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Choosing the right lightweight travel clothing for hot climates can prove tricky. You want to maintain a cool look, preferably with breathable fabrics that combat hot and humid climates.
Are you planning a trip to a hot region, and packing the right clothes seems daunting? Well, no need to worry, as you are not alone. The frustrations are real — especially since fast fashion thrives on cheaply made products that actually trap your body heat.
We also understand the dilemma of dressing appropriately for different cultures worldwide. You might wonder how to dress sensibly without feeling like you are wearing too little or sweating it in a more conservative culture.
The general rule of thumb for choosing the best lightweight travel clothing is adhering to a simple set of characteristics:
- Natural fibers
- Light colors
- Lightweight material
- Versatile design
With these ideas in mind, you can easily tell whether the apparel will be a good choice for staying cool. So, let’s take a look at several popular pieces that you can easily get for your next trip, whether you’re heading to the islands or hiking through a tropical jungle.
- Best Picks By Category
- Women’s Lightweight Travel Clothing
- 1. Urban Undercover East West Shirt
- 2. Unisex Cool-Lite Merino icebreaker Patch Hat
- 3. Buddha Pants
- 4. LSKD UltraAir Shorts
- 5. New Balance Relentless Tank Tops
- 6. Vai Athletica Sports Bras
- 7. prAna Seakissed Dress
- 8. Verabella Sun Hat
- 9. Cooling Neck Gaiter by Buff
- 10. Infamous Swim Rash Guards
- Men’s Lightweight Travel Clothing
- 10. Hanes Men’s Cool DRI Tee
- 11. TYR SunDefense Hooded Shirt
- 12. COOFANDY Linen Shirt
- 13. COOFANDY Linen Pants
- 14. Men’s Capilene Cool Daily Hoody
- 15. Trailmade Joggers
- 16. Columbia EvaPOURation Coat
- Unisex Lightweight Travel Clothing for Hot Climates
- 17. Columbia Unisex Schooner Bank Cachalot Hat
- 18. Ergodyne Chill-Its Cooling Bandana
- 19. Unisex Coolmax Socks
- 20. Frogg Toggs Cooling Towel
Best Picks By Category
|Best for Outdoor Activities||Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pant|
|Best for Casual Wear||Viishow Women’s Short Sleeve Loose Plain Maxi Dress|
|Best for Rainy Climates||The North Face Men’s Venture 2 Jacket|
|Best for Beach Destinations||North Face Sun Packable Shorts|
Women’s Lightweight Travel Clothing
1. Urban Undercover East West Shirt
The long-sleeved East West Shirt is made of a soft, breathable micro modal fabric that will protect you from the sun’s rays but keep you comfy during those hot summer days. Not to mention that the fabric is made from beech tree pulp which is biodegradable and more environmentally friendly than other materials.
When it comes to lightweight clothing, Urban Undercover is one of my favorites. Their breathable fabrics keep me comfortable from the chilly plane to hanging on the beachside. Knowing that their clothing items are also better for the environment makes buying them feel like an even better choice.
They can be worn cold shoulder style or not depending on the part of the world you’re in. You can also rest assured that these products will last a long time; my Urban Undercover wrap has been serving me well for years and has been all over the world.
- No synthetic fibers
- Extremely comfortable
- Wrinkle resistant
- Super durable
- More expensive than other options
2. Unisex Cool-Lite Merino icebreaker Patch Hat
While a nice sun hat is great for the beach or the pool, they aren’t that great for exploring in hot weather. Largely because they stain from sweat and aren’t very functional for hiking. A unisex Cool-Lite hat from icebreaker keeps you cool and shades you from the bright sun.
Like other products from Icebreaker, these hats are made from breathable merino wool. Wool is stain, odor-resistant, and breathable, contrary to what you may think about wool being only appropriate for cold weather.
- Stain and odor resistant
- Breathable fabric
- Stays on better than floppy hats
- Expensive for a hat
- Not as many color and design options
See Related: The Complete Backpacking Checklist for Travelers
3. Buddha Pants
I cannot say enough good things about harem pants from Buddha Pants. I wear mine regularly at home and abroad. These unisex, lightweight cotton pants are perfect even for curvy folks. Mine have been a staple in my wardrobe for several years, with little wear in the thigh area.
What’s especially unique about these pants is that they fold up and fit into a little carrying pouch that’s built into the left pocket. This makes them easy to toss into a day pack if you need some long pants on hand. However, you’ll stay comfy in these even in the most humid weather.
- Unisex design
- Lots of designs and colors
- Higher cost
- Can cause thigh chafing
4. LSKD UltraAir Shorts
Your best summer clothing options are going to be the ones that serve you best in regulating your body temperature. That could not be more true than with the UltraAir shorts from LSKD.
These casual wear performance shorts come in multiple colors and have moisture-wicking technology to keep you cool. Even the waistband is vented to keep you from having heat concentrated around your waist area.
Like all LSKD products, you can trust that these will last you for a long time, even if you wear them primarily in warm weather. Wear LSKD all summer long to stay cool without replacing your pieces immediately.
- Multiple colors
- Vented waistband
- More expensive than other shorts
- May be too short for some destinations
See Related: Best Travel Shorts for Warm Weather Destinations
5. New Balance Relentless Tank Tops
These tank tops by New Balance were made as body-cooling clothing for exercising and other athletic activities such as going to the gym, practicing yoga, running, and dancing. This is precisely why they are great for a trip to a hot destination.
The tank tops are uniquely designed to combine performance with fashion. The fact that they come in lighter colors can help reflect heat. Plus, in terms of sweat absorption, they easily wick away sweat and dry fast.
- Less expensive option
- Coverage design to protect from sun exposure
- Super soft
- Cotton blend
- Only comes in two colors
- Not size-inclusive, only goes to XL
See Related: How to Pack for a Month-Long Trip
6. Vai Athletica Sports Bras
For warm weather bra wearing, nothing beats a Vai Athletica sports bra. Vai bras are perfect for hot weather under that light top or as a sort of crop top on their own.
Made from a Max-Dri material, the compression bras help wick moisture and hold less heat in your chest area. They have comfortable support, and you might be surprised to find out they are more comfortable than any other type of bra!
Plus, Vai is my absolute favorite because they are utility bras. There is a storage pocket on the side of the bra, bungee straps on the back to hold your phone or hang your keys, and a small carabineer strap on the front shoulder. My Vai fits perfectly, and I bring it all over, especially when I must wear a bra in hot weather.
- Supporting small business
- Comes in several colors
- Has storage capabilities
- Supportive enough to be worn without a shirt
- Can be a little tricky to get on because of the compression
- Not 100% natural fiber
See Related: What to Pack for Jamaica: Free Packing Checklist
7. prAna Seakissed Dress
Maxi dresses or skirts are great options for tropical vacations. Dresses from prAna at REI are especially great options since they are made from organic cotton, the best fabric for air circulation in hot weather.
For hot and humid weather, maxi dresses offer a perfect cover from sunlight and allow adequate airflow to keep you cool and dry. Besides these dresses being comfortable, breathable, lightweight, and have soft fabric, they also have pockets!
- Organic cotton material
- Has pockets
- Comes in multiple colors
- More expensive than other maxi dresses
- Not size inclusive
See Related: Best Vacation Dresses for Summer & Beach Trips
8. Verabella Sun Hat
This floppy summer hat from Verabella is my favorite summertime accessory. It is carefully crafted with premium straw, thus making it lightweight and breathable. It’s also tightly woven for durability and doesn’t show stains from forehead sweat.
This hat is also designed to have a wide brim to efficiently shield your face from direct sunlight and harmful UV rays. Meanwhile, the hat itself offers 50 SPF protection.
What is best about the hat is that the size can be adjusted to fit your head and be held in place perfectly. Plus, the chinstrap can double as a way to keep the hat perfectly rolled up in your luggage. I have rolled it in among my clothes in my luggage many times, and it still maintains its shape.
- Stain resistant
- Comes in lots of colors
- Chin strap to keep the hat secure
- Rolls for easy luggage storage
- Excellent cost value
- The straw and sweat can make your head itchy
9. Cooling Neck Gaiter by Buff
These cooling neck gaiters by Buff are made of a breathable material that keeps you cool and wards off stinky odors. The fabric is also silky and has stunning national park designs to highlight your favorite outdoor adventures.
The neck cover can also be used over the face, which helps protect the face and neck from UV rays. Not only can they be used as neck gaiters and face covers, but also as beanies, neck scarfs, pirate hats, or more if you’re creative.
- Great to wear in hot or cold weather
- Come in popular park designs
- The material keeps the heat off your face and neck
- Not the most stylish look
See Related: Best Travel Products to Combat Flight Anxiety
10. Infamous Swim Rash Guards
If you’re headed somewhere hot and plan on spending a lot of time in the water, I highly suggest bringing a rash guard along. Not only will these rash guard swim tops from Infamous Swim keep you cool in the heat, but they’ll also protect your skin from damaging sun rays.
What I love most about Infamous Swim is that their swimsuits come in adult sizes up to 3x and fit right. Not to mention that your kiddos can get matching suits with you which is so much fun. These rash guards come in a range of super cute patterns with short and long sleeves.
Especially if you plan to wear swim clothes for adventuring, a rash guard will come in handy. You’ll also be more covered which is ideal if you are going to a more modestly dressed part of the world.
- Super comfortable
- Short-sleeve or long-sleeve designs
- Range of patterns
- Suits come in matching kid designs
- Do not come in sets, must purchase each piece separately
See Related: Costa Rica Packing List: What to Pack for Your Trip
Men’s Lightweight Travel Clothing
10. Hanes Men’s Cool DRI Tee
Hanes Men’s Cool DRI t-shirts are crafted using cooling technology clothing with fabric that keeps you comfortable despite hot weather. The interlock polyester fabric effectively wicks away the sweat and dries quickly.
These t-shirts also have a 50+ UPF rating, which protects your skin from harmful UV rays. Although they come in dark colors too, we recommend sticking to lighter colors for maximum comfort.
Also, they are very light and can be worn comfortably as undershirts. People who sweat a lot, and would love to hide those sweat stains, should consider trying out these Cool DRI tees.
- One of the most cost-effective options on this list
- Comes in both lighter or darker colors
- Some of the best fabrics for heat
- The right clothing for anyone, easily unisex
- Light colors may show sweat stains
11. TYR SunDefense Hooded Shirt
This particular long-sleeve shirt from TYR will protect you from the sun without overheating you. It is made with a combination of polyester and spandex. Even though it has spandex, the wear isn’t form-fitted. This t-shirt also features UV sun protection up to 50 SPF.
A shirt from TYR is meant for outdoor wear and is one of the ways you can pack smarter for sun-filled journeys. While all the items mentioned so far are excellent to wear against heat, this tee from TYR is one of the best lightweight travel clothing items.
- UV protection
- Comes in several colors
- Isn’t size-inclusive, only up to 2X
See Related: How to Pack for a Month-Long Trip
12. COOFANDY Linen Shirt
A linen shirt from COOFANDY is among the best clothing that combines comfort and style. These shirts are made from cotton, which, unlike synthetic materials, will not create more heat against your body.
These lighter-colored shirts are not quite see-through, though you may think they are with how much air flows through them. They are also a little bit baggy which ensures that the underneath skin remains dry.
My husband has a few clothing pieces from COOFANDY and, despite their moderate price, they hold up pretty well after a lot of wear. I don’t always recommend more generic pieces from Amazon, but these linen shirts are ideal for beach lounging or hot and humid climates.
- Lightweight clothing
- Good price
- Shape may not flatter all body types
See Related: Beach Blankets: What Product Should You Buy
13. COOFANDY Linen Pants
These pants go perfectly with the previous COOFANDY linen shirts. They are also made of high-quality cotton which makes them soft on the skin. COOFANDY linen pants are a loose fit which makes them perfect for hot, humid weather as they allow excellent airflow.
The elastic waist together with the adjustable drawstring provide maximum wearable comfort. On top of that, they have a straight-leg design making them stylish and perfect for sundry occasions such as vacations, beach parties, yoga sessions, or just hanging out.
- Excellent for smart casual vacation wear
- Breathable cotton
- Comes in multiple colors
- Stylish with shoes or flip flops
- Thighs wear out easily
See Related: 6 Ways to Luggage-Free Travel (Yes, It’s Possible)
14. Men’s Capilene Cool Daily Hoody
Yes, it’s a hoodie. I know what you might be thinking — why is there a hoodie on this list? Well, this is a thin, super lightweight Capilene Cool Daily Hoody that is designed for exercising as well as other outdoor activities.
The fabric is moisture-absorbing and quick to dry, so your clothes won’t be soaking wet with sweat. Moreover, this lightweight hoodie is excellent for sun-drenched vacations since its long-sleeved and extensive coverage shields the skin from harmful UV rays.
- Made from recycled materials
- Good for hot or cold weather
- Several patterns available
- Polyester material
See Related: Best Travel Hoodies for a Cozy Journey
15. Trailmade Joggers
These stylish Trailmade Joggers by REI are made of nylon and spandex so they are both comfortable and lightweight. They have been specifically tailored to provide comfortable jogging sessions or any other sports activity with elastic ankle cuffs to keep your pant legs from dragging or getting caught.
The joggers are moisture-wicking and quick to dry to reduce body heat. Chances are you will get involved in outdoor activities on your trip, so why not pack some stylish jogger pants?
- Available up to 3X
- Made for repetitive movement
- Elastic ankle cuffs to keep the pant leg in place
- Includes extra zippered pocket beneath waist pocket
- More expensive than other pants listed so far
See Related: Best Travel Shorts
16. Columbia EvaPOURation Coat
A hot climate does not mean there won’t be rain — especially if you go somewhere rainforested like Costa Rica. So, it’s important to travel fully prepared. This rain jacket from Columbia is made of nylon fabric which makes it lightweight while the evaporation technology helps evaporate sweat off your body under the coat and keep the rain off of you too.
Although the jacket is lightweight, it can still perfectly shield you from a light shower to a heavy downpour. Don’t let a little (or a lot of) rain ruin your trip. Although you are packing for hot climates, a rain jacket will often come in handy unless you’re headed somewhere where it doesn’t rain.
- Protects from rain and sweat
- Travel-friendly nylon fabric
- Easy to fold and bring along for day trips
- More of an investment than other travel raincoats
See Related: Best Travel Blankets
Unisex Lightweight Travel Clothing for Hot Climates
17. Columbia Unisex Schooner Bank Cachalot Hat
A hat is one of the travel essentials for hot weather that should always be on your packing list. After all, there’s a reason why hats with neck flaps are featured in popular culture as extremely hot weather clothing. These unisex hats from Columbia can help keep you cool and protect your neck and head from the sun.
Columbia’s hat also has a sweat-wicking band to keep sweat from dripping into your eyes. In addition to being lightweight and breathable, these hats are foldable and easy to pack or hook onto your day pack.
- Available in multiple colors
- Offers UV protection
- Hand wash only
See Related: Best Warm Winter Destinations in Europe
18. Ergodyne Chill-Its Cooling Bandana
Cooling clothes for hot climates, like this Ergodyne Chill-Its Cooling Bandana, are made using advanced cooling technology. It is lined with an absorbent and hyper-evaporative material that holds more water, enabling it to create lasting cooling effects — similar to the effect of a cooling towel.
All you need to do is soak it in water for a minute until it is soft and ready for use. For hot weather, these kinds of accessories are a lifesaver that I for one can’t live without. They can be worn like normal bandanas, or you can tie them around your neck or flatten it out to fasten them around your shoulders.
Ergodyne cooling bandanas are also great tools for reducing fatigue as their cooling effect can last up to four hours after a single soak. For folks who don’t like hats, these bandanas can offer a lot of relief when traveling through hot climates.
- Machine washable
- Several patterns
- Stays cool for up to four hours
- Can be worn off of the head too
- The evaporative inner layer is not cotton
See Related: 15 Warm Places to Visit in the US During Winter
19. Unisex Coolmax Socks
These anti-odor moisture-wicking socks from Hylaea are the perfect unisex accessories for hot weather. Made with Coolmax fiber, these no-show socks provide cushion while keeping your feet dry no matter where you are.
With these cooling socks in your luggage, you won’t have to worry about getting sweat-induced blisters. You can explore your heart’s content without being miserable or ending the day with extremely stinky shoes.
- Cooling technology to keep feet dry
- Come in multiple colors to keep straight
- No-show cut
- High price for only a three-pack
See Related: 27 Best Travel Accessories and Gear in 2023
20. Frogg Toggs Cooling Towel
Anytime I go somewhere that will be hot, I bring a cooling towel. Do I look like a tourist? Absolutely. Am I significantly more comfortable in the brutal heat? Yes. So it’s worth looking like a tourist.
Frogg Toggs originated the cooling towel, so they are the best. Like the bandanas above, all you have to do is moisten the fabric and wring it out to activate its cooling technology. It works by passing the cooling effects of evaporation onto your skin.
- Easy to store
- Multiple colors
- Can be worn in a variety of ways
- Hand wash only
- It will start to smell after a few days
See Related: 19 Essential Women’s Travel Accessories
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Amanda is a Chicago-based queer travel, arts, and lifestyle writer who is passionate about exploring the world. Her work has been featured in Newcity Stage, The Chicago Reader, Huffington Post, and Yahoo, as well as the November 2022 book, “Chicago Like a Local” and other travel journals available on Amazon. Amanda’s favorite destinations include Costa Rica, Prague, Dublin, Hong Kong, and every Disney park she’s visited.