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 would practically live outdoors all summer long. As it is I spend as much time as humanly possible soaking up the sun … wherever. And whenever. Sure, I spend plenty of time laying out on the beach, or parking myself by the nearest pool.
But I also find that the summer season means that I’m logging a lot of hours in the saddle. The long days mean that I have plenty of time to spend my evenings riding after I arrive home from a day at the office. Which I why I find myself riding pretty much every day!
The way the daylight stretches into the evenings certainly helps me to spend more time in the saddle. However, summer does create some riding centric challenges for both the horse and rider, beyond the major annoyance of biting horseflies around the barn.
While I do enjoy warm weather, some days are downright sticky, which leave me feeling pretty icky after a ride. Staying cool and comfortable help me to perform at my best. Which is why it is of utmost important to select seasonally appropriate performance apparel.
I’m also a fair skinned type of gal, which means that I generally find myself getting burned, rather than tan, from the sun. And it’s not just the sunburn that is uncomfortable. Awkward tan lines from sleeveless or short sleeve shirts are really not very attractive!
In recent years, I’ve taken to wearing long sleeve performance tops for much of my summer riding. Before I tried wearing my first ‘sun shirt,’ I thought the concept of long sleeves was a bit far fetched. Long sleeves? In 80 or 90 degree weather? I pretty much laughed.
But surprisingly enough, the right combination of fashion and technology does the trick. Lightweight fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin and are fast drying perform very well, especially when they have ventilation technology working on their side.
This season, I’ve been riding in the Sunstopper 1/4 Zip and Polo tops from Ariat’s Heat Series. The AriatTEK Heat Series is a collection of performance apparel that was designed to keep riders cool whlie spending time in the saddle in warm temperatures.
So what’s in a name? The Sunstopper tops are designed using Sun Protection Fabric technology, which helps to provide protection from harmful UV rays. And that protection is definitely welcome from my perspective.
The Sunstopper tops feature a lightweight pique knit fabric. The fabric also boasts Ariat Moisture Movement Technology, which helps it to pull moisture away from the skin quickly. Plus, it also evaporates quickly, which helps keep the rider dry and comfortable.
Both the 1/4 Zip and Polo tops feature breathable mesh sections as well, in order to promote air circulation. The design of the 1/4 Zip includes the mesh underarm as well as additional paneling. The Polo includes the mesh under the arms only.
The other major difference between the two is the obvious styling detail. The 1/4 Zip features a mock collar, with a 1/4 zip front. On especially warm days, I like to leave the front mostly unzipped to allow additional airflow. The 1/4 Zip also includes a stock tie loop.
For a bit of a different look, the Sunstopper Polo offers an alternative styling. The front features six snap buttons up the front, which can easily fastened / unfastened in order to get just the right look. The polo collar also offers a crisp and clean appearance.
While logging time in the saddle wearing both Sunstopper tops, I stay both cool and comfortable. Both the 1/4 Zip and Polo styles do a great job at pulling away moisture from my skin when I’m sweaty and gross from riding in 80 or 90 degree weather.
The combination of the ultra light fabric and the additional ventilation from the mesh helps me to feel cooler. Plus, I can also adjust the zipper or snap buttons to allow for some additional airflow. And, this allows me to styling the top just the way that I want it.
One of my favorite things is just how quickly the ultra light fabric dries. I hate feeling slightly soggy after I end up sweating buckets during a ride, and my top usually ends up soaked. With the Sunstopper tops, the fabric dries quickly, and which helps me to feel comfortable.
Both the Sunstopper 1/4 Zip and Polo tops are availble from Ariat. Both styles retail for $49.95 for solid colors, and $54.95 for prints. You can find the 1/4 Zip top here, and you can find the Polo top here.
Go Stylishly Cool Summer Apparel. Go Ariat. Go Eventing.