Summer Hiking Tips: The weather is getting warmer, quarantine is slowly coming to an end (hopefully), and it is time to hit the trail. Here are some tips to help keep you healthy and cool during your summer hikes!
Drink before your hike, Drink during your hike, and yes, drink after your hike. Drinking water is always important on the trail but especially during the summer months when it is hotter and you are sweating more. A good reference is to take a liter of water for every hour you plan to be on the trail. Water bottles heat up quickly on the trail, you can put ice in your water bottle or freeze half of it the night before. This will help to keep your water somewhat cool on the trial
-You can also bring a Lifestraw or Steri Pen to clean water on the trail to ensure you have a sufficient supply and to reduce the amount of water you have to carry.
Wear light comfortable clothing, but don’t forget to bring layers and a rain jacket. The conditions at the summit can be very different from at the beginning of the trail. I highly recommend you avoid cotton clothing, which holds the sweat and can make your clothes, wet, heavy, and uncomfortable. Make sure that you wear a wicking shirt that is fast drying to help you stay cool/dry on the trail.
Make sure you understand the trail conditions before putting on a pair of hiking shorts. I know your first instinct may be to wear shorts due to the heat, but lightweight pants may be the better option. For instance, if you are on unmarked trails, doing rock scrambles, or bushwhacking you may want to wear pants to avoid scratching up your legs. Plus long pants might help with sunburn or bugs that are on the trail this time of year.
-Protect yourself from the Sun:
Protect your skin! Always wear sunscreen on exposed skin; read the bottle and follow the directions. As a general rule of thumb, try to put sunscreen on 15 mins before going in the sun and then reapply every 2 hours. This will help prevent sunburn! Remember, at higher altitude it may not feel hot, but the sun is stronger than at lower altitudes. I also wear a baseball cap on the trail to protect my face and scalp from getting sunburn. The sun is also harmful to your eyes. It is good to invest in a decent pair of sunglasses that provide UV protection and consider glacier glasses if you will be doing any glacier traversing.
-Get an Early Start:
In the early morning, temperatures are cooler, so there will be less strain on your body. Plus an early morning start means that the trails are less busy, so win-win. In some of the larger mountains, like Colorado, afternoon thunder storms are common, so you need to be cognizant of the weather patterns and be off the summit by midday.
-Listen to Your Body:
When hiking in the heat, is important to listen to your body and watch out for the below:
- Heat Exhaustion: Under extreme heat, you could get heat exhaustion, which is your body’s inability to deal with heat. The symptoms can be heavy sweating, rapid pulse, faintness, fatigue, nausea, and headache. If you start experiencing these symptoms, get out of the heat, rehydrate, and cool off. The above tips should help to avoid lesson the likelihood, but it is still possible, so just be careful.
- Heat Stroke: This is when your body literally overheats and it is a serious medical condition. If you or a fellow hiker are experiencing any of the following symptoms get them medical attention: changed mental status, throbbing headache, anxiety, confusion, disorientation, and body temperature of 104 degrees.
- Dehydration/Cramping: When you don’t refuel your body, you can experience dehydration and muscle cramping. Make sure that you are regularly drinking and taking in calories, especially on days with high humidity. Believe me, muscle cramps are no fun.
Enjoy the summer and happy hiking! I hope to see you on the trail! For more hiking tips check out some of our other hiking blogs.
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