How to Choose the Best Arm Sleeves for Protection Outdoors

How to Choose the Best Arm Sleeves for Protection Outdoors

How to Choose the Best Arm Sleeves for Protection Outdoors


It seems that everywhere you look these days, someone’s wearing an arm sleeve. From the NBA Playoffs and the Tour de France to a construction worker on the job site and your next-door neighbor in the garden, someone somewhere is wearing one. And what was once solely a utility piece for athletes, arm sleeves have found function far beyond the basketball courts and golf courses. Arm sleeves aren’t typically the first thing we think of when protecting our skin from the elements. There are many different types of sleeves out there, from compression for athletic use to non-compressive for comfort and protection from the sun and other elements while working. A common use for arm sleeves is sun protection and body temperature regulation. Cooling arm sleeves ideally cover the maximal amount of skin surface area possible. It may seem that a sleeve will warm things up on a warm day, but an arm sleeve with a moisture-wicking design can allow your skin to breathe while keeping skin cool and dry. 

There are a ton of factors to take into consideration when choosing the best arm sleeves for you, so we’ve created a list of some essential factors to make things easier:

Intended Use 

First, we’ll start with the most significant determining factor: the intended use.

The best arm sleeves will depend significantly on their desired use. A tighter, compressive sleeve will likely serve you best if the goal is to add support to muscles and tendons. There is scientific evidence supporting using a compression sleeve when participating in many athletic events.

If the intended use is working outdoors in the sun, such as with plants and potential skin irritants in the garden, then sleeves with a comfortable fit and maximum skin coverage are ideal.

Check out the best sleeves for gardening.


Compression vs. Non-compression

Whether the arm sleeves are best for compression or not is based on your personal needs. Compression might be the way to go if high-impact sports and athletics are your primary purpose in using an arm sleeve. 

Some studies suggest that compression sleeves aid in muscle performance. And while this is good for athletes, it can be a disadvantage for those searching for sleeves that allow more flexibility and range of motion. The compression holds the muscles in the body tight but, in some cases, can make it more difficult for you to move.

As far as non-compression arm sleeves go, there are many situations when you want the benefits of having sleeves, but compression isn’t suitable for you. The effects of compression sleeves can be damaging for some, causing abrasions and other issues. 

Best UV Protection Possible 

If exposure to the sun is one of the reasons for covering your arm in a sleeve, the best choice will be an arm sleeve with high a high UPF rating. 

UPF is a rating scale that indicates how much UV radiation a fabric allows to reach the skin. For example, a fabric with a UPF 50+ can block 98 percent of the sun’s rays or more. This type of protection blocks both UVB and UVA rays. 

All fabrics, in essence, have some level of UPF, but not all fabrics are created equal. Understanding the factors that go into UPF rating helps us differentiate between fabrics and ultimately choose the best option.

If the arm sleeve manufacturer doesn’t mention UPF protection, knowing exactly how much protection the sleeve provides from UV rays is nearly impossible.

The best part about using an arm sleeve with UPF protection is that there’s no to apply and reapply SPF sunscreen to the covered skin.

Comfort and Material

Regardless of how they’ll be used, the best arm sleeves for you will be the most functional while giving you some level of comfort. When working on a project outdoors or in the garden, long-sleeved shirts may effectively protect the skin from the sun, but they often leave us a little hot and sweaty. For this reason, arm sleeves are advantageous. 

A denser, tighter fabric constructed from a polyester and nylon blend with moisture-wicking qualities offers breathability and often works best. These materials stay dry and cool, and they typically protect sensitive and thin skin from scratches and sun exposure.

Comfort is a big factor in selecting arm sleeves. They may pinch or slide out of place if the sleeves don't fit properly because of sizing issues. The best sleeves for you will be nonrestrictive and do not bunch. 


Having the right fit is essential when choosing your sleeves. They’ll likely slide out of place if they're too loose, potentially getting in the way and becoming a nuisance. Conversely, if the sleeves fit too tightly, they can become uncomfortable and even cut off circulation.

Arm Sleeves Are Effective!

Arm sleeves are more than a fad; they’ve become a staple in many areas of life, work, and athletics. The functionality of arm sleeves is many. Whether through cooling or regulating body temperature, protecting skin from irritating and harmful elements to adding compression for intense training and exercise, it is worth adding arm sleeves to the list of essentials, especially when working in the sun.