Sun Shirt Showdown

Sun Shirt Showdown

Update Spring 2022: By request, I’m adding a few more shirt brands!

Sun’s out!  Summer means sun shirts!   There are SO many different versions on the market, it’s hard to know which product to buy.  Well let me help you out!  Here’s our showdown review of 12 different brands: Free Ride, Rönner, Royal Highness, Equestrian Stockholm, Tailored Sportsman, Kerrits, Kastel Denmark, EquiInStyle, Noble Outfitters, It’s A Haggerty’s, CoolBlast by Dover, and RJ Classics.  Notes: I machine wash all on Cold and hang to dry.

Sunshirt Showdown Kastel Print Shirt

Kastel Denmark Print Shirts: $82-97

Rating: 9.5/10

So I’ve reviewed the classic Kastel style below, but this is specifically for the print styles as the fabric is much different.  The fabric is a bit “heavier” but by that I don’t mean hotter, I mean not as clingy.  It doesn’t catch and snag on everything like the solid color fabrics.  They are very lightweight and comfortable and in this version I don’t mind buying true to size or sizing down because the fabric has more structure and holds you in a bit in a smaller size rather than making you look like a sausage.

The styles on these are all over the place.  Some are short sleeve.  Some sleeveless.  Some long sleeve.  Some have extra details on the wrists…on the sleeves, on the shoulders.  They’re really gotten creative with the designs (which is why the pricing is all over the place).

Because the fabric is sturdier, the zipper not laying flat problem of the other style isn’t so much a problem with this one, but zipper quality is about the same.   This fabric has also held up much better to lots of wear and washing.  No pilling and no staining on any version I have (and the oldest one I have is from maybe 3 years ago when she first did the floral print).  They are washing well and the quality is great.  Love them!

Style wise these are my favorite as she’s been coming out with some incredible prints the last few years.  I really enjoy window shopping these constantly and want pretty much all of them (but certainly they have a style for everyone).  They are currently my favorite shirts I own. I only wish they were a little cheaper.  I typically wait until the style is discontinued to order so I can pay a little less.

Sunshirt Showdown Equestrian Stockholm

Equestrian Stockholm Shirt: $78.34

Rating: 9/10

Following the trends, I had to buy a shirt from ES last year and this one is my favorite of the several I bought.  It has a metallic zipper that lays flat.  The zipper is high quality. It is extremely lightweight and cool.  Like the others reviewed here, it is a long sleeved quarter zip.

Style wise these are lovely with the complimentary saddle pads and things and I think they are nice and flattering on.   The only thing that annoys me is the excess of logos on this shirt.  There are literally 4 logos on the outside of the shirt which is excessive IMO.  I actually prefer this style tight fitting, so I order a size down. Quality is great.  I’ve had no issues with this shirt holding up to hard wear.  No staining, no pilling, no fading in the wash.

The price is reasonable actually compared with other things on the market.  If you can find the lightweight UV version (what they carry changes constantly with their release model).  Be aware they have several different versions of their riding shirts depending on the season.  Some of the fabrics are a lot heavier (too heavy for summer imo).  I wish they had more colors in this particular style honestly.

These are easy care too.  No harder than any of the others and actually dry the fastest of any of my other shirts.

Sun Shirt Showdown

Free Ride Sara and Bella Sun Shirts: $70

Rating: 9/10

This newer brand is a little newer to me, but I’m so glad I found them.  I love their breeches and their shirts.  Both of these I have are from last year, so the style on the Bella has changed a bit.  The Sara has mesh shoulders, side panels and under arms.  The Bella last year just had mesh in the underarms, but this year it has side panels as well.  They both have a very pretty and flattering collar design. Style wise they are lovely and they come in a ton of colors.

The fabric is super stretchy and super comfortable.  Both shirts are very lightweight and silky feeling.   I don’t overheat in them. Fit wise, they are more structured and trim fitting than many other shirts on this post, but I’d say they run true to size unless you want more room.  They are body hugging.

Quality is good.  The zippers, fabric and fit are amazingly high quality for the price of the shirt honestly.  I’ve had no issues with these holding up to regular wear other than some staining (which happened rather quickly unfortunately and keeps them from a 10).  They are super easy to care for and dry super quickly.

The price is great I think for the quality and you can often get things on sale.

Sun Shirt Showdown

Rönner Sorrel Quarter Zip Shirts: $149 (on sale right now for $89)

Rating: 8/10

The thing about Rönner you will need to remember when you order is that not all of their quarter zips are light weight…and the fabrics tend to change regularly as the prints do (so read the description).  They’re also NOT cheap, but not bad if you can get them on sale and the quality is always good.

This particular shirt (which I have two colors of) is UPF 30.  It is a lightweight, breathable sun shirt style material without mesh underarms.  The prints are beautifully designed imo and I get compliments every time I wear this brand to the barn, though their color choices tend to be fairly traditional and muted.  It’s certainly a more sophisticated sun shirt than your average.

The fabric has no stink tech built in, so these are actually some of my nicer shirts in terms of…they don’t hold on to BO LOL!  They’re easy to wash and hang to dry.  The fabric is actually more sturdy than most of my other sun shirts so the colors don’t fade at all, no snagging issues, no staining issues and no pilling issues.  The structure of the fabric has maintained itself as well (aka they don’t go all wrinkle/floppy like a lot of these do…you know what I mean right?).

The fit is a little more traditional, so more square.  The fabric isn’t super stretchy so you need to order your size based on the measurements.  It does have some stretch, but not like a usual sun shirt material.  Their sizing is very accurate to measurements.

If you can get them on sale, the rating goes up to a 9.  If you have to pay full price…well they’re a little high for a riding shirt IMO.

Sun Shirt Showdown

Royal Highness Ladies Mock ZipSun Shirt: $49.95

Rating: 7/10

The bargain of the bunch (exception some of the Dover ones when on sale), this one is a bit of a non-stretch.  Ha!  So the fabric is lightweight and fairly breathable (though not as cool as many of the shirts on here) and has UV 30 protection (but it is 100% polyester, so not as nice of fabric as many of the others).  It has almost no stretch, so order your normal size if you want a slimer fit, but size up if you want it a bit looser or don’t like feeling a bit restricted by your clothing.  The fit is also fairly boxy and classic, so not as crisp of tailoring as some might like.  It has a huge mesh panel on the back and under the arms, which is nice.  Personally, the fabric feel when riding is not my favorite.

The patters range from cute to gaudy. So if you like something patterned, go for it.  Most of the prints aren’t my style, but this particular one has greens in it that match the ES Amazonite pad perfectly (and is why I bought it). It is easy care, they dry fast.  No pilling, staining or fading issues with the fabric and the sewing is surprisingly good for something so inexpensive.  The zipper isn’t the nicest quality, but it’s not the worst either.

All in all a decent budget sun shirt, but not top of the bunch.  I don’t hate it.  I don’t love it.  Similar quality to the Kerrits IMO, but a little cheaper.

Sunshirt Showdown Review

CoolBlast Lots of Dots by Dover Shirt: $79.95

Rating: 8.5/10

Dover sure does have a lot of versions of their sunshirts!  This one stands out because the fabric is softer than the others.  And the polka dots are adorable.  And it comes in gorgeous seasonal colors.  I look forward to every launch of this shirt!    It has a metallic zipper that lays flat and doesn’t bulge.   It is very lightweight and cool.  Like the others, it is long sleeved, quarter zip with mesh under arm panels.

Style wise they are adorable (but I love polka dots). I think they are nice and flattering on,   These are sized accurately, and I didn’t need to size up!

Quality is decent.  I’ve had no issues with these holding up to hard wear other than some pilling over time (we’re talking years).  No staining, no fading in the wash…I mean…these are really great.  I really like the zippers on these.

The price is a bit high for the quality, but you can very often find them on sale.

 

Sunshirt Showdown: Tailored Sportsman

Tailored Sportsman IceFil shirt: $69

Rating: 8.5/10

The Tailored Sportsman IceFil Shirt has a couple of big things going for it.  The vast array of color choices makes this one #1 for style in my book.  While a totally different hand feel than the Kastel shirts, this fabric is also fabulously soft.  Instead of feeling slick, it feels buttery.  The fabric is simply ultra soft and ultra comfy.  I wasn’t sure I’d like the heavier weight to the fabric, but I honestly don’t notice it a bit and the fabric does a fabulous job of keeping you cool.  It uses IceFil fabric (so does Kerrits) to keep you cool on hot days.  I find it does a fantastic job of that and I don’t feel overheated when I wear mine at all.  It’s become my favorite sun shirt actually.

Like the others on the list, it’s long sleeved, 1/4 zip and has mesh underarm panels to help for breath-ability and cooling.  These shirts have a 50+ UV rating, which is fabulous!

The sizing on these is slim and not boxy, so if you want it a bit looser, size up.  If you don’t mind trim and slim, keep your normal size.  The fabric is a bit clingy, so this shirt isn’t going to do you any favors if you have some belly chub, but the fabric is so soft…who cares honestly.  I go for comfort in the saddle over looks any day.

This fabric dries faster than you’d expect for the weight.  I have not had a problem with it staining or snagging yet, and it always looks new after a wash.  There’s no zipper problems like there are with older style Kastel shirts.   I think the durability on these is quite good with only some pilling after years of use. The price on this shirt is excellent for what you’re getting.

Sunshirt Showdown Review

RJ Classics Ella Sun Shirt – $89

Rating: 7/10

This is probably the cutest shirt we are reviewing.  As the others this is a quarter zip, long sleeve shirt with mesh under arm panels.  This fabric is super lightweight and comfortable.

The fabric is cooling and breathable and has a UPF 30 rating, which is much appreciated (note…the mesh panels over the shoulders are NOT UPF rated and sun will get through those…so be aware).  This shirt comes in a number of colors (with new designs regularly) and you can almost always find the older designs on sale. The VERY cute contrast mesh designs is really eye catching and adds quite a bit of style to the otherwise fairly dull standard sunshirt!  The colors are lovely as well and always interesting.They are sized correctly, so no need to size up. Yay!

Quality is good except for one thing…the fabric stains REALLY easily.  There has been no fading of the fabric from washing or the sun, which I appreciate.  They have not held up as well as I hoped and tend to show their age a bit more than other shirts because of the staining. They used to be a favorite, but with the long term quality issues and the price increases I no longer love them like I used to.

 

Sunshirt Showdown Review Its A Haggerty's Kastel Denmark, EquiInStyle, Noble Outfitters, CoolBlast by Dover Solitaire

EquiInStyle Cool Shirt: $ 94 – $98

Rating: 8.5/10

This is one of the most expensive shirts we’re looking at in this post.  As the others this is a quarter zip, long sleeve shirt with mesh under arm panels.  This technical fabric might be my favorite of the bunch for comfort, but it has one big flaw.

For the positives, the fabric is cooling and breathable and has a big UPF 50+ rating, which is much appreciated.  It is light weight and has antimicrobial odor control technology too.  The fabric is a bit similar to the OG Kastel shirts, but is a bit more crisp and less body clinging.  Because of that the fabric isn’t as soft…but it’s much more flattering.

The cut of the shirt is fairly boxy, but a little more tailored than the OG Kastel shirts are and so they’re quite a bit more flattering.  They come in a number of colors, so finding something you like won’t be hard, but they aren’t always on trend with color choices available.

They are sized correctly, so you can order your normal size.

Quality is good except the fabric stains a bit.  The black and white one I have was pretty bad almost immediately and the coral one stained too.  They wash fine  (though I feel there’s been a hair of fading).  They dry pretty quickly, but it’s not the fastest of the bunch or the slowest.

For me, the price is a bit too high, but it’s not a bad shirt.

Sunshirt Showdown Review Its A Haggerty's Kastel Denmark, EquiInStyle, Noble Outfitters, CoolBlast by Dover Solitaire

Noble Outfitters Ashley Performance Shirt : $75.95

Rating: 7.5/10

Just like everything else from Noble, you can expect quality and attention to detail.  This fabric is a bit heavier in weight, but still wicks away sweat nicely, dries fast and offers UPF 50+.  As with the others, it’s a long sleeve quarter zip with mesh under arms.  These are my very favorite wrist design.  I know that sounds weird, but the others all have a fairly narrow wristband (which I tend to push up my arms because they’re not tight enough and get caught on things).  This shirt has nice wide cuffs that are form-fitting and stay in place.  I don’t push these up…so I get more sun protection.

This shirt has flat seaming, which adds to the comfort as well as an additional stretch mesh back panel to add even more cooling to this shirt.  The cut of the shirt is super flattering on the female form and has lovely princess seams (no boxy fit here).  There’s also flashy reflective logos and the lace detail mesh on the green shirt is super special.

Fit is slim.  So you might want to size up!

Quality is good for the price.  No catching the fabric and getting runs here!  It also resists staining better than any of the other shirts.  As I mentioned before, I think I’ll have these for years!  They’re washing and wearing like iron. They dry pretty quickly, but are not the fastest or slowest.  They have had some pilling over the years, but I still have several of these from years and years ago.

Sunshirt Showdown: Kerrits

Kerrits IceFil Shirt: $59-$65

Rating: 7/10

Like the other sun shirts, this shirt was designed to lower your body temp when you’re sweating and it does it in a pretty utilitarian way.  This shirt lacks some of the style of the others, but it does a great job keeping you cool while you ride (or work around the barn).  This shirt has a quarter zip, is long sleeve, but lacks the underarm mesh panels the rest of the shirts I’m comparing have.  The entire shirt is mesh-like…so that makes sense.  The fabric is quite strange compared with the other shirts on this list.  The fabric is very lightweight, but almost feels like that mesh they line men’s athletic shorts with…if you know what I mean.  It’s not the prettiest fabric, and doesn’t have the best feel…but it gets the job done.  It doesn’t have a ton of stretch.

Style wise the Kerrits shirt is a bit boring and the fit isn’t that attractive.  It’s quite loose and relaxed (no need to size up)…maybe size down.  The shirt does have a side pocket, which I have never found particularly useful, but maybe someone will like that.

This fabric dries very fast.  The fastest of all of them except the Equestrian Stockholm.  I have not had a problem with it staining or snagging and don’t expect to.  I think the durability on these is fairly good, but the material feels cheap.

The price on this shirt is good for what you’re getting, but it just doesn’t feel quite as luxurious or stylish as some of the others.  It’s a good sun shirt though and I’m quite comfortable in it so I have to give it a pretty solid score. I do admit that I have gotten rid of this one because it just wasn’t flattering or that comfortable for me.

Sunshirt Showdown Review Its A Haggerty's Kastel Denmark, EquiInStyle, Noble Outfitters, CoolBlast by Dover Solitaire

Kastel Denmark Solid 1/4 Zip Long Sleeve: $79-$82

Rating: 7.5/10

The Kastel Denmark solid fabric style is a classic at this point.  The cut has gotten better over the years with more flattering fits (the shirred shoulder ones for instance).  The material tends to be more clingy than others and is VERY lightweight and soft and comfortable.  Plenty of breath-ability and performance in the saddle.

These shirts are quarter zip, long sleeve shirts with mesh underarm panels like most of the others on this list.  This material only has 30 UPF compared to the higher value on a couple of others.  Quality…well the fabric has a tendency to stain a bit and is easy to get snags in it.  Some of the zippers also tend to start laying a bit weird after washing, but I haven’t had as much issue with that with my newer ones.

Because the fabric is clingy and not really “supportive” like their print styles fabric, most people find that they need to order a size up.  They’re honestly not very flattering if you have any lumps and bumps.  Color choice-wise…these are great.  I’ve never had a problem finding one in a color I love (and tend to have more an issue NOT buying more).

The price on these isn’t terrible compared with everything else, but they are also not a great value.   I often by these shirts on major discount since their colors change pretty regularly.

Sunshirt Showdown Review

CoolBlast by Dover Shirt: Pricing all over the place

Rating: 6/10

Dover sure does have a lot of versions of their sunshirts!  This one I think is the “standard” one.  It has a metallic zipper.  This version also has a very different fabric more similar to the Kastel or EIS fabric (kinda in between…not as thick as EIS and not as flimsy as the Kastel.  It’s actually a nice balance.  It’s not super soft, but it is lightweight and cool.  Like the others, it is long sleeved, quarter zip with mesh under arm panels.

Style wise they are pretty cute, with different pretty color choices every season.   I think they are fairly flattering on, no worse than many, but better than some.  These are sized accurately, and I didn’t need to size up!

Quality is okay.  I like the zipper (no bulging and always lays flat),  however the stitching in both wrists has come loose (both shirts), so the sewing quality isn’t excellent.  They did start to pill a bit as well and the lighter fabrics did stain after a lot of wear.

The price is reasonable if you can find them on sale.  They’re constantly redoing these shirts to match the trends, so the version you choose is going to vary significantly from one to the other (for instance I love the Dots ones…but the regular ones I wasn’t impressed with).

Note: the durability of these isn’t great…I don’t have any of these regular ones anymore (just the dots), because they didn’t hold up well.

 

Sunshirt Showdown Review Its A Haggerty's Kastel Denmark, EquiInStyle, Noble Outfitters, CoolBlast by Dover Solitaire

It’s A Haggerty’s Sun Shirt: $55 +

Rating: 6/10

This particular shirt lacks some of the technical aspects of the other sun shirts.  It is a quarter zip shirt with long sleeves and mesh underarm panels just like the other shirts, but the similarities end there.  I have ordered 3 shirts from It’s A Haggerty’s and the material is totally different between the three of them.  One is a heavier polyester feeling fabric, one a lightweight synthetic and the other is a thin cotton blend material.  There is no technical fabric with moisture wicking, UPF added coverage, scent control, etc.

On the other hand…these shirts are custom and she has some pretty incredible colors!  Any color combination under the rainbow…you’ve got it!  Oh and there are some pretty fabulous prints to choose from here.  So while these shirts may lack in tech fabrics, they make up for in style.  If you can get your hands on one with the cotton fabric or super lightweight synthetic, that is much more comfortable in the hot weather.  She may have some other fabric types to choose from, but that’s just my opinion based on the fabrics I have.  The issue is, you can’t tell what fabric you’re getting by looking at the photos on the website, so it’s a bit of a craps shoot.

As to fit, they fit the smallest of the bunch so size up (or maybe two sizes up)!  They are a very trim pattern, vs a boxier type pattern on some of the other shirts.

Quality is lower than many of the other sun shirt brands (but not the worst), however I’ve had no issues with staining, fabric pulls or stitching coming out.  The sewing just isn’t the same caliber as some of the others.  The cotton floral material isn’t holding up super well to washing as with most cotton blends and there’s been a lot of fading and piling of the fabric and it’s now long gone unfortunately.  The seams also aren’t super crisp and well done, so it can look a bit sloppy at times if you don’t really make sure the shirt dries flat. They are the slowest drying shirts of the bunch minus the one super thin one I have (not pictured).

There can be a bit of a long lead time on these if you’re getting something custom.  Note the customization is to fabric, not to the fit.  They do not change the pattern for fit (sorry!).

The price is reasonable for something custom, but for their off the rack sun shirts, the price is a bit high for not using technical fabrics that make you more comfortable unless you happen to get the lighter fabric one (which was the newer one I got…so maybe she’s upgraded fabrics).

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