What better way to spend a summer day than with a hike? The sun is shining, the weather is nice, and you’re ready to get out there! Don’t get caught unprepared if it’s hot out. Hiking in direct sunlight when there are high temperatures can be painful and even potentially dangerous if you aren’t careful. Managing the heat is so important when you're trekking the day away. Before you head out this summer, prepare for your hike with the tips in the blog!
Planning your Hot-Weather Hiking Trip
The first thing to consider when planning a hike when the weather is hot is time of day. We recommend avoiding hiking during the hottest (and sunniest) time of day, which is usually between noon and 3 p.m. Instead, you could consider getting up and getting out there early! You know what they say, early hiker catches the best time of day! By getting out on the trail earlier, you’re more likely to be back to the trailhead before noon, or in the early afternoon at the latest. You can also avoid scorching temps by taking an evening or nighttime hike!
If moving your starting hike time isn’t possible, try to plan most of your route on a shady trail or canyon, or hike near a body of water for a breeze. Plus, if you’re near a body of water you can always take a quick dip if you get uncomfortable. Not into getting all the way in that lake? No worries, you can instead dip an article of clothing, like an extra t-shirt or a towel, into the water and drape it over your neck while you keep trekking on to cool yourself off and prevent heat exhaustion.
Clothing for Hot-Weather Hiking
What you choose to wear during a hike on a hot summer day can make all the difference! Wearing loose, breathable clothing is paramount to help regulate your body temperature and prevent overheating. You should also consider wearing light or bright colors that will reflect the sun’s rays, instead of a dark color like gray or black that absorbs them and will only make you heat up faster. Don't forget, you aren't tougher than the sun; UV protection is a must! Wear a hat and sunscreen (and bring some with you for midday reapplication). It may seem counterintuitive but wearing extra clothes can also help to protect you from UV rays! A lightweight long-sleeve shirt, bandana, or neck gaiter can really help protect sensitive skin. Some specialized hiking apparel even has built-in ventilation zones that you can unzip to improve airflow and cool yourself down.
The type of material that your hiking clothes is made of can really help to keep you cool on a hot day. Materials like nylon, polyester, and Merino wool are all great options that wick moisture away from your body to keep you cool. Of course, this also applies to your feet! By wearing the proper socks for hiking in hot weather, you can avoid overheating and blisters. Socks made with Merino wool are your best bet for keeping your feet dry and free of uncomfortable rubbing that causes blisters. You could also try a sock made with synthetic fibers that help to wick moisture away from your feet. And of course, you want your socks to fit well to avoid pressure points or sock slippage (good thing Stego has a great Universal Unisex Size Chart to get you that perfect fit)! Here are some of our favorite hot weather hiking socks:
Also available in Crew.
Know the Health Risks & Warning Signs
Dehydration, sunburn, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are some of the most common health concerns to watch out for while hiking in hot weather. Let’s go over some ways you can prevent or recognize these conditions.
Staying hydrated in the heat is extremely important in preventing heat exhaustion or a heat stroke. Try to drink a half-liter of water per hour as a starting point, and keep in mind that you may need more depending on the intensity of your hike. The best way to stay hydrated on longer hikes is to carry a hydration pack -- designed to make drinking water on the go easy and fast!
Using sun-protection clothing is a great way to defend yourself against the sun. But you should also pair that with sunscreen! For hikes that are longer than 2-hours, choose a higher SPF sunscreen, like SPF 30 or 50 (especially in desert-area hikes). If your hike is strenuous and you think you’ll be sweating a lot or you plan on taking a mid-hike swim, bring extra sunscreen with you to reapply every 40 – 60 minutes.
Know the warning signs of heat exhaustion! Dehydration, temperature and humidity, intensity level, age, body type, sweat rate, and the duration of your hike are all things that could contribute to heat exhaustion. If you or another hiker are showing symptoms of heat exhaustion you need to treat it immediately. Here are some common symptoms of heat exhaustion:
- Heavy sweating
- Rapid pulse
To treat heat exhaustion, get out of the heat as soon as you can. The best way to do this on the trail is to look for a spot in the shade to sit down and rest. If you have extra layers on, remove any excess clothing. Once you’re seated and settled, begin rehydrating and drink plenty of water. If you have electrolytes, use some of those too. You can also cool off by splashing some water on your face (don’t waste too much of your drinking water though!) or dunk a piece of clothing in nearby water and drape it over your head.
A heat stroke is different from heat exhaustion because it occurs when your body is past the point of being able to cool itself down. It is a serious medical condition that often strikes fast and requires immediate medical attention. If you or someone are experiencing similar symptoms of exhaustion but with a change in mental status, you may be experiencing a heat stroke and must cool down, hydrate and seek immediate medical attention for further evaluation.
By following these tips, you can enjoy a summer hike even on hot days! Get properly prepared, stay hydrated, and stay safe!
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