Best travel clothing to beat the heat

Aug 5, 2022

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With record high temperatures across the U.S. and Europe, travelers are trying to find the best ways to beat the heat. And here at TPG we know the clothes you wear are important when it comes to keeping you cool — both mentally and physically — in the face of stifling temperatures, airport meltdowns and other challenges this summer.

Experts recommend wearing loose-fitting, light-colored clothes and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your skin from the sun. For packing and style, it’s also good to bring outfits that are versatile — such as those that could be worn both on the beach and later in a restaurant — and are easy to clean.

Keeping your wardrobe to a minimum can help you reduce checked bags. It might even allow you to travel with just a carry-on — an important strategy in this summer of luggage chaos.

Here are the summer travel clothes TPG staffers and frequent travelers recommend for optimal fit, versatility and the ability to keep you cool.

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In This Post

Shirts, skirts and pants

The mainstays of a travel wardrobe — including durable shirts, skirts and pants — can be challenging to find for summertime. You want something that is light and cool but also sturdy enough to handle the rigors of travel. For instance, clothes that can serve as a cover-up at a pool bar might not be appropriate (or warm enough) for dining in an excessively air-conditioned restaurant at the hotel. Here are some recommendations that can keep you cool and serve multiple purposes for summer travel.

Skirt: Ripskirt Hawaii Quick Wrap Cover-up

skirt from Amazon
RipSkirt Hawaii cover-up. (Screenshot from Amazon.com)

This multi-purpose skirt gets good reviews for being both presentable and practical, making it easy to put on for a quick transition from the pool into the hotel restaurant. The skirt is lightweight but not so delicate that it can’t handle repeated use on trips. It is easily wearable and breathable to keep you cool for summer city tours and walks along the beach.

Pants for men: Black Diamond Men’s Alpine Pant

Pants from Amazon
Black Diamond Alpine Pant. (Screenshot from Amazon.com)

These lightweight pants were designed for hiking, but they look nice enough to serve a second purpose as a dinner outfit. I’ve enjoyed their comfort, breathability and stretchability which make them good both for sitting on long flights and for long walks around town. As a bonus, the pants have light waterproofing to keep you dry in a summer drizzle or if you, say, spill something on them at a bar.

Shorts for men: DUER Men’s No Sweat Short

Shorts from Amazon
Mens DUER No Sweat Short. (Screenshot from Amazon.com)

If you want to wear something trendier than just basketball shorts to keep cool when traveling, try DUER Men’s No Sweat Short. These shorts may not completely eliminate sweat, but the Tencel lining combined with the cotton-spandex blend wicks away moisture and adds to their breathability. The spandex makes the shorts flexible for climbing trails or city steps, and they even have security flaps in the pockets to help foil pickpocketers that may hang around tourist sites.

Women’s pants: LNX Women’s Linen Pants

Pants from Amazon
LNX Women’s Linen Pants. (Screenshot from Amazon.com)

Linen pants have long been a choice for cooler summer wear, but they have a reputation for wrinkling in suitcases. LNX offers an affordable option for casual linen pants that are versatile enough for country tours and can be dressed up for dining out at night. The cotton-linen blend tends to wrinkle less. Everlane linen pants are another option that has served TPG photo editor Emilia Wronski well. “I’ve taken mine traveling several times since purchasing in April and the wrinkles mellow out pretty quickly,” she says.

Shirts: Vapor Apparel Women’s Sun Protection Hoodie

hoodie from Amazon
Vapor Apparel Women’s Sun Protection Hoodie. (Screenshot from Amazon.com)

While wearing a long-sleeved hoodie in the heat of a summer day might seem counterintuitive, keeping your skin shielded from the sun, particularly if you’re fair-skinned, can keep you cooler and prevent devastating sunburns. As a bonus, long-sleeved shirts can help protect you from voracious bugs on early summer mornings or evenings.

Vapor Apparel’s Sun Protection hoodie is a very lightweight and breathable option for summer travels; the thin fabric packs down easily in bags but doesn’t look wrinkled upon wearing. RipSkirt also makes popular lightweight summer long-sleeved shirts for sun protection.

Underclothes

Underwear for men:  ExOfficio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs

underwear from Amazon
ExOfficio Boxer Briefs. (Screenshot from Amazon.com)

I’ve sworn by these lightweight moisture-wicking briefs as a hot weather choice for years. Although I haven’t gone to the ExOfficio advertised extreme claim that you “only need two pairs to travel for weeks,” I have found these comfortable to wear on hot days, whether walking around a city or hiking into the mountains. They’re easy to wash in a hotel sink, quick drying for repeat usage and durable for repeat trips.

Underwear for women: ExOfficio also has a line of women’s underwear and bras, while Patagonia Barely bras and underwear garner high reviews from TPG’s Katie Genter. “They dry quick, don’t smell and feel fine in the heat and humidity,” she says.

Hats

Widebrim sun hat: Leotruny super wide brim sun hat

hat from Amazon
Leotruny Sun Hat. (Screenshot from Amazon.com)

One of the best ways to beat the heat (or at least protect yourself from it) is to wear a proper head cover. Experts recommend something that has a wide brim to protect your face and neck from the blazing rays of the sun. Leotruny makes both men’s and women’s styles of wide-brimmed bucket hats; they are foldable and packable but still provide great coverage from the sun when lounging at the beach or going on a walking tour.

Another similar sunhat option is sold by Baggu. “I recently purchased a packable hat from Baggu for a trip to wine country,” TPG’s Claire Loyet says. “It was great because it folds up small enough to fit in a purse/tote/backpack.”

Footwear

Walking shoes: Hoka Bondi 7

sneakers from Amazon
Hoka Bondi 7 shoes. (Screenshot from Amazon.com)

I’ve long been a fan of Hoka’s extra-cushioned shoes for running, hiking and just walking around town. They’re a godsend for anyone like myself with chronic knee problems. The Bondi 7 shoes have mesh tops for breathability and great padding as well as support to reduce impact and provide stability on long walks on European cobblestone streets. The black-colored Bondis are subtle enough to wear to a restaurant or an evening out, although you’re probably not going to win any fashion awards with them.

Allbirds shoes are a popular pick among TPG staffers, earning high marks for being fashionable, lightweight, and versatile enough to wear for both fitness and style purposes.

Sandals: Birkenstock EVA Sandals

Birkenstocks from Amazon
Birkenstock EVA Sandals. (Screenshot from Amazon.com)

These waterproof Birkenstocks check all the boxes of comfort, versatility and style for summer travels. A cushioned footbed keeps your feet and joints happy, while the sole is solid enough to survive extended walking tours. The waterproof functionality makes them a good choice for pool and beach use. They’re more substantial than flip-flops but just as easy to slide on and off.

Note that Americans have a notorious reputation for wearing Birkenstocks with socks in Europe, so if you’re going to partake in that trend, be prepared for people to laugh at you.

Related: What are the best travel shoes?

Feature photo by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images.

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