What’s the first thing you do when you find out you’ll be spending two weeks in Nicaragua building a bridge in the dead of summer? If you’re me, you first shriek with excitement. Then, you panic about what to wear.
I am what most people would call “fair-skinned” if they’re feeling polite and “ghostly white” the rest of the time. It seems like I spend half of my life avoiding getting sunburned. I’m also the type of person that is targeted by every mosquito in a five-mile radius, which is one of my husband’s favorite things about me, since it means he never gets bitten.
Imagine, then, the prospect of spending two weeks in the Nicaraguan jungle doing heavy construction work for Bridges to Prosperity, and think about what you would wear if you’re me. On the one hand, you’re concerned about sweating to your actual death. On the other, you’re concerned about protecting your skin from mosquitoes.
So what’s a girl or guy to do? Go to the experts, of course.
I contacted KÜHL and told them about my dilemma, hoping they would have recommendations for great women's gear that could stand up to long, tough workdays. Of course, I wasn’t disappointed!
They immediately recommended the W's Airspeed Shirt, which is made of a nylon/polyester blend that blocks UV rays, quickly wicks away sweat and moisture, and dries quickly. The long sleeves are perfect for sun protection and keeping bugs away, while the lightweight fabric and mesh side panels keep you nice and cool.
For pants, they recommended both the Anika Roll-Up Pant and the Splash Roll-Up Pant. Both of these women's work pants are sturdy yet lightweight and quickly wick away moisture. With big pockets for holding anything you need, as well as the ability to roll the pants up and button them securely, they easily adapt to working conditions.
Now I just needed to put everything to the test!
The first morning my Michael Baker International team headed to the construction site, nearly everyone was wearing short sleeves or tank tops.
“Oh no!” I thought, “I’m going to be so hot!”
You’d think by now I'd trust the KÜHL team. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
Although I definitely got sweaty (it was 80-90% humidity and 85 degrees, after all), the Airspeed Shirt kept me incredibly cool and dry while eliminating the need to constantly reapply sunscreen and bug spray. The material never clung to me, and I found myself staying in the women's shirt even after the work hours were over instead of dying to get out of it. Good thing I brought 3 of them!
The same can be said of both pairs of women's pants. The Anika Roll-Up Pant was exceptionally lightweight and almost felt like I was wearing nothing, but it still stood up to the rigors of construction. The Splash Roll-Up Pant offered a sturdier material but never felt heavy or got weighed down by sweat. All of the pockets were great for holding the variety of nuts, bolts, screws, and gloves I carried around with me all day!
I didn’t just pack work clothes though! My Sora tanks also came along for the ride, as did my Kendra shorts, Zur shirt, and Durango Knicker. Everything kept me cool and comfortable as I played with the local children, experienced the culture, and learned about myself.
“Where did you get your clothes?” my coworker asked me. “Literally every time you get out of your tent, it looks like you’re stepping out of an outdoor living ad!”
(I swear on my life that he actually said that!)
So it’s not just that KUHL clothes are functional and high performing, although they certainly are. They also look cool and make you feel confident while you’re on the road or in the mountains.
They dry really fast, too. That turned out to be pretty handy on the ten different occasions when we found ourselves caught in downpours!