Working outside in the heat of the summer is something that office workers pine for, but that those in the sun know can come with its own set of problems. Sunburn, overheating, sweaty clothes, and not having the right gear for a change in weather can all make you miserable during the workday.
When it comes to getting the right clothes for the job, quality is an important consideration. In cases where the employer supplies the worker’s personal protective equipment, quality garments mean they replace them less and workers have the confidence in knowing they’re protected. David Finlayson, North American product manager for Helly Hansen outlines the types of questions to ask when buying:
“Will the reflective striping work after it has been washed a few times? Will background colours continue to stand out when a garment is dirty? Will fire-resistant treatments wash out? Do I trust that the manufacturers will stand behind their products?”
With the ultimate goal being comfort and safety for workers and employers, Finlayson knows companies that buy their employees’ equipment need to ensure they are of a high standard.
“When you are working in some of the most demanding conditions, you need to know that your clothing will perform as expected. Leaving the jobsite during the day to replace torn personal protective equipment is not an option for a lot of people. Companies need to trust that manufacturers and brands are using fabrics and materials that will last and protect all the time,” he states.
Whether you’re on a budget, or just starting out in the industry and don’t know what to buy first, Finlayson shares what goes on your feet can get you to dance a jig on the way to work, and also on the way home.
“I have never heard a complaint from someone who has purchased great boots that it was not worth the investment. One of our biggest retail partners, Mark’s, sells a line of Helly Hansen boots that are drawing rave reviews. Mark’s is also known for their very strong line of Dakota products,” he adds.
But that’s not all. Finlayson also recommends that you invest in some quality bottoms: shorts or pants, whichever you prefer and is best suited to the job.
“You are going to be wearing these every day and they will be subject to wear and tear, especially by our hardest-working customers. Buy the ones that you will not need to replace every few months or it will cost you more in the long run,” he explains.
This summer, Finlayson’s go-to product is their Chelsea Construction Pant. Taking off faster than any other product they’ve launched in the last decade, and a hit in Europe for several years, this multi-purpose clothing item has everything you need in a work pant.
“It has hanging pockets in the pants for nails, screws and other pieces, Cordura reinforced knees and cuffs, and a nice blend of cotton to ensure it is a little cooler in the summer. It works well for any tradesman – working inside or outside.”
Keeping cool while working is an achievable goal as what you’re wearing moves sweat away from your body.
“The body’s temperature drops when sweat stays in the fabric, causing a chilling sensation. You want layers that will move moisture away from the skin so it can evaporate. You don’t want employees to cool off too much, but you also don’t want to run the risk of heat stroke,” explains Finlayson.
Working outdoors means you have to be ready – rain, sun, wind – you can never really know what to expect. To be completely geared up, Finlayson recommends: “Boots, moisture-wicking baselayers (including socks, a t-shirt, and a hat), a midlayer that is UV protectant and an outer layer depending on the weather (such as rain gear, windproof shells, trades jackets), and high-visibility vests or outerwear if you are working near traffic. Don’t forget your helmet and safety goggles or sunglasses.”
If you work outside, you likely don’t have the option of being a fair-weather employee. Finlayson knows that making sure you’re prepared can ensure the sun shines on your workday, no matter what the weather.
“Wear an undershirt that wicks away moisture – it will keep you dry and comfortable; make sure you have a ball cap or a high-visibility hat with a brim; bring along a packable, lightweight rain-suit for those impromptu changes in forecast that are common in Canada; and don’t forget your sunscreen, and water for hydration.”