Spring weather is like travel—unpredictable. Temperatures can vary wildly in the course of one day; you could even be caught in an impromptu rainstorm followed by sunny skies. It’s hard to plan for, even if you’re toting the best weather app. That’s why there are certain clothes you should never pack for spring travel.
The Worst Clothes for Spring Travel
Here are the clothes to steer clear of, and what you should bring instead.
Spring Travel Don’t: Polyesters
Although polyesters are great for durability, they’re terrible at moisture-wicking and breathability. This can leave you damp and overheated if a day is hotter than you had anticipated.
Spring Travel Do: Opt for cotton clothing or blends, which are breathable and great at keeping moisture away from your skin in mild conditions. For men, a cotton spring outfit could look something like this: Docker’s Men’s Slim Fit Ultimate Chino Pants paired with Eddie Bauer’s Men’s Voyager II Performance Polo Shirt. The pants are super soft and won’t wrinkle even after a long plane ride, and they are 100 percent cotton, so they will keep you cool. The shirt is a patented FreeDry cotton blend, which is designed to be moisture-wicking and also offers UPF 50 sun protection.
Women might like Eddie Bauer’s Lookout Short-Sleeve T-shirt (95% cotton with a touch of spandex for easy movement and anti-wrinkle) combined with jeans that are 99% cotton for a casual, yet pulled-together look.
Spring Travel Don’t: Non-Bug-Repellant Clothes
Headed out for some spring hiking? So are the ticks—April through September is when the pests are the most active. You can prevent ticks from latching on to you by wearing long pants and socks when you’re out in nature. Long layers that are bug-repellent are the most effective of all.
Spring Travel Do: Toad & Co just launched an awesome line of Insect Shield clothing that deters everything from ticks to mosquitoes. The Debug Trail Tights are perfect for full leg coverage (especially when paired with tall socks) and they even have two back pockets and one secret zippered stash pocket, which is a rarity in leggings. They’re sun protective, allowing you to leave both the sunscreen and bug spray back at the car. The male equivalent of the Debug Trail Tights is the Debug Trailblaze pant, which has the same odorless bug and sun-blocking power, but in real pant form. The Trailblaze pant is still super flexible and stretchy, thanks to the nylon/spandex blend.
Spring Travel Don’t: Sheer Fabrics
Sheer fabrics seem like a good idea in the spring, since they won’t be too hot or too cold. But beware: They can lull you into a false sense of security against the sun. Remember that you can still get sunburned through sheer or light clothing, even if you’re totally covered.
Spring Travel Do: Opt for something that’s specifically made out of UPF-protective material to block harmful rays. Eddie Bauer’s Departure Long Sleeve Dress has long sleeves to keep you covered (or roll up if you get too hot), plus UPF 50 protection. Royal Robbins’ Great Basin Polo has UPF protection, but is lightweight enough to keep you from overheating in the sun.
Spring Travel Don’t: Non-Waterproof Jackets
Spring showers bring May flowers … and drenched clothing. Make sure your outer shell is waterproof—don’t just pack a sweatshirt and hope for the best.
Spring Travel Do: A hooded, waterproof, and packable jacket can fit into just about any daypack or purse and keep you dry in case of sudden showers. Plus it comes with its own carrying bag so that you can put it away while wet.
Spring Travel Don’t: Clothes That Don’t Quick-Dry
If you do get rained on, you’ll appreciate having clothes that will dry out quickly. Quick-drying nylon/spandex type fabrics will dry much faster than materials like fleece, which remain damp for hours.
Spring Travel Do: Short-Sleeved Sunblock Dress, a cute t-shirt style dress that is made out of a performance/swim type fabric so that you can use it as both a cover-up post swim and a rainy day dress. And as the name says, it’s also sun protective.
The Nuu Muu Scoop Dress is another good quick-drying option that’s moisture-wicking and resistant to stains/wrinkles/tears.
Spring Travel Don’t: Clothes That Don’t Layer
Spring days might start cool, get hot, and end chilly—so wearing just one bulky sweater or thin tank top isn’t a great idea.
Spring Travel Do: Pack complimentary items that you can easily layer. Short-Sleeved Travel Top works both on its own and as a base layer—it’s so thin, you can easily add a cardigan or sweater on top. It even has a hidden, zippered pocket on the side seam, so you can stash your card or cash without worrying about pickpockets.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 7 Travel Sweaters with Super Powers
- 25 Travel-Sized Beauty Products That Are Totally on Trend
- 26 Travel-Themed Socks That’ll Add a ‘Kick’ To Your Wardrobe
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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.
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