Many planters like to plant topless and get a wonderful tan. Preferably without straps, but I’ve seen people pass out due to heat or sun stroke and I advise you to be careful regarding this. Once I stopped for some reason and almost passed out in the heat, the sound of blood gushing through my ears overwhelming, adrenaline rushing through my body.
Because of the frenzy to get to the next spot and maximise earning, and the resulting excess in adrenaline, it is easy to overlook certain details. The Arabs living in the desert wear multiple long layers of cotton and drink hot tea. If you drink cold juice, it fills your insides, your body thinks it will be cooled and reacts accordingly – you sweat more and feel hotter. Personally, the bugs eat me so much that I cannot consider anything that would not cover my entire body, but I found myself better handling the heat with my multiple layers of white cotton. The reason why we sweat is because liquid consumes heat when it turns into vapour, hence the sweat cools our bodies as it evaporates. But I find that skin, especially the back of the neck, directly exposed to the sun will tend to heat up the blood circulating through it. Blood heated at the back of the neck will travel a short distance to the brain, overheating and leading to heat stroke and fainting. White French Legion hats can be quite useful since they cover the back of the neck and serve as a baseball cap in the front.
If you cannot find that, I like to use a white t-shirt, pulling the collar over my forehead and down to my ears, so that I can flap the rest of the t-shirt over the back of my neck and tie the sleeves together behind my head. If the bugs are particularly insane I can pull a second shirt over the one to cover up my mouth and the rest of my face.
Either way, if you find it getting too hot, I would suggest the white cotton cover up approach as opposed to the skin exposed approach. Your sweat will saturate the clothes, slowly evaporate and help keep your body cooler.
Most planters liked to wear some sort of pants, but I prefer to wear shorts and some sort of polypropelene stretchable spandex type long johns. I found that pant legs could slow down the movement of my legs. If possible, get white ones to help reflect the hot sun more. Also, deer and horseflies like black more. They’ll tend to rip when rubbed against broken twigs and what not, so get an extra pair for a season.
Many planters like to use Gators, mostly to keep twigs from falling between your boots and your socks – a rather annoying place to get to in order to remove them. Otherwise I would just grab some camp duct tape every morning and tape it over my boot openings, while most of the time I found I didn’t even need to do that.
If it is not so hot and buggy that you need to cover your head with some white covering, make sure to get a bandanna, so you can look like a cool treeplanter. Maybe have a clean one for days off. Or roll it up mostly just to keep the sweat from dripping into your eyes.
For gloves, most tree planters use. The black ones are better quality, but significantly more expensive and wear out within roughly the same time. You should get a bunch at wholesale price and expect to use one pair roughly every four days. I found I could use the opposite hand on my planting hand. If I put the tree into the ground using my left hand, a right handed glove was actually better than a left. Either way, you want to cover up your planting hand fingers, as you ram them into the ground while carefully holding the seedling plug. Sometimes I imagined having some sort of a metal covering around at least one of my fingers, to help me plough through the soil. Many planters like to wrap duct tape around most of their planting hand fingers, so they wouldn’t get so abused. The good thing about wearing the opposite glove on your planting hand is that the rubbery part, which normally covers the palm, would now cover the finger nuckles. Good because this is one of the first places where the glove rips, exposing your bare knuckles to rocks in the ground and gouging them all up.
Boots should be as light and as water proof as possible. If you think you might treeplant for only one season, I found a 40 dollar pair of hiking boots that seemed to last fine. Others buy the very expensive pair sold at Marks Work Wearhouse and that are insured for the season. They bring it back and get a new one. I guess no company would think that a profession could abuse boots so severely. But if you get onto steeper ground with big dead logs, it would be good to get corks as well. Try to get the light version, because any added weight to your feet will slow you down markedly when clambering over large logs. When the logs get wet, it can get rather dangerous on steep ground, not to mention that you will be walking much slower so as not to hurt yourself in some accident.
For socks I found two pairs of wool ones quite satisfactory, but many planters testify vehemently on behalf of Bama socks, which are designed to draw moisture away from the inner sock (you would not wear two pairs of socks in this case). You could also consider getting a quality, orthopedic inner sole for your boots, to help absorb some of the shock of constantly walking. One brand which was suggested to me was Sole. You heat it in the oven and it conforms to the shape of your foot. The worst is when you wear rubber boots which do not breath well and cause your feet to overheat. Gators can also be useful to keep the rain out of your boots. It can be very unpleasant to slodge away in dripping wet socks. If it looks like it will be a rainy day, I’ll bring out my boots as a backup, and additional dry pairs of socks, otherwise your feet can look like elephant skin and force you to stop planting.