Gear Review: HiHo SunTek Shirts

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HiHo SunTek Shirts

Sunblock clothes are easy to find these days…but it’s rare when you find a good piece of technical kit suitable for all kinds of paddling scenarios. I was blessed with fair, Anglo-Irish skin and more often than not, nowadays I need a long sleeved jersey or shirt to race, surf and teach in. But in the humid, hot climate of North Carolina, that’s not always comfortable. I have to weigh a sunburn and possible skin cancer with heat stroke. Not great options. While we have long sung the praises of the Bluesmiths Kanaha shirt – which is my go to when I know there’s wind – sometimes, in the stifling, thick air around Falls Lake, the long sleeved version is too much. The short sleeved is perfect, but them I am back to the skin cancer debate.

Just before the start of the season, I was given a long sleeved race jersey from the 2017 Painkiller Cup by the Mullet, who raved about the lightweight way it feels. I was dubious, as I often am, about these things. Then I wore it. I now find that when conditions are just too hot for my beloved Bluesmiths, this shirt by HiHo is my go-to.

HiHo is a casual clothing maker based in the British Virgin Islands. They make a wide variety of Caribbean/tropical influenced clothing, including bathing suits and board shorts. But it’s the SunTek line of shirts that put them on the map, as far as I am concerned.

Perfect for hot, humid, windless days

Made from 95% polyester and 5% spandex, HIHO Suntek offers SPF 50 protection. The fabric has a light weave in it, which helps promote air flow and breathability. While it seems shear, my shirt is granite blue-gray color, it is not see through. When completely wet, it is a tad bit clingy, but not annoyingly so. And while it is not nearly as hydrophobic as Bluesmiths, it does dry quickly. As for durability, I have been wearing it consistently for a month or so and so far, no runs or pills.

On a a recent camping trip when temperatures dropped below what I was prepared for, I just happened to have my HiHo shirt with me and I used it as a baselayer. It helped keep me warm in my hammock. And it was great to paddle in on the cool morning that followed. So, it’s multifunctional as well. When you invest in a good piece of technical paddling clothing, it’s a big bonus to know that it will stand up in different scenarios for different uses and applications.

So if you are looking for a good, SPF 50 long sleeved paddle shirt that will stand up to hot climates and look good, definitely check out HiHo. And if you do, let us know what you think.

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Lisa
Lisa is managing editor of PaddleMonster.com and is an avid paddler of all the things - including sup, SurfSki, outrigger canoe and prone, though she especially enjoys paddle surfing and downwinding. She is a former journalist with more than 30 years experience in print and broadcast journalism and in government communications. She is a six-time Chattajack finisher, racing both sup and OC2. When not paddling, she is an outdoor instructor.

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