Guide to Cooling Clothing for Fishermen

Cooling clothing can keep you comfortable when temperatures soar.
Trolling for redfish
Cooling clothing will make your summer fishing experience much better. Courtesy Kyle Jessie / B.A.S.S.

No matter how good the fishing is, the summer sun can make any day on the water miserable — and potentially dangerous. You can persevere for a while, but eventually, you’ll feel compelled to turn the boat around and seek air-conditioned accommodations. 

Unless, that is, you have some high-quality cooling clothing. Designed to help keep you comfortable when temperatures soar, these kinds of garments are an angler’s best friend during summer fishing trips. 

We’ll explain how cooling clothes work and share a few of the best options available below. 

What Is Cooling Clothing, and How Does It Work?

Cooling clothing for fishermen takes several different forms, but most types will help keep you cool in one or more ways: 

  • Most cooling clothes wick sweat from your body. Some fibers — including natural fibers like bamboo and synthetic fibers like nylon — will draw moisture from your skin to the surface of the garment, where it can evaporate.
  • Cooling clothes usually breathe well. The best cooling clothes feature light layers, which allow air to flow through the garment, simultaneously cooling and drying your skin. 
  • Some cooling garments utilize evaporative cooling principles. Evaporation requires a ton of energy (heat, in this case), so clothes that encourage evaporation help to draw heat from your skin, thereby cooling you off. While moisture-wicking fibers allow for some evaporative cooling, some garments are specifically designed to maximize this phenomenon. 
  • Almost all good cooling clothes help reflect the sun’s rays. Most cooling clothes are made with light-colored fabric to reflect sunlight, and the best garments even offer UV protection to provide even more comfort. 
  • Some clothing designed to keep you cool utilizes high-tech phase-change materials. Phase-change materials work like evaporative cooling materials do, except that instead of absorbing body heat to change from a liquid to a gas (evaporating), they use your body heat to change from a solid to a liquid. These types of garments must typically be “charged” — cooled in a freezer or bath of ice water. 

Benefits of Cooling Saltwater Fishing Apparel

The most notable benefit cooling apparel provides to anglers is simply increased comfort. After all, fishing is supposed to be fun, so you obviously want to remain comfy while enjoying a day on the water. 

But cooling clothing provides a number of additional benefits too. Some of the most notable include:

  • Cooling garments will help prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke. While you should always watch for signs indicating that your body isn’t cooling itself effectively (such as if you stop sweating or notice your pulse racing), cooling clothing can help keep you safer in high temperatures. 
  • You’ll enjoy greater endurance when wearing cooling garments. Simply put, the cooler you stay, the longer you’ll feel like fishing. 
  • Most high-quality cooling garments protect your skin from the sun. Sun exposure is a critical concern for anglers, but most cooling clothes offer UV protection to help keep your skin safe. 
  • Clothing that keeps you cool also keeps you focused. Focus is key for fishing success, and that means limiting distractions, such as sweltering temperatures and sweat pouring down your body. 

Extreme Hot Weather Clothing for Summer Fishing

Part of the joy of being a 21st century angler is that you have so many different types of cooling clothing to choose from. From undershirts and shorts to hats and gaiters, there are plenty of temperature-lowering options that’ll make your next fishing trip more comfortable. 

Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Sleeveless Shirt
Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Sleeveless Shirt Courtesy Patagonia

Cooling Undershirt

It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping for your first piece of cooling attire, or you already have a closet full of stuff, a cooling undershirt is one of the most important items to own, as it’ll be in direct contact with your skin.

Under Armour Tactical HeatGear Compression V-Neck Short-Sleeve T-Shirt
Under Armour Tactical HeatGear Compression V-Neck Short-Sleeve T-Shirt Courtesy Under Armour

You don’t have to worry about UV protection for an undershirt; instead, focus on finding a moisture-wicking undershirt that’ll keep you dry and cool all day long. 

Columbia Women's PFG ZERO™ Tank Top
Columbia Women’s PFG ZERO™ Tank Top Courtesy Columbia

Popular options:

World Wide Sportsman 3D Cool Sublimated Long-Sleeve Casting Shirt
World Wide Sportsman 3D Cool Sublimated Long-Sleeve Casting Shirt Courtesy World Wide Sportsman

Cooling Shirts

Whether you’re looking for cooling fishing shirts for men or cooling shirts for women, opt for garments that provide things like UV resistance and copious amounts of airflow. And while there’s nothing wrong with picking shirts that match your sense of style, remember that light colors will reflect more of the sun’s rays — and therefore keep you cooler — than dark colors will. 

Columbia Super Terminal Tackle™ Vent Hooded Shirt
Columbia Super Terminal Tackle™ Vent Hooded Shirt Courtesy Columbia
Huk Women's Icon Performance Hoodie
Huk Women’s Icon Performance Hoodie Courtesy Huk

Popular options:

Columbia PFG Terminal Tackle Shorts
Columbia PFG Terminal Tackle Shorts Courtesy Columbia

Cooling Pants and Shorts

Cooling shirts for men and women are important, but don’t neglect your lower half when picking your summer fishing attire. As when picking cooling shirts, you’ll want to prioritize UV resistance and airflow when selecting the best pair of cooling shorts or pants.

Columbia Silver Ridge™ Utility Convertible Pants
Columbia Silver Ridge™ Utility Convertible Pants Courtesy Columbia

Many anglers instinctively gravitate toward shorts in the summer, but some cooling pants will keep you cooler by reflecting the sun’s rays more effectively than your skin can. 

Columbia PFG Tidal II Shorts for Ladies
Columbia PFG Tidal II Shorts for Ladies Courtesy Columbia

Popular options:

Columbia PFG Backcast Booney Hat
Columbia PFG Backcast Booney Hat Courtesy Columbia

Cooling Hats

Chances are, you’ll be wearing a hat on the water anyway. So, you may as well pick one that’ll keep you cooler.

Pelagic Delta Flexfit Icon Hat
Pelagic Delta Flexfit Icon Hat Courtesy Pelagic

Airflow is often cited as the most important thing to look for when buying a cooling hat, but a moisture-wicking headband is also quite helpful. Your head will often sweat quite a bit in the heat, and you don’t want a soggy hat clinging to your head all day long. 

Natural Reflections Cane Lifeguard Hat
Natural Reflections Cane Lifeguard Hat Courtesy Natural Reflections

Popular options:

BUFF UVX Mask Courtesy BUFF

Cooling Bandanas and Neck Gaiters

Bandanas, neck gaiters, and similar products are very helpful for keeping the sun off your face, neck, and shoulders, and those designed to offer cooling benefits will keep you even more comfortable. 

BUFF CoolNet UV Multifunctional Neckwear
BUFF CoolNet UV Multifunctional Neckwear Courtesy BUFF

Choose gaiters and bandanas that are made from lightweight fabrics and designed to provide UV protection. 

Kafka's Kool Tie
Kafka’s Kool Tie Courtesy Kafka’s

Popular options:

West Marine Cooling Towel
West Marine Cooling Towel Courtesy West Marine

Accessorize Your Fishing Outfit With Cool Gear

By adding a few cooling accessories to your wardrobe, you can help take your warm-weather comfort to an entirely different level. Many accessories also serve multiple purposes. For example, cooling towels are great for drying your skin when sweaty, but they can also help cool you off when it’s hot. 

And it’s not just about you, either: Towels and wristbands are great to keep on hand for companions who may need a bit of help keeping cool. 

REI Cooling Towel
REI Cooling Towel Courtesy REI

Cooling vests are another accessory that’ll keep you cool on the water. A few cooling vests even feature phase-change technology, making them some of the best cooling clothing for extreme heat. 

Popular options:

Beat the Heat With Cooling Clothing

We’ve talked a lot about the comfort cooling clothing can provide, but don’t forget that cooling attire also helps keep you safe on the water and prevent heat exhaustion. 

So, pick up some high-quality cooling clothes to ensure you’re ready to enjoy tight lines under the summer sun. Just be sure to stick to those made by reputable manufacturers — you don’t want to find out the bargain-basement “cooling” clothes you purchased aren’t up to the task. 


What is the best fabric to keep you cool?

A variety of fabrics can keep you cool, and anglers often have differing opinions about the best material for hot weather. However, bamboo and silk are both effective natural fiber options, while nylon and polyester are good synthetic options.  

What are the disadvantages of a cooling vest?

Evaporative cooling vests can leave your skin feeling slightly damp, which some anglers find unpleasant. Phase-change cooling vests sidestep this problem and keep you dry, but they require frequent “recharging” in ice water. 

What color cloth commonly keeps you the coolest in the hot sun?

Most light colors will keep you cool in hot weather, but if you want the very best color, opt for white fishing clothes. White reflects more light than any other color, which will keep you the coolest. 

About the Author: 

A nature lover and avid angler, Ben grew up fishing and working crab traps on Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach. Despite what you may have heard, he was definitely not frightened the first time he saw a giant tarpon underwater while snorkeling (they’re not so scary when you’re reeling them in).