Summertime is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. Depending on where your hike is located, hot weather can make hiking a challenge. If you’re not prepared, it can be dangerous too. In this blog post, we will share hot weather hiking tips for staying safe and cool while hiking in the heat. This includes gear and clothing recommendations, tips for planning a hike in the heat, and tips of recognizing heat related illness so you can act appropriately if things go south.
Hot Weather Hiking Tips for Clothing:
Wearing the correct clothing can make the biggest difference when it comes to staying cool while hiking in the heat. Wear light colored, loose-fitting, UPF rated clothing. Always avoid cotton, and instead choose synthetic materials, or wool for socks for the best blister prevention. For a more detailed explanation of clothing tips, read what to wear when hiking in hot weather.
Gear to Bring on Hot Weather Hikes:
In addition to the right clothing, there are some key pieces of gear that you’ll want to bring on hot weather hikes.
– A hydration pack is a must for keeping your water intake up, and you’ll need plenty of fluids to stay hydrated in the heat. Dehydration can quickly lead to problems such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
– If you’re not keen on the idea of wearing a hydration pack, at least bring a water bottle that also has an insulating sleeve. The insulation will help keep your water cool longer and prevent it from becoming hot to drink.
– Sunglasses are essential for hot weather hiking since they protect your eyes from the sun and reduce glare.
– If you’re hot weather hike doesn’t have much shade, bring a bandana or handkerchief to cover your neck or drape over your head for some protection from the hot sun.
– Wear sunscreen and reapply regularly according to the product’s instructions.
– Pack lightweight gear. This means that your backpack should be lightweight and the items within it should too. A lightweight backpack will be easier to carry, even when fully loaded with gear and water. It’ll also allow you to hike longer without tiring out as quickly.
– It’s also important to pack your backpack smartly. This means that you should place the heavier items at the bottom and closer to your back, while packing the lighter items on top. This will help distribute the weight evenly and make it easier to carry.
Planning Tips for Hiking in Hot Weather
When the weather is hot, it’s important to take extra precautions when preparing for your hike. Here are a few tips for planning your hike:
– Choose hikes that are shady, such as forests or hikes within steep canyon walls.
– Go places that have plenty of water sources. Areas near water are generally cooler, and offer the opportunity to filter fresh water, or even take a dip to cool off. If swimming isn’t an option, you can dip your bandana or clothing into the water.
– Avoid strenuous climbs and long distances. Save these hikes for cooler days or even the spring or fall.
– Make sure you’re well hydrated before you start hiking, and drink plenty of water while you’re hiking. Follow up your hike with electrolyte replacement and lots of water.
– Avoid hot days and hike early in the morning or late in the afternoon when it’s cooler. You could even consider hiking at night, which is really cool on nights when there’s a full moon to light your way.
– Always check the weather forecast before you go so you can dress appropriately, bring enough water, etc.
Health Issues Related to Hot Weather Hiking
While sunburn is the most basic form of heat- and sun-related effects, you should always be wary of more severe issues like heat cramps and dehydration, as well as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
The top two ways to prevent sunburn is sun-protection clothing and sunscreen. The clothing should be made of materials that are UPF rated, and loose-fitting so your skin can breathe.
Sunscreen should be applied over exposed skin. Make sure to use one that is waterproof, sweat proof and has an SPF of at least 40. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or according to the product’s instructions.
Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after hiking is the best way to avoid dehydration. Other ways include wearing loose-fitting clothing that allows your skin to breathe, avoiding hot days, and drinking electrolyte replacement drinks after your hike.
It’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms of dehydration which include hot, dry skin that is flushed; hot or cold hands and feet; excessive thirst; dark urine which may have a strong odor. If you exhibit signs of dehydration, rest in a cool area and drink plenty of fluids. It’s important to combat the symptoms of dehydration as quickly as possible, so it doesn’t lead to more serious heat-related illnesses.
Heat cramps are the body’s way of telling you that it’s hot and you’re sweating too much. The heat cramps are caused by an imbalance of fluids and minerals in the body, specifically sodium which is essential for muscle function. If you do get these cramps, do some light stretching and immediately rest and hydrate.
The symptoms of heat exhaustion are much like those of heat cramps, with the addition of feeling hot and sweaty. You may also feel dizzy, have a headache or nausea. If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion, it’s important to get the person out of the heat and into a cool place. Give them fluids to drink but if they’re vomiting, stop giving them anything to drink.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention. Symptoms include hot and sweaty skin, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, flushed or pale skin and severe headache. If someone has heat stroke, call 911 immediately. While waiting for help to arrive, get the person out of the heat and into a cool place. If you’re near a body of water, lay the hiker down in the water, making sure they can breathe. Give them fluids to drink, turn on a fan or air conditioner and remove layers of clothing.
The main difference to look for in heat stroke and less severe heat-related illnesses is a change in mental status. They may seem disoriented, confused, or unaware of what’s going on.
With a little preparation and common sense, hot weather hiking can be a fun and safe experience. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, wear appropriate clothing, check the forecast before heading out, and know the symptoms of dehydration and other heat-related illnesses. Most importantly, if someone appears to be suffering from a more serious condition like heat stroke, call 911 immediately.