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Sun Protection

Top Picks

How we choose: The best sun protection highlighted here were selected based on 12 reviews of 5 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

How we test: Trailspace is powered entirely by our community of readers. The reviews posted here reflect the real-world experiences of outdoor enthusiasts just like you.

If you've used a sun protection that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

Disclosure: Trailspace never accepts payment for gear reviews, product placement, or editorial coverage. When you buy through affiliate links on our site, Trailspace may earn a small commission, which helps cover the costs of running the site.

Sawyer Stay-Put Sunscreen SPF 30

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

When you think of Sawyer, you probably are thinking “water filters.” My first thought when I saw Sawyer was selling a sunscreen was, “It can’t be very good. Companies should stick to what they know.” However, after a summer of use, I strongly assert Sawyer’s “Stay Put” SPF 30 Sunscreen is the best sun protection product I have ever used.

Reasons to Buy

  • Effective
  • Non-greasy
  • A little goes a long way
  • Website is very educational

Reasons to Avoid

  • None I have found

When Trailspace honored me as the Reviewer of the Month in May 2016, they sent me a prize package made up of the “10 Essentials.” Included in the package was a 1oz. tube of Stay Put SPF30. I didn’t plan to use it. As a red-headed Scotsman (wish I had the accent), I am all too familiar with sunburns. Too often I have found myself hurting from a day in the outdoors. I do not tan. I burn, peel, then burn again. So the only SPF level I touch is SPF50, the highest legitimate level made.

Read more: Sawyer Stay-Put Sunscreen SPF 30 reviews (2)

Rocky Mountain Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 70

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

Sun protection that keeps you from getting fried and that truly does not wash or sweat off. Broad spectrum, doesn't irritate skin (hypoallergenic). It isn't greasy or sticky and has no odor. Wish it were more readily available.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lotion isn't sticky, greasy, smelly
  • Does not sweat or wash off
  • Blocks a broad range of harmful rays

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not in wide distribution
  • Chemicals rather than all-natural/mineral, if that is a concern

UPDATE July 2018: I still regularly use Rocky Mountain Sunscreen. They no longer sell SPF 70; we get a quart pump bottle of SPF 50, and that lasts about two years for our family. Active ingredients are avobenzone, homosalate, and octocrylene. [note that oxybenzone are no longer on the menu—it is regarded among those who care as a potentially bad chemical to apply to one's skin, though I don't think there is adequate research to definitively draw that conclusion]. So, it doesn't include the chemical that is drawing the most suspicion, and literature I have read suggests that these chemicals carry a low to moderate risk of being endocrine disruptors.

Read more: Rocky Mountain Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 70 review (1)

Badger Sport Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Sunscreen

user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1 review)

I have been using Badger sunscreen this summer as an alternative to more chemically-based sun protection. It definitely does the job of keeping you from getting burned, and it doesn't have nanoparticles or potentially carcinogenic chemical agents. It also doesn't easy wash, rub, or sweat off. On the downside, it is very thick and not so easy to apply, and it can make you look like a ghost. Also, removal requires some scrubbing.

Reasons to Buy

  • Avoids sunburns
  • Few chemicals and unscented
  • Stays on through sweat and swimming

Reasons to Avoid

  • Thick texture makes it hard to rub in
  • 'Ghost face'
  • Not so easy to wash off

My go-to sunscreen, which works extremely well, apparently isn't so great for me or the environment. In particular, I read that sunscreens that employ nanoparticles and chemicals are wreaking havoc on reef systems. In the interest of not contributing to reef damage or other water contamination this summer, I set out to find a healthier alternative.  Badger's Sport SPF 35 Sunscreen keeps your skin from burning with all-natural, 98% organic, biodegradable, reef-safe ingredients. The active ingredient is zinc oxide.

Read more: Badger Sport Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Sunscreen review (1)

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