Best Women's Gear for an Active Lunch Break

Jul 26, 2010
Outside Magazine

"In summer, the song sings itself," William Carlos Williams once wrote. And it's true. It's that rarified time of year when the days are longer, the weather balmier, and the great outdoors begging to be hiked, rafted, and biked. 

But if you're like me, with a nine-to-fiver, you've probably found you're spending most of summer boxed up in a cubicle. This presents a challenge to the outdoorsy career woman. How does one capitalize on arguably the most fun season without shirking work duties?

The answer I found, was right in front of me. Lunch breaks.  Once I'd thought of it, it seemed like a no brainer. But then the greater question arose, why hadn't I already been using my lunch break? 

American lunch breaks have been going extinct. A study by KFC Corp. found that 60 percent of workers in corporate America actually considered the lunch hour "the biggest myth of office life". And women trying to prove themselves and break the glass ceiling? Fuhgeddaboutit. They were even less likely to take any sort of break at all.

And yet, the more I researched, the more advantages I found in taking a breather before plunging into the afternoon work haul. Over 100 studies show that taking a mid-day break increases work productivity. And accomplishing more means we're twice as likely to impress the boss. Others have been thinking the same thing. There's an initiative called "Take Back Your Lunch" by a company called the Energy Project that gathers workers across the country to meet up every Wednesday to socialize and recharge.

So reclaim your lunch. Keep a gym bag in your trunk, or in your office, and when noon rolls around, put down the TPS reports, and hit the hills.

Below, my top summer gear picks for taking advantage of your lunch breaks.

Groove pantlululemon Groove Pants R

Talk about versatility. I crewed and photographed the 135-mile Badwater Ultra Marathon in these sleek all-purpose, low impact pants, and even in sweltering 127 degree heat  I was comfortable, and my motion unrestricted. In the same week, I fit right in at the office barbecue, attended a yoga class and hiked Mount Wheeler, the tallest mountain in New Mexico. Yep, all wearing these. ($98;

Patagonia teePatagonia Merino 2 T-Shirt 

    The Merino 2 is dressy enough for the office but packs enough breathability and comfort for longer hikes. The long fit and raglan sleeves are stylish and the deep v neck is complimentary on any body type. One note: watch out for velcro, which I quickly found was superfine Merino wool's arch enemy. But the light feel and design more than made up for it. Recyclable through Patagonia's  Common Thread program. ($46;

    Nau lightbeam jacketNau Lightbeam Jacket 

    The Lightbeam is  the James Bond of shells. With it's modern design, slim silhouette and puckered recycled polyester material, it's a soft shell posing undercover as a haute jacket. I found the Lightbeam ideal for dressing up any work outfit while also staying cozy outdoors in changing weather. Another bonus: the stashable hood which kept me dry on drizzly jogs. The ultimate versatile jacket for looking good in any kind of weather. ($175;

    Spy KaoriSpy Kaori Sunglasses

    The Kaoris boast the sophistication of city girl stunners but with enough durable features to give them mountain girl functionality.  I ran the Smartwool Mountain Madness Half Marathon wearing the Kaoris and had zero  problems with fogging or slipping.  The hand crafted lenses, monel alloy frames and 100 UV protection quickly made these my summer go-to shades. ($120;

    --Shauna Sweeney

    Filed To: Gear

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