Keeping Cool By Staying Dry

If you’re going to be out and about in warm weather, wearing lightweight clothing is just one of the things you can do to stay cool. Taking steps to keep yourself cool during the hot summer months is essential to preventing heat exhaustion or, even more serious, heat stroke.

Here are some things to consider when combating summer heat:

  • Fabrics:Choose clothing made from fabrics like woven nylon (not knit) that wick away sweat well.
  • Light colors: White and light-colored shirts keep you much cooler than dark colors because they reflect, rather than absorb, heat.
  • Loose clothing: Avoid wearing skintight clothing in the heat. Instead, opt for clothes that provide good airflow and air permeability.
  • Neck coolers: These bandanas have crystals inside them that absorb water. As the water evaporates, it keeps your neck cool.

Staying Dry with Special Fabrics

When dressing for a hot day, the best clothes to wear are those made from fabrics that actively keep sweat away from your body and, therefore, keep you cool and dry. In general, these types of fabrics are synthetic, rather than natural.

For example, cotton clothes that contain no synthetics are poor choices for hot weather clothing. Along with taking up to five times longer to dry than some synthetics, cotton can also absorb more than four times its weight in water. Wet clothing sticks to your skin and actually hinders the evaporation process that keeps the body cool.

You should also be careful of some “ultra-light” clothing, as this can prove less durable than slightly heavier material. Keep in mind that lightweight clothing is usually only worthwhile for certain athletes who need to keep their weight to an absolute minimum.

Some reliable clothing brands for keeping you cool and staying dry include MontBell and Patagonia, although Patagonia can be fairly expensive. You can sometimes find special discounts, however, if you check their Web site, outlet stores or Sierra Trading Post. Here are some additional brands that make their clothes with great fabrics for staying cool and dry:

  • Champion Double Dry Women’s Shirts offers tops in various styles ranging from $11 to $20.
  • For men, L.L. Bean has a CoolMax line with T-shirts for $20 and $25.
  • New Balance makes tops for men that range in price from about $12 to $35.

The Rail Rider Adventure Shirt and the Malden Mills Power Dry are other branded products that can also keep you cool, although these don’t tend to keep you as cool as the above mention products.

Some shorts also have quick-drying features and ultra light cloth, such as Brooks Revelation Pacer Shorts for women ranging from $23.95 to $31.35. Patagonia offers Go II Shorts, also for women, for around $50. Legs tend not to sweat as much as the torso, however, so it’s less important to find special materials for them.

Hot Weather Footwear

Most people know that we lose heat through our heads, which is why our mothers always told us to wear a hat in winter. But did you know you actually lose heat through the soles of your feet, too? That’s why in warm weather being barefoot feels so great!

When wearing shoes on a hot day, make sure they’re breathable and allow cool air to pass through them. You also want to make sure your feet stay dry to help the evaporation process, which naturally cools the skin.

If you’re hiking or undergoing another activity that requires mid- to heavyweight boots on a warm day, wear socks that will help wick away sweat. Merino wool absorbs lots of perspiration, keeping your feet and boots dry. If that’s too warm, then choose socks made of special synthetic materials to keep your feet cool.

Keeping Cool in Other Ways

Did you know cooling off your wrists actually cools off the entire body? Putting some ice wrapped in cloth against your wrist can provide almost immediate relief.

Another more obvious tip for staying cool involves staying out of direct sunlight whenever possible. The shade always feels cooler than sunnier areas. Along the same lines, wear a wide-brimmed hat to keep direct sunlight off of you when you can’t avoid the sun completely.