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How to Gear Up for Wild Weather


As spring turns to summer, and as rain turns to drier, warmer weather and short days turn to long ones, folks who work outside know this is the time to re-gear up. 

While springtime is one of the most beautiful times of year, it can be one of the most frustrating seasons to work outside. With the wild swings in temperatures, pollen everywhere and rain coming and going on daily, it can make work miserable if you don’t have the right gear. 

Rain Gear

Spring work gear must be versatile and provide protection against wild weather conditions while ensuring comfort and mobility. Several brands offer jackets and vests with weather-resistant features and functional designs. It’s generally best to get a jacket-and-pants set together to maximize your gear’s effectiveness to provide reliable protection against rain and wind while ensuring mobility and comfort. These pants-and-jacket sets are engineered with advanced materials and functional designs that have been perfected over the years, making them ideal choices for unpredictable weather conditions.

Wild Temperature Swings

In May, there’s still snow on the ground in dozens of states, while most of the southern and western states are beginning to experience warmer weather overall. When you work outside, you know how cold it can be on those early, brisk mornings — so layering, using light-weight but breathable materials, is a time-tested way to stay warm without overheating as temps begin to fluctuate. 

Moisture-wicking fabrics that keep you cool, dry and protected during long hours in the sun are what you should be looking for when upgrading your gear. With increased awareness of sun-exposure risks, UV-protective gear is becoming a popular choice. Myriad brands offer work shirts, hats and jackets with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) ratings from UPF 15 through 50 to add an extra layer of protection from the dangers of spending a lifetime outside. 

But, seriously, does some fancy shirt or floppy hat with a 30 UPF rating really keep out more UV rays than your work shirt or ballcap? You bet your melanoma it does.  

Tiny, micro holes in the weaves of regular clothes allow UV rays to penetrate directly through a cotton shirt. With UPF-rated clothing, the block is better, giving you more protection from the sun.

“Most cotton shirts give you an equivalent of about a UPF of 5 when you’re wearing it,” Dr. Alok Vij, a renowned dermatologist from the Cleveland Clinic, said. “Most fabrics that we wear are a loose weave that lets visible light peek through and get to your skin. With UPF clothing, the weave is different and often is made from a special fabric to help form a barrier against the sun’s rays.”

A higher UPF rating number, just like with sunscreen, means more protection. For example, 30 UPF means that an item will allow 1/30th, or 3.33%, of UV rays to pass through. Oh, and in case you were wondering, only clothing with at least a rating of 30 UPF or greater, can earn the Skin Cancer Foundation’s seal of recommendation.


If you’re going to gear up to protect your skin, don’t forget to upgrade your shades. Eye injuries remain one of the most common and most preventable injuries on worksites across the country. Advanced lens materials such as polycarbonate or Trivex, are lightweight, impact-resistant and offer durable optical clarity. These space-age materials are ideal for professionals who require durable and high-performance eyewear that can withstand harsh conditions without compromising safety, vision quality or comfort.

Polarized lenses are designed to reduce glare from reflective surfaces and are especially beneficial for folks who spend their time in sunlight or working on surfaces like construction sites or bodies of water. Recent manufacturing developments have made photochromic, also known as transition lenses, that automatically adjust their tint based on the intensity of UV light, more affordable and widespread. 

Nearly all high-quality sunglasses offer 100% UV protection, blocking both UVA and UVB rays, while also offering safety features, such as wraparound frames and side shields, that keep peripheral UV and debris from a worker’s field of view.

Work Boots

You know you’ve heard it here before, never put anything cheap between you and the ground. Work boots are the most crucial part of the gear you put on every day, providing comfort, support and protection and connectivity. Yes, the robots are even coming for your boots. 

The latest boot trends focus on features like slip resistance, impact protection and internal moisture management, but also now come with embedded sensors that measure foot pressure, temperature and humidity levels inside the boot, and can even detect hazardous substances or chemicals in the surrounding environment. These sensors provide real-time data to users and supervisors, enabling proactive safety measures and early detection of potential risks. Advanced GPS tracking and geofencing, biometric authentication and even kinetic-energy harvesting and power management features that convert unused energy into electricity that power the onboard electronics and smart insoles systems that keep your feet safe, comfy and connected. 

And, do yourself a favor, if you splurge on a new pair of workboots, get a shoe dryer as well. That $20 investment will pay for itself time-and-time again and can be used for all shoes, boots and gloves by everyone in your family. There’s also something mildly spectacular about stepping into warm boots every morning. 


Nothing is safe from the data-ization of everything, including work gloves. One of the easiest rules to learn on a jobsite is still the most important; if you can’t use or feel your hands, you can’t work. 

If boots are the most important piece of gear you put on everyday, gloves are a close second. The next generation of work gloves borrows a page from the smart-boot revolution, by adding touchscreen capabilities, impact-and-vibration protection and breathable materials to traditional durability and specialized grip features. Sensor integration and seamless connectivity make high-tech features like gesture-recognition technology, which users actually can use to control equipment, machinery or digital interfaces with simple hand gestures. Once mastered, this hands-free operation can dramatically improve efficiency, especially in environments where manual controls are cumbersome or impractical.  


When working outside, it’s pretty much impossible to drink too much water during the day. Well, technically, someone can die from drinking too much water, but most folks who work outside don’t have to worry about hyponatremia.

Staying hydrated is probably the best thing you can do for yourself during the day, so in this world that’s all about “self-care,” do yourself a favor and take a drink of water (dozens of times throughout the day). New hydration vessels are equipped with everything from double-wall insulation that keeps liquid cold for extended periods, even in hot conditions. 

Many popular models also have features like vacuum sealing, leak-proof engineering, wide mouth openings and fancy, integrated straws to eliminate excuses for dehydration on a jobsite. 

As the seasons transition and gear gets more advanced, outdoor workers are doing themselves a favor by investing in the latest gear to not only protect them from working outside, but to also help them work safer and smarter than ever before, regardless of the forecast.  


Article written by Allen P. Roberts Jr.

Catalyst Communication

Contractors Hot Line is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.