Best Running Gear for Hot Weather of 2023

The iRunFar team has selected the best gear for running in hot weather, in order to keep you comfortable when the temperatures soar and the sun beats down.

By and on March 16, 2023 | Comments
Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - staying cool on a summer morning

Use the right gear for hot weather running, and you’ll stay happy and healthy. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

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, and having the best running gear for hot weather can make a big difference. 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 with the best clothes for running in hot weather — from head to toe — can help you get through your run when temperatures are high. 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.

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.

You can also skip down to read our recommendations on how to choose the right hot-weather running gear for you, our answers to your frequently asked questions about hot-weather running gear, and how we put this guide together.

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - Beth Pascall 2021 Western States 100 Robinson Flat

White clothing can reflect the sun and keep the skin cool. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Best Shorts: Patagonia Men’s Strider Pro Running Shorts 5” ($85) and Patagonia Women’s Strider Pro Running Shorts 3 1/2” ($79)

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - Patagonia Strider Pro Running Shorts 5 inch - product photoThe 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 1/2”. 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 1/2″ 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 the men’s version the best overall shorts in our best running shorts for men guide.

Shop the Men's Patagonia Strider Pro Running Shorts 5-InchShop the Women's Patagonia Strider Pro Running Shorts 3-Inch

Best Men’s Shorts – Runner-Up: Path Projects Sykes PX 5” Short ($49)

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - Path Projects Sykes PX 5 - product photoAnother 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: rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS – Men’s ($50) and rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS – Women’s ($48)

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - EZ Perf Short-Sleeve T-Shirt - product photoThe rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS – Men’s and rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS – Women’s 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.

Shop the rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS- Men'sShop the rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS - Women's

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - hot weather running

Summer running is a lot more enjoyable when you have gear that keeps you cool and protected from the sun. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Best Hat: Black Diamond Dash Cap ($40)

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - Black Diamond Dash Cap - product photoWith 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 wicks moisture well and provides high 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)

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - rabbit visor - product photoWhen 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 ($24)

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - Buff CoolNet UV Half Neckwear - product photoFor 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

Best Socks: Drymax Extra Protection Hawks Hot Weather ¼ Crew Socks ($28)

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - Drymax Extra Protection Hawks Hot Weather 1-4 Crew Socks - product photoWhile shirts and shorts can cause chafing, the most likely piece of clothing to cause discomfort during a hot run is your socks. 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 Running Gear for Hot Weather - testing hot weather running gear in Colorado

Using hot weather gear while powerhiking uphill. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Best Sports Bra: Patagonia Switchback Sports Bra ($55)

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - Patagonia Switchback Sports Bra - product photoIn 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 3L($159)

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - Patagonia Slope Runner Endurance Vest - product photoSo 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 3L 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 3L, 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 3L in our Patagonia High Endurance Kit review.

Shop the Patagonia Slope Runner Endurance Vest 3L

Best Sunscreen: Zealios Reef-Safe Sun Barrier SPF 50 Sunscreen ($18)

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - Zealios reef safe sun barrier SPF 50 sunscreen - product photoSkin cancer is no joke. Regularly using and properly applying 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.

Shop the Zealios Reef-Safe Sun Barrier SPF 50 Sunscreen

Best Sunglasses: Julbo Aero With Reactiv 0-3 Lens ($230)

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - Julbo Aero With Reactiv 0-3 Lens Sunglasses - product photoIt’s important to wear eye protection when you’re out in the sun for an extended period 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

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Right Hot Weather Running Gear for You

Running in mid-summer heat is dreaded by many, and for a good reason. It can be uncomfortable, difficult, and, if not done correctly, dangerous. Having the best running gear for hot weather can make a huge difference in comfort and make running in hot weather a positive experience.

There’s a lot of science as to how heat affects the human body in motion. There’s no question that running in the heat leads to a decrease in running performance, but taking certain steps can minimize the heat’s effects and allow a runner to get more out of the effort. If you find yourself working harder in the heat to run at the same pace as you normally do when it’s cool and have an elevated heart rate, don’t worry, these are normal physiological effects of your body trying to stay cool as it shifts blood from your muscles to the blood vessels near the skin for increased cooling. Running in the heat can also make eating difficult as blood is moved away from the stomach and to the skin for cooling.

If you’re a beginner to running in the heat, you can learn more about the basics of running in hot weather and how to stay safe. Wearing clothing designed for hot-weather running, like the rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS – Men’s and rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS – Women’s can help you keep your body temperature at a safe level.

The Importance of Staying Cool

There’s no debate that heat will slow your running. In a study of road marathoners, runners slowed from 1.6 to 3 percent for every 10 degrees over 55 degrees Fahrenheit — a significant effect. As temperatures continue to rise, they can lead to gastrointestinal distress, heat exhaustion, and in the most extreme cases, heat stroke and death. Running in the heat requires a healthy respect for the conditions and attention to how the body is responding to changing environmental conditions.

Low-level heat distress can result in nausea and general discomfort. As the situation worsens into heat exhaustion, a runner may start to experience heavy sweating, increased pulse, vomiting, fatigue, goosebumps, headache, and dizziness. When a runner’s body temperature reaches 104F (40 degrees Celsius), it is considered heat stroke and needs immediate medical treatment.

Taking steps to keep a body cool and slowing down or stopping if it starts to overheat can keep serious situations from arising. Wearing a hat with a brim, like the Black Diamond Dash Cap, or a visor like the rabbit Visor can keep the sun off of your face and help cool your body.

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - 2022 Western States 100 Ruth Croft and Emily Hawgood Robinson Flat

Ruth Croft and Emily Hawgood run through Robinson Flat during a hot Western States 100. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Strategies for Staying Cool

Staying cool is a matter of reducing the effect of the radiant heat coming from the sun, maximizing evaporative cooling from your skin, and managing the excess heat your body is producing while running. The best running gear for hot weather will keep your body’s core temperature as low as possible.

Since bodies are only about 30% efficient, with 70% of the energy you burn being turned into heat, it’s important to realize that hard efforts in the heat can lead to rapid overheating. There are several ways to make a hot-weather run more successful, including finding and wearing the best running clothes for hot weather.

  • Minimize heat exposure — While some situations require running in the heat, like during a race or in a location when it just doesn’t cool down, many runners can make choices that help them avoid the worst of the heat. Running in the mornings and evenings is an easy way to avoid the full heat of the sun. Choosing to run in shady areas can also reduce your heat exposure.
  • Maximize evaporative cooling — The body sweats in order to increase the rate of cooling of the skin. Moisture on the skin, whether it’s sweat or external water, can increase energy transfer between your skin and the surrounding air and greatly increase cooling. Splashing water on your skin or clothes or jumping in water when possible can quickly drop your body temperature. Dunking a hat or neck gaiter in water whenever possible is a great way to provide ongoing cooling as you run.
  • Wear a hat — Keeping the sun off of your head and face is a great way to keep cooler. Hat brims, like the one found on the Black Diamond Dash Cap, can block the sun’s rays and keep them from warming your body.
  • Hydrate properly — More than half of your body is made up of water. Running in the heat can lead to rapid moisture loss through sweat and respiration, and runners can find themselves several pounds lighter after a hot-weather run. While it may be impossible to drink enough to replace all evaporating water during a hot run, some level of hydration is important for optimal performance. Having a pack like the Patagonia Slope Runner Endurance Vest 3L can make it easy to carry the water you need for hot-weather runs. Most experts agree that drinking to thirst — drinking when you’re thirsty and stopping when you’re not — is the best strategy to employ during hot runs. Most stomachs can only process about a liter of water per hour, and this provides a good baseline drinking goal. You can read more about the basics of trail running hydration and learn how to adjust your drinking strategy to help deal with hot weather.
  • Don’t overexert yourself — You’ll have to move slower when running in the heat to avoid overheating. Trying to maintain the same pace as you would on a cooler day can lead to issues, and it’s a good idea to base hot-weather runs on effort rather than speed. If you experience any signs of dizziness or nausea, it’s a good idea to back off the effort until you feel better so that the situation doesn’t worsen.
Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - running on a ridge

Sleeveless shirts are a great option for staying cool in hot temperatures. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Clothing Choices for Staying Cool

Dressing appropriately for the heat can help improve a body’s ability to maintain its core temperature. There are two main schools of thought in choosing the best running gear for hot weather: wearing as little as possible to maximize evaporative cooling and covering up with light-colored clothing to minimize radiant heating on your skin.

Many runners opt to run shirtless when temperatures rise. This can increase evaporative cooling on the skin, but it also exposes your skin to the direct rays of the sun. Wearing sunscreen, such as Zealios Reef-Safe Sun Barrier SPF 50 Sunscreen, on exposed skin is not only important for skin health, but it can also block the sun’s rays and help keep skin cooler while still allowing sweat to cool your skin effectively.

The other option is to cover skin with light-colored lightweight clothing. This clothing can reflect the sun’s rays away from your body and keep them from heating up your skin. Loose-fitting clothing can be highly breathable and provide a high level of cooling if you dunk it in water during a run. If wearing a long-sleeve shirt seems incredibly hot and restrictive, a short-sleeve shirt can also provide a good level of protection and sun-ray reflection. The rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS – Men’s and rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS – Women’s are highly breathable and can help keep your torso cool.

Friction, Chafing, and Blisters in the Heat

Chafing and blisters are a direct result of friction and heat. Hot-weather running can speed up skin irritation significantly, and the best running gear for hot weather minimizes hot spots and the potential for chafing. Using some sort of lubrication on hot spots throughout your body can help reduce friction on your skin and help alleviate the problem. Having properly fitting socks made of low-friction materials is also important. The material of the Drymax Extra Protection Hawks Hot Weather ¼ Crew Socks minimizes friction and can prevent the formation of blisters while running in the heat.

Wearing a pack when it’s hot out can also cause hot spots. You’ll want to choose a shirt with seams that don’t interfere with the fit of a pack to help reduce the chance of chafing on your back or shoulders. You can explore our favorite shirts for running with a pack at our Best Running Shirts for Men and Best Running Shirts for Women guide.

Hydration Considerations

There are many different approaches to hydration while running in hot water, and messing it up can lead to anything from a little bit of nausea and dehydration to hyponatremia and death. A properly hydrated body has a certain balance of sodium and other important blood components, and disrupting this balance too much can wreak havoc.

The most straightforward approach to hydration is drinking to thirst, where you drink when you’re thirsty and stop when you’re not. This approach works for running in the heat or cold and for sitting at your work desk during the day while thinking about running. The basic idea is that your body will let you know if it needs water by making you thirsty. There are several signs of thirst, including dry lips and a raspy throat. If you’ve drank enough water, these symptoms will go away, and you shouldn’t force more water into your stomach. Drinking too much water can lead to hyponatremia, a situation when you don’t have a high enough concentration of sodium in your blood. Symptoms of hyponatremia include nausea, headache, and confusion.

Different runners have different hydration strategies while they’re out on a run. Some prefer to take small sips of water regularly, while others will drink a lot of water at infrequent intervals. Both strategies are functional, and sometimes your individual situation will dictate when and how you drink during a run. If you’re out for a multi-hour run, you can carry the water you need in a hydration pack like the Patagonia Slope Runner Endurance Vest 3L.

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - fastpacking in the summer

iRunFar’s Meghan Hicks approaching a backcountry water source on a hot summer fastpack. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Race Strategies for Hot Weather

Starting fast when it’s hot out is a good way to overheat your body quickly. It’s much easier to keep a body cool in the first place than trying to cool it down after it’s overheated. Staying hydrated is important, and you’ll want to take every opportunity possible to get your clothes and skin wet in order to cool down your core body temperature. Getting ice to put in your hat or a neck gaiter like the Buff CoolNet UV Half Neckwear can provide extra cooling after leaving an aid station.

Since your body is sending extra blood to your skin for cooling while running in hot weather, digestion is extra hard when running in the heat. Drinking your calories instead of eating them can help take the load off of your digestion system and prevent nausea.

During an ultra that spans a day and goes into the night, it’s often advantageous to meter your efforts in the heat of the day and then increase them as the temperature drops in the evening and night. Your body will be able to push harder when it’s cooler out.

Why Trust Us

We at iRunFar don’t stay home when outside temperatures rise. Many members of our testing team are based in locations where summer temperatures can get into the triple digits. We’ve spent decades experimenting with different hot-weather running setups and tested them out in the harshest and hottest ultras, such as the Marathon de Sables in Morocco. We’ve tested gear options extensively so that we can provide the best recommendations for running in a variety of hot weather conditions ranging from hot and dry to muggy and wet. 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 so that we could offer our recommendations for the best running gear for hot weather.

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 Running Gear for Hot Weather - Heat acclimation for endurance running

Proper heat acclimation can allow a runner to move efficiently through hot temperatures. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

Frequently Asked Questions about Running in Hot Weather

Is it dangerous to run in the heat?

Running in the heat can be dangerous, ultimately leading to death if things really go south, but it can also be done safely. If you’re new to running in the heat, it’s a good idea to brush up on the basics of how to run smart in hot weather. Heat will stress the cooling systems of your body and force it to route more blood to the skin for increased cooling. This results in less blood going to the muscles, increased heart rate, and possible gastrointestinal distress, especially if you’re trying to eat while running. Not taking the proper precautions in the heat can lead to heat exhaustion and eventually heat stroke, which can be deadly. Having the right gear, from a Black Diamond Dash Cap on your head to Drymax Extra Protection Hawks Hot Weather ¼ Crew Socks on your feet, to help keep you cool and chafe-free can go a long way toward keeping you safe and comfortable as temperatures rise.

If you’re experiencing a lack of appetite, lightheadedness, or excess sweating, you might be approaching heat exhaustion and need to dial back your effort and find a way to cool your body down. Heat exhaustion can quickly develop into heat stroke, which is characterized by confusion, dizziness, and disorientation. You can read more about how to deal with heat-related illnesses so that you know what to do if something has gone wrong.

Do I need to wear a hat when running in the heat?

Wearing a hat, like the Black Diamond Dash Cap, or a visor, such as the rabbit Visor, when running can shade your face from the sun. This not only keeps your skin from heating up, but it can also help protect your eyes from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Hats are great for dunking in water while you’re running, whether in a mountain stream or under a water cooler at an aid station and can provide ongoing cooling as you keep running. Visors provide many of the same advantages as a hat but are more breathable. They also provide less protection for the top of your head, something to consider if you are balding or have a shaved head.

Are there advantages to running without a shirt?

The key to staying as cool as possible is to minimize the heating of your skin by the sun while maximizing evaporative cooling. Not wearing a shirt can greatly increase evaporative cooling at the expense of exposing your skin to the sun. Clothing can trap heat next to your skin as well and increase your skin’s temperature. Wearing a layer of sunscreen, like Zealios Reef-Safe Sun Barrier SPF 50 Sunscreen, is important if you’re going to run shirtless, as it both protects your skin from harmful sun rays and can provide cooling by reflecting the sun’s rays.

What’s the best clothing material for running when it’s hot out?

In most cases, you’ll want to wear clothing made from synthetic materials that are breathable and wicking to keep from getting uncomfortably sweaty. Our testers found the perforated material of the rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS – Men’s and rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS – Women’s to be great at keeping them cool. Wool is also great for wicking, and modern merino wool garments can be incredibly thin and lightweight. Many runners swear by wool both for cold and warm weather due to its moisture-management properties. It also won’t stink after a run like synthetic materials.

Some runners will choose to wear cotton during hot runs when there is ample water available to douse clothes. The cotton fibers hold on to the water, something that is generally frowned upon while running, but this can be a beneficial property if you want the clothing you’re wearing to stay wet for as long as possible.

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - 2019 UTMB Kirsten Kortebein

A runner cools off with water during a hot UTMB. Photo: iRunFar/Kirsten Kortebein

Is wearing less clothing better when it’s hot out?

There are several components to keeping your body cool, and wearing minimal clothing can increase the evaporative cooling of your skin. Many runners look forward to temperatures getting warm enough that they can strip down to the bare minimum of socially acceptable clothing. But, not having a shirt on can increase the heating on your skin by the direct rays of the sun. Wearing a light-colored shirt, long or short sleeve, can reflect the sun’s rays and keep your skin temperature lower. Many runners find long-sleeve shirts too hot, especially for harder efforts where they’re producing a lot of excess heat, but even a short-sleeve shirt, like the rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS – Men’s and rabbit EZ Tee Perf SS – Women’s, can provide a high level of protection.

How much water do I need to drink when running in the heat?

The human body is more than half water, and keeping the right balance of liquid and nutrients is important. While many runners realize the dangers of being dehydrated, they also need to be aware of hyponatremia, a situation where they’ve drank too much water and offset the sodium balance in their blood.

The current community consensus is to drink when you’re thirsty and to stop drinking when you’re not thirsty anymore. The maximum amount of water most stomachs can process in an hour is a liter, so drinking more than that can lead to sloshing and stomach distress.

If it’s hot out, it’s a good idea to carry some water, even if you’re not planning on being out for long. Carrying water on hot-weather runs can be cumbersome, especially if you don’t have a place to refill bottles or a bladder, but a pack like the Patagonia Slope Runner Endurance Vest 3L can make it easier and more comfortable.

Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - Magda Boulet 2018 Marathon des Sables

Magda Boulet employing several strategies for staying cool during the Marathon Des Sables. Photo: Marathon des Sables

Should I prehydrate before I run in the heat?

It’s nearly impossible to replace all the water that your body loses through sweat and respiration during a hot-weather run. Because of this, it’s important to go into runs well-hydrated. The drink-to-thirst principle also pertains to day-to-day life and can be a good guide to drinking water. If your urine is a light yellow color, it’s a good indicator that you’re well-hydrated and ready to go run in hot weather. It’s generally not a good idea to drink a lot of water right before a hot run as it can sit in your stomach and make you uncomfortable. Carrying a hydration pack such as the Patagonia Slope Runner Endurance Vest 3L can keep you drinking so that you maximize your hydration while running in hot weather.

Can I acclimate to running in hot weather?

While many runners just throw their hands up and claim that they just don’t do well in the heat, there are steps you can take to help your body operate efficiently in the heat. While proper heat acclimation can take a long time, studies have shown that a few hot-weather workouts can help your body make physiological adaptations to stay cooler in the heat. You can read more about the science of heat adaptation and adjust your training accordingly. Equipping yourself with gear that can help you stay cool, like a Buff CoolNet UV Half Neckwear to get wet whenever possible during a hot run, can make the effects of heat adaptation go even further.

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?
Back to Our Top Running Gear for Hot Weather Picks
Best Running Gear for Hot Weather - powerhiking in the heat in Colorado

Uphill powerhiking can generate a lot of heat, so wear clothing and gear to keep you cool. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Henry Howard
Henry Howard finds joy as an ultrarunner, running coach, and writer who has combined those passions into his RunSpirited website.
Henry Howard

Eszter Horanyi identifies as a Runner Under Duress, in that she’ll run if it gets her deep into the mountains or canyons faster than walking would, but she’ll most likely complain about it. A retired long-distance bike racer, she gave ultra foot racing a go and finished the Ouray 100 in 2017, but ultimately decided that she prefers a slower pace of life of taking photos during long days in the mountains and smelling the flowers while being outside for as many hours of the day as possible. Eszter will take any opportunity to go adventuring in the mountains or desert by foot, bike, or boat, and has lived the digital nomad lifestyle throughout the west for the past seven years.