Kathmandu UPF50+ gear: Tested

By Aus Geo ADVENTURE 21 December 2023
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Kathmandu’s UPF50+ apparel is designed to provide protection from the sun’s damaging rays. We put it to the test on the water and the trails.

As we head into the hotter temperatures of a predicted El Niño summer there is a tendency for many Aussie adventurers to hit the trails, waterways, and beaches with little more than a half-hearted slip, slop, slap. For some activities a slim film of SPF50+ sunscreen might be enough, but with close to two out of three Australians being diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before they reach 70, there’s an argument that maybe we need to be a little wiser before busting out for adventures on high-UV days. Fortunately, our Kiwi mates over the ditch at Kathmandu have released an entire range of UPF50+ (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) protection apparel with an aim to deliver lightweight, breathable, and comfy attire for the most sizzling of summer days. A call-out to our AGA test crew (adventure bums who will do anything for some new kit) provided a perfect opportunity to grab a kayak and explore the waters, beaches and escarpments of Sydney’s Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park with Kathmandu’s EVRY-Day Men’s Cargo Shorts, SUN-Scout UPF Men’s Long Sleeve Hooded Shirt, and Jason Woodside EVRY-Day UPF 50+ Bucket Hat.


What Kathmandu has delivered in its sun protection range is a range of apparel that is lightweight, offers plenty of ventilation and fitted to keep us cool, all the while aimed at covering us up. The SUN-Scout UPF Men’s Long Sleeve Hooded Shirt is a loose fitting, long sleeve hooded shirt that is great for hiking and, as we found, perfect for kayaking. Made of bluesign® approved 100% recycled ripstop polyester, the shirt delivers UPF50+ protection, wicking and breathability properties, whilst a peppermint oil infusion helps control body odour. The hem, cuffs and hood are elastic bound to keep them in place and a quarter snap button front and back vents accompanying the garments relaxed fit allows for plenty of airflow.

The excellent coverage from the sun provided by the Kathmandu apparel makes it ideal for all-day kayaking.

Our EVRY-Day Men’s Cargo Shorts also offer UPF50+ protection use a slightly harder wearing 100% recycled nylon with a durable water repellent finish and integrated webbing belt. The cargo shorts offer a relaxed fit with a semi-elasticated waist, quality YKK zips and a useful five pockets. To top off our sun-smart outfit we covered our noggin with a Jason Woodside EVRY-Day UPF 50+ Bucket Hat. The hat, a collaboration with Kiwi artist Jason Woodside, rounds out our UPF50+ protection kit in a lightweight cotton bucket hat with eyelets for ventilation and a toggle adjustment on the crown for a good fit. 

In the field

In busting out for a ‘kayak and hike’ adventure we wanted a casual fitting outfit to protect us from the sun’s harmful UV rays whilst remaining comfortable and cool both paddling the waterways and exploring the hidden beaches and trails of Ku-ring-gai Chase NP. Immediately we were impressed with the 216-gram (g) weight (Large) of our five-pocket EVRY-Day Men’s Cargo Shorts. They nylon shorts felt super airy and light, and the elasticated waist and belt combo, that provided a comfy fit, also dried fast when wet. Impressively, the design team at Kathmandu also delivered a zipped cargo pocket that fits todays ‘plus/max’ sized smartphones.

The shorts are very light in weight and comfortable.

A couple of hand pockets do their job for chucking in a lip balm and a snap clasp cargo pocket for a muesli bar. A nice touch is all pockets are either mesh based or have drainage ports, meaning the lightweight shorts happily double as ‘boardies’ or in our case, the perfect kayak short. The single snap clasp on the right cargo pocket means for easy access but is not a pocket for the phone, credit cards or smaller valuables … best put them in the zip pocket. 

The large pockets are excellent for stowage.

When it came to covering up on-top, I was dubious about the SUN-Scout UPF Men’s Long Sleeve Hooded Shirt, considering a synthetic, long sleeved, hooded top a little ‘too much’ for a hot, humid day out. I was soon to be humbled. The super-light polyester top weighed in less than even the shorts, at a mere 180g (Large), and the loose fit made for a perfect paddle top; the quarter snap front with back vents kept enough airflow to deliver as comfy a top as could be expected on our super-humid 30-degree day. Rather happily, the top dried fast and the elasticated hood was a bonus for covering the neck whilst cruising the waterways.

The two hand pockets offer a space to store small items.

The ripstop polyester held up well enough for our wandering of boulders and scrub bordering the beaches of Ku-ring-gai Chase. The kangaroo- style zip pockets (a single front pocket accesses from both sides), to be honest, is something have never really found greatly useful, however our test offered new learnings and I realised the ability to access the single chest pocket with either hand is great for shoving ‘stuff’ like lip balm, muesli bars, small sunscreen, sunnies, and even a folded bucket hat for kayaking. Speaking of which…

The Jason Woodside EVRY-Day UPF 50+ Bucket Hat added a little class and style to our attire and promotes Kathmandu’s world-leading ‘Better Cotton’ sustainability initiative for cotton. There’s not a huge amount to discuss on a good ol’ bucket hat, other than to say the sweatband worked a treat and the crown-toggle-adjustment is the icing on the cake, meaning the hat didn’t end up floating the Pittwater waterways, rather than on my noggin. 

Light in weight, made of cool cotton and a large enough brim to provide ample sun protection, the bucket hat was a winner with the test team.

The final word on Kathmandu UPF50+ Sun Protection

As dubious as many might be about the advantages of a predominantly synthetic summer outfit outweighing the disadvantages, there is no doubt Kathmandu has delivered a rather impressive line of well-considered, lightweight UPF50+ sun protection, that provides ample ventilation. Who would have thought, in the process, it’d also deliver a perfect summer kayaking kit. Whilst the loose fit of the SUN-Scout UPF Men’s Long Sleeve Hooded Shirt might not be the most flattering of high-street designs, it’s perfect for hitting the waterways and trails in an Aussie summer and can still cut-it at any pub. More importantly, you won’t look like a lobster at the bar.

AG Adventure’s Senior Gear Tester, Mark Watson, was last seen paddling toward the horizon, vowing not to return the Kathmandu UPF50+ apparel until after summer…

The EVRY-Day Men’s Cargo Shorts have rapidly become a favourite for those sweaty summer days with the usability, coolness and lightweight standing out, and how good is it to have some shorts that double as boardies, and both drain and dry quickly? The Jason Woodside EVRY-Day UPF 50+ Bucket Hat simply does its job well and adds a subtle hint of style, having now become a regular in the beach bag. All in all, if you’re looking for sun protection in a comfy, usable product, there is no doubt Kathmandu has hit the nail on the head with its UPF50+ Sun Protection apparel.

$90 – EVRY-Day Men’s Cargo Shorts
$140 – SUN-Scout UPF Men’s Long Sleeve Hooded Shirt 
$50 – Jason Woodside EVRY-Day UPF 50+ Bucket Hat

See Kathmandu for more info on this apparel range and all other Kathmandu gear.