As if the the pain and discomfort of sunburn isn’t more than enough reason to slip, slop, slap, seek, and slide during daylight hours, Cancer Council Australia says that “Every year, in Australia:
- skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers
- between 95 and 99% of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun
- GPs have over 1 million patient consultations per year for skin cancer
- the incidence of skin cancer is one of the highest in the world, two to three times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK.”
Sid the Seagull says that we can have fun outside and not get fried if we:
- Slip on sun protective clothing that covers as much of your body as possible.
- Slop on SPF 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen liberally to dry skin, at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every two hours when outdoors.
- Slap on a broad brimmed hat or Legionnaire’s hat that shades your face, neck and ears.
- Seek shade.
- Slide on sunglasses.
It’s not always easy for paddlers to find shade. Damaging UV rays are angled down from above as well as reflected back up off the surface of the water. Natural shelter is often scarce and as far as I know an effective and practical kayak awning is yet to be perfected. I have seen a Hobie pedalling pair that seemed to be using umbrellas for protection, but it is possible they were simply trying to add another ‘P’ to the list of things you can do in a Hobie – paddle, pedal, and paraglide.
When it comes to choosing a paddling hat that will offer you the best sun protection possible, there is nothing better than an Australian designed Frillneck Legionnaire’s hat, the world’s most versatile hat. Baseball caps might look cool, but they are really only designed to keep the sun out of your eyes. Your ears and neck are totally exposed and there is only limited shelter for your face, so they are best avoided. Broad brimmed hats are great for blocking the UV rays that come down from above but don’t stand a chance against the ones reflected off the water. The Frillneck hat is able to shield your face, neck, and ears from the sun in every direction. It also has a handy optional chinstrap to prevent it coming off in the wind or when you take an unexpected dip.
The Frillneck is called the world’s most versatile hat for good reason. Conveniently positioned touch tapes allow you to wear it in a variety of ways to provide as much or as little protection as you want. A useful How to Wear the Frillneck page on the manufacturer’s website runs through their suggestions. You may come up with some configurations of your own. One size fits all with size adjustment via an easily accessible hook and loop strap at the back of the head.
The Frillneck is available in polyester micromesh, jersey cotton, or drill cotton. I wear the the polyester micromesh with visor version when it is raining or I think I might go for a swim because it it doesn’t get heavy when it is wet and it dries quickly. The peaked jersey cotton with visor version is my favourite when I know I am going to stay dry because I find the soft natural fibre more comfortable against the skin. It is also nice and cosy on those cool early morning starts.
The price of the adult size Frillneck Legionnaire’s hat with visor ranges between $31.85 and $34.50 depending on your choice of material. Children’s sizes and visorless versions are also available. All can be purchased now from the Frillneck website and selected retailers.