Patagonia Capilene 1 T-shirt
Capilene 1 T-shirt
Gear Guy

Are cotton clothes really a no-no for hiking in hot weather?

What clothing do you recommend for hiking in hot weather? From time to time I've heard that light cotton or hemp clothes are, in fact, the coolest choice for hiking in high temperatures. Ted Great Falls, Montana

Patagonia Capilene 1 T-shirt

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Here’s a thought: Pack a lightweight umbrella. GoLite ( makes a nice light one called the GoLite Dome, which sells for $25 and weighs just eight ounces. It’s like carrying around your own shady patch!

Patagonia Capilene 1 T-shirt

Patagonia Capilene 1 T-shirt Capilene 1 T-shirt

Otherwise, I think you’re on the right track looking for loose cotton clothing. I don’t think there’s anything magic here; good-quality cotton tees such as L.L. Bean’s Carefree T-shirt ($12; would work fine. I know, I know—cotton doesn’t belong in the outdoors. But it’s very cool and comfortable in hot weather. Just be sure you have a dry change in case you sweat through and the weather cools. I also like Patagonia’s Capilene 1 T-shirt ($36; in hot weather. It’s super-light, wicks and dries well, and works as a base layer for chilly weather.

A good source for hot-weather clothing is the site. It carries lightweight, high-SPF items such as the Safari Shirt ($80) or Cargo Pants ($80). I also like Ex-Officio’s clothes in hot weather, such as its Reef Runner shirt ($60;

I haven’t heard that hemp clothing offers any particular advantage, but it very well might. Try and take a look at the Hemp Button Down Shirt ($68).

Keep cool!

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