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  1. #1
    2005 Camino de santiago
    Join Date
    Cocoa, Florida

    Question Hot Days...Back to Cotton?

    Have we perhaps gone to far toward the synthetics without considering a benefit of the natural fiber cotton in warm weather?

    Granted, when its cold I use synthetic clothing which tends to wick the sweat away from me, because i dont want the cooling effect of the evaporating sweat to cool me down even further in cold weather.

    But when its really hot I find I am more comfortable if I switch back to cotton-for the trunk of my body at least- a cotton Tee or tank top. I want the extra cooling effect of the sweat, trapped in the cotton, evaporating from my body. For temperatures hovering around the 100's or higher, when my body temp approaches ambient, I even pour water over my head & body, adding even more water to evaporate and cool me. It seems to work better than synthetics. So, I use only cotton in the heat. And, I use the lighter colors although I am not sure it makes much difference-just that we all think it does!

  2. #2
    Real Men Wear Kilts
    Join Date
    Knoxville, TN


    Well I find cottons to be a pain when hiking. They are a lot of times feel warmer to me in the heat and I really hate the saturated sweat feel. But as long as you are hiking in an area where the potential for cold weather is not present in the summer months, then cotton should be ok. Just my personal opinion is that I don't like the feel of it.

    Oh yeah, I makes a great dry camp shirt though. As long as it isn't wet. I have thought about carrying one all year round to wear in camp. But I dont hike in them.
    Cpt. Chaos

    Real Men Wear Kilts!!

  3. #3


    For me, I wouldn't wear cotton while hiking in warm weather because of the weight. I run alot, and when all the coolmax stuff first came out, I thought it was a big bunch of marketing with no real benefit. After finally buying some shorts and a shirt, I couldn't believe the difference. The sweat soaked cotton felt like I was carrying a few extra pounds, and the coolmax stuff feels almost like you're not wearing a shirt. Then add to that that the synthetic shirt will actually be dry the next morning, blah, blah, blah. I still take an extra cotton shirt to sleep in during warm weather becuase the cotton just feels better.

  4. #4


    Ditto Ankle Bone's post. Cool Max is great, the only fabric that feels cooler than going bare. That is when you are moving and sweating. This is especially true of the mesh type. Non-mesh is OK too.

    The mesh I have is from Bean; I guess they still sell them. They are a little pricey, but worth it. Used even in winter as an extra base layer; the mesh and lightweight polyester layer rival medium to heavy-duty for warmth. The only problem with the mesh type is that it "pills" more easily than a more tightly woven Cool Max, but is not uncomfortable when it does pill.

    My cool max xl is 150 g.; my regular weave is 240 g.

  5. #5
    Registered User RenaissanceMan98's Avatar
    Join Date
    Yellow Springs, Ohio, USA


    Cotton Rocks! As does Hemp, Flax and Linen.

    For cold weather try silk and wool.

    Synthetics are an unecessary waste of resources.

    "Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing at all."

    - Helen Keller

  6. #6

    Default the weave of cotten...more important?

    I am thinking that the weave of cotten could have alot to do with the ability to dry fast. Obviously, a cotten shirt made from the same stuff as say...a dress style shirt would feel alot different than the thicker T-shirt material that gets droopy and heavy when wet. T-shirt material has built in stretch that kind of goes to pot when it gets it extra weight. I might experiment with a button down cotten short sleeve shirt of the dress shirt type weave and see how I like it compared to my coolmax. I love my coolmax net shirt. The thing I HATE about synthetics is how bad they get smelling. I swear, there has got to be a way to be able to hike long distances and not smell completely like a pigpen! I know it will probably never happen but its worth striving for. David S.
    There is a certain joy in exhaustion.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    where the redwoods grow


    I have always been a fan of cotton. I tried using 100% cotton tshirt on the trail and found it would get soaked during the day, and stay soaked overnight, and after a few days of being continuously wet it got a little unpleasant. Next I tried 50/50 cotton polyester. It was a thinner fabric, and that worked out quite well. It retained most of the comfort and coolness of cotton, but would dry significantly faster. I could wear it during the day. And then at camp, I would wear it over my long sleeve shirt, and it would dry out before I went to bed. Finally I moved on to hiking without a shirt on, and that was the best. To a certain extent, if you are going to hike without a shirt on, this discussion doesn't really matter.

    I also own a polyester shirt which I believe is coolmax that I bought for winter use, and it isn't very cool at all. I do like it in cold rainy weather though. I have started using silk long underwear top for winter, and that was quite cool and comfortable, although I haven't determined the durability yet. Silk will absorb moisture like cotton, but not as much, and the fabric is so thin it dries quite rapidly.

    Although I respect RenaissanceMan's attempt to avoid unnecessary waste, I'm not so sure natural fabrics provide a big advantage. Nylon and polyester are quite efficient to manufacture, and are possibly better than cotton, hemp, or linen. When compared to wool or silk, I think it is quite likely that they are better. As an extreme example, consider the comparison between a synthetic nylon coat insulated with polyester fill versus a natural coat made out of mink furs. This doesn't mean I'll never buy a silk shirt again, I just try to keep in mind that everything has a cost and be careful where I can. Also I try to return the favor when I get the chance. Debating this issue here is one way to do that.

  8. #8
    Yes, I know I mis-spelled "Hamster"...
    Join Date
    Athol, MA


    Yeah I use Cotton, even in the winter ( ).

    I hate synthetics, I have a pile of them in the corner of my room.
    I have the $50 shirts and $300 jackets, but they sit gathering dust while I use my $5 T-Shirt and $1 Plastic Poncho. I almost cry when I think of the waste
    "A man builds a fine house; and now he has a master, and a task for life; he is to furnish, watch, show it, and keep it in repair, the rest of his days".
    ...Ralph Waldo Emerson

    GA-ME Someday (Maybe '06?)
    Many Miles in Massachusetts & Vermont...

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