How To: Hiking Heat Safety
Hiking is fun, no matter the season! But every season does come with different requirements. Summer is the peak of National Park season but it also means practicing proper heat safety precautions to keep it light and fun in the ☀️
The human body is usually able to regulate its temperature through sweating but there does come a point where it just can’t keep it up. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious medical conditions that can escalate very quickly.
Here are some tips, tricks, how-tos and products to help keep you cool during those summer hikes.
Grab a hiking buddy
Alone time is great and necessary, but hiking in the heat is not a time to do so alone. Before you make any hiking plans, make sure you have at least one other person to join you on this hot hike. void going hiking alone in the heat, use the buddy system!
Know your weather
You never know what to expect, unless you check! A guaranteed way to have the best hiking experience is to be prepared. Check the weather forecast for your hiking day. Even with sunny blue skies, the mountains create their own weather and extreme humidity is not our friend. In heat and humidity, downpours surprise us and are more likely to occur. Consider dressing in layers to protect yourself from sunburns and weather changes.
Map your trail out
Choosing the right trail is especially important when it’s hot. Make sure the trail you decide on has some shady spots to cool off during rest breaks. A trail that runs along running water is a good idea because you can cool off while still having some fun! Make sure to choose a trail at a lower elevation because the higher the elevation, the lower the amount of oxygen in the air and that means UV rays will be stronger.
All Trails is an excellent resource for trail searches. You can search for hiking trails just by entering a city, park, or trail name. The level of difficulty, along with reviews, photos, and recordings are included!
Timing is everything
Ideally, in the summer months, hike in the morning. Hiking in hot weather shouldn’t be done between the times of 11am-3pm because of the midday heat. Don’t forget to take breaks, regularly. It may be cool when you start out but even a small elevation gain can warm you up quickly.
Dress the part
You might think it’s better to wear the least amount of clothes possible for a hike in the heat, but that’s not the case! It’s actually advised to wear more clothes when hiking in hot weather. Weird, right? But wearing a few light layers also means multiple air layers which is the core principle of insulation. Wearing a large hiking hat with sunscreen and shades doesn’t just make you look cooler, it actually keeps you cooler too! 😎
Mandatory essential items
Did you know your body loses one around one liter of water per hour during a hike. Hot weather can double that! Always pack more water than you expect to drink. You know what they say, it’s always better to have too much rather than not enough 😉
Because the body can only consume half a liter of water per hour effectively, getting dehydrated during a hot-weather-hike is guaranteed to happen, but sipping water regularly allows for the body absorb what you’re drinking. Don’t chug too much water at once, that does more harm than good.
Don’t forget to pack all those liquids in a reusable water bottle and pack it in…pack it out!
Sweating is bound to happen during a hot hike so which makes drinking water even more important. Because electrolytes are lost through sweat, make sure you bring snacks with complex-carbs to join you on your hike! A few of our fave gluten-free snacks have some salt to ‘em!
Feet sweats? That’s totally cool! Bringing a pair of extra socks can make a world of a difference in the quality of your hike, especially if you start to develop blisters! Sweat-soaked-socks are no fun.
Bug spray is also a must in our book. All Terrain has a DEET-free natural insect repellent made up of six different essential oils: soybean, citronella, peppermint, cedar, lemongrass and geranium. It’s a great option for the sensitive-skin people (we see you) out there, as well as children. And here’s a few more tips on how to keep those bugs away.
Advice from the pros
National Hiking Society ambassador, Carolyn Harfield spoke with us about the top 3 things to do while hiking this summer. She’s an REI community partner, who is certified in Wilderness First Aid, as well as a Sierra Club member, and Outings Leader. So, she obviously knows her stuff!
Start drinking more water 2-3 days before your hike.
Have additional water with you, commensurate with the length of the hike. Up to one bottle for every hour you are expected to be on the trail.
Drink/sip water every 15 to 30 minutes totaling up to no less than half bottle with an hour of hiking.
Have several bottles of your water frozen. They help keep you cool plus they give you cold water while hiking and can be used as a cold pack on your head or neck should you begin to feel overheated. We take our time when hiking in hot weather ... slow and steady. I keep an eye on the other hikers to ensure they are not getting over exhausted/heated. In the event that someone gets leg cramps, I have carryout mustard packets with me, and have the person put the mustard on their tongue and swallow. It helps relieve leg cramps ... yeah it really helps. Depending on the severity of the cramps depends on how many packets I give them.Most times one packet does the trick, maybe a second one, sometime.
Be aware of heat stroke symptoms
Even if you follow all these “rules” you can never underestimate nature. Your body speaks, so make sure you listen! Common symptoms of heatstroke include:
disorientation lack of sweating
Cool hiking products we love!
The Napali Hiking Sandal for women, from Viakix, is a great option on hotter days when you don’t feel like hiking with boots. This sandal has adjustable straps that provide a customizable fit for any width. A cushioned EVA foam midsole to provide arch support and comfort the sole. These outdoor sandals are crafted by hand and have water-ready, quick-drying webbing.
On the go, you can stay cool with The MistPro3 from Misty Mate! This pampering product is the ultimate personal mister, made from premium, high-grade materials andare entirely human-powered, which means no batteries or electricity of any kind. This bad girl lasts up to 4 hours with intermittent use on a single fill.
Hats are a must in hot heat to protect your delicate face but they can get…smelly and gross! Disposable liners are worth looking into if you sweat more than the average bear. No Sweat is a disposable liner and sweat absorber that sticks on the inside of any headwear products (caps, masks, helmets, etc.) It’s also hypoallergenic and guaranteed to make your hike in the heat less messy.
Bug spray is also a must in our book. All Terrain has a DEET-free natural insect repellent made up of six different essential oils: soybean, citronella, peppermint, cedar, lemongrass and geranium. It’s a great option for the sensitive-skin people (we see you) out there, as well as children.
Friendly reminder time and disclaimer:
NEVER HIKE ALONE IN HOT WEATHER
If you or your hiking partner feels ill, immediately find shade and try to cool down ASAP. And remember, if someone is showing any sign of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, call 911.