Tips for Hiking in Summer
The warm weather makes it a lot more enticing to go out and explore your local hiking spots and to do that, follow these 10 Tips for Hiking in Hot Weather to be prepared. I lived in Hong Kong for 5.5 years where humidity and heat were the norms for 9 months out of the year. Here are my best pieces of advice to give to new hikers or experienced hikers if you're going to venture out in the heat.
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Top 10 Tips for hiking in Hot Weather
1. Start Early
The earlier you start, the less of a chance you will be out during the hottest part of the day (according to the Almanac, the hottest part of the day is around 3 pm in the summer) and it is also cooler.
It is recommended to drink half a liter of water every hour for moderate activity in moderate temperatures. I am not much of a ‘water drinker’ but I always carry at least 2L for each hike, up to 3L depending on the temperature and hike length. The easier it is to access the water, the more likely you will drink it. For a ‘non-water drinker’, I carry a hydration bladder where I can take small sips and a visible hose reminds me to drink. In addition, I also carry a few 1L water bottles as a backup. Hydrating the night before, in the morning, and after hiking can help recovery.
You sweat more than just water. Electrolyte replacements help replenish what you lose and prevent dehydration. Electrolytes can come in the form of food, sports drinks, or tablets. I prefer tablets for many reasons, the main one they are more compact and weightless, not to mention one container contains 10 tablets. They are also lower in sugar and calories than sports drinks. I always keep a few containers in my bag so I never worry about running out.
If you sweat a lot, reapply as recommended by the brand. Buying sunscreens that are water-resistant or sweat-resistant will be a lot more helpful than regular sunscreen. I always carry face, body, and lip sunscreen and try to reply every hour.
5. Sweat Rag
As much as I love having my sweat, along with sunscreen running into my eyes, bringing a towel or bandana can prevent that. I normally keep it tucked into one of the straps on the front of my bag so I can quickly use it when needed.
6. Protective clothing
Proper clothing when hiking in hot weather can go a long way in how memorable your hike is. Nothing is worse than when you know you’re burning and there’s nothing you can do about it (and no amount of sunscreen is going to help). I burn easily and sweat more than most and prefer not to wear a lot of sunscreens if I don’t need to (only on my face). Long pants/leggings and arm sleeves will help prevent being sunburnt. If you don’t know what arm sleeves are, there are 2 pieces of material that are long enough to cover your arms. They fit just under your armpit and go down to your wrists, or you can get the ones I have that are longer with thumb holes and go over the top of your hands. These are lightweight, UPF 50+ and I wear them for every outdoor activity I do. I’m not a fan of hats but do carry one on me just in case.
Hot weather can make it hard to eat but food is also another great source to replenish any electrolytes or vitamins you may have lost. Having quick, bite-size foods (granola bars, nuts, dried fruits, or sandwiches) or water-based fruits (blueberries, oranges, or my favorite, watermelon) make it easier.
Shade will become your best friend during these hikes. Stay in the shade as often as you can or if it’s not as available, use it as a rest period for a few minutes. Every chance you have to get out of the sun, use it and make sure your breaks/lunch are in well-shaded areas. If you're going on a hike that has very little shade, this is when you need to wear protective clothing and be continuously hydrating.
9. Spare Clothes
I like to carry spare clothes (shirt, shorts, socks) on me during the hike and/or keep some in the vehicle at the end. If I know I will be sweating a lot, I carry them with me and change halfway through. This will prevent chafing/rubbing. Always carry an extra pair of socks (not cotton) and change them when they get wet. This will help prevent blisters on your feet. At the end of the hike, it always feels amazing to change into dry, non-sweaty clothing and put on a pair of flip-flops (your feet will thank you).
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10. Know Yourself
I can’t stress this point enough. Only you know how much you need and how you feel. When I do strenuous hikes, I need to pack a lot of food in addition to my 2L of water as I’m constantly eating whereas my sister will carry up to 5L of water with her. Make sure you bring enough water and food for yourself and listen to your body. If you feel lightheaded, dizzy or you’re body just isn’t agreeing with you, turn back.
Hiking in the summer can be enjoyable if you take these preventative measures. Happy Hiking!