It’s that time of year when “working in the great outdoors” is not nearly as cool as it seemed in May. When temperatures and humidity soar in the dog days of July and August, hydrating and heat abatement aren’t just about comfort, they’re about safety. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, every day 11 workers are seriously injured or die from heat stress with an average cost of $53,000 per incident.
So what can you do to keep yourself and your crew as cool as possible? Here are a few workwear suggestions that have either crossed the desk of Turf editors or been suggested by fellow lawn care and landscape professionals.
- Makita Fan Jackets. No, not football fans. Or baseball fans. Actual cordless fans. For those who wish they could surgically attach a fan to their body in summer months, this is the next best thing. Makita fan jackets are equipped with compact fans to circulate fresh air inside the jacket for improved comfort. In high-temperature conditions, place ice packs (not included) inside the two internal pockets and you’ve stepped up a notch to practically personal air conditioning. Three air flow modes can be selected via the LXT® Power Source, which also features a USB power port for charging portable electonic devices. Available in four versions: cotton; UUV-resistant; high visibility; and convertible (zip off sleeves turn the jacket into a vest) though only the cotton and UV-resistant versions contain the internal ice pack pockets. In sizes S to 3XL.
- Light Long Sleeves. This seems counter to typical practices, but many landscapers in one discussion sang their praises. “I bought a Realtree fishing shirt at Walmart, and loved it so I bought several more. I think I paid $10-14 for them. Never made sense to me that long sleeves would be cooler, but its true,” commented one landscape professional. Another added. “It seemingly defies logic, but covering up is indeed cooler…in fact, I’ll call it way cooler.”
- Cooling Gear. Magid, a manufacturer of personal protective equipment, recently partnered with MISSION, a textile engineering firm specializing in the development of instant body cooling gear. The resulting Magid Cool product lineup includes a bandana, microfiber towel, Max Plus towel, skull cap, and gaiter. And the proprietary tech is chemical free. Simply wet the product with water, wring out the excess, and snap it three times to activate. Reactivate using the same process. (I tried the towel myself, wore it draped around my neck, and can report that it was quite a relief in the heat. Though initially, I forgot about the snapping part! Simply moving the towel around my neck helped a bit. I also drenched it with ice cold water from a thermos.) And the Magid Cool gear is machine washable and reusable.
- Hats. Most wear them, but it’s a variety. Bucket hats, wide brim hats, and baseball caps are all popular mentions among landscapers. On person wrote, “I am a Tilley guy. They are expensive but they definitely hold up. Get the Airflo model for hot summer. I don’t hardly leave the house without it.” Another agreed, “Tilley Airflow LTM6 hat is a quality product. I followed their sizing instructions and it fits perfect.” Yet others felt baseball caps, particularly those with neck flaps, that can be bought cheaply and in bulk, work well. One person said he buys a big stack so he can wash them, rotate them, and have a fresh hat daily.
Do you have a go-to gear solution you swear by? Let us know in the Comments!