Heat and humidity presents some serious solutioning when it comes to travel. You want to find apparel that doesn’t add more discomfort to the already uncomfortable conditions of summer, but doesn’t leave you wearing nothing but a mesh tank top and short shorts—though if that’s your thing, do it! The rest of us can look at products that employ a host of new fabrics, cuts, and tech aimed to keep the hot-weather traveler comfortable (and fashionable). Here are some of the best.
1. Nau Flaxible Sleeveless Dress, $150; 2. Jungmaven Hemp Short-Sleeved Pocket Tee, $110; 3. Westcomb Delta Crew, $70; 4. Vivo Barefoot Ultra 3, $75; 5. Howler Brothers Chandler Old School Board Shorts, $59; 6. Ibex W2 Racerback Tank, $65; 7. Fjallraven Barents Pro Shorts, $125.
Top photo by Heather Goodman/Shutterstock
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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Nau Flaxible Sleeveless Dress
Whether they admit it or not, every man envies the simple solution of a dress, and Nau's new Flexible Sleeveless shows why. It uses a mix of linen and Tencel, a moisture-wicking fabric produced from tree pulp to create a silky texture that delivers fantastic drape. The slub weaves offers a stand-out visual texture, and it also lets the dress breathe and ward off wrinkles. A hidden placket is secured by eight buttons, with two chest and two hands pockets—enough storage to leave the purse behind.
Photo courtesy of Nau
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Jungmaven Hemp Short-Sleeved Pocket Tee
By most standards, this is one of the more expensive shirts on the market. But Jungmaven's yarn-died hemp delivers—the shirt offers UV protection, legit breathability, and dries quickly—and any moisture that does appear is disguised by the stripes. Machine-wash it in cold water, and it'll far out-last most cotton shirts. And as the fastest-growing plant on the planet, hemp also helps reverse climate change; for every ton grown, 1.63 tons of CO2 is absorbed.
Photo courtesy of Jungmaven
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Westcomb Delta Crew
For active pursuits in hot climate, the Delta Crew operates almost like your own personal air conditioning. The two-textured shirt uses Polartec's Delta fabric on its upper half, a honeycomb weave that wicks sweat away from the body and then retains just enough moisture to keep you running cool, along with UPF protection and a close-to-cotton touch. The lower sections, meanwhile, employs Westcomb's Deltapeak fabric, a weave that's lightweight, stretchy, and almost mesh-like—without making you look like you're wearing a fishing net.
Photo courtesy of Westcomb
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Vivo Barefoot Ultra 3
Taking its lead from the barefoot running craze of old, the Ultra 3's hexagon EVA mesh structure lets your feet breathe and transition seamlessly from dry to wet, with a new hex grip sole forclimbing shoe-like stickiness on slick surfaces. It weighs a modest 6.7 ounces, and comes with a simple toggle-lace closure.
Photo courtesy of Vivo Barefoot
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Howler Brothers Chandler Old School Board Shorts
This bathing suit shows that there's little value in messing with a classic. The retro-inspired board shorts drop down to a perfect seven-inch inseam, with a contoured waist line, Velcro fly, and a simple drawstring closure for a comfortable fit. The micro-poly fabric dries quickly, and you also get a back pocket with a drainage grommet, a funky small pocket with a snap closure, and one of Howler Brothers' signature retro tropical patches.
Photo courtesy of Howler Brothers
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Ibex W2 Racerback Tank
Wool in the summertime makes sense—if it's fine-woven merino wool. The W2 is made of high-quality 18.5-micron (read: thin) "weightless wool" merino that delivers on all the promises of the all-natural fabric. It wicks sweat, won't stink after continuous uses, and keeps you cool even when soaked through, with a touch of nylon at the core of the merino fibers to provide durability and a svelte fit. Flat-lock seams reduce chaffing when wearing a pack, and contrasting colors add a bit of sophistication, something that's lacking in most athletic apparel.
Photo courtesy of Ibex
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Fjallraven Barents Pro Shorts
Fjallraven has dubbed the Barents "trekking shorts"—and no doubt the wind- and water-resistant G-1000 fabric will stand up against the main travails of the backcountry, in part thanks to the double-layering over the rear for added durability. But these shorts are killer in just about any scenario, especially if your everyday carry is voluminous. You get two hand pockets, a large map pocket with a flap and a mobile pocket on the right leg, plus two leg pockets and an ax pocket on the left. Yes…that's right. An ax pocket. Women? Consider the Nikka ($125). Instead of an ax pocket, you get a bit of stretch in the fabric, with extra fabric in the crotch, pack-compatible zippered hand pockets, a large flap pocket on the right with an inner mesh pocket, and a cell-friendly pocket on the left leg.
Photo courtesy of Fjallraven