Help a Pasty Sister Out
August 1, 2010 7:20 AM   Subscribe

What kind of clothing should I wear for hiking in the Southwest to maximize sun protection but also not die of heat stroke?

I'm going to be hiking some canyons and national parks in Colorado in a few weeks. What should I wear? I'm a late 20s female.

I am extremely sun sensitive and avoiding any kind of burn is highest priority. However, I've never been in this area before. I know it's not as humid as the Northeast, but the temperature itself is higher. Normally I just go into burqa mode to avoid sunburn, but I'm guessing this wouldn't be a good idea for physical activity in the heat. Especially since I'm not good with heat and sweat like a pig.

I'm willing to spend on new clothes, etc. if it will benefit me. Also I don't need to look like a fashion model but I prefer not to look like a total dweeb.

posted by unannihilated to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'd go for lightweight synthetics with good wicking. Pants w/ zip-off legs and a long sleeve shirt with loose sleeve that you can easily roll up. And a wide-brimmed hat that wicks well (these are actually tricky to find, and the best I've found is a 15-year old REI cotton hat).

Keep colors very light (white even).

The neat thing about the southwest is that (unlike here in the south and east) the air is so dry that your sweat will actually cool you off quite well, and covering your skin can keep you cooler!
posted by DavidandConquer at 7:34 AM on August 1, 2010

I agree with DavidandConquer. I wear Patagonia Sol Patrol stuff when I hike in hot/sunny/buggy areas. It's not necessarily the most fashion-forward look, but I prefer to not be burnt and bitten all over. I actually call it my hiking burka look since I'm covered from head to toe.
posted by shrabster at 8:20 AM on August 1, 2010

A Tilley hat. They have a wide variety to choose from. Tilley also makes various other clothing items that are great for traveling and hiking.
posted by Quizicalcoatl at 8:39 AM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, it's not too hard. Just get yourself to an outdoors store and browse through the lightweight long-sleeve shirts and pants from companies like Columbia, Patagonia, etc.

I wore a Patagonia long-sleeve cap 1 shirt for some pretty serious hiking in southern Utah. I didn't find it to be considerably hotter than a short sleeve shirt--and you can always roll up the sleeves.
posted by resiny at 8:59 AM on August 1, 2010

Bring bandannas or the high tech version filled with jell - soak and tie loosely around your neck. When I was at Zion a few weeks ago they were actually selling hats with the jell built in - seemed gimicky but might work well.
posted by leslies at 9:00 AM on August 1, 2010

I live/work in the southwest. When I'm in the field I wear a shirt that vents, wicks and is long sleeved. This is a pretty good example. Zip off pants, like DavidandConquer mentioned, are great. And a hat is a must - Sunday Afternoon sun hats are amazing!

Don't forget to bring lots of water,one large nalgene is not going to cut it, and something to replace electrolytes. Keeping your electrolyte balance is really important - far more people get in trouble with electrolytes than dehydration.

Have fun!
posted by a22lamia at 9:13 AM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I, too, have very sensitive skin. Synthetics make my skin burn, so I wear loose, white or beige cotton clothes. A wide-brimmed hat helps, too.
posted by Carol Anne at 9:38 AM on August 1, 2010

I purchased REI Sahara Shirts and REI Rendezvous Pants for a trip to Egypt and they were great in the hot weather. They feel like they would wear well for hiking, too.
posted by spec80 at 10:00 AM on August 1, 2010

Lightweight, over-large button-up cotton shirts are good for this, make sure they're loose enough to not be restricting and you can roll up the sleeves.
posted by schroedinger at 10:27 AM on August 1, 2010

I have a hat with mesh that I wear in the summer - still shady, but lets in lots of air for a sweaty head.

My ancestors, too, came from a place where the sun didnt shine much. I burn quicker than anyone I have ever met.
I use a product called Miracell 37+ on burns. Its great. Its an oil; I buy it at a health food store or on amazon. I apply 2-3 times before bed, and the next morning I wake up without a sunburn anymore.

Seconding zip-off pants like ones from north face.
posted by saragoodman3 at 10:30 AM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Check out Coolibar. Their clothes are fairly unfashionable, but they claim you could run a marathon is some of them and be cooler than in shorts and a t shirt. My wife is also very pale and avoids the sun and recommends their clothes.
posted by reddot at 7:40 PM on August 2, 2010

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