Heat stress caused by protective clothing limits work time. Performance improvement of a microclimate cooling method that enhances evaporative and to a minor extent convective heat loss was tested. Ten male volunteers in protective overalls completed a work-rest schedule (130 min; treadmill: 3 × 30 min, 3 km/h, 5% incline) with or without an additional air-diffusing garment (climatic chamber: 25°C, 50% RH, 0.2 m/s wind). Heat loss was supported by ventilating the garment with dry air (600 l/min, <<5% RH, 25°C). Ventilation leads (M ± SD, n = 10, ventilated vs. non-ventilated) to substantial strain reduction (max. HR: 123 ± 12 b/min vs. 149 ± 24 b/min) by thermal relief (max. core temperature: 37.8 ± 0.3°C vs. 38.4 ± 0.4°C, max. mean skin temperature: 34.7 ± 0.8°C vs. 37.1 ± 0.3°C) and offers essential extensions in performance and work time under thermal insulation.
Practitioner Summary: Heat stress caused by protective clothing limits work time. Performance can be improved by a microclimate cooling method that supports evaporative and to a minor extent convective heat loss. Sweat evaporation is the most effective thermoregulatory mechanism for heat dissipation and can be enhanced by insufflating dry air into clothing.