Apparel Buyer's Guides Sun Sleeves

The Best Sun Sleeves for Golf in 2021 – Top Compression and Cooling Models

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Golf Sunset Silhouette

Nothing beats playing golf with your friends on a sunny day. And while you can deal with the glare with a pair of sunglasses or a golf hat, dealing with sunburn is a bit harder. This is one of the reasons professional golf players prefer wearing sun sleeves. Not only will that prevent any damage to your skin by the direct sunlight but will also keep your muscles tight and will prevent soreness after a long day on the course. But which are the best sun sleeves and how exactly to choose a model based on its compression and materials?

Well, in this guide, we will go over some of my favorite models for 2021, look at their features, and ultimately stack them up against each other. After all that, we will also go through the process of choosing a new sun sleeve for the golf course based on its characteristics.

Nike Golf Unisex Dri-FIT Solar Sleeves


Our Rating: (5/5)

When it comes to golfing apparel and sports gear, few are the brands that dominate the market as Nike does. Their sun sleeves have been on top for quite some time now and you can see almost every professional golf player sport one of these on the major tournaments. The Dri-FIT series from Nike stretches to their compression sleeves too, making one of the most well-rounded models for this year. And although it isn’t the cheapest, it does bring better quality and better long-term performance than most other brands out there.

The sleeve itself is made out of 84 polyester and 16% spandex Dri-FIT fabric. The high amounts of polyester make it naturally resistant to UV rays, giving it a 30 UPF rating for its UV protection. The spandex and dri-fit blends help with the cooling effect this sleeve has. It also helps with its compression which is moderate up at the top part and quite tight around the wrists. This allows for better lymph flow and improved muscle performance. It also makes the sleeve incredibly easy to slip onto your hand.

At the top and bottom openings, you also have silicone strips that prevent the sleeve from moving up and down once you put it. This makes your golf game much more comfortable and removes the need to constantly adjust the sleeve. As a whole, at this price, there isn’t a ton of competition so you know you are paying a premium for this sleeve. However, the build quality it brings, combined with its protection, compression, and breathability, are more than good enough reasons for you to trust this model!

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Good compression gradient
  • Silicone strips to reduce slipping
  • Comes with a mesh zip pouch
  • 30 UPF rating
  • Dri-fit materials help with breathability and moisture-control

Cons

  • Only two color options
  • Could feel too short for people with long hands
  • Very expensive

Armoray Arm Sleeves for Golf


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

If you’re out looking for something budget that looks great and gives you a ton of styling options, the Armoray Arm sleeves are just the thing for you. They have decent compression to them and are used for a variety of purposes ranging from all sorts of sports to tattoo covering and more. When playing on a sunny golf course, these sun sleeves will give you UV protection of 98.8% which is great and it doesn’t change with the different color options you can get.

Fitment-wise, they are pretty easy to get on and off thanks to their wide top and bottom openings. And while there is a decent amount of compression along their length, it doesn’t have a good gradient (from bottom to the top) and it also isn’t quite strong at the cuffs. This allows the sleeve to move quite a bit if it doesn’t fit nicely into your hand. It also risks preventing regular lymph flow if it too tight or you wear it for longer periods at a time.

One of the best things about these sun sleeves is that they come in all sorts of color and size combinations. Moreover, there are different pack options, depending on how many sleeves you need. All of these packages have the potential to reduce your overall price by quite a bit, making these sleeves even more budget-friendly than they originally were. The 5-packs with multiple colors are one of the best deals out there currently since you are paying a fraction of the cost of premium compression sleeves for each sleeve of this pack. As a whole, if you are looking for something that looks cool, performs well, and costs close to nothing compared to Nike and Under Armour models, this is it!

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Tons of color options
  • 98.8% UV protection
  • Unisex fit
  • significant cooling effect in the summer
  • Moisture-wicking material
  • Great for lots of sports

Cons

  • No size options
  • Long-term durability isn’t great
  • No silicone strips to prevent slipping

Under Armour Adult Performance HeatGear Compression Arm Sleeve


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

When you’re looking for a sports product, brands like Under Armour are always going to be a safe bet. Sure, they come at a higher price than most other sleeves out there but they also bring exceptional quality and long-term durability with their products.

The sleeve is constructed with a mix of 80% polyester and 20% elastane. That gives it a combination of good UV protection and plenty of compression. Elastane and polyester are both also quite durable in the long run, meaning this sleeve won’t have to be changed in a few months due to reduced compression. This is a common problem with most other cheaper sun sleeves for golf. Another great feature of the HeatGear sun sleeve is that it is exceptionally good at wicking away sweat from your hands and keeping a dry fit. This is why it is one of the best models for extremely hot days. It is also machine-washable unlike most other models out there, making it a bit more practical and easy to use than the rest.

Unlike Nike or New Balance models on the market, this sleeve comes in plenty of color options including grey, white, red, and blue, as well as the traditional black and white ones. It also comes in three colors along with a Unisex one that can also fit younger kids. As a whole, despite its premium price tag, this compression sleeve offers great performance on the golf course and provides plenty of comfort, breathability, and UV protection.

Pros

  • Great durability
  • Decent UV protection
  • Good amounts of compression
  • Moisturew-ciking materials
  • Machine-washable
  • Comes in 6 colors and 3 sizes

Cons

  • Quite expensive
  • Runs a bit short
  • No silicone strips to prevent slips

HopeShine Arm Cooling Sleeves


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

The HopeShine Arm Cooling sleeves are an excellent choice if you’re looking for a budget pack that will keep your hands dry and cool during those hot summer days on the golf course. Apart from their economy factor, these sun sleeves also have moisture-activated cooling fibers. These fibers will wick away moisture faster than normal sun sleeves and will stay dry throughout an 18-hole game.

They are made out of mostly polyamide mixed with 8% spandex. This makes them quite stretchable and limits their compression. The fact that they are one-size-fits-all also makes them a bit tricky to pick since people with small hands won’t have enough compression if that’s what they’re going after. On the contrary, people with large hands might find them way too tight. Moreover, they are also relatively short in length compared to other full-arm sleeves. Thanks to the high polyamide content, they can easily handle most UV rays and have UV-R, A, and B ratings (UPF 50+, blocking nearly 99.8% of the harmful UV radiation.

One feature that I absolutely love here is the overall comfort. The way these sleeves are made, combined with the seamless weaving design, makes them incredibly soft and comfortable to the touch. Unfortunately, they aren’t machine-washable and this comfort can quickly be ruined if you aren’t careful with how you maintain them. In terms of colors, there are plenty of options to choose from, and they all come in packs of 3, making them even more budget-friendly. In conclusion, this is a great option for anyone looking for something cheap that will take care of UV rays, heat, and moisture during a golf game. Due to their size, however, they are mostly suitable for people with smaller hands and women.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Very comfortable
  • Seamless weaving design
  • Good moisture-wicking properties
  • Great cooling effect
  • Come in packs of 3
  • Plenty of color options

Cons

  • Not enough compression
  • One-size-fits-all
  • Not very long

Tough Outdoors UV Sun Protection Arm Sleeves


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

Tough Outdoors is a brand that has been specializing in making sports and outdoor gear for quite a while now. Their sports compression cooling sleeves are one of the most famous on the market for a few major reasons. First, they are incredibly cheap compared to some Nike and Under Armour models. Additionally, they are recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation thanks to their UVA and UVB protection. Lastly, their durability track record is superb, as they last quite a while, their compression doesn’t reduce over time, and they are machine-washable.

Thanks to the way their materials are blended together, these sleeves are 4-way stretchable. This provides incredibly even distribution of their compression and makes them very comfortable on your arm. That by itself is enough to reduce muscle fatigue after a long day on the golf course. It also works incredibly well with all arm sizes and shapes, since the sleeves come in a one-size-fits-all size. The brand’s “Freeflow” fabric is another important feature here. It is a type of Spandex/Elastane material that plays a major role in the stretchability of the sleeve but also allows moisture and air to travel freely through the sleeve. This makes for a cool and dry feel even on hot days out.

There are 8 color options, each coming in a pair of two sleeves. Now pair all that with UPF50+ protection and you begin to understand why these sleeves are an excellent choice for anyone on a budget that wants the best value for his money!

Pros

  • UPF50+ rating
  • Breathable and moisture-wicking construction
  • Very durable
  • 4-way stretchable
  • Very cheap
  • Come in packs of 2
  • 8 color options

Cons

  • Prone to rips
  • Better to be washed on hand
  • Shorter than advertised
  • Can be too tight for certain arm sizes and shapes

New Balance Unisex Outdoor Sports Compression Sleeves


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

Just like Nike and Under Armour, New Balance is a brand known for its top-shelf quality and durability. Unlike those other two brands, however, NB is also known for its great value and decent bang for the buck prices. Their Unisex Outdoor Sports Compression Arm Sleeves are among the cheapest pair of sleeves from a premium brand you can get. They are perfect for all types of outdoor sports including cycling and golf mainly due to their decent compression that doesn’t get too intrusive and works in favor of your muscle’s health.

The sleeves are made with a blend of polyester and spandex, as most other models out there. This helps them keep their UPF rating high while maintaining good 4-way stretchability and decent compression. They aren’t very transparent which makes them good for hot and sunny days. They also deal relatively well with moisture-wicking although they don’t dry as fast as some other thinner sleeves on the market. One thing that I don’t particularly enjoy is the big logo that is positioned very front-and-center, which is what most people don’t like about other famous brands. However, in this particular instance, the logo serves another purpose – it is reflective, making it great for outdoor runners that prefer the after-hours.

In terms of styling and sizes, there are plenty of options here. You can get these sun sleeves in sizes S, M, L, and XL. This eliminates the need to stretch over various arm shapes and sizes, and since the sleeves are true to their size, it makes choosing one for yourself much easier. Colors-wise, there are 5 options available, including black, grey, red, blue, and white. All the color options come in sets of two, making them relatively budget-friendly. As a whole, these sun sleeves are an excellent choice for someone who doesn’t trust some of the lesser-known brands and wants something decent at a low price!

Pros

  • Good amounts of compression
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Come in 5 colros and 4 size options
  • Reflective logo
  • Good bang for the buck
  • Retains compression after months

Cons

  • Large logo on the forearm
  • For smaller arms, go with a lower size option
  • Prone to rips
  • Not machine-washable

KMMIN Arm Sleeves for Golf


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

Last on this list is the set of two sun sleeves by KMMIN. This is a relatively new brand to the market, although they’re already known for budget-friendly products. These sleeves cover a decent portion of your arm and have a UPF50+ rating which is great for bright and sunny days on the course. They are also heavier and thicker than most other sleeves, making them good for colder conditions. However, that thickness doesn’t work well when it comes to moisture-wicking, and these tend to hold onto sweat and moisture for longer.

Still, the fabric has good levels of stretchability to it with special stretch zones around your forearm that provide a good gradient for your lymph flow to work well. That will keep the muscles healthy and will reduce soreness the next day. There are quite a lot of color options, as well as different packing options. The 5-packs come at the cheapest price, and you might need more of these since they don’t last nearly as much as some Nike or Under Armour models. Additionally, there are no size options and although these fit relatively well on most hand sizes and shapes, people with really small or really large hands will struggle to find a good fit with these.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Good compression
  • Special compression zones
  • Lots of color options
  • Come in packs of 2, 4, and 5
  • Great for both hot and cold weather

Cons

  • Don’t dry as fast
  • Not very durable
  • Don’t fit most hand sizes and shapes
  • No size options

Sun Sleeves Buyer’s Guide

In this part of the guide, we will talk a bit more about the different characteristics of sun sleeves, their compression levels, and the type of sleeves available in the USA. Moreover, we will also take a closer look at all the benefits that these compression sleeves will have for your golf game.

If you want to learn more about the best golf mid-layers, make sure you read this detailed Buyer’s Guide. Now, let’s jump into this!

Types of Sun Sleeves

There are plenty of ways to categorize sun sleeves. One major way they are distinguished from one another is based on the material from which they’re made. Alternatively, and also more medically relevant, these sleeves can be categorized based on their compression into the following categories:

  • Class 1 sleeves – these exert around 20-30 mmHg of pressure on your hand
  • Class 2 sleeves – these will have around 30-40 mmHg of pressure exerted on your hand
  • Classes 3 and 4 – these sleeves are typically made custom to the specific client and have pressures of over 40-60 mmHg.

While choosing a sun sleeve doesn’t always require you to know which class you need, it is always a great idea to check with your physician and see which class will be best suited for you. However, most sports sun/compression sleeves won’t have a compression rating falling into any of those classes. This is because they haven’t been medically tested nor rated. However, they do generally fall around classes 1 or 2.

Each sleeve will ideally cover your hand from the wrist all the way up to a few fingers below the shoulder. The pressure it has on your arm will gradually reduce as the sleeve gets closer to your shoulder. Not only will that improve blood circulation but will also work in favor of your lymph circulation which is vital for your muscles’ and tissues’ health.

Important Features

When you see a sun sleeve you’d typically see that choosing one model or another wouldn’t require a ton of knowledge. However, there are plenty of features that could separate the good ones from the bad. Some of the most important features like these are:

  • Materials
  • Breathability
  • UV protection
  • Coverage
  • Moisture-wicking capabilities
  • Cooling
  • Compression levels
  • Colors & Sizes
  • Maintenance
  • Price

Materials

When it comes to any type of golfing apparel, the materials are one of the most important factors. The quality and durability of the sun sleeve will primarily depend on the materials it is made from. Additionally, its breathability and moisture-wicking capabilities will also be determined by them. The main materials used in most golf sun sleeves out there are polyester, nylon, as well as spandex and/or elastane. Some brands like Nike use their own proprietary material blends marketed under patented names such as “Dri-Fit”.

Polyester is one of the best materials for a compression sleeve. The main reason for that is because it is naturally resistant to UV rays and has superb durability and endurance. Moreover, polyester can be easily mixed with other more flexible materials such as spandex. Lastly, just like spandex and elastane, polyester is easily washable and models made out of it can usually be machine-washed.

Another synthetic material used in most compression sleeves is spandex (or elastane). These two materials are pretty similar, almost synonymous, and both have great breathability and moisture-wicking properties. They allow optimal airflow through the sun sleeve and provide decent compression when mixed in with nylon, polyester, or cotton.

Last on this list is nylon which is widely used in cheaper models thanks to its budget but quite durable nature. Just like polyester, nylon is a synthetic plastic polymer that is naturally resistant to UV rays. It is, however, thicker and worse when it comes to temperature and moisture control. This is why nylon is often blended in with other fabrics to improve their durability and maybe bring the price down a bit.

Breathability

As I’ve already mentioned a few times, how breathable the sleeve is will determine its comfort and performance on hot days. Fabrics like polyester are thinner than most others and, therefore, offer better breathability compared to them. However, the material thinness becomes an issue at a certain point as the sun sleeve becomes worse at protecting against UV rays.

UV protection

people playing golf in the sun

One of the most important features of any type of sun-protection apparel is its UV-protection rating. In clothes and other gear, this rating is signified by the abbreviation UPF. This stands for “Ultraviolet protection factor” and it determines how much of the harmful radiation penetrates the clothing itself and reaches your skin. In other words, this factor acts very much like the SPF factor of sun creams.

Even though certain clothes have an official UPF rating, they are not always as protective as their description states. This is because it is possible for you to do certain things that will hinder the sun sleeve’s ability to block sunlight efficiently. One of the most common reasons for that is people overstretching the sun sleeve. This makes the material become more transparent than it was designed to be, ultimately reducing its UPF rating. Wet sun sleeves are also less effective at blocking UV rays, which is why most of them are also extremely good at dissipating heat and moisture into the air, rather than holding it and staying wet.

Another factor that might worsen a sun sleeve’s performance is its age. Normally, materials age and worsen over time. Most sun sleeves are rated safe to use (on a daily basis) for up to 6-12 months, although you can wear them for longer periods, assuming you’re okay with their slightly reduced UV-blocking performance.

In short, UPF ratings typically range between 10 and 50+, as follows:

  • Ratings from 10-20 typically give you good protection. They will block around 94-95% of the UV rays.
  • Ratings from 20 to 35 are very good and block up to 97% of the harmful UV rays.
  • Ratings above 40 are exceedingly good and can block up to 99% of the UV rays depending on the exact number.

Coverage

The coverage of the sun sleeve is crucial to its performance and practicality. Compression or sun sleeves vary a lot in terms of their lengths, with some models even covering your wrist and knuckles. In general, the coverage varies from covering just your forearm to covering your whole arm from the knuckles to your shoulder. The latter ones are ideal for sunny days in which you want to wear a short T-shirt. Having your compression sleeve covers your wrist will provide additional stability for your hand in that area. It will also leave only your fingers exposed, resulting in a better grip.

Still, all that boils down to your own personal preference. Longer sleeves will make you sweat more but will protect a larger area of your hand from getting sunburnt. Larger sleeves are also more expensive and hard to put on and off, making them a less practical choice.

Moisture-wicking capabilities

Just like breathability, the ability of the sun sleeve to keep moisture away from your arm’s surface is crucial to its warm weather performance. Most models achieve that by using special materials that are naturally good at keeping water out or are good at having water molecules pass through them. Typically, the more stretchable a sleeve is, the better it will be at keeping your hand dry and cool. However, it won’t block as much UV rays as other thicker and tighter sleeves.

Cooling

Most sun sleeves out there won’t have any special cooling properties. However, the higher you go in terms of the price, the more models you will see that have special fibers woven into them that help with the temperature control. One of the newest trends in golf sun sleeves is to have a moisture-activated cooling effect. This is done through special materials and is designed so that the sleeve cools off your arm as soon as you start sweating. This gives most models a two-in-one capability allowing you to wear them both when it’s warm and when it is colder on the golf course.

Compression levels

As we already discussed earlier, there are 4 different classes of compression in the USA. However, most golf sun sleeves won’t be tested nor regulated under these special criteria. This is why the compression is often hard to judge without actually trying the sleeve on. Most companies will give you charts that will tell you the ideal diameter of your arm for each sleeve size. This will, more or less, give you an idea of how tight the sleeve will be. In general, sleeves with more spandex and elastane in them will have better compression and will be more comfortable than ones that are almost entirely made out of nylon or polyester.

Colors & Sizes

Size-wise, sleeves vary a lot. Not only do most models have a few size options, but due to the different compression levels, most aren’t true to their size. This means that you will have to look at the compression of the sleeve and judge by what other users have said about it. If you are looking for a tighter sleeve, it is always good to go with a size below what you’d usually wear. If you aren’t sure what size you need, use the manufacturer chart which, in most cases, is based on your arm’s circumference at different locations.

The style of the sleeve is also important, especially for people that are part of golf clubs that have special apparel rules and golf dress codes. Before you go ahead and pick a color that you preferred, make sure you check with your golf club. Typically, most professional golf compression sleeves will come in white, as that is the most common color when it comes to tournament apparel.

Maintenance

The maintenance of most sun sleeves is pretty straightforward. However, you should definitely check with your model before you put it in the washing machine. One of the most common major downsides of compression sleeves is that they cannot be machine-washed. Additionally, they also can’t be machine-dried, further taking points away from their practicality. Typically, nylon and polyester models aren’t machine-washable. Spandex and elastane fibers are also notoriously weak when it comes to washing them in a machine. This is why most models are recommended to be hand-washed.

Either way, one thing to remember with compression sleeves is that they all deteriorate with time. Depending on the actual compression of your model, it will take a different amount of time before it starts losing its compression. Tight models will lose their compression the fastest with some models not being able to last even 6 months before they start loosening up. Basic sun sleeves without additional compression typically last the longest and are the easiest to put on or off.

Price

The price of most sun sleeves is within the same narrow range. However, there are some models from brands like Nike or Under Armour that can cost you quite a bit more. The reason for that is mainly the materials used in them. Most models from Nike and other professional Golf brands will have superb moisture-wicking, will having passive cooling, and will block most of the UV rays. And while this won’t burn a hole through your pocket, some of those models are still much more expensive than what an average sun sleeve costs.

Benefits of Wearing Sun Sleeves on The Golf Course

Wearing sun sleeves on the golf course is a trend that keeps getting more and more popular. There are quite a lot of performance reasons, as well as a few health-related ones. Let’s sum up all the important benefits you get from wearing these sleeves now:

  • Sun sleeves with compression to them improve muscle performance
  • These sleeves decrease fatigue levels and improve restoration
  • Some tight sun sleeves will help you keep a better form during your shot
  • The UV protection most sun sleeves have will keep your hand safe from sunburn
  • These sleeves are a nice addition to your golf apparel
  • Most sun sleeves will have moisture-wicking properties that will keep your hands dry
  • Some models will even have moisture-activated cooling materials that will keep your hand cool
  • Some compression sleeves help with conditions such as lymphedema
  • They aren’t very cheap
  • Sun sleeves are easily washable

On the contrary to all that, there is one major disadvantage to these sleeves. While they don’t generally cost a lot, they do tend to loosen up in less than a year. This requires you to swap them with a new one, ultimately keeping their running costs a bit high. Certain models can lose their compression faster than others, depending on their quality. Another disadvantage of some models is that they have their stitching exposed which can irritate your skin and cause rashes.

Compression sleeves aren’t the only thing you should wear on a hot or cold day out on the course. Layering your golf clothes is important no matter the weather. If you want to learn more on that subject, click here!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do arm sleeves protect your hands from the sun?

Depending on the type of material they are made from, arm sleeves can have different levels of sun protection. This is why most companies will let you know what their UV-protection index is. Moreover, they will also tell you the percentage of UV rays that the sleeve blocks. However, every sun sleeve will protect your hand from getting a sunburn to at least a little degree.

Why do professional golf players wear compression sleeves?

There are plenty of benefits of wearing compression sleeves. However, the most important one for golf players is the fact that the sleeve helps your muscles stay relaxed. It also helps the muscles feel refreshed even after a long day at the course. Pro golf players often share that a compression sleeve helps them with their golf swing by keeping the arm triangle in a proper form.

How long should you wear a compression sleeve?

There are two possible answers to that question. If you’re asking how much time within the day you should wear it, experts recommend wearing it no more than 6-8 hours. Overusing a compression sleeve can worsen your hand’s blood flow and reduce your muscles’ restorative capabilities. If you’re asking how long do compression sleeves last and are still good at their job, typically they are used for 6 months. After that, they get far too loose for them to work properly.

What color works the best for sun protection?

One of the best colors to absorb UV rays is black. In general, darker colors are far better at absorbing sunlight (and UV rays with it) than whites and other pastel colors. Additionally, bright colors like red or bright yellow are also good at absorbing UV rays, or at least a much better option than just white or any other pale color.

What is the best fabric for a sun protection sleeve?

Some of the best fabrics that are naturally good at blocking UV rays and dealing with heat well are polyester, nylon, rayon, and cotton. These are often mixed together to perform better under different circumstances. However, nylon and plastic polymers dominate the field of sun protection thanks to their naturally high absorption rates of UV rays.

Final Words

When picking the best sun sleeves for golf, you will have to take a few important features into consideration. The first thing you have to look at is the material of the sleeve. Polyester is very common and is naturally good at resisting sun and moisture. However, it often lacks the needed compression models with a bit of Spandex in them have. Additionally, look for seamless sleeves that will have superior comfort as opposed to ones with their stitching exposed. UV protection, breathability, and moisture control are also features that you should be actively looking for, especially if you’re going to use your sleeve for other activities and sports!