What A Veteran Female Gear Tester Wears to Stay Cool on Summer Runs
I’ve tried dozens of hot-weather tops, shorts, glasses, and hats over the years. Here are my favorites.
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In the heat of summer, having apparel that keeps me comfortable helps motivate me to get out the door. I can’t always head to the high country above my home in Boulder, Colorado to run in the cool mountain air and jump in alpine lakes. And since I’m somewhat lazy and work from home, I rarely rise to run before the day gets hot. As a result, most of my running is in-town, on neighborhood roads, busy multi-use paths, and foothills trails—some exposed to sun and heat, others in the shade of trees.
Over many years of testing I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, but I’m always testing something new. Here’s what I’m currently reaching for to stay cool and comfortable for my summer miles.
Check out more hot-weather gear in our Summer Gear Guide.
Rabbit Strappy Pocket Bra ($55)
The phone pocket on the backside of this bra means I don’t have to wear a waistbelt on training runs but I can still stop and snap pics of trail scenes or check emails. The bra’s strappy styling keeps me cool because there’s not too much material, and its nylon liner made of recycled coffee grounds naturally wards off odor (I swear), dries quickly, and feels slightly cooler than many synthetic bra materials.
Arc’Teryx Taema Tank ($60)
I’m a fan of running in tanks. The lack of fabric around my shoulders lets my arms swing free and my skin breathe. This one from Arc’teryx efficiently wicks sweat away from my body and dries quickly. It also drapes loosely around the midsection, which creates air flow and doesn’t stifle me. The material, which contains 80 percent recycled content, is soft against the skin—a fabric quality that usually feels extra wet when sweaty, but not here.
Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt ($49)
There are certain summer runs when I reach for a t-shirt instead of a tank , like when I’m picking up my son from camp or if I’m doing errands on the way home. The Capilene Cool Lightweight shirt is just that—cool and lightweight. It’s so thin and breathable that it feels barely there. It’s also uber-stretchy, which allows me to use the waistline hem to wipe sweat off my brow, or comfortably pull the sleeves up to turn it into an impromptu tank top. I also appreciate that the top Fair Trade Certified™ and made of 52 percent recycled polyester.
Patagonia Strider Pro Shorts ($79)
The 3.5-inch inseam of these shorts, combined with the lightweight shell material—made of polyester from 90 percent recycled ocean plastic with a touch of spandex for stretch— keep them feeling breezy on the run. A back zippered pocket securely holds a car or house key, and two pockets along the waistline stash gels, which makes them ideal for long road runs with drinking fountain stops. The wide, stretch-knit waistband lies flat and comfortably against my belly.
Lululemon Hotty Hot High-Rise Lined Short 4-Inch ($68)
The slightly longer cut of these shorts makes them versatile. I appreciate the length when I want more coverage on a run, hike, or when doing squats and lunges at the gym on the way home from a run. The shell fabric is lightweight and stretchy (though, not as light-feeling as the Patagonia shorts), and a mesh panel and tapered shape at the side of the leg aid in airflow. These shorts have a zippered pocket on the side, a hidden drop-down pocket on the interior back of the brief, and a wide waistband that lies flat on the front for comfort.
Smartwool Run Targeted Cushion Ankle Socks ($21)
What I really don’t want on hot-weather runs are socks that irritate me. These are built with a women’s-specific fit and never bunch or slip down beneath the backside of my shoes. They have thinner areas across the top of the foot and under the arch that breathe well, and light padding at the heel and ball of the foot. They don’t feel hot in summer temps, and are good for technical mountain trails or mellower ones.
Zeal Quandary Sunglasses ($159)
I rarely head out for a summer run without sunglasses. This lightweight pair from Zeal ride the balance between casual wear and performance. The lenses are nice and dark, cutting the glaring sun, and they’re polarized, which I feel helps protect my sensitive eyes. The frames are made of a lightweight plant-based resin and sit comfortably on my face.
Generic Trucker Hat
Like a lot of trail runners, I run in trucker hats, and have an ever-growing collection from vacations in various beach locales, gear company and ski resort giveaways, and the like. The best—and cheapest—trucker hats combine a lightweight, quick-dry frontside with an open nylon mesh backside, making them ideal for dunking in cold creeks mid-run and helps airflow overall. They also have terry cloth headbands built into them that wick sweat off my brow and keep it from running into my eyes. I also tend to opt for hats with bills that are black or dark-colored on the underside, which helps keep my eyes from fatiguing.