Is linen or cotton better in hot weather?

Updated April 17, 2017

Appropriate clothing during extremely hot weather is essential in order to avoid heat exhaustion. The Family Care Giver Alliance suggests wearing lightweight, light-coloured, loosefitting clothes made of natural fibres. Natural fibres such as cotton and linen keep the body cool and dry perspiration quickly. Both have positive and negative attributes, and preference for one over the other is a matter of personal taste.

Cotton Identification

Cotton clothing is made from the breathable, natural fibre from the cotton plant.

Linen Identificaiton

Linen is a labour-intensive textile produced from the flax plant. Additionally, nonflax fibres, like cotton, woven in a linen texture may also be referred to as linen.

Cotton History

Cotton spun into cloth is believed to have first been created over 3,000 years ago in Pakistan. Historically, people in hot climates such as Northern Africa and South East Asia wore cotton.

Linen History

Linen was worn extensively throughout lands with humid climates like Egypt and the Caribbean. Years later, it evolved to become the preferred fabric for undergarments in Europe.


Whether it be cotton or linen, it is important to choose light colours to deflect the sun's heat.


Linen has a "wrinkled" appearance, which may be an issue for some when travelling; cotton is slightly more manageable.

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About the Author

LH Lee spent two years backpacking from 2007 to 2009. Since her return in 2009, she has contributed various travel articles to Off Track Planet and Matador. Lee holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in screenwriting from the School of Visual Arts and is a recipient of The Media Workshop from UCLA.