Fishing is a passion understood only by those of us who love it. The occasional exhilaration of having something on the line far outweighs the time it takes waiting for that big catch. But while you’re waiting, you need to protect yourself from the sun’s damaging radiation.
I remember the first time I went fishing. It was quite overcast and so we didn’t really think about the sun because we couldn’t see it. Needless to say, I ended up red and blistered.
So this guide is to stop you from making the same mistake as me by providing you with the best sunscreen for fishing.
When on the boat, shore, or river bank you need to protect yourself by applying a good sunscreen (you’ll know the best one in a minute) both generously and regularly. You should also take other precautions like wearing a hat (one that covers your ears and neck), UV protective clothing (long-sleeved shirts and shorts), and polarized sunglasses.
Trying to find a shady spot or creating your own with an umbrella isn’t a bad idea either, especially if you’re fishing in the heat of the day instead of sticking to the mornings and late afternoons when the sun is least intense.
Having extensively researched the must-have features for sunscreens for fishing, SimplySunSafe recommends BADGER SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen as the best sunscreen for fishermen. Read on for a detailed buyer’s guide, comparison table, and in-depth reviews of the top 5 sunscreens for fishing.
For a sunscreen to protect fishermen while they are outdoors for an extended period of time, there are a few factors to consider:
Broad spectrum protection
Fishermen must always make sure that their sunscreen is broad spectrum. This is because the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation comes in two types. Both damage your skin, just in different ways.
UVA radiation can alter the DNA of deep skin cells which can cause skin wrinkling and sagging (and who wants that?). UVB radiation is responsible for sunburn and blistered skin. Both types of radiation contribute to the development of skin cancer, so both must be stopped.
Unfortunately, unless a sunscreen is labeled as ‘broad spectrum’ or ‘UVA/UVB’ it only offers protection against UVB radiation – not the deeper penetrating, aging UVA radiation. So be sure to check the label for this wording.
If you’re still unsure, you can check the active ingredients list for high concentrations of zinc oxide which is the only sunscreen to protect against the complete UV spectrum (all wavelengths of both UVA and UVB).
The easier way to do all of this is to pick one of the fishing sunscreens recommended on SimplySunSafe every product here offers broad spectrum protection.
Best SPF for Fishing
Before I knew much about sunscreen, my biggest deciding factor on what kind to buy was the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) on the bottle. Everyone knows that the higher the SPF, the more protection you get, right? This is true, but the numbers are still a little confusing.
Basically the SPF is the fraction of UV radiation that still reaches your skin after proper application. So SPF 15 lets through 1/15th of the radiation and SPF 30 lets through 1/30th.
This means the difference in the amount of protection you get from a sunscreen with an SPF 30 and an SPF 100 is just a mere 2%. And normally, the higher the SPF, the higher the price. So this is something to take into consideration.
Another issue that comes up is also that the SPF only refers to the amount of protection you get from UVB rays which cause skin redness, and not UVA rays which penetrate deeper into your skin.
For more info on what amount of protection your sunscreen offers, please take a look at the table below:
|SPF Rating||UVB Protection|
This table makes SPF a lot easier to understand (why don’t they just put this on the bottle?) as you can see that after SPF 30, you don’t get that much more protection for significant increases in SPF. This is why the FDA recommends a sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or higher, but definitely nothing less.
It is also very import to reapply often as no sunscreen will protect you for a whole day of fishing. Normally you could go a maximum of 2 hours between applications, but it is recommended to apply more frequently than that if you are fully exposed to the sun, if you are sweating or if you will be in contact with water (and hopefully you are when you have to get that big catch in the net).
Physical is better than chemical
There are two types of sunscreen, physical and chemical, and they work in different ways which gives each pros and cons. Physical sunscreens use active ingredients to reflect sunlight whereas chemical sunscreens use active ingredients to absorb sunlight before it gets to your skin.
SimplySunSafe recommends purely physical sunscreens for fishermen or a physical/chemical hybrid. Physical sunscreens are better because they:
- stop more visible light and UV radiation from reaching the skin
- last longer on the skin (great for fishing)
- are much less likely to irritate sensitive skin
- start working almost immediately (you don’t need the 20-30 minute wait)
- have a longer shelf life
There are also reasons not to use purely chemical sunscreens. They often contain ingredients which can mess with your hormones. One ingredient that you should avoid at all costs that is oxybenzone (it’s blacklisted by human health authority EWG). This particularly nasty chemical is often found in the sunscreens of popular skincare brands which is why you won’t find the bigger brands on SimplySunSafe, because they use questionable ingredients.
So how do you spot physical sunscreens when shopping? Normally they will be labelled as ‘physical’ or ‘mineral’. If you do not see any such labels then look in the ingredients for zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. These are the two physical sunscreen active ingredients.
Outside of providing effective protection, this is perhaps the most important feature of the best sunscreen for fishing. No matter the conditions or situation you can’t help but get wet while fishing. Not to mention the sweat that comes from the big wrestle!
When this happens, your sunscreen can become less effective if it doesn’t have the appropriate water resistance. This is why the optimal sun protection for fishermen is a ‘very’ water resistant sunscreen.
This means a sunscreen with 80 minutes worth of water resistance (not the lower 40 minute protection). This information will be indicated on the bottle.
No sunscreen is fully ‘waterproof’ or ‘sweat proof’ and the FDA actually banned the use of these words because it misleads people and makes them think that they are fully protected when they actually aren’t.
To ensure you’re sufficiently protected, remember to always re-apply within two hours, more often if you had to take a dip or if you were sweating a lot while you were reeling in that monster!
Rub on lotion not spray
Spray sunscreens have become all the rage in the last few years. They’re marketed for convenience but this is little more than a gimmick.
In reality, spray sunscreens make it difficult to apply a consistent and thick enough layer to guarantee the sunscreen’s advertised protection. This makes a rub on lotion the way to go for fishermen. It’ll take a little longer, but will save you the pain and long-term consequences associated with sun damage.
Spray sunscreens also present the risk of inhalation. Although most sunscreen ingredients are safe on the skin, they are damaging for internal tissues like your sensitive lungs. This damage is particularly potent in young people and children. So if you’ve got a junior angler to protect, definitely go with a lotion instead of a spray.
Better safe than sorry, you’ll be thankful in the long run!
Best Sunscreen for Fishing Comparison
|BADGER Sport Sunscreen||Tropical Sands All Natural||thinksport Sunscreen||Goddess Garden Sport||All Terrain TerraSport|
|Active ingredients||Zinc Oxide (22.5%)||Zinc Oxide (22.5%) & Titanium Dioxide (6%)||Zinc Oxide (20%)||Titanium Dioxide (6.4%) & Zinc Oxide (6.0%)||Zinc Oxide (16%)|
|Water resistance||80 minutes||80 minutes||80 minutes||80 minutes||80 minutes|
5 Best Sunscreens for Fishing
After thorough research that combined discussing issues with customers, reviewing customer feedback, examining manufacturer specifications, and participating in skincare and fishing forums SimplySunSafe has chosen the 5 best sunscreens for fishermen. All 5 physical sunscreens offer broad spectrum protection, have an SPF of 30 or more, and have 80-minute water resistance.
BADGER SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen is one of the most recommended sunscreens on SimplySunSafe. This is a testament to this product’s quality and value. It is certified as 100% natural and 96% organic and has one of the simplest formulas on the market.
BADGER Sport has only 5 ingredients – organic sunflower oil, organic beeswax, organic jojoba oil, sunflower vitamin E and of course, zinc oxide, which at a concentration of 22.5% gives this sunscreen excellent and balanced broad spectrum protection.
Because of the simple list of natural ingredients, it is safe to use on the most sensitive skin and is unlikely to cause irritation even to those who’ve had trouble with sunscreens in the past.
It has the mandatory fisherman water resistance of 80 minutes which will keep you protected when the ocean sprays you while you’re sweating up a storm trying to reel in the biggest catch of your life!
Just so you know, we have such faith in this product that Badger Sport is our pick as the best water sports sunscreen generally, so it’s not only great for fishing!
- High concentration of active ingredient
- Simple formula
- 80-minute water resistance
- Thick formula
Tropical Sands All Natural Sunscreen SPF 50 comes second on SimplySunSafe’s list of the best sunscreens for fishing. This sunscreen offers excellent broad spectrum protection using an amazing combination of zinc oxide (22.5%) and titanium dioxide (6%) – one of the highest combined concentrations of active ingredients available.
The list of ingredients is longer than BADGER Sport’s, but it is still a great option as an all natural sunscreen. This means it too does not contain any harsh chemicals that can damage or irritate your skin.
Suitable for everyday use, this sunscreen is a great option for avid fisherman who try to get out on (or near) the water as much as they can. No matter how frequently you fish, you can do so without having to worry about this sunscreen doing any harm.
Some of the non-active ingredients include green tea, shea butter, vitamin E and eucalyptus oil. These are nourishing and moisturising on your skin. Tropical Sands All Natural Sunscreen has no added fragrances, it just has a lovely, natural green tea scent.
Tropical Sands All Natural Sunscreen is biodegradable and water resistant so it is great for fishing in all settings. Plus, you won’t have to worry about any harmful toxins entering the water and damaging the animals or reefs!
It does leave a white layer, so it will not be invisible. As far as I’m concerned this is just a reminder to reapply which will save you from forgetting and burning. Just rub it in gently and spread it evenly on your skin and you are good to go!
- High concentration of active ingredient
- 40-minute water resistance
- Formula feels a little thick
Third on our list is another very well-known and loved sunscreen here at SimplySunSafe. Thinksport Sunscreen SPF 50+ is a broad spectrum sunscreen that offers excellent protection through its active ingredient is zinc oxide (20%).
SimplySunSafe loves this product because it has everything you could want in a sunscreen. It is an ideal choice for use by fisherman and is great value for money. If you spend a lot of time fishing (and therefore need a lot of sunscreen), this is a fantastic option for you!
Thinksport Sunscreen SPF 50+ has a gentle formula and meets all relevant FDA safety guidelines. It is made by a responsible company who cares about their customers. In fact, thinksport agrees with SimplySunSafe’s opinion on spray sunscreen and doesn’t produce them because of concerns for consumer safety. Even though they could make money by entering this market, they don’t touch it because they care about their clients.
Thinksport Sunscreen is fragrance free and unlikely to cause irritation making it ideal for consistent and frequent use. It also contains sunflower, jojoba, olive, raspberry and cranberry seed oils to nourish and moisturize while protecting.
It is 80-minute water resistant, another requirement for fishermen. Because the main ingredient is zinc oxide, it won’t be invisible, but, at least you can see when you will need to reapply!
SimplySunSafe recommends thinksport 50+ for a range of uses but most importantly we’ve chosen it as the best mens sunscreen – we can’t heap enough priase upon this awesome product.
- High SPF
- Great value
- Reliable water resistance
- Thick formula
- Likely white cast
Goddess Garden Sport Natural Sunscreen SPF 30 is a physical sunscreen that provides slightly less broad spectrum protection than the sunscreens above. Its active ingredients are titanium dioxide (6.4%) and zinc oxide (6%) which you’ll notice are in lower concentrations than mentioned previously. But don’t fret. – it will still do the job!
Goddess Garden Sport is certified organic and has been dermatologically tested so it is gentle enough for daily use on sensitive skin. Some its non-active ingredients include shea butter, coconut oil, aloe vera and vitamin E, and it has no harsh chemicals, parabens and phthalates. This means it’ll nourish and repair your skin while you benefit from its sun protection.
Goddess Garden is a great product for the eco-friendly consumer. Their products are vegan friendly and come in recyclable containers. Their dedication to the environment extends to them having a low carbon footprint and supporting organic farmers and other local community projects. Hello guilt-free buying!
Goddess Garden Sport is highly water resistant and will last for up to 80 minutes. You might see an ad that says it goes clear or invisible, but I found that it will still leave a slight white cast. But as mentioned before, this isn’t a bad thing!
This product comes in both rub on lotion and spray, but as mentioned above, the spray is not recommended as there are still concerns about their safety and effectiveness!
- Hydrating ingredients
- 80-minute water resistance
- Thick formula
- Lower levels of active ingredients
The last product on SimplySunSafe’s list is All Terrain TerraSport SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen. Like all of the the other sunscreens that we spoke about in this post, it is a physical sunscreen that contains zinc oxide (16%).
All Terrain TerraSport is environmentally friendly as it is made from biodegradable ingredients and is packed in biodegradable materials – a great move for the environment and ultimately for us too.
This natural sunscreen contains no harsh chemicals, parabens, petroleum and PABA.
Some of the other listed ingredients are aloe vera, cucumber extract, vitamin E, jojoba oil, vitamin C, sea kelp extract, and sunflower oil. Can you guess if this combo is great for fishermen with sensitive skin? You guessed right! The answer is YES!
TerraSport uses transparent and non-whitening zinc oxide, though you may notice a slight white cast after application.
Although it didn’t happen to me, some reviews suggested the sunscreen can split (when the oils and zinc separate). This is obviously less than ideal but can be easily overcome. Simply give the tube a good shake and massage it a bit to make sure all the ingredients are properly blended. This should make application a walk in the park.
- Hydrating ingredients
- 80-minute water resistance
- Thick formula
- White cast
Hopefully this guide has helped you choose a great sunscreen and given you enough information to make an informed decision about the next sunscreen you buy.
SimplySunSafe recommends BADGER SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen as the best sunscreen for fishing. Having said that, all five sunscreens listed offer great protection. They have the features a fisherman needs, so simply choose the one that sounds like it best suits you! If possible, try a few before you decide which the best as everyone has different needs when it comes to sun protection.
If you are an avid fisherman and have successfully used a sunscreen that worked like a charm but is not featured in this article, please comment and let me know what worked for you! I will do research and if it is as great as you say, then I might even add it to this guide!
Thank you for reading and happy fishing!