Alternatives to polyester for hot day clothing

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TonyMinnesoti

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Hey all,

When I’m hiking or backpacking in high temps I’ll often wear a polyester whiling t shirt. They don’t hold moisture like a cotton shirt would and are refreshingly breathable in comparison.

However, I really have mixed feelings synthetic fabrics as they’re essentially a micro plastics factory.

Do any of you hippie-types out there know of a natural fabric that performs at the same level?
 

Carla618

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Hey all,

When I’m hiking or backpacking in high temps I’ll often wear a polyester whiling t shirt. They don’t hold moisture like a cotton shirt would and are refreshingly breathable in comparison.

However, I really have mixed feelings synthetic fabrics as they’re essentially a micro plastics factory.

Do any of you hippie-types out there know of a natural fabric that performs at the same level?
Cotton is well known for being 'breathable' as opposed to synthetic fabrics. There are some breathable synthetic fabrics today. But cotton is still king:) Maybe wear a blend.

An article on the two types at Bustle:

The Best And Worst Fabrics For Sweat-Proof Clothing

 

jacqueg

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Hey all,

When I’m hiking or backpacking in high temps I’ll often wear a polyester whiling t shirt. They don’t hold moisture like a cotton shirt would and are refreshingly breathable in comparison.

However, I really have mixed feelings synthetic fabrics as they’re essentially a micro plastics factory.

Do any of you hippie-types out there know of a natural fabric that performs at the same level?
Linen. And some types of silk.
 

maki2

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When I was on vacation in Hawaii a few years back I learned from the local that Rayon is the coolest of the natural fibers and that silk is actually a warmth retaining fabric, too hot to wear in hot weather but perfect for layering in cold weather.
 

maki2

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Rayon is a semi synthetic/natural fiber is the coolest.
 

Spaceman Spiff

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It depends on conditions.

Among natural fibers cotton is best at wicking, bringing sweat out to evaporate. BUT it has poor sun protection:
~ SPF 7 when dry,​
~ SPF 3 when wet.​
Linen is almost as good at wicking but gives better sun protection:
SPF 25 - 50 with natural dies,​
SPF 15 - 25 with synthetic dies.​

The more skin you cover the cooler you will be.
Loose fitting clothing will be cooler than tight.

Chambray/denim (and even light wool fabrics) will sometimes work better in hot, windy conditions:
slowing down evaporation to conserve hydration and keeping skin from drying out.​
 

Morgana

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and even light wool fabrics
My hot-weather socks are wool -- merino wool IIRC. It seems counter-intuitive but they're pretty comfortable. I never looked into whether [the right kind of] wool would also work for other types of clothing but I bet it would.
 

Solarcoast

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Second vote for linen. I'm no textiles expert but every linen shirt I've had has been super comfy in the heat, and I overheat easily and sweat like a pig.

I wish they didn't look like wearing a wrinkly dish rag though. Doesn't matter when boondocking however! 🤔
 

ibuzzard

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I buy expensive linen shirts used on eBay - in the winter. They are cheap. I buy expensive wool clothes used on eBay - in the summer. They are cheap.

Rayon is not all natural, it is semi synthetic and made from chemicals
 

Malamute

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Hey all,

When I’m hiking or backpacking in high temps I’ll often wear a polyester whiling t shirt. They don’t hold moisture like a cotton shirt would and are refreshingly breathable in comparison.

However, I really have mixed feelings synthetic fabrics as they’re essentially a micro plastics factory.

Do any of you hippie-types out there know of a natural fabric that performs at the same level?

What climate are you doing this in?

Ive worn cotton pretty exclusively for decades in the sun and heat. I used to work outside in the sun and heat, up to a bit over 100 deg, including installing roof metal (dark metal on 100 deg days is fun) but its in a dry climate, sometimes down to 10-15%. I sweat buckets in those conditions, but the sweat evaporates so fast you never realize it. I know when I take my knee pads off because the pants (Carhartts) are soaked underneath but dry as a bone wherever not covered with the knee pads. I would drink a gallon of water and gallon of gatorade a day when working outside like that. I used to buy 6 or more cases of gatorade at a time when on sale, then started making it up with the powder.

I dont know what the official sun protection factor is of cotton, but I never was sunburned wearing cotton t shirts or Carhartt pants out in the sun, only exposed skin if it didnt have some of high SPF protection and keep slathering it on. Walmart used to sell some stuff called No-Ad, sort of a generic sunscreen, up to spf 65 I think. It was great stuff, now sadly gone. A rather large bottle used to be about $5.
 

KarlH

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When I was on vacation in Hawaii a few years back I learned from the local that Rayon is the coolest of the natural fibers and that silk is actually a warmth retaining fabric, too hot to wear in hot weather but perfect for layering in cold weather.
+1 for Rayon. While it's not as strong as the others, it's very comfortable and doesn't give off an odor or shed dust. I like it for sheets and pillowcases too.
 

egilbe

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I buy expensive linen shirts used on eBay - in the winter. They are cheap. I buy expensive wool clothes used on eBay - in the summer. They are cheap.

Rayon is not all natural, it is semi synthetic and made from chemicals
Rayon is made from wood fibers, it's cellulose. It's also what tampons are made from.
 

egilbe

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As a hiker myself, I'll not wear cotton. As the saying goes in the outdoor industry, "cotton kills".

Merino wool is my go-to fabric for hiking. It doesn't stink like polyester does after wearing it for several days. Some crazy hippy hikers won't wear animal byproducts because it exploits animals. I love to point out that the synthetic Patagucci shirt they're wearing is dinosaur byproducts. May as well be wearing leather or furs.
 

Spaceman Spiff

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Rayon is made from wood fibers, it's cellulose. It's also what tampons are made from.
How rayon is made:
The wood pulp is first dissolved in sodium hydroxide, otherwise called caustic soda.​
The resulting alkali is then combined with carbon disulfide to create xanthate. Once it has been combined with carbon disulfide and further dissolved in more caustic soda, it becomes a viscous liquid.​
The viscous solution is then extruded, which results in the creation of cellulose filaments. The filaments are treated in an acid bath (sulfuric acid) to solidify them and finally create the rayon fibers.​
Once the fibers are created, the rayon can then be spun into fabric.​

Which is why it is called semi synthetic, cellulose has been chemically manipulated and doesn't resemble the original feeder stock.
 

FlipperFla

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I like the Columbia PFG long sleeve. Super lite, vented across the back, nice big pockets. SPF 50, it’s the weave of the fabric that gives it the SPF, I always thought it was some chemical spray until I went to a Columbia training seminar where I used to work, after it was over you had your pick of 2 shirts and a hat, pretty cool. They wear forever. Backpacking, hiking, boating, any outdoor hot activity. The Columbia and Northface convertible pants are great for hot weather, all dry super fast when wet.
 

Carla618

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However, I really have mixed feelings synthetic fabrics as they’re essentially a micro plastics factory.
Sounds like Merino wool might be what you want, if you can't change a cotton shirt after sweating a lot. Eg. too far from your car and/or no room in your backpack for extra shirts. I read that linen and rayon are worse than cotton at holding water, but IDK.

This forum has a good discussion about the topic:


I am trying to avoid plastics and petroleum products, as well. So I found this discussion interesting.
 

Malamute

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The old cliche about "cotton kills" is way overblown and not at all applicable to summer.

Carlas link had some interesting discussion on the topic, and it was mainly regarding cotton in cold conditions. The overall evidence seems less than conclusive on that topic, and is dependent on many factors which modify the oversimplistic "cotton kills" thing, but in hot conditions, wherever hypothermic conditions arent a factor, the rationale against it seems pretty weak. I think its more a personal choice than anything glaringly obvious as to its utility or not.

As mentioned, Ive worn cotton in the heat extensively for decades with no negative effects that I can tell. I usually wore somewhat dense weave t-shirts in various colors, light grey, white or tan in the warmer times. No sunburn on my pale skin other than exposed skin. Cotton wicks sweat out and evaporates it relatively well in dry climates. Im not aware of anything thats truly comfortable in hot humid climates other being in the AC on max setting or relocating to more favorable areas.

In general I also prefer to avoid synthetics for various reasons.

Wool socks rock for hard use in any climate or condition. 100 degrees? On my feet all day working or hiking? Wool socks.
 
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