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Outdoor Research ActiveIce Sun Sleeves

photo: Outdoor Research ActiveIce Sun Sleeves arm/leg sleeve


Price MSRP: $29.00
Current Retail: $24.99-$29.00
Historic Range: $9.99-$34.00
Reviewers Paid: $25.00-$29.00
Weight 1.3 oz / 36 g
Fabric ActiveIce, 92% recycled polyester, 8% spandex, stretch knit
Sun Protection UPF 50+


2 reviews
5-star:   1
4-star:   0
3-star:   1
2-star:   0
1-star:   0

OR ActiveIce Sun Sleeves work well protecting the wearer from harmful UV rays, while keeping cool with ActiveIce technology. This product works well for everyday use, as well as any outdoor activity from a leisurely hike to mountaineering! No more sticky arms from sunscreen when tromping through the wilderness!


  • Blocks UV as designed
  • Comfortable/slight compression
  • Good option for layering
  • Cooling effect works well


  • Stitching not the highest quality
  • Stains don't all wash out
  • High price point

This product is a great alternative for people who don’t like to wear sunscreen every day, but still need protection from the suns destructive rays. I have found them comfortable and reliable, and now rarely need to use sunscreen on my arms. 

Built from an innovative fabric that actually cools you as it wicks away perspiration, and providing UPF 50+ protection from the sun's harsh rays, the ActiveIce Sun Sleeves are a must-have for paddlers, trail runners, hot-weather backpackers and anyone else who spends serious time in warm, dry, sun-baked environments.”



Fabric: ActiveIce, 91% polyester, 9% spandex, stretch knit

Avg. Weight (oz./g): 1.3oz / 36g (L/XL)

  • Active Cooling
  • Breathable
  • Lightweight
  • Wicking
  • Quick Drying
  • UPF 50+
  • Silicone Grip Pads on Palm and Bicep Grip
  • Thumb Hole
  • Elastic Loop For Middle Finger
  • Lifetime Guarantee

Wrist of sleeve showing elastic loop for middle finger

Thumb hole

Fit/Comfort/Function: Upon receiving the sleeves, I was a little concerned that the fit was a little too restrictive, but shortly after use I found the recommended sizing to be spot on. There is a subtle amount of compression, which I personally find comfortable. I typically wear the sleeves at the wrist, rather than using the thumb-hole and middle finger strap, however didn’t find any discomfort.

Sleeve worn at wrist

The silicone band at the top of the sleeves do an excellent job of holding the upper portion of the sleeve in place.


Silicone band at bicep

The tags on the inside of the upper arms were a bit disagreeable, but after several uses the corners softened, and stopped being problematic.

Tags are located at the inner bicep area

I would recommend going up a size if one prefers a relaxed fit, however I’d suspect this to contradict the design, and ultimately the function for the sun sleeve’s cooling effect.

Sleeve worn using thumb hole and finger loop



OR sun sleeves protecting valuable investments

Adjustability: There is a fair bit of flex to the sleeves due to the spandex, but following the sizing recommendations are fairly important, so one doesn’t purchase the sleeves with too tight of a fit.

Water Resistance/Breathability/Moisture/Warmth/Layering: OR's ActiveIce technology works! As one perspires, the cooling effect of the moisture evaporation is very noticeable. I have been skeptical of this new technology based on a simple concept, but it has been improved!

Don’t expect these sleeves to repel moisture, although they are quick drying. They will hold moisture in cool/cold conditions. In sunny and hot conditions, the sleeves will dry out very quickly, as the stretch knit of the fabric is very breathable.

I have found these arm sleeves to be quite versatile with several layering systems, as I prefer to hike with a short-sleeved shirt. When it’s a little hot and shady, they easily come off, and can be stashed in a pocket. I have also found success wearing them under other layers in cool conditions, which traps some body heat close to the skin’s surface. The ActiveIce sun sleeves have become a staple in my clothing system, especially since they are so easy to take on and off. This has been a great addition to the delicate art of temperature regulation when backpacking, both on the trail, and in camp. 

Abrasion: These sleeves have held up very well over the last six months, having used them hundreds of times. Other than one small snag from the paw of a puppy, they are still unscathed, even after regular use on many day hikes, and several backpacking trips. I would not recommend wearing them around briar and berry patches, they will not remain in good condition!

Construction & Durability: Although the sleeves have still held together, and performed their duties as designed, construction is where this product falls a little short. The stitching has become more loose than expected for a product that retails for about $30.

Main stitching wear


Stretching this product is necessary to put the sleeves on and take them off, the quality of stitch seems to be mediocre. The graphics have split in a few spots as well, which is to be expected from something that appears to be screen-pressed onto the fabric.


The sleeves have also taken on a few stains that won’t come out after hand washing, or a gentle machine wash. This is however to be expected when wearing these sleeves A LOT, especially under heavy use such as backpacking trips. The silicone grips on the palm, and the bicep grip still remain in excellent condition.

Silicone palm grips

OR offers a lifetime guarantee on this product, which I have not contacted them about in regards to the worn stitching.

“At Outdoor Research, our mission is to provide innovation and inspiration for the relentless adventurer. Outdoor Research products are Designed By Adventure™ and from this, we deliver the hallmark of all our products – beautiful, functional gear that works and lasts. By placing quality first, we can offer the finest guarantee in the industry for each and every product – the Outdoor Research Infinite Guarantee™. We believe so strongly in the quality of the apparel and gear we make that if our product fails to meet your needs at any time, we are happy to replace it. Our products are guaranteed forever, and your total satisfaction with our product is our goal.”

Conditions: The Outdoor Research ActiveIce Sun Sleeves have been put through the ringer, having been used hundreds of times. These arm sleeves have seen daily use, from street wear to gardening, many day hikes, and several backpacking trips from late winter ’15 to mid-summer ’15. Temperature range during use is estimated from about 40°F to approximately 100°F.

Keeping the arms covered at lunch on a sunny day in Fells Pt.

Early spring day in Catoctin Mountain Park

Takeaway: The OR ActiveIce Sun Sleeves do their job, and do it well! Whether one is customizing their layering system, trying to avoid using chemical sunscreens, or just simply trying to protect their skin, this is a great product to consider!

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $29


Ok, Sean you peaked my interest. But are these really cooler than bare arms wearing sunscreen? Nice review, BTW.

6 years ago

G00SE: I'm always so dog-gone hot-blooded, I can't really tell! When one is sweating, or when they're wet, yes. Otherwise, probably not... One of the biggest advantages IMO is that I'm not sticky on the trail. Always appreciate your quality reviews as well G00SE, thank you!

6 years ago
Jake W

I'm intrigued as well! Gotta find a Canadian retailer though (I hate paying as much in import and shipping charges as I spent on the actual product). Thanks for the heads up on these Sean.

6 years ago

I like the idea of protecting your skin with sleeves instead of using sunscreen, which over the course of a long hike, gets gross. Also for those with ink they sound like a great way to protect your art.

6 years ago

Great review, Sean. I would absolutely get these for trail running (I have a pair for arm warmers but not ones for cooling/UV). I'd rather deal with these than sunscreen. Also, for those who wondered about the technology, I have no experience with ActiveIce (yet), but I did try a sample of a similar OmniFreeze technology from Columbia once on one arm and it was definitely cooler than the other with plain sunscreen.

6 years ago

I also love that your last picture features not only these sun sleeves, but also the Osprey pack you just reviewed, a Trailspace cap, AND a selfie stick.

6 years ago

Helpful review, Sean. Q1) Do they start to stink after a while of use? I imagine the further up the arm they get (i.e. closer to the armpit) the more smell they take on. Q2) Does OR recommended a certain washing technique and have you stuck to that recommendation? Q3) At times, do you wear other garnets with the thumb hole or finger loop?

6 years ago

I have some other brands sleeves. Just curious - do you feel there is any advantage over just long sleeve shirts? (also no need for sunscreen and you roll sleeves up vs rolling these separate sleeves down to the wrist when necessary).

6 years ago

Kiwi: 1. I haven't noticed them to be particularly stinky, but they are synthetic, after all. 2. OR recommends machine wash cold, powdered detergent. I don't have powdered detergent (HE machine). 3. I don't typically use the thumbholes very often in other garments, ie. Patagonia R1 hoody.

6 years ago

Jakuchu: I have a killer Arc'teryx longsleeve baselayer, but really like the adjustability of a short sleeve shirt with arm sleeves; really helps me dial in my temperature regulation. With these specific sleeves, there isn't enough stretch to roll them up, hardly at all.

6 years ago

Perhaps I wasn't clear. I meant the adjustability of long sleeve base layer (rolling up the sleeves) vs. a s/s shirt and rolling down the separate arm sleeves.

6 years ago

Out of all the clothes I’ve used for hiking this is by far the cleverest, well executed, and best functional garment I had.


  • Completely blocks the sun
  • Very comfortable
  • Cools you while you sweat


  • Thumb hole is too small

I hiked over 1,000 miles with those sleeves, and did it in blazing sun, high altitude high radiation, and hot conditions. I have very white sensitive skin, and I was appalled by the thought of carrying and applying sun screen for the whole trip. Fortunately I came across the ActiveIce Sun Sleeves that offered the ideal solution for sun protection.


  • Blocks the sun! It does what it meant to do and does perfectly! No sunburns whatsoever.
  • Very comfortable, feels like second skin, no itch, no stickiness, and the silicon ring on the top holds it stretched
  • Very durable, I’ve used trekking poles the whole time, and did some small scale climbing with this on and they passed the test.
  • The ActiveIce actually works! It’s not just a gimmick. It’s actually cooler than bare skin and adds extra cool while you sweat.


  • The thumb hole is too small. The stitching drove into my skin until it got thicker and the stitching got looser and then it didn't bother me anymore :)

My normal T-shirt size is small. I ordered the S/M size and it fits great.

Just a brilliant little garment that offers a well needed solution for a common problem and solves it perfectly, highly recommended!!!

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 25$


Nice review, Yuvalk! I also use arm sleeves (these OR ones and the Mountain Hardwear Way2Cool Arms) for both the UV protection and cooling effects. They really do work and make a huge difference for my long summer runs.

5 years ago

I've been skeptical of these things, but your review has got me interested. Thanks.

5 years ago

Thanks! I was indeed skeptical about them, I read some reviews that said they don't protect from the sun, but as I mentioned above, I have a white "ginger" type of skin, and if they protected me, they definitely work.

5 years ago

They work. I think I use my Mountain Hardwear ones more (it's hard to remember in winter), but for very hot, sunny days they make a real difference.

5 years ago
Nick Mesarhakis

I missed a sale two days ago but I've got my eye on those from now and on! Thanks for the review Yuvalk.

5 years ago

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