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How Columbia Sportswear’s Omni-Shade™ Technology Works: UPF Clothing

WriterAcademy Staff
10 min read
Two people fishing wearing Columbia Omni Shade UPF-rated clothing

Sunshine is one of the main reasons we love spending time in the great outdoors. From a scenic hike through the mountains to a relaxing day fishing on the lake, almost any outdoor activity is enriched when sunlight shines down on us.

Although we love spending time outside on a sunny day, our skin may not. Moderate doses of sunshine are healthy and impart that much-needed Vitamin D, but too much sun can cause sunburns and skin damage.

So how can you enjoy those sunny days while keeping your skin safe? Many will reach for sunscreen to keep the sun's rays at bay; however, there's another way to stay safe: UPF-rated clothing. While UPF isn’t something that washes out or fades easily, the UV protection rating can possibly decline over extended periods of time.

What is UPF?

UPF, or Ultraviolet Protection Factor, is a measure of how much UV light gets through a material, like shirts and pants, and reaches your skin. This rating is especially important when looking for the strongest sun protective clothing.

Columbia Sportswear makes clothing with high-quality UPF fabrics that work to maintain their UPF ratings over the garment’s useful lifespan. Standard testing is conducted to ensure that the UPF rating is maintained for fabrics after accelerated aging through washing and UV exposure.

Expert Tip:

Want to learn more about what UPF clothing is? Check out our in-depth guide that can help you choose your sun protectice clothing!

How Does UPF Fabric Work?

The UV (ultraviolet) spectrum of light contains both UVA and UVB rays that reach the earth. UVA rays account for about 95% of the spectrum, according to the World Health Organization, and penetrate the dermis (deeper layer of the skin). UVB rays penetrate the epidermis (uppermost layer of skin) only but are more energetic than UVA rays. Both forms of UV radiation are damaging to the skin.

Clothing with UPF protection like Omni-Shade™ technology works by utilizing specially engineered yarns and fabrics that are thin and breathable but still block harmful UV rays. The UPF clothing is rated based on how much UV the fabric blocks.

For example, UPF 50 fabric will block 98% of the sun's UV rays and only allow 2% to reach your skin, drastically reducing your exposure to UV, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Expert Tip:

If you’re planning on some upcoming time in the sunshine, you'll want clothes with fabrics that offer UPF technology such as Columbia Sportswear's Omni-Shade™ and Omni-Shade™ Sun Deflector. In addition to sun protection, these offer the added benefit of also keeping you cool.

Columbia Sportswear Omni-Shade™

  • Blocks damaging UVA and UVB rays
  • Protects against skin damage
  • Skin Cancer Foundation's Seal of Recommendation

Columbia Sportswear Omni-Shade™ Sun Deflector

  • Blocks damaging UVA and UVB rays
  • First-of-its-kind sun protection technology
  • Deflects sunlight so you feel cooler
  • Breathable, sweat-wicking fabric

Shop for Columbia Sportswear Omni-Shade™
at Academy Sports + Outdoors:

Why wear UPF Clothing?

UPF-rated clothing can help keep your skin safe and healthy from dangerous sun exposure. Several additional factors help determine how much sunlight you're exposed to:

  • Time of day (peaks late morning to early afternoon)
  • Season of year (peaks in spring/summer)
  • Proximity to the equator (closer is hotter)
  • Altitude (the higher up, the more intense the rays)
  • Stratospheric ozone (how thick the layers are)
  • Cloud cover, smog, and smoke
Two women enjoying a day of sunshine at the beach while sitting on a hammock

These factors may determine when and where to wear UPF-rated clothing. Combined with sunscreen and a dose of shade here and there, you can keep your skin healthy and safe while still enjoying the day out in the sunshine.

Have Fun Out There!

Shop Academy Sports + Outdoors online and in-store for the complete Columbia Sportswear Omni-Shade™ collection. You can also find Columbia clothing for men and women, Columbia PFG, Columbia coolers, and more for your next outdoor adventure!