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The best desert clothing: What to wear to the desert

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Are you planning a visit to the desert and want to know what is the best desert clothing? Then you have come to the right place! In this article I will tell you the best materials to wear, teach you about the importance of layering and discuss colours amongst other important considerations. So, lets get planning your desert outfit!

The best desert clothing

The desert is a harsh and unforgiving environment, with scorching temperatures and intense sun exposure.

When it comes to choosing the best desert clothing, lightweight and breathable fabrics like cotton and linen are essential to stay cool and comfortable. Additionally, covering your skin with loose, long-sleeved garments and a wide-brimmed hat will help protect you from the sun’s harmful rays.

Read on to find more information on what clothes to wear and what makes the best desert clothing!

Desert Clothing- Material

The best desert clothing: What to wear to the desert

Choosing the right material for desert clothing is crucial due to the extreme conditions encountered in these environments. Breathability becomes paramount to ensure comfort and prevent overheating. Fabrics like cotton and linen are excellent choices as they allow air to circulate, keeping the body cool by wicking away moisture and promoting evaporation.

In addition to comfort, the right material plays a crucial role in protecting the skin from the intense desert sun. Fabrics with a tight weave or built-in UV protection can shield the skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, reducing the risk of sunburn and long-term damage. Light-colored clothing also helps reflect the sun’s rays, further minimising heat absorption.

Maintaining body temperature is another vital consideration in the desert. During the scorching daytime, loose, lightweight fabrics allow air to flow freely, aiding in the body’s natural cooling process through sweat evaporation. When the temperature drops at night, desert conditions can become chilly. Choosing materials that provide insulation while still allowing breathability, such as wool or synthetic blends, can help regulate body temperature and keep you comfortable during cooler desert nights.

Overall, selecting clothing made from breathable materials like cotton, linen, or other lightweight fabrics is essential for desert conditions. Not only do these materials keep you cool and comfortable, but they also offer protection from the sun’s harmful rays and assist in regulating body temperature throughout the day and night in the desert environment.

Desert Clothing- Clothing Recommendations

Now lets break it down according to the item of clothing…


For optimal sun and heat protection, it is recommended to wear loose, long-sleeved shirts in the desert. These shirts help shield your arms from direct sunlight and provide a barrier against the scorching desert winds. Choosing lightweight and breathable fabrics like cotton or linen will enhance comfort and promote airflow, keeping you cool throughout your desert adventures.


When it comes to bottoms, lightweight and breathable trousers or convertible pants are ideal for the desert. Convertible pants offer the advantage of versatility, allowing you to adjust the length based on temperature and sun exposure. This feature enables you to switch between full-length pants for sun protection during the day and shorts for increased ventilation when the temperatures rise or during strenuous activities.


Protecting your face and neck from the intense desert sun is crucial, so don’t forget to wear a wide-brimmed hat or cap with neck coverage. This headwear provides shade, reducing the risk of sunburn and minimising heat absorption. Opt for materials that allow for breathability and consider choosing a hat with a chin strap to secure it in windy conditions.

The best desert clothing: What to wear to the desert


Choosing the right footwear is essential for desert excursions. Opt for well-fitting, breathable shoes that provide ample support and protection. Closed-toe shoes or lightweight hiking boots are recommended, especially for rugged terrains or hiking activities. Remember to wear moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters caused by excessive sweating.


While the desert can be scorching during the day, temperatures can drop significantly at night. It’s wise to pack a lightweight jacket or fleece to stay warm during cooler desert evenings. Opt for a versatile piece that can be easily layered and removed as needed, ensuring your comfort throughout the day and night.


In addition to the essentials, a few accessories can enhance your desert clothing ensemble. Consider carrying a bandana or neck gaiter, which can serve multiple purposes such as a dust mask or additional sun protection for your neck and face. Sunglasses with UV protection and polarised lenses are also recommended to safeguard your eyes from the intense desert sun and reduce glare, enhancing visibility in bright conditions.

By following these clothing recommendations and considering the specific demands of the desert environment, you can ensure that you’re well-prepared and protected while enjoying your desert adventures.

Desert Clothing- Layering

The best desert clothing: What to wear to the desert

Layering your clothing is a crucial strategy when venturing into the desert, as it allows you to adapt to the significant temperature changes between day and night. The desert can experience scorching heat during the day and a considerable drop in temperature once the sun sets. Layering enables you to regulate your body temperature and remain comfortable throughout these fluctuations.

Start with a lightweight base layer made of breathable materials such as cotton or moisture-wicking fabrics. This layer helps to manage sweat and keep your skin dry. Over the base layer, add a long-sleeved shirt or a lightweight jacket that can be easily removed or unbuttoned during the hotter parts of the day.

As the temperature cools in the evening, add an additional layer such as a fleece jacket or a thin sweater. These garments provide insulation and help retain body heat. Remember to choose lightweight options to avoid feeling weighed down or overheated.

The key to effective layering is to have multiple thin layers rather than a few thick ones. This approach allows you to add or remove layers as needed, depending on the temperature and your activity level. It’s also important to consider the breathability of each layer to prevent excessive sweating and discomfort.

Additionally, don’t forget to pay attention to your bottom half. Consider packing lightweight pants that can be easily rolled up or down depending on the temperature. You can pair them with thermal leggings or long underwear for extra warmth during chilly nights.

By layering your clothing, you can adjust your outfit to the changing desert temperatures and ensure your comfort throughout the day and night. This flexibility allows you to enjoy your desert adventures while being prepared for the diverse weather conditions that the desert landscape presents.

Desert Clothing- Colours

The best desert clothing: What to wear to the desert

The choice of colours in desert clothing plays a significant role in maintaining comfort and managing heat absorption. Light colours, particularly white and pastel shades, are generally recommended for desert environments due to their ability to reflect sunlight and keep you cool.

Light-colored clothing helps to reflect a portion of the sun’s rays rather than absorbing them, reducing heat absorption and preventing overheating. This reflective property is especially important in desert regions where the sun’s intensity can be extreme. By wearing light-colored garments, you can minimize the amount of heat that is absorbed by your clothing, helping to keep your body temperature lower.

In contrast, dark-coloured clothing tends to absorb and retain more heat. Dark colours, such as black or deep browns, absorb a higher percentage of sunlight, leading to increased heat transfer to your body. This can make you feel hotter and more uncomfortable in the desert heat.

Besides heat management, colour choice can also impact your overall comfort in the desert. Lighter colours are less likely to fade or bleach when exposed to the intense sun, maintaining the appearance and longevity of your clothing. Additionally, light-coloured clothing may be more visible in the desert landscape, making it easier for others to spot you in case of an emergency or when navigating through vast and open terrains.

While light colours are generally recommended, it’s worth noting that clothing with patterns or designs can also be beneficial. Patterns break up the solid colour and create visual texture, which can help to camouflage dust, dirt, and stains that are common in desert environments.

Ultimately, when selecting desert clothing, opt for lighter shades that reflect sunlight rather than absorbing it. This choice will help to keep you cooler, more comfortable, and better prepared to withstand the harsh conditions of the desert while enjoying your outdoor activities.

Desert Clothing- Protection From Elements

The best desert clothing: What to wear to the desert

In the desert, protecting yourself from the elements goes beyond choosing the right clothing. It’s essential to prioritise two key elements: sunscreen and hydration.


Even when you’re covered up with long sleeves and a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen is still a vital component of desert protection. Exposed areas like your face, neck, hands, and any other skin not covered by clothing can still be susceptible to sunburn and long-term sun damage. Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF (sun protection factor) is crucial to shield your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Opt for a sunscreen with a high SPF rating, preferably SPF 30 or above, and ensure it offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Apply sunscreen generously to all exposed areas of your body, including your face, ears, neck, and hands. Reapply it regularly, especially after sweating or swimming, as sweat can diminish the effectiveness of sunscreen.


Staying properly hydrated is essential in the desert, as the dry air and intense heat can quickly lead to dehydration. Carry an adequate supply of water and drink regularly throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. It’s recommended to consume at least 2-3 litres of water per day in desert conditions, or even more if you’re engaging in physical activities.

Invest in a durable and insulated water bottle to keep your water cool and refreshing throughout your desert adventures. If you plan on embarking on longer hikes or spending extended periods in remote areas, consider carrying a hydration pack or water bladder for convenient and hands-free hydration.

In addition to water, replenish electrolytes by consuming sports drinks or electrolyte supplements to restore the minerals lost through sweating. Remember to monitor your urine color as well, as pale or clear urine indicates proper hydration, while dark-colored urine may signal dehydration.

By applying sunscreen diligently and ensuring proper hydration, you prioritise your health and well-being in the desert. These precautions help safeguard your skin from sun damage and prevent the detrimental effects of dehydration, allowing you to fully enjoy your desert experience while minimising the risks associated with prolonged sun exposure and heat.

Desert Clothing FAQs

Now that we know a bit more about desert clothing, lets answer some of the most frequently asked questions on this topic:

What should I wear to protect myself from the sun in the desert?

Opt for loose, long-sleeved shirts, wide-brimmed hats, and clothing made from light-coloured, UV-protective fabrics.

Are cotton and linen the best fabric choices for desert clothing?

Yes, cotton and linen are breathable fabrics that help keep you cool in the desert heat. They allow air circulation and aid in moisture evaporation.

Can I wear dark-coloured clothing in the desert?

It is generally recommended to avoid dark-coloured clothing in the desert as they absorb more heat and can make you feel hotter.

How important is layering in the desert?

Layering is crucial in the desert to adjust to the temperature changes between day and night. It allows you to add or remove clothing as needed for comfort.

Do I still need to wear sunscreen if I’m covered up in the desert?

Yes, sunscreen is essential even when covered up. Apply sunscreen to exposed areas like your face, neck, and hands to protect against UV rays.

How much water should I drink in the desert?

It is recommended to drink at least 2-3 litres of water per day in the desert to prevent dehydration. Drink regularly, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

What type of footwear is suitable for the desert?

Choose well-fitting, breathable shoes or lightweight hiking boots for desert activities. Proper socks are also important to prevent blisters.

Should I carry extra layers for cooler desert nights?

Yes, it’s advisable to carry a lightweight jacket or fleece for cooler desert evenings when temperatures can significantly drop.

Can I use a bandana or neck gaiter as a multipurpose accessory in the desert?

Yes, a bandana or neck gaiter can serve as a dust mask, sun protection, or even headwear to protect your face and neck from the elements.

Are sunglasses necessary in the desert?

Yes, sunglasses with UV protection and polarised lenses are recommended to shield your eyes from the intense desert sun and reduce glare.

Desert Clothing: To Conclude

As you can see, the clothing that you choose to wear when visiting the desert is very important! However, there are plenty of options to help you to choose the best desert outfit!

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