I like working outdoors, but overheat easily, so every summer I try something new to make the heat more bearable. While there are plenty of tricks to staying cool, in this article I’m going to talk about some of the clothes I currently wear or have worn in the past that make it easier to stay comfortable.
Under Armour Elevated Heather Polo
Two years ago I bought “high vis” yellow golf polo shirts from Under Armour and we liked them, because the fabric didn’t stick like cotton does when we sweat. They are designed to be stretchy for golfers and that was perfect for us.
The downside was that the shirt really picked up stains and we always looked dirty even freshly washed.
Last summer I bought the Elevated Heather Polo in purple. It’s made from soft anti-snag fabric, with “4 way stretch fabrication” and is rated at 30 UPF (for sun protection). The 5.5-ounce polyester/elastane isn’t super light-weight but it isn’t heavy either. It never feels sticky and is comfortable to wear even at 96 degrees sheathing a roof.
After wearing the shirt nearly every day last summer the color faded but it shows little in the way of wear. The shirts sell for $65. The guys at the lumberyard make fun of us for working in expensive shirts, but when we explain how much more comfortable they are than cheap ones they understand. If I have to work in the heat and dust and then I need to wear something that isn’t uncomfortable when I sweat. I highly recommend this shirt. Under Armour says these shirts are out of stock but they can still be found online and at sporting goods stores.
Duluth Trading Armachillo Cooling Short Sleeve Shirt
Back in 2005 I wore a nylon short sleeve Duluth shirt and really liked it. This year when I saw the Armachillo shirts I asked Duluth to send me one to try out.
The Armachillo shirt is made of quick-drying light-weight fabric “impregnated with microscopic jade to give you a cooler feeling next to your skin.” This shirt is designed to wick moisture, and also stretches. The color I got is 60% polyester 33% nylon 7%spandex. The shirt has two vents in the back and armpit gussets to prevent binding. The collar has hidden buttons to keep it in place but I leave it unbuttoned because I like to pull up my collar to keep the sun off my neck.
The left chest pocket has a pencil slot that I use all the time for a pencil or safety glasses when I am not wearing them. The right hand pocket is large enough for my smartphone but I don’t use it for that since the phone is large and heavy.
I was a little skeptical about this shirt at first, but having worn it for a while can wholeheartedly recommend it. It is so light it feels like it is barely there. I’m not sure the fabric lowers my temperature but it feels cool to the touch when I am in the shade.
The venting helps keep me comfortable and the armpit gusset keeps me from binding when I reach overhead. The shirt is cut slightly tighter than the other Duluth shirts, but that’s good. I find they can be too large and “blousy”. I really can’t say enough to recommend this shirt. COO: China. Price: normally about $70 but less now because Duluth is doing an end-of-season closeout sale.
As a side note, Duluth sent me the Armachillo Cooling Boxer Briefs. I normally wear Under Armour boxer briefs and so comparing them, the Armachillo are definitely cooler to the touch. I told my wife it feels like there is a slight breeze in my pants, and now I’m getting teased.
F.O.M Short Sleeve Pattern Hemp Shirt
Duluth sent this shirt too because I wanted to compare it to the Armachillo. Its 5.3-ounce fabric is 55% hemp and 45% organic cotton. According to Duluth hemp is 3 times stronger than cotton, breathable and provides a texture akin to that of linen.
The shirt features Duluth’s Freedom of Movement armpit gussets, a button down collar, pencil sleeve in the front left pocket and cell phone on the right. There are no vents on the back but pleats to allow for some movement. This shirt is the “tradesman fit” so it is more generous in the midsection.
I don’t care for how this shirt feels in the heat. It was comfortable at first, but after repeated cycles of sweating and drying, the dust and sweat made the shirt feel sticky. I wouldn’t wear this shirt for working outdoors but for other things it’s fine. It looks good and I like wearing it after hours—to the movies, out to dinner, traveling, and the like. COO: China. Price $50.
DuluthFlex Dry on the Fly Pants
Last summer I bought a pair of Dry on the Fly Pants. These light-weight nylon pants have cargo pockets, an elastic waist, and a crotch gusset. They are UPF 50 for sun protection. I got them because they are a blend of 97% nylon 3% Spandex, and I like pants that flex. I also wanted something to wear in the heat other than shorts because the job we were doing was in an area where the safety inspector might show up.
I wore the Dry on the Fly Pants spring, summer, and into the fall. Only the hottest days did I wear shorts. After wearing them all summer they’re still in good shape. I’ve formed foundations and gotten concrete on them and they’re still going strong. These are great pants if you have to work in the heat.
The pants are so comfortable I bought a pair for non-work activities such as hiking and weekend photography trips. COO: Vietnam. Price: $75.
DuluthFlex Dry on the Fly Shorts
Duluth sent some shorts made from the same fabric as their Dry on the Fly Pants. Lightweight and stretchy, they are comfortable in the heat. My coworker and I have the same nail bags and he really sweats in the cotton cargo shorts he wears under them. I don’t notice sweating nearly as much in the Dry on the Fly Shorts, which I greatly prefer to the nylon shorts I used to get from REI. The same fabric is used in several types of Duluth shorts, including cargo shorts. I have the 9-inch shorts without cargo pockets and they end at my knee (I’m 5’7”). COO: Vietnam. Price: $55.