I should preface this by saying that I’m one of those riders who has always lived in tank tops during the summer. This is Texas, it’s HOT here. Less clothes seems like the obvious best solution. Or so I thought until I found Kastel.
I’ve been eyeballing all these different sunshirts since they first really hit the equine market. My interest was piqued but I was a solid skeptic. Sure I get how they protect you from the sun, and that’s fantastic, but how do they really keep you cool? In my mind there was just no way long sleeves could be as comfortable in 100 degree heat, but I was curious enough to investigate. I tried on/felt as many different brands as I could find… Riding Sport, Tailored Sportsman, EIS, Kerrits, RJ Classics, Ariat. I had a complaint with all of them – usually the fabric or the lack of SPF protection. Of those the TS was my favorite but it ran pretty short and I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about that. And really – were these things worth the price anyway?
I had read a lot of positive things about Kastel’s fabric and it just so happened that the local tack shop (yet another shout out to The Tack Shop of Austin) carried them, so I went in to check them out. The plan was – if I liked it – to buy one. I came out of there with 3. THREE, not one. Oops. The fabric felt amazing, the fit was excellent, and the colors were great. At $75 they’re pretty averagely priced for a sunshirt, although I am a huge cheapskate on a perpetual tight budget and will admit that it hurt a little to drop that kind of money on shirts. But I liked them and I was curious, and as SO put it “your skin is worth it”… all that was left was to determine if they really lived up to the hype.
The first few rides were a great test – one was in the evening around 7:30pm in 95 degrees with average humidity, another was in the early afternoon around 1:30pm in 99 degrees with low humidity, and the last was early in the morning around 8am in 80 degrees with very high humidity. I felt like that gave me a pretty darn good idea of how well they worked in a variety of conditions, and I have to say: I was sold on the first ride. They’re so comfortable, so light, but when you start sweating and any kind of air hits them (even the tiniest breeze), it feels divine. At first it was a little weird to have fabric covering my arms… when you get hot your first instinct is to expose more skin. I had to resist the urge and just let the fabric do it’s job.
Since then I’ve worn them several more times and I like them more and more. They wash really well – I just toss them in with my breeches and cycling clothes then hang them out on the line. In 15 minutes they are bone dry and look as good as new.
The thing to remember is that these shirts don’t stop you from sweating. It’s summer, you’re outside, you’re going to sweat buckets. What they DO do however is a) protect you from the sun b) help keep you cooler while you’re working and cool you down faster. Since I’ve been riding in these, when I get in my car after the barn I turn the AC off and ride home with the windows down – when it’s still 90+ degrees out! Pretty sure that’s never happened before. Any kind of air hitting that fabric feels like you’re wearing your own personal AC unit, so the actual AC feels COLD. I’ve had Icefil cycling stuff before, but this is seriously next level magic here. I will definitely be buying more of them.
– Sun Protection
– Cooling fabric
– Lots of fun colors
– Great fit
– at SPF 30 the level of sun protection is right on par with most of the other brands on the market, but a couple are as high as SPF 50 so it’s not the highest available.
– as with all things, I wish they were a little cheaper. I think the price is fair in comparison to other brands, but of course cheaper would be better.