? Comment below!

Steve @ACK

Quality Gear…Because it’s worth it.

Lately I’ve been on a binge of purchasing products THAT ACTUALLY WORK! For years, especially in this economy, I spent my money on bargain products only to discover that these products either didn’t work well or simply didn’t last.

One item that quickly comes to mind are my shirts. My closet is lined with clothes that I can only wear for specific activities because they got ruined or stained at some point. One of these activities of course is fishing which ironically is the root cause of many of those stains.

When I learned that we would be carrying Columbia brand shirts, I was quick to get some for myself and what better line than the Columbia PFG Blood & Guts Shirt. They repel liquid like nothing else — even the disgusting stuff like fish blood and guts (hence the name). Sure, I specifically bought them for fishing but quickly discovered that even after a long day of fishing and quick wash they are good as new! In fact, you’ll often see me wearing them while cruising around town, at family holiday events and yes, even as dinner attire. Nothing can stain these shirts as long as it’s less than 170 degrees Fahrenheit. The shirts repelling ability was actually tested in a tub full of fish blood and guts but don’t worry, we sell them fish-smell free.

Another product that comes to mind is a tent. I have at least 6 tents in my collection, however I refuse to use four of the lower end designs since they have a number of problems including inadequate pole structure, leaking seams and susceptibility to condensation. Instead, I rely on my Mountain Hardware Lightpath 3 as well as my Kelty Trail Ridge 4 tents. I’ve used the Mountain Hardware tent more times than I can count on both hands since I’ve had it for well over 6 years. Both of these tents have proven themselves time after time, which says a lot coming from me — I’m not gentle with my equipment.

Good equipment doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg but you’ll find that by spending a little more, you’ll save a lot in the long run. Speaking of good equipment, what higher-end products have you purchased that have proven themselves? Maybe it’s somehting we should be carrying. We want to know, comment below!

Dave Graves
Assistant Manager
ACK – San Marcos