Anne Stein, M.S.
Sports & Fitness Journalist/Author
It’s a beautiful Sunday morning and you can’t wait to do an easy, three-mile run. Trouble is, you’ve overslept, temps are approaching the 80s, and the humidity’s making the air as thick as a blanket.
Instead of driving to an air-conditioned gym – or skipping your workout completely for an iced latté down the street – get your summer gear ready now so you can spend those precious warm days outdoors, no matter how hot it is.
Here are Moji’s basic rules for warm-weather workout gear:
Rule #1: No cotton
It soaks up moisture and sits on your skin like a wet rag, not allowing sweat to evaporate and cool you off. Wear high-tech (synthetic) fabrics that wick away sweat. There are dozens of name brands including CoolMax, PowerDry, DryCore and Dri-Fit and they’re worth the expense.
One warning: Synthetics can get a bit smelly; wash your stuff promptly in hot water, rinse right after using, or at least hang gear up to dry before tossing it in the dirty clothes bin. There are also detergents made specifically to clean and de-stink synthetic sports gear.
Rule #2: Wear light-colored clothes
Lighter clothes reflect rather than absorb the sun’s rays.
Rule #3: Look for clothing details
Details like mesh, UV-protective fabrics, and anti-microbial finishes will provide breathability, sun protection, and better hygene.
Rule #4: Avoid the chafe
Test your clothing on a short walk/run/hike before going long. If the seams chafe, you’re going to be awfully uncomfortable. Look for flat-constructed seams or fewer seams to avoid the issue. To avoid irritation, apply Body Glide or other skin lubricants on any areas where you’ll be sweating and clothes will be rubbing against your skin.
Rule #5: Your feet sweat too
Avoid all-cotton socks. Sweat-wicking blends will keep your feet cooler and prevent blisters.
Rule #6: Sunglasses aren’t just for looking cool
They protect against serious, long-term eye damage due to exposure to UVA and UVB rays. Cheap glasses tend to fog up; polarized glasses offer much better contrast. Get glasses labeled as 100 percent UVA/UVB protective.
Rule #7: Put on the block
Sunscreen protects your skin from painful burns, premature aging, and the risk of skin cancer. Avoid oil-based sunscreens because they impede sweating, and sweat evaporates and keeps you cool.
Here’s a basic hot-weather gear list for walkers, runners, and cyclists:
- Fanny pack/water bottle carrier. Fanny packs can also carry food, keys, phone.
- Hat. Wide-brimmed hats protect your face and neck from the sun. Add a neck-drape to avoid redneck. Some hats are made with UV-protective fabric.
- Neck coolers. A simple bandanna will offer some protection from the sun; higher-tech bandannas come with cooling crystals, or just soak your own in cold water for a cool-down.
- Wicking bra tops for women, wicking shirts for men and women.
- Wicking shorts that are loose-fitting with flat seams to avoid chafing, or loose-fitting, lightweight synthetic-blend pants with pockets for storage.
- Wicking bra tops for women, wicking shirts and shorts made of lightweight, stretchy fabrics with mesh.
- Light colored, looser clothes.
- Fuel belt, fanny pack, or some type of water/fuel carrier.
- Body Glide to avoid chafing.
- Hat. A baseball-style runner’s hat that’s lightweight and light-colored with mesh will ward off the sun’s rays, protect your head and face and let air in. Some have headbands to catch sweat.
- Synthetic jersey and shorts; mesh sides on jersey will aid cooling and sweat evaporation. Wear zip-down jerseys for more air flow.
- Synthetic socks, mesh shoes if possible; pour water on head (through helmet) and neck to keep cool.
- Carry plenty of water and sports drink. Freeze bottles the night before.