For most runners, summer is the season for long runs and goal races. In many places, it’s also the season of sweltering temperatures, high humidity levels, and dangerous ultraviolet light levels. For many, after a winter of battling the cold and a spring of pleasant running temperatures, the onset of summer is often a hard reality to deal with.
Regardless of where you live and train, or how well you adapt to the heat, the right gear is essential for safety and comfort when temperatures start to rise. Being properly outfitted — from head to toe — can help you get through your run when things get hot. While getting out for a run before temperatures rise to scorching or after things have cooled down for the day is always a good choice, if you need to run in the heat, it’s important to be prepared for it.
Running in the heat doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, but it does require careful body management and proper hydration and fueling. Many techniques have been developed by runners to cope with the heat, including putting ice in neck gaiters, such as the Buff CoolNet UV Half Neckwear, moistening shirts and hats whenever possible, and keeping the sun off of the skin, especially your face and head. Proper sunscreen, such as Zealios Reef-Safe Sun Barrier SPF 50 Sunscreen, is also a critical piece of the sun protection puzzle.
This guide was created for you by our team of experienced trail runners, ultrarunners, and road runners. Our team wore everything from long-sleeve shirts for sun protection to tank tops, bucket hats to technical running hats, and shorts of every length. They also used neck gaiters, various types of sunscreen, and a huge variety of sunglasses to keep themselves protected from the sun.
After thorough testing, we consolidated our favorites into the recommendations here. We did our best to find clothing and pieces of gear that will keep you cool, protect you from the sun, prevent chafing, and help you stay safe in sweltering temperatures so that you can run with confidence throughout the hot summer months.
Please note that in the running world product models are routinely discontinued, while new ones frequently come to market. At the same time, we here at iRunFar often keep using our top picks in our daily running… they’re our top picks, after all! Sometimes that continued use results in uncovering product failures. With all this – product discontinuations, product introductions, and product failures – in mind, we routinely update our buyer’s guides based on past and ongoing testing as well as research by our authors and editorial team. While these updates can appear to be us pushing the newest product, it’s anything but that. When we update any buyer’s guide, most of the products are likely to remain the same. That matches our goal: to get you in the best gear that you’ll be using for a long time.
Best Shorts: Patagonia Men’s Strider Pro Running Shorts 5” ($79) and Patagonia Women’s Strider Pro Running Shorts 3” ($59)
The male runners on our testing team all agreed that the Patagonia Men’s Strider Pro Running Shorts 5” were the best shorts for running in hot weather. Our female team members came to the same conclusion, loving the Patagonia Women’s Strider Pro Running Shorts 3”. When the temperatures soar, you don’t want your shorts to weigh you down. The Patagonia Men’s Strider Pro Shorts 5″ are featherweight at 3.7 ounces and made of 100% recycled polyester stretch ripstop fabric with a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating. An external drawstring dials in the fit, and five pockets, including one zippered for secure storage, will make it easy to carry gels, a phone, and other necessities. The liner is made of 100% polyester to minimize odor, wick effectively, dry efficiently, and reduce chafing. The Patagonia Women’s Strider Pro Shorts 3″ has similar features for comfort and convenience and weighs only 2.8 ounces.
One important thing to note in this Patagonia line is that the Strider Pros have pockets while the regular Striders do not.
Learn more about why we also named men’s version the best overall shorts in our best running shorts for men guide.
Best Women’s Shorts Honorable Mention: rabbit Mountain Climbers 2.0 2.5” ($68)
The rabbit Mountain Climbers 2.0 2.5” impressed our testers with their lightweight split-short design and exceptional moisture-wicking ability. The 2.5-inch inseam allows for unobstructed range of motion and provides a high level of comfort. With five pockets, including a rear one that is large enough to hold most phones, these shorts make it easy to carry small items. The internal waistband pockets are perfect for stashing mid-run fuel, and you can carry your trash out in the two side pockets.
Find out why iRunFar named these the best short inseam shorts in our best running shorts for women guide.Shop the Women's rabbit Mountain Climbers 2.0 2.5-Inch
Best Men’s Shorts Honorable Mention: Path Projects Sykes PX 5” Short ($49)
Another good option for men’s running shorts is the Path Projects Sykes PX 5” Short. There is a lot to like about these shorts beyond the classic fit, breathability, and lightness. For one, the storage availability is incredible. There is a rear center zip phone pocket, which can hold most reasonably sized phones. Additionally, there are two rear zip storage pockets for your nutrition and an internal key pocket. Another notable feature of the Path Projects Sykes PX – 5” shorts is that they don’t come with a built-in liner. Instead, the company encourages the use of a separate base liner underneath the shorts. This system can reduce chafing, and with base liners made in four different lengths and three different fabrics, you can customize the shorts based on your preferences.Shop the Men's Path Projects Sykes PX 5” Short
Best Shirt: Men’s rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS ($48) and Women’s rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS ($48)
The men’s rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS and women’s rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS not only perform exceptionally during a hot run, but they’ll also be right at home going out for drinks or a meal after a group run or doing errands. The shirt, made of 94% polyester and 6% spandex, feels soft against the skin even when you find yourself sweating during a tough workout. The fabric is so comfortable that you might find yourself wearing it happily both on the trail and in town. Some of our testers said the sizes run small, so you may want to consider ordering a size up for a more comfortable fit. The biggest problem you may find with this shirt is wanting to wear it all the time, not just during your runs.
You can read our review of the women’s version of the rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS in our rabbit warm-weather women’s apparel review.
Best Hat: Black Diamond Dash Cap ($40)
With a sweeping brim and lightweight material to cover your head, the Black Diamond Dash Cap is perfectly suited to protect your head and face from the intense rays of the sun. This five-panel hat is made from a lightweight polyester dobby weave that both wicks moisture well and provides a high level of ultraviolet light protection. When worn, the hat feels airy, breathable, and durable, and while the outside textile can feel coarse, the inside is soft. It has a wicking sweatband that keeps perspiration from dripping into your eyes. While the hat only comes in one size, it has adjustable webbing to ensure a comfortable and secure fit on any sized head.
We found the hat to be great to wear during any time of the year, but it really excels in the heat. The iRunFar team selected the Black Diamond Dash Cap as the best overall running hat in our best running hats guide.Shop the Black Diamond Dash Cap
Best Visor: rabbit Visor ($25)
When it comes to visors, simple is often better, and the simply named rabbit Visor resists the temptation to add any unneeded extras. Made by BOCO, a Boulder, Colorado, headwear company, the visor comes with the rabbit logo. The large bill keeps the sun off of your face, and the wicking woven fabric of the headband will keep sweat from dripping into your eyes.
While controlling moisture and sweat is a big part of a visor’s job, it also needs to be comfortable. Our testers, with heads of every size, all agreed: the visor’s fit was solid.Shop the rabbit Visor
Best Neck Gaiter: Buff CoolNet UV Half Neckwear ($15)
For any runner who has competed in a hot race, there’s a good chance they have applied cold water and ice to their face and neck to try to cool down. A good gaiter can aid in cooling off, both in a race setting and in the backcountry. Filling a neck gaiter with ice at an aid station is a great option for dealing with sweltering temperatures. They are also useful in the backcountry. “I always have one on me to dunk in water and put back on to help keep my neck and face cool,” one reviewer noted. Gaiters can also protect your neck from direct sun.
Of the neck gaiters we tested, the Buff CoolNet UV Half Neckwear stood out as the best. The gaiter is made with lightweight CoolNet UV fabric that holds cold water well against hot sweaty skin. With a UPF 50 rating, the gaiter will also protect you from the sun’s rays. The UltraStretch fabric makes the gaiter comfortable and versatile, and it can be worn in a variety of configurations to provide different levels of protection. Not only are these gaiters stylish, but they are also environmentally friendly. Each one is made from 95% recycled materials.Shop the Buff CoolNet UV Half Neckwear
While shirts and shorts can cause chafing, the most likely piece of clothing to cause discomfort during a hot run is yoursocks . When heat, friction, and sweat mix, that’s when blisters can start — and end your enjoyment on the trails for the day.
The Drymax Extra Protection Hawks Hot Weather ¼ Crew Socks are lightweight and resist heat buildup during hot runs and races. They are made using Drymax polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) fibers. The PTFE fibers, which are concentrated at the heel, forefoot, and toe area of the sock, use Teflon to reduce friction, keep feet cool, and help prevent blisters.
Read why iRunFar selected these as the best socks for hot weather in our best running socks guide.Shop the Drymax Extra Protection Hawks Hot Weather ¼ Crew Socks
Best Sports Bra: Patagonia Switchback Sports Bra ($55)
In hot weather, women need a sports bra that wicks away sweat, dries quickly, and is comfortable and supportive. The Patagonia Switchback Sports Bra is made of lightweight stretchy polyester and spandex mix and has a performance mesh cross-back strap design that checks all the aforementioned boxes and more. We love the stylish and functional open-back design and found it to be easy to get on and off, even after a muggy trail run. The bra provides exceptional compression support for those with a smaller chest and is a great option for lower-impact activities for those with larger cup sizes.
Patagonia has a strong reputation for its fair-trade policies and environmentally conscious approach to manufacturing, and this bra is no exception. The polyester fabrics are 85% to 100% recycled, and they are sewn in a Fair Trade Certified factory. Add in Patagonia’s long-standing participation in 1% for the Planet, where it pledges 1% of annual sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment, and you can feel pretty good about hitting the trails in this bra.
Read more about why the Patagonia Switchback Sports Bra was our favorite bra for running in hot weather in our best sports bras for running guide.Shop the Patagonia Switchback Sports Bra
Best Hydration Pack: Patagonia Slope Runner Endurance Vest ($149)
So you have your clothing, hat, and other necessities for a hot-weather run ready for your big race, FKT attempt, or other adventure, but how are you going to carry your water and gear? For our team, the Patagonia Slope Runner Endurance Vest was the clear favorite. The pack has wide chest pockets that easily fit the two 500-milliliter HydraPak soft flasks that come included with the pack. The deep pockets are also a great place to store gels, bars, and other items. The three-liter pack is large enough to hold your water and other essentials. Our testers were impressed with the size: “There is lots of storage, far more than three liters suggests.” The side pockets can be reached without taking the pack off, and the large back zippered pocket keeps larger items secure. Our testers were also impressed with the fit of the Slope Runner Endurance Vest, saying, “The pack ensures a snug ride without being restrictive at all for breathing and offers great pocket accessibility and fit adjustments.” The pack is made from a variety of recycled materials, including nylon from post-industrial waste fiber.
Read more about the Patagonia Slope Runner Endurance Vest in our Patagonia High Endurance Kit review.Shop the Patagonia Slope Runner Endurance Vest
Best Sunscreen: Zealios Reef-Safe Sun Barrier SPF 50 Sunscreen ($18)
Skin cancer is no joke. Regularly using and properly applying a quality sunscreen is of paramount importance to runners who are spending hours exposed to the sun on the trails, especially for those who are running during the prime time for the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Those running at high elevations also need to be aware of their sun exposure. Sunscreens with an SPF of 50 or higher are recommended for outdoor activities.
The team at iRunFar found the Zealios Reef-Safe Sun Barrier SPF 50 Sunscreen to provide a high level of protection from the sun’s harmful rays. “It’s the only sunscreen I’ve found that keeps me from burning and also doesn’t burn my eyes,” one of our reviewers wrote. The sunscreen has 16.5% zinc oxide and is able to filter 98% of UVA and UVB rays, those that cause the most damage to skin. It has also met the highest water-resistance rating offered by the Food and Drug Administration of 80 minutes, so you won’t have to worry about sweating it off immediately. Additionally, it is unscented, works well on sensitive skin, and won’t sting your eyes, so you can put it on your forehead without worrying about it dripping down.
Best Sunglasses: Julbo Aero with Reactiv 0-3 Lens ($220)
It’s important to wear eye protection when you’re out in the sun for an extended period of time to keep your eyes safe from excessive UV exposure. The Julbo Aero with Reactiv 0-3 Lens is a standout choice with its exceptional ventilation and photochromatic lenses ready to handle any light conditions. At their darkest, the lenses provide plenty of protection during the brightest of summer days, and they will lighten if clouds roll in and things get darker. The lightweight frame holds relatively wide lenses that provide wrap-around protection, and the nose pads can be adjusted to fit your face. We found there is sufficient ventilation at the front of the glasses to keep them from fogging and to keep your face and eyes cool in the heat.
You can read more about why we chose these as our favorite photochromatic sunglasses in our best running sunglasses guide.Shop the Julbo Aero with Reactiv 0-3 Lens
Call for Comments
- Calling all runners who venture out into hot weather. Given your expertise, what hacks do you recommend for others running in hot and humid conditions?
- How do you adapt your training during times when the heat is extreme and unsafe?
- What is your favorite clothing and gear to use in the summer?