Welcome to EN’s Product Review series! Who doesn’t love shopping, especially when the object of your search is new gear for yourself or your horse? As an enthusiast of all products equine, I LOVE trying out new gear. Please join me as I narrate my personal journey of trying out all of the products featured. While I will make no recommendations, I hope you have fun reading about my many adventures of trying new products, and that hearing about my personal experiences helps you on your own quest for new gear. Go Shopping.
If I could, I think that I would freeze the seasons … because I could get used to the in-between temperatures that we’ve had here in Pennsylvania of late. While the warm days have been in the 80s, the nights have dipped into the 50s, which the horses seem to enjoy.
The challenge for me then comes when I get home each day and change into my riding clothes to spend my evening in the saddle. Since the temps are so warm to start with, I don’t want to overheat. But on the other hand, when the sun starts to go down, temperatures drop. Like a rock.
One of my personal challenges is that I tend to run cold. Which means that I have to plan ahead with my wardrobe so that I can try to stay comfortable in the saddle, especially in the fluctuating temperatures.
I’ve had a lot of luck riding in two different long sleeve tops from Ariat’s Heat Series this spring and summer season. And yet they are also carrying over quite nicely into the fall season.
During the recent hot months, Ariat’s Heat Series provided me with a way to stay both protected from the suns’s ray and cool enough to enjoy my rides. But now the sleeves that did a nice job of sheltering my skin against UV rays help provide coverage in the cooler air.
So let’s take a step back, because I want to focus in on what makes the design of Ariat’s Heat Series so versatile for me. I’ve personally been wearing the Sunstopper 1/4 Zip, as well as the Sunstopper Polo.
The main difference between the two Sunstopper tops can pretty much be found in their names. While the 1/4 Zip offers a pullover 1/4 zip styling (complete with stock tie loop), the Polo offers a clean polo collar styling, which is accented by some silver snap closure buttons.
One of the first things that I noticed about both tops is that they are designed using a very lightweight pique knit fabric. But what I thought was really cool (and I mean that literally) is the way that the under arms are lined in a nice breathable mesh.
I found that in addition to the mesh underarms of the Sunstopper 1/4 Zip, there is also mesh integrated into the back of the top, which stretches across the shoulder area. The additional mesh is tastefully incorporated into the design to be both subtle and non-revealing, while providing additional breathability.
Both tops are slightly fitted on me, so as to be figure flattering, yet I find that the cut is relaxed enough to be comfortable as well. Sticking with my normal riding shirt size gives me a fit that I’m comfortable with and that looks great too.
Since I’ve been wearing both Sunstopper tops this past spring, summer and now fall, I’ve been able to experience a pretty wide range of conditions in them. I can definitely feel that I stay cooler thanks to the underarm mesh, and the fabric does a terrific job at pulling moisture away from my skin.
I’m happy to report that both the 1/4 Zip and the Polo do a really nice job at keeping me cool and protected from the sun. Of the two tops, I tend to gravitate towards the 1/4 Zip for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, my personal preference is for the appearance of the 1/4 Zip, because I like the styling, but also, I appreciate the extra bit of ventilation, courtesy of the additional mesh integrated into the back of the top on particularly warm days.
And with all of the riding (and sweating) that I’ve done in the Sunstopper tops over the past several months, by necessity they have also been through the wash. Again … and again. I’m happy to report that even after numerous washings, the fabric is not showing much wear at all.
Recently, I’ve taken to wearing the Sunstopper tops during evenings when I’m riding after I get home from work. It’s still generally in the 70s or 80s when I head out to the barn, but the air cools quickly as the sun goes down, which means that I appreciate the extra coverage of the long sleeves.
Sunstopper tops are available from Ariat as a part of their Tek Collection. The Sunstopper 1/4 Zip has a retail price of $54.95, and you can find it here.