Our Favorite Summer Travel Clothing
Forget dorky sun hats and zip-off pants. These versatile pieces will keep you looking great and your carry-on light—no matter the adventure.
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For me, long days and warm temperatures make summers synonymous with weekends on the road. My wife Sarah and I spend so much time living out of our suitcases that we’ve gotten packing down to a science: last year, we fit everything we needed for two weeks in Belgium into a single carry-on. To keep our packing routine quick and our luggage light, we’ve developed a travel wardrobe of versatile, go-to garb that we can toss into our bags and head out the door. These functional, fashionable pieces keep us covered whether we’re strolling a European city or paddling Colorado whitewater. Here are our must-have staples for summer getaways.
His: Kit and Ace City Tech Short Men’s Sleeve Shirt ($98)
I’ve worn this button down just about everywhere, from a nice dinner in New York City to a day of paddling on Arkansas’ Lake Ouachita. It dresses up nicely, and stays plenty cool and comfortable thanks to a cotton-polyester blend and supple Micro Pique Stretch fabric, whether you’re belly up at a bar or biking around the city. It also comes with hidden reflective hits under the cuff, great for safely navigating new roads at night.
His: Lululemon Commission Short Chino Slim ($88)
I adore these shorts for their roomy design, which incorporates four-way stretch into a gusseted crotch—a godsend if you spend a lot of time crammed into an airplane seat. Better yet, they’re breathable enough to wear straight off the plane and onto the trails, while the slim cut and classy styling keep me from looking like a tourist at après-hike margaritas.
Hers: Patagonia Women’s Fleetwith Romper ($119)
This two-for-one piece is Sarah’s go-to travel outfit for it’s recycled polyester-spandex blend that resists wrinkles, dries quickly, and has loads of stretch. Plus, it’s treated with Durable Water Repellent (DWR), for some built-in insurance if you find yourself riding through the streets of Crested Butte when a late afternoon monsoon hits. It’s also trendy enough for a hip bar and a favorite of female Outside staffers.
His: Chaco Men’s Davis Lace ($90)
A canvas upper keeps these shoes airy enough for warm weather, but it’s the Luvseat footbed that makes them a must-pack item. Supremely comfortable and durable, it cushions my foot for a long day of walking better than similar styles or flimsy flip flops. They also dress up easily for a bar hop or nice restaurant, cutting your shoe quota in half.
Hers: Sorel Women’s Ella Slip On Shoe ($90)
Slip-ons make airport security lines a breeze, and because these incorporate features of hardier footwear from the longtime Canadian bootmaker Sorel, you can wear them straight off the plane and onto the streets. A super soft yet sturdy EVA footbed and molded rubber sole make for a supremely cushy day of roaming foreign cities, while a waterproof leather upper keeps the elements at bay.
His: Zeal Boone Sunglasses ($149)
I’ve tested a lot of shades throughout the years, and these might be my all-time favorite. They’re particularly great for travel—weighing in at less than an ounce, you’ll barely notice them on your face or in your suitcase. The Z-Resin Bioplastic frame is injected with a material called Proflex, which makes these the most bendable I’ve used, able to withstand being tossed haphazardly into my backpack.
Hers: Smith Lowdown 2 ($169)
Not only does Sarah love these frames for their style, but because they’re perfect for one of her favorite summer activities: fly fishing. The Chroma-pop lens technology increases clarity and improves color, while anti-reflective and hydrophobic lens coatings keep her vision sharp whether she’s in, on, or next to the water.
His: Columbia Outdry EX Reversible Jacket ($150)
The Outdry series is the best rain jacket I’ve tested for both waterproof and breathability, but the styling leans toward technical. This reversible option is more practical for vacations that blend urban and backcountry adventures, transforming from a fully waterproof shell to a more stylish (but still water resistant) outer layer with a quick turn inside out.
Hers: REI Co-Op Skyline Ridge Parka ($117)
Sarah’s favorite summer jacket features a cinched waist and slim fit that resembles more of a traditional trench coat, without skimping on technical features. A waterproof, breathable, laminate shell with a wind rating for gusts up to 60 miles per hour will stand up to an afternoon hike, while the classic look makes it ready for a night on the town.
His: Patagonia Baggies ($55)
You can get away with packing swim trunks as your only pair of shorts for your entire holiday thanks to these classic all-arounders. The 100-percent recycled, quick-drying nylon construction and DWR finish ensures that they perform as well on land as they do in water without adding weight to your bag. Plus, they’re practically indestructible: mine have been a suitcase staple for almost a decade.
Hers: Prana Lahari Halter Bikini Top ($38) and Innix Moderate Coverage Bikini Bottom ($33)
Water is a common element in our summer travel, and this bikini transfers easily from lounging on the beach to riding waves. The stylish cut and moderate coverage look fashionable and won’t slip during more active pursuits.