Running in the heat of summer is no walk in the park. Depending on where you live, the heat can be intense, adding an extra element of challenge to your training. While there’s not much you can do about the reading on your thermometer, you can dress accordingly.
Proper gear can make or break a workout, so do yourself a solid and choose wisely. I live in Hawai’i, where the humidity is high and the temperature is higher, so I know a thing or two about running in warm weather. After months of thorough testing, I’ve settled on six gear categories that are essential for warm-weather workouts, as well as some of my favorite pieces from each category.
Check out the full list or jump ahead to the category you’re most interested in.
Lightweight Summer Running Gear
Dehydration is one of the biggest threats during summer training. A result of heat and/or humidity, dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is higher than the amount being taken in.
If you’re planning on a longer run, a hydration pack is an easy way to ensure that you take in enough H2O during your time on the trails. They’re also great for stashing snacks and gels, so you’ve got your nutrition fully covered.
The Zephyr ($150) is incredibly lightweight and includes body mapping for maximum ventilation. It includes a number of zippered pockets, two easy-access flasks, and the option to include a hydration bladder, making it my top pick for long days on the trail. Read our full review.
Osprey Solo — Duro (Men’s) & Dyna (Women’s)
Sometimes a sweat-inducing pack is the last thing you want pressing up against your back on a hot summer day. The Osprey Solo ($40) is worn around the waist, includes a 570mL BPA-free bottle, and has some extra room for stashing necessities.
This unisex pack ($160) is constructed from soft stretch fabric and is free from pressure points, making it comfortable and easy to create an exact fit. Plus, it includes easy access to front flask pockets as well as secure pockets, a back compartment, and a tunnel pocket, so there’s plenty of room for storing essentials.
Running in long sleeves in the heat of summer may seem counterintuitive, but the extra fabric can actually work to keep you cooler. Not only do they offer sun protection, but wearing a loose-fitting shirt made from a wicking fabric also helps wick sweat away from the skin so it can dry. This creates airflow between your skin and the fabric. For extra protection, look for a shirt with at least UPF 30.
Made from 50-100% recycled polyester, Patagonia’s Capilene shirt ($45) is quick-drying, offers good stretch for added mobility, and has built-in odor control. The shirt is incredibly soft and the lightest long sleeve I have ever worn, making it my favorite for hot days on the trail.
Designed specifically for running and training, the Lululemon Swiftly ($78) features seamless construction so chafing is a non-issue. The slim fit and multiple size options allow for a tailored fit and the thumbholes allow for a little extra sun protection.
When I first got into running, I didn’t pay much attention to what type of socks I was getting. I usually just purchased the cheapest bulk pack I could find. After a race gifted me a pair of “nice” running socks, it changed everything.
A good pair of running socks will help keep your feet dry, offer cushioning to prevent blisters, and can even help improve blood circulation, depending on the style you choose.
Made in the U.S., these Smartwool Run Zero socks ($16) feature a performance-oriented fit, body-mapped mesh zones for added breathability, and an Achilles tab to prevent slippage. They are also virtually seamless. Made from 48% merino wool, these are the perfect lightweight socks and my favorite for summer runs.
If you’re looking for some socks to showcase your personality, SockGuy has you covered with lots of fun prints and solids. The Blueberry 1” socks ($12) feature a cool airflow mesh upper and stay-put arch support, making them the perfect blend of stability and comfort.
Made from recycled fabrics, the Accelerate socks ($16) feel thin and lightweight but offer the cushioning and support you need. Anti-odor technology and sweat-wicking fabric help your feet stay cool and stink-free.
It’s no secret that running hats can help shield your head and face from the sun, but they can also help keep your temperature down as well. A good running hat works to draw sweat away from the head, where it evaporates, helping you stay cool.
Another perk of wearing a hat on hot days is that it doubles as a sweatband, preventing sweat from dripping down your face and into your eyes.
HOKA’s Performance hat ($30) gives off retro vibes but includes modern technical features to keep you cool. The hat is lightweight, fast-drying, adjustable, and features a flexible brim, so it’s easy to pack along for all of your adventures.
Although the price is steep, the Melin A-Game Hydro hat ($59) is exceptional — it’s lightweight, breathable, water repellent, and floats. Additionally, the hat is antimicrobial, with a moisture-wicking lining and a hidden pocket for stashing necessities. As someone who enjoys jumping in the ocean after a long run, this is the perfect hat for me.
The Mad Dash cap ($25) is designed to minimize sun exposure and includes a dark underbill to reduce glare. Another standout feature is the mesh paneling for ventilation, allowing it to be lightweight and breathable.
Wearing sunglasses is a good move anytime the sun is shining. But during the summer months, it’s extra important.
It’s a no-brainer that sunglasses help shield your eyes from the sun, but the added protection helps minimize squinting and unnecessary tension, which, in turn, can help enhance performance. To ensure that you get the best protection possible, look for UVA and UVB on the label.
The Oakley M2 Frame XL ($163) shades are ultra-lightweight, offer a snug fit, were designed for impact, and feature a low bridge fit. This makes them ideal for staying in place and keeping your eyes protected while running.
The XL frame allows for better peripheral vision, and Oakley’s signature Prizm lens technology ensures that images are extra sharp. These are my go-to glasses for long runs under the sun.
Featuring an aviator-style frame, the Kaupo Gap ($230) is a cross between fitness glasses and an everyday pair of shades, keeping you covered regardless of where the day takes you. The glasses are lightweight, polarized, and include adjustable nose pads and rubber inserts, allowing you to find your perfect fit.
Whether you prefer a barefoot-style shoe or one with added support, a good pair of shoes is important year-round. As someone who gets injured easily, I prefer a shoe with a little extra cushion that’s not too bulky and is still lightweight and breathable.
If you’re not sure what to look for, head to your local running store and the staff will help you pick the perfect shoe for your running style and needs.
ASICS’s Gel-Kayano ($160) has been my shoe of choice for years, and each new model just keeps getting better. Designed to provide maximum support and comfort, the shoe features a low-profile external heel counter and FF BLAST cushioning in the midsole, working together to create a stable stride.
HOKA’s ATR 6 ($130) is one of the lightest shoes I’ve ever run in and is versatile enough to transfer from the road to the trail with ease. Available in a variety of fun color schemes, the shoe is made from recycled materials. It features a toe rand for support and protection, a foam midsole to minimize impact, and zonal rubber placement to ensure that the shoes last for a long time.