When the winter fades away and the weather starts to warm, it is the perfect time to enjoy a hiking trip. Depending where you live and where you plan to go, however, you may find that things are a little warmer than you like. If you’re looking for some simple ways to stay cool on your hiking trips this summer, simply follow these hot weather hiking tips.
Tip #1: Take advantage of the cool mornings.
While waking up before the crack of dawn might not be your idea of a good time, it is important if you want to avoid hiking in the heat of the day. If you’re hiking a particularly difficult or steep trail, it’s generally a good idea to get in most of your elevation before 11 am – that’s when the temperature will really start to rise. If you can finish the most difficult portion of your hike while it is still cool, you’ll be able to enjoy the rest of the hike a little more.
Tip #2: Always cover up.
It may sound counterintuitive to dress in layers when it is very hot, but covering up is very important for hot weather hiking. Wearing long sleeves and pants will protect you from the damaging UV rays, especially at higher altitudes.
Wear loose-fitting clothing so you can keep cool while staying covered and invest in a nice wide-brimmed hat and a pair of sunglasses. Any skin that remains uncovered should be slathered with sunscreen. And don’t forget to bring the sunscreen with you so you can reapply it as you sweat it off.
Tip #3: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
When you are hiking in hot weather you can expect your body to lose about a liter of water per hour. If you are hiking a particularly steep or difficult trail, your water loss might be twice that amount.
Drink plenty of water before you hit the trail and keep drinking all the while – drinking a little bit of water consistently is generally better than drinking a large amount all at once. After all, your body can only absorb about a half liter of water every hour.
Tip #4: Keep your electrolytes balanced.
In addition to staying hydrated, you also need to replenish your body’s stores of electrolytes as you sweat them out. Sodium and potassium are the two most important electrolytes you’ll need to replenish and you’ll want to snack on some complex carbs as well to keep your body energized.
Tip #5: Watch for signs of heat stroke.
Even if you take every precaution to keep yourself cool while hiking, you should still keep an eye out for signs of heat stroke. If you develop a throbbing headache or start to feel dizzy, it could be a sign of heat stroke. Other signs include muscle cramps, nausea, disorientation, and lack of sweating. If you feel any of these things coming on, find shade immediately and try to cool yourself down.
Though hiking is a wonderful experience, it does come with some potential dangers, particularly if you aren’t prepared. Always check the weather forecast before you head out so you know what to expect and what to bring with you. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.