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Hot Clothes that Keep You Cool

July 1, 2011 | Featured in the Summer 2011 Issue

What you wear when training in the summer sun can directly impact your performance. Wear the wrong gear and you'll overheat, fatigue prematurely and benefit less from your workout. It takes more to stay cool and prevent overheating than cutting the sleeves off an old T-shirt. Invest in workout gear designed for the job. Consider these four crucial factors when building your summer training wardrobe.

What type of fabric is it?

Clothes that wick sweat and allow your skin to breathe are key to staying cool. That old cotton shirt might be comfortable, but it won't work. It absorbs sweat, but doesn't dry quickly, so it clings to your body and weighs you down—definitely not what you need when you're doing speed work. Plus, cotton is less effective at protecting you from sunburn.

Moisture-wicking apparel pulls sweat off your body, so you stay dry and cool. Under Armour's HeatGear Touch Fitted Crew ($30, underarmour.com) is made with ultra soft fabric. In addition to wicking away moisture, it has antimicrobial technology to dispel bacteria causing odors.

Nike's Dri-Fit Vapor Woven Short ($45, nike.com) also gets the summer training job done. Made largely of polyester, it removes sweat, lets skin breathe better and helps deflect radiation. An internal drawstring cord allows for a custom fit.

What's its UPF?

"UPF" means ultraviolet protective factor, a rating system for sun protective apparel—analogous to SPF on sunscreen. If you see UPF on a label, the gear has been treated with a chemical sunblock to screen out harmful UV rays. High UPF numbers indicate a greater level of protection.

If you're suiting up for a training run, Mizuno's Nirvana Sleeveless Tee ($36, mizunousa.com) wicks away sweat, has a UPF of 25, and incorporates refl ective accents for visibility during early morning or late evening. GoLite Mesa Trail Shorts ($42.50, golite.com) rock a UPF 50+. They also feature reflective properties and are made of lightweight material that keeps you dry.

How is it made?

During the constant, often repetitive, motions of a workout, clothes can rub your skin raw. Avoid this by choosing clothes that are made to reduce chaffing. adidas' CLIMASpeed Short ($35,shopadidas.com) is constructed with fl atlock stitching, which minimizes chaffing. Puma's Complete Slogan Tee ($32, puma.com) has built in moisture management, reflective logos for visibility and comfortable stitching so the fabric doesn't rub against your body.

What color is it?

In the summer, the color of your clothes matters. Wearing white or very light colors keeps you cooler, because they refl ect sunlight better than black or other dark colors. However, light colors will not protect you from sunburn as well as dark colors, because they do not deflect UV rays as effectively. The best bet: choose a happy medium, a bold green or bright blue, which provides better sun protection than white or other light colors, but keeps you cooler than black or other dark colors.

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