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!





Yep, It’s Hot.

This heat is slowing me down, no time to write a lengthy intro today. Instead, I’ll simply get right to it. It’s HOT! Yeah, really, really hot. You’ve heard it all before, drink plenty of fluids, limit outdoor physical activity and stay in the shade. So no need to preach the same story again. If you are like me, you’ll tend to ignore the heat and continue doing the things you enjoy like paddling. However, I do take all necessary precautions to make sure that I avoid dehydration or even worse, heat stroke.

For instance, keeping hydrated is priority number one. When paddling longer distances, I tend to utilize a CamelBak Hydration Backpack such as the Octane XCT. This one in particular is perfect for paddling since it is made for “minimalist trail running or riding” meaning that it has a sleeker design that doesn’t get in the way. It’s great for paddling because I don’t have to stop and open a bottle whenever I need a drink. It’s just there and produces no trash. As an extra precautionary measure, I also pack a Platy Water Tank. It holds 4 liters of water and I can easily hide it away inside the cockpit.

I have to admit, I am more of a cap guy so you’ll rarely see me wearing big-rimmed hats. However, caps alone don’t provide the protection you need in extreme conditions. That’s why I use the Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap — it’s  a cap but also offers full protection over my ears and down to my neck. When I am finished paddling, I simply remove the shield and keep the cap on, it’s perfect!

I have dark skin and rarely get sun burned but it doesn’t free me from using sunscreen. Regardless of how dark or light your skin is, sunscreen is key when it comes to protecting your skin for harmful sun rays. If I plan on staying out in the sun longer that a few hours, I shed the t-shirt and shorts for apparel made specifically to keep me cool and protect me from the sun. Columbia has it all figured out with the PFG Blood and Guts Superlight Long Sleeve Shirt. Not only does it offer UPF 50 sun protection but with a vented mesh-lined back, the breeze sure feels good. Together with a pair of Backcountry Convertible pants, Columbia has you covered…literally.

And of course, we can’t forget about our eyes. How about a pair of quality sunglasses by Costa? Whether fishing or simply paddling for joy, protecting your eyes is just as important as anything else. Also helps deter the reflection from the sun off the water so you can see where you are going and what’s beneath you.

I invite you to browse our website to see all the other products we offer made specifically to protect you from the sun and keep you cool. Also, if you have any other recommendations you’d l like to share, comment below.

Stay cool!

Don’t Be Me. Be Protected.

It’s summer in Texas and if you haven’t noticed, it’s HOT. With summer comes long sunny days and UV exposure can be extremely dangerous. Since I’m an outdoor enthusiast, I should know better but apparently I wasn’t thinking straight.

July 4th was a great day. I was off from work and decided to go tubing down the San Marcos River with a group of close friends. It was only supposed to be an hour or two float but because of all the tubers congesting the waterways, it ended up being a 3 hour float with no shade.

I had my Aloe Gator Suncreen, my ACK hat, and my Columbia Tamiami Shirt with 40 UPF Sun Protection built in. Did I use any of it? Nope, I left it all in the truck. I was dumb enough to say “I want to tan” and I didn’t even use my Man O War Costas because I didn’t want to get a “raccoon tan”. Boy did I ever get my “tan” on. I ended up looking like a blown up red balloon.

People, don’t be me. Whether you’re kayaking, tubing, fishing or whatever else you enjoy doing outdoors – protect yourself from the sun or you’ll end up looking like this (It’s not a pretty sight – NSFW): CLICK HERE

Dave Graves
Assistant Manager
ACK – San Marcos