Field Tested: Women’s Tropical Essentials
Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
This spring I set off for an adventure vacation in the Cayman Islands. Here's some of the best gear I tested.
Carve Designs Maui Bikini Top and Rincon Rouched Bottom: The top offers an adjustable halter around the neck and chest. The bottom has bow ties on the sides; a cute touch that doesn’t take away from the sophistication of the suit. Both top and bottom have UPF 50+ sun protection. $44, $38; carvedesigns.com
Patagonia 3/4-Sleeve Sun Shelter Shirt Top: A loose cut, wrinkle-resistant fabric, and a flattering V-neck make this the most comfortable top I tested. Made of recycled polyester and nylon, it’s an eco-minded cover-up with a UPF of 40. I pulled this on over my bikini during breaks from the water in Cayman, and it stayed dry. I even wore it over my swim gear to dinner one night. $59; patagonia.com
Carve Designs Pipeline Short: Part of my Cayman uniform. I wore it on the beach and around the island. This boardshort is long and loose and sits at the hip, with a lace-up drawstring tie. It has piping design along the sides of the legs and the bottom edge, creating a subtle break in the monochromatic look. The fabric is UPF 50+. $54; carvedesigns.com
Patagonia Splendor Dress: A lovely tank dress that goes to mid-calf. Pull it on when you want low-key glamour. The top has a flattering slim fit, and the skirt billows beautifully in the breeze. It’s made of organic cotton and jersey. $89; patagonia.com
OluKai Kia'i: These flips are the official footwear of the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association, so you know they’re good. You barely need other footwear on-island with these. You can dress them up and dress them down. They’ve got a non-slip, anatomical footbed that works well for high arches, a water-resistant strap, and sturdy rubber outsole. $70; olukai.com
KEEN A86 TR: A sleek, light shoe that works for rocky island trails. $90; keenfootwear.com
ASICS Favorite Long Sleeve: Bring this if you need a running top that can double as a cycling top. The long sleeves and UPF 50+ will shield your skin from the harsh sun, and the mesh fabric is highly breathable and dries quickly. $45; asicsamerica.com
Pearl Izumi Syncro Float IV: A road-running shoe that’s fairly lightweight for all the cushioning in the sole. You can make it multi-purpose, too. I've used it for running, biking around town, and more in-depth cycling. You won’t notice the plush internal lining as you run or ride, but your feet will be grateful for the sweet padding. $110; pearlizumi.com
Coppertone Sport: Sunscreen is a must. Being out in the tropical sun for just ten minutes is enough to cause sunburn, so be generous with your applications. Coppertone Sport goes up to SPF 100+, and it’s waterproof and sweatproof. You can get it in lotion or spray form. Bonus: it contains antioxidants, which are good for the health of your skin. $9.99; coppertone.com