Extreme Layering: Hot-Weather Clothing

From the Grand Canyon to sunshine-pounded Colorado peaks, stay cool and comfortable with this ultralight system.

Extreme Cold | Extreme Heat | Extreme Rain | Extreme Versatility

Shirt | Shell | Shorts | Insulation | Hat

SHIRT

Mountain Hardwear Advance Short Sleeve Crew

"I was surprised by how cool this shirt felt–even under a heavy pack," reported one tester after a sizzling hike to the Grand Canyon's Havasu Falls. The polyester fabric has ribbed channels that wick sweat away and increase airflow next to the skin; they shone when temps soared into the 90s along the Colorado River. Flat-lock seams were comfortable under pack straps, and the fabric showed no snagging or pilling after several months of backpacking and climbing. As for stink, the Chitosan antimicrobial treatment (made from crustacean shells) proved equal to other treatments–but not as effective as wool–during a sweaty four-day hike. (Look for a head-to-head test of odor-fighting fabrics in our November issue.) Available in various styles (from $28-$45). $35; men's S-XXL; 4 oz.; mountainhardwear.com. Reader service #107

Extreme Cold | Extreme Heat | Extreme Rain | Extreme Versatility

Shirt | Shell | Shorts | Insulation | Hat

SHELL

Outdoor Research Foray

Short of a built-in fan, nothing provides better venting than the Foray's two-way side-zips, which extend from armpit to hem. Testers loved the ability to adjust from standard pit-zip openings to gaping poncho-style vents. The jacket's waterproof/breathable Gore-Tex Paclite kept us dry in all conditions, from pounding afternoon thunderstorms to steady all-day showers. The adjustable hood has a wide, stiff visor that prevents water from dripping in the eyes or face, and the below-the-hip cut is just right for moderate conditions. And since it weighs less than a pound and packs down to the size of two bagels, you'll never hesitate to carry it on warm-weather treks. The women's version is called the Aspire. $199; men's S-XXL, women's XS-XL; 15 oz.; orgear.com. Reader service #108

Extreme Cold | Extreme Heat | Extreme Rain | Extreme Versatility

Shirt | Shell | Shorts | Insulation | Hat

SHORTS

Sierra Designs Boundary Short

Cool, durable, comfortable. We want that and nothing more from our shorts, and these deliver. But what really sets SD's quick-dry nylon shorts apart from all the other quick-dry nylon shorts on the market is the fabric's amazing four-way stretch, which allows for unlimited range of movement and prevents chafing. The fabric proved rugged enough for desert scrambling but it feels soft against the skin and didn't get hot or sticky even when daytime highs reached the mid-90s. The men's version (pictured) is roomy but not baggy and falls just above the knee. The guys' only complaint: the hand pockets are shallow. The womens' version has a flattering, feminine style with a shorter, mid-thigh cut and belted, hip-hugging waistline. At the end of a hard season, test pairs had a bit of surface pilling in the hipbelt area, but otherwise hardly showed wear. $60; men's 28-40, women's 4-14; 8 oz.; sierradesigns.com. Reader service #109

Extreme Cold | Extreme Heat | Extreme Rain | Extreme Versatility

Shirt | | Shell | Shorts | Insulation | Hat

INSULATION

Patagonia Wool 4 Hoody

Even on a summer trek in Utah's sizzling Escalante region, you still need more than a T-shirt when the sun drops–but you don't need to pack a bulky fleece. This simple, 100-percent merino pullover is the answer–plus, the soft, four-way stretch, jersey knit fabric just feels good. It has a terry-looped interior for extra cush and insulation, while the smooth exterior sheds cool predawn breezes. A hood and kangaroo front pocket boost both the coziness and style. There are no zippers, snaps, or drawcords on this classic sweatshirt design, which reduces weight and bulk. Fit is loose for wearing over a baselayer, but not shapeless like a standard-isssue college pullover. $150; men's XS-XL, women's XS-XL; 13 oz. (men's M); patagonia.com. Reader service #110

Extreme Cold | Extreme Heat | Extreme Rain | Extreme Versatility

Shirt | Shell | Shorts | Insulation | Hat

HAT

The North Face Breeze Brimmer

This lid earned the ultimate stamp of approval when one tester refused to share it. After wearing the Breeze Brimmer while sea kayaking in Mexico and hiking in New Mexico, he said: "For coverage in bright sun, I've never tried anything better." The breathable, quick-drying, and crunchable lid has a three-inch brim. $28; one unisex size; 3 oz.; thenorthface.com. Reader service #111