While I'm a big fan of modern technology and what it can do for us, I do dearly love a simple, oldschool solution when it works.
|Especially if it can help preserve beauty like this|
Last weekend was a scorcher - it was hot as balls from the time I rolled out of bed on Saturday, so I threw on a cooling shirt (one made by New Balance of their "NB Ice" fabric) to run down to the market.
|The daisy behind my ear, however, was purely for aesthetics.|
As the morning was relatively dry and windy, the shirt helped a bit - I still suffered greatly in the heat, but it was probably better than nothing.
|And of course, running through this - even with it punitively hot out - is still better than not running.|
When Sunday came up even hotter - with increased humidity to boot - I decided to try an experiment. I'd recently got a free hand-printed cotton bandana with an order from Runyon Canyon Apparel, so I soaked it down and tied it loosely around my neck before diving into the woods for an evening romp.
|Along with my awesome all-mesh Runyon hat|
(I was wearing another cooling shirt, too)
Time for a little Seems Like Science: People are generally advised not to wear cotton for outdoor activities, because it tends to hold moisture rather than wicking it away from the skin. This makes it a terrible choice for camping or hiking, as it won't keep you warm if it gets wet - on the contrary, wet cotton will actually pull heat out of your body through evaporative cooling. This is the origin of the old saying "cotton kills" among outdoorsy folks: many inexperienced hikers, campers, paddlers, and backpackers have had nasty bouts of hypothermia brought on by wearing cotton that got wet and failed to keep them warm. Some experiments have actually shown that wet cotton will chill you faster than being naked!
|You have my word that - should I ever put that to the test - I will not post photos.|
So how did it go?
|Other than really pretty, as I danced through the phlox-scented forest?|
The experiment was a rousing success! The bandana felt cool around my neck the whole time, which was a first for me. I've tried wearing cooling tubular neck gaiters in the past (I actually ran with one around my wrist on Saturday), but they always seem to end up trapping warm air against my skin - basically the exact opposite of what you want on a hot day. The bandana, though, really seemed to help!
|I realize this was not the most controlled of experiments, but this isn't exactly PubMed.|
If you're interested in doing your own testing with cotton for its evaporative cooling properties, I'd love to hear about your own experiences. The best part is that these bandanas are cheap and plentiful - I have a bunch of them that used to be constant companions on my motorcycle, before I learned how much better synthetic tubular bandanas are for those applications (like covering my hair under a helmet, or to cover my face in rainy weather; easier to put on, and the knit polyester isn't as difficult to breathe through when wet!). If you don't have one and want to try, you could do a lot worse than the excellent ones offered by Runyon Canyon Apparel in a multitude of colour combinations; they'll even toss you a free one if you order more than $50 of stuff, and will donate $1 from every item sold to preserve wild spaces!
|Also suitable for post-run wades in the river - beer optional|
So rather than placing my faith in the latest, greatest fabric technologies to beat the not-even-summer-yet heat, sometimes it pays to try an older, simpler solution. I'm sure there are generations of cowboys and farmers all laughing at me and my pricy, delicate cooling fabrics - they've known for a century that a simple square of cotton will do the trick.
|Stay cool out there - however you choose to do so!|
Note: I have no affiliation with Runyon Canyon Apparel, and receive no compensation from them for this post, nor any sales arising from referrals. They're just an awesome company that deserves a shout out!