Well what do you know, summer is here! When the weather is nice, bright and sunny, it's time to put on your hiking boots and go off for an alpine lake hike, a mountain peak climb, or a stunning slot canyon adventure. Regardless of the fun you can all have, If you don't know how to handle the extreme heat that comes along with the sun, your fun day might quickly turn into an uncomfortable and even deadly one.
So how do we make the most of our hike on a bright and sunny day? Hold your horses, we got you!
Hiking in hot weather: A Quick Guide
A good hot-weather trek requires careful consideration of when and where you'll be hiking. Remember that adjustment to high heat may take anywhere from 10 days to two weeks, so go slowly on your first few walks as the weather heats.
Where to go Hiking
Choosing where to hike is one of the most exciting parts of going out for an adventure. If you really want a certain spot regardless of the challenges it has, there’s no way you’re not hiking it. Considering what we’re talking about right now, how do we adjust with the extreme heat?
Hike close to water: Go for a stroll along the coast or a huge lake if there isn't much shade, with this, you can still enjoy the cool wind from the water and you may even cool yourself by dipping your hat and shirt into the river and draping them over your body until the water evaporates.
Maintain your cool in the shade: If you want to avoid overexposure to the sun on your trek, it's a good idea to choose one that takes place either in the shade of tall trees or inside the confines of high canyon walls.
When to go Hiking
Avoid going out in the hottest time of the day:
In the summer, the warmest time of day is generally between noon and 3 PM. It's best to avoid this period entirely by starting early and concluding your trip early in the afternoon or going out after 3 PM if you can. Aim to organize your journey so that you are in the shade or near water when the temperatures are at their highest.
Hiking in the Summer: Clothing and Equipment Advice
Remember that, finding the right clothes for a hike and wearing them may make a huge difference in how comfortable you are on the trail. Adding up, this can be a bit tricky, you also need to weigh how your clothing would help protect you from the harsh environmental factors.
Cotton could be all right: Cotton has a terrible reputation in the outdoors since it retains a lot of moisture and dries extremely slowly, which may lead to an unpleasant and perhaps hazardous scenario in rainy and/or cold weather. However, when it's hot and dry outside, the moisture on your skin might feel refreshing, and as it evaporates, you'll stay cool.
Cotton must, however, be worn with care and thoughtful consideration of what might happen during your hike. Make sure you're comfortable with the sensation of moist cotton on your skin and that it won't create chafing. If you're going to be out after dark, bring an extra set of clothing or go for synthetics rather than cotton if you can.
It's time to put on the cloak, cover up: Putting on more clothing in hot weather may seem counterintuitive, but it is essential for those with sensitive skin to shield themselves from the sun's harmful rays. Protect yourself from the sun with long sleeve t-shirts, sun sleeves, and a neck gaiter that are all made of lightweight materials.
Go for the light colors: Keep your body temperature down by using bright-colored clothing that bounces light back from the sun's beams instead of absorbing it. White, tan, or khaki are good colors for shirts, shorts, and trousers.
Keep your vents open: Vents may be found in certain hiking clothing, including shirts, shorts, and trousers. The ventilation may be greatly improved by opening these on a hot day.
Breathable-loose clothing is recommended: Wearing clothes that you'll easily be able to move in is a good idea. Polyester and nylon are excellent options. This will greatly help to regulate and control your body's temperature during your hot hikes.
Wear apparel with a UPF rating: This is a must especially when you’re about to go out on a hot day. Although, naturally, all clothing blocks a certain amount of sun rays, still nothing compares to clothing that has a good UPF rating. Clothing with a UPF rating is certified to give protection from the sun's harmful rays. UV protective factor (UPF) values range from 15 to 50+.
Put on the proper socks: Cotton socks should be avoided at all costs; instead, use wool or synthetic socks. Sock creases from too large or excessively tiny socks and it might even cause sock slippage which is very annoying to deal with.
Take a breather and cool your neck: In order to keep the back of your neck cool and protected while the water evaporates, a bandana, sun-protective neck gaiter, or other lightweight material may be submerged in water.
Wear a hat: The face and neck are well-protected while wearing a hat. A sun hat with a wide brim is preferable to a baseball cap because it offers more protection from the sun.
Be sure to bring a spray or squirt bottle: Use the spray bottle to generate mist and instantly produce a cooling cloud anytime you need it when the going gets tough. You'll never know when you'll need it. Bit of warning, this can be super addictive during your hike.
Bring a hydration pack with you:
Don’t forget to bring with you your trusty bottle of water or a hydration pack.
It may seem odd to others but sipping from a sip tube rather than a water bottle will most likely make you drink more during your hike even if it is a minor difference. This is pretty impressive since you need to hydrate yourself regularly on a hot day adventure.
Heat-Related Health Issues When Hiking in the Summer or just in a hot weather
Hot-weather hiking-related illnesses including sunburn, dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are all too prevalent. Watch out for early signs and learn how to deal with them.
To avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration when trekking, make sure you're taking in enough fluids. Some heat-related disorders, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke may be exacerbated by dehydration and can cause you to feel sick.
Temperature and humidity, your exertion level, your age, your body type and perspiration rate, and the length of your journey all play a role in how much water you should drink while hiking. It's a fair rule of thumb to drink around half a liter each hour of moderate exertion in mild conditions, if possible. As the temperature and level of exertion climb, you may need to up your fluid intake. For example, if you're trekking in the heat, you may need to drink up to a liter of water every hour or so. You'll be able to fine-tune your drinking habits as you obtain more knowledge and expertise.
Overhydration, or hyponatremia, is the polar opposite of dehydration. Hikers should be mindful of this ailment, which mostly affects long-distance runners, such as marathoners, ultramarathoners, and triathletes.
Hyponatremia is a condition in which sodium levels in the blood are so low that cell function suffers. A coma and even death may result from hyponatremia in the most serious situations.
Because the signs and symptoms of hyponatremia are similar to those of dehydration, many athletes inadvertently increase their fluid intake, thus aggravating the problem.
The trick to avoiding overhydration is to keep track of how much you drink.
Squeeze a few gulps out of your water bottle every 15–20 minutes and don't drink more than you're sweating out.
Salty snacks like pretzels or sports drinks with electrolytes might help you keep your salt levels in check, as well as regular water consumption. Salt pills are another option.
Don't forget to apply sunscreen to exposed skin if you're going to be outside in the sunlight, even if you're wearing sun-protective clothes. When on a trek in the sun, you must wear sunscreen at all times. Always follow the instructions on the sunscreen's package, but to get you started, remember these guidelines:
A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is recommended for treks lasting more than two hours.
At least 15 minutes before sun exposure, generously apply sunscreen.
At the very least, reapply every two hours after swimming, sweating, or towel drying.
Exhaustion to Heat
When your body can't handle the heat, it becomes exhausted. It may be caused by prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures, and dehydration is typically a contributing factor.
How to tell when you've had heat exhaustion:
- Severe heat exhaustion
- A pounding heartbeat
There are many options for treating heat exhaustion.
If you or a fellow hiker is experiencing signs of heat exhaustion, you should seek emergency medical attention.
Relax: Find a shaded location and lie down to cool off. Put on nothing but the essentials.
Use a tarp to screen the sun if there are no trees nearby to give shade.
Drink plenty of water and use salt or electrolyte pills to rehydrate.
A refreshing spray of water on your cheeks and head might help you chill down after a long day.
To keep your head dry while trekking, immerse your head or a bandana or cap in the lake or stream and wear it.
How to avoid heat exhaustion:
- Allow yourself time to adjust to the heat of the day: Hiking in the heat of the day should be taken slowly.
- Be careful and slow on your first few treks of the season, since acclimatization might take up to two weeks.
- Ensure that you're consuming enough fluids. A half-liter of water per hour is a decent beginning point, but the difficulty of the trek may need greater water consumption.
- Get dressed in the right attire: A sun hat and light-weight, loose-fitting clothes can help you maintain your body's temperature.
- If you need a break, choose a shaded area and rest there rather than enduring the heat outside.
- Be honest with yourself about your fitness level and select treks that are appropriate for you.
Exercising or moving a lot in hot conditions may cause painful muscular spasms known as heat cramps. When you have heat cramps, it's a sign that you're pushing yourself too much and should take it easy. It's not clear what causes them, but to prevent heat cramps, it's important to stay hydrated. If you have pain from heat cramps, attempt mild stretching to ease the discomfort.
An overheated body is known to likely suffer a heat stroke. If you see any of these symptoms, you should seek emergency medical assistance. You should be on the lookout for signs of heat stroke, and likewise, even to your trekking companion. If you spot them showing signs of heat exhaustion and a change in their mental state, act immediately. These are the indications to look out for:
- A pounding in the brain
- Vomiting and nausea
- An elevated body temperature of at least 104 degrees Fahrenheit (if you have a way of measuring body temperature)
Preventing and treating heat exhaustion:
A person suffering from heat stroke has to be quickly cooled down.
- Cool water and fanning may be used to reduce the temperature of a hiker who is overheating in the shade. It's possible to put the hiker in the water if you're near a body of water. Just be sure to keep their airway clean.
- Get the hiker to drink water if he or she is aware enough to do so. The hiker should be evacuated as quickly as possible to avoid internal organ damage from heat stroke. He or she should then be sent to a hospital for further examination.
The same advice for heat exhaustion may be followed to avoid heat stroke.
There you have it, our tips for hiking in hot weather. Remember to drink plenty of water and have fun while you're out on the trail. Keep the hikes coming! Cheers!