Finding a carry method that allows you to conceal your firearm under light clothing is a real problem during the summer months. If you don’t want to wear a fleece coat in July (that might make you the target of unwanted attention, and rightly so), then you’ll need to find a carry method that works with light clothing. Not only should your carry method keep your gun secure and concealed, it must be comfortable. Here are five keys to help you beat the heat while ensuring your safety this summer.
1. Fight the Chafe: Chafing is one of the primary reasons people don’t carry in the summer. Concealing a firearm under light clothing means you’ll need it to fit closely against the body which will trap moisture from perspiration and any movement will cause chafing. There are several options to remedy this. For starters, find a holster that is light and doesn’t move. Belly bands are one option, but any inside-the-waistband (IWB) will work as long as its stays put. If you carry spare magazines you’ll also need to be sure that they don’t rub and irritate the skin. I had to stop wearing a spare mag from one manufacturer because the base was too large and sharp and it dug into my skin with every step. Cheap powders like Gold Bond and anti-chafe roll-ons like Body Glide, which is popular with runners, will also help.
2. Wear Breathable Clothing: Breathable stretch fabric is one of the greatest inventions for summer carry. Because these new wicking fabrics allow moisture to escape they do a fantastic job of keeping you cool. Unlike cotton fabrics, which hold perspiration, wicking materials stay dry, and this is crucial when carrying a firearm because as cotton gets damp it tends to print more easily. Often times I’ll wear an inner and outer wicking layer; the inner layer protects my skin from rubbing against the gun and the outer layer conceals the firearm, and for this reason I prefer an outer layer that is one size too large. Once upon a time wicking clothes were quite expensive but now that so many companies are using four-way stretch fabric you can find them at a very affordable price.
3. Try a Belly Band: Elastic belly bands are very light and easy to conceal even under the thinnest athletic clothing. Since they compress against the body, belly bands keep your gun close at hand and secure while providing quick access. They are a favorite carry method for runners, especially since they can be washed easily when they begin to smell like a gym locker. Belly bands eliminate the need for a belt, which is important to anyone wearing athletic clothes, and their compression design is comfortable. They fit a wide range of belly sizes so they’ll still fit when you’ve packed on a few pounds following Thanksgiving dinner later in the year. Another bonus? Today’s bands have pockets for carrying keys and credit cards too, and the elastic pouch design fits a wide variety of guns. They’re also cheap; you can usually buy two or three belly bands for the price of one large holster. I’ve run hundreds of miles wearing a Galco Underwraps and have yet to notice any appreciable wear and tear on the band.
4. Buy Guayabera Shirts: Guaya what? Guayabera button-up shirts are popular in the Southern U.S., and Central America as well as the Caribbean; climates where hot weather is a way of life. Easily identifiable by their light construction and twin vertical pleats, guayaberas have a very practical tactical application—those pleats do a fantastic job breaking up the outline of a carry gun. The human eye is trained to see interrupted patterns, and the vertical pleats on these shirts do a great job camouflaging the lines of a concealed firearm yet are light enough to allow heat and moisture to escape. Guayabera shirts are typically worn untucked and are light enough so that you can quickly and easily access your gun.
5. Carry Off-Body: I know, off-body carry (when the gun is not physically attached to you) is not considered the optimal choice, but if you simply can’t find a warm weather on-body carry option that suits you then this is certainly a far better choice than having no gun at all. Purse carry is common, but if you carry in a purse be certain that it has secure internal holsters. You don’t want a gun simply floating around. Purses, however, are a target for thieves, and you don’t want a criminal to have your wallet and your gun. I prefer something more discreet like Galco’s Hidden Agenda, which is a functional day planner with a hidden holster. The key to off-body carry—and this is extremely important—is to never lose track of the item you are carrying or leave it in an unsecured area.