With summer time just knocking around the corner, finding a way to make your first ever hiking experience safe and enjoyable must be foremost on your mind. Keep in mind– it’s going to be warm to the point of hellish in some areas out there. You need to learn smart ways to beat the heat while trudging these majestic places. To get you started, here are some tips for summer hiking trips.
1. Your first defense — constant hydration: Summer hiking rule of thumb- drink before, during and after a hike. It is wise to bring at least 1 liter of water to drink for every hour spent on a trail. Dehydration is one of the biggest culprits in hiking fatalities and the last thing you would want to experience is being thirsty while out there in the wilderness. While towing a jug of water can be considered unwise, tagging along a Lifestraw will give you access to any water source available in the area.
Many inexperienced or new hikers lose their water by not positioning their bottles correctly in their backpack and thus spilling it along the way.
Another common misconception is that you need to stay hydrated correctly only on the hiking day. That is absolutely wrong, especially in multi-hour hikes. Proper hydration should be started a few days before you start hiking. If you are preparing to hike for many hours/days under the sun, you will also need to continue appropriate hydration even after completing your hiking trip. This way, you will be able to reduce the amount of water you carry as your body will be ready to cope with the heat in a better way.
It is better not to drink large portions of water along your hike, better consume some water every 15-20 minutes. Also, there is no need to consume more water than the amount that leaves your body through sweat. If you drink lots of water quickly, you may find that you are getting sweaty immediately, especially if the water is cold.
The other side of dehydration is overhydration. This is a rare condition that mainly affects endurance athletes like marathon runners, but it’s something that you as a hiker should be aware of.
In hyponatremia(over hydration), the sodium levels in the blood become so diluted and less that cell function becomes impaired. In very extreme cases, hyponatremia may also cause coma and even can be fatal.
The symptoms of hyponatremia are similar to dehydration i.e fatigue, headache, and nausea. This often causes the victim to mistakenly drink even more water and aggravate the issue.
To prevent overhydration monitor how much you drink. As discussed earlier, stick to drinking a few gulps of water about every 15–20 minutes. Observe and try not to drink more than you sweat. If you gain weight during exercise is a telltale sign that you’re drinking too much.
Keep your salt levels balanced by occasionally drinking a sports drink with electrolytes instead of plain water and/or eating a salty snack. You can also take salt tablets if it becomes necessary.
2. Wear light, comfortable yet adaptable clothing:
Remember one basic thing while hiking during summer: the more portion of your body is exposed under the hot sun, the worst it will get.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you need to wear heavy clothing. A full sleeve shirt is an excellent choice or a light-colored t-shirt that reflects sunlight will do the job against sun-rays.
It is best to wear summer hiking clothes that are made with UV protection materials that block UV ray like this shirt which is made of UPF 50+ fabric for maximum protection from sun. While purchasing clothes, choose those which have UPF-ratings like UPF 15, UPF 30, and UPF 50+.
You can also choose to wear short sleeve clothes, but in that case, do apply sun cream on your exposed arms to avoid sunburn.
Do apply sun cream to all exposed parts of your body including your nose especially, when you are wearing sunglasses. The reflection from the sun on the sunglass doubles the power of rays that will hit your nose.
Choose zipped-up convertible pants which give your legs protection in rough and shrouded terrains while keeping them cool during rest time. Also choose comfy sweat-wicking or breathable shirt. Reminder — it’s going to be hot! You would not want to wear something that will make you awfully heavy and soggy on a trail. Socks must also be picked with care.
Be careful, that your socks are not wet as wet socks in warm shoes or poor ventilation lead to blisters. Make sure that your socks are made of non-cotton material and are not too thick.
Pick lighter ones instead of the usual wool type– and make sure to bring extra. Your footsies will be sweating as much as your armpits. You can check out here for some of the most useful apparel for summer hikes.
Make sure your hiking shoes allow air to circulate, and your feet feel comfortable on them, -i.e not too tight or loose. It is better to avoid waterproof boots or shoes during summer hiking since they tend to block the ventilation and keep all the moisture and heat inside the shoe. This leads to excessive sweating of the feet.
Always test your shoes and socks days before you start hiking. You can try out some short hikes before your actual hiking trip. Depending on the terrain, a nice pair of trail running shoes actually can do a good job. With it, you can be comfortable, lightweight, and have a good grip on the ground. Read more about the minimalist hiking shoes here.
3. Wear a hat for protection when hiking along exposed terrain: Choose ones with adjustable drawstrings like this CamoCool Outdoor Summer Sun Cap to keep it in place when strong breeze at higher elevation kicks in. Bring along a bandana or a buff, too. They can be dipped in a stream and tied loosely around the neck to keep you cool. Sunglasses, by the way, are not just for fashion. It can also provide excellent protection from the sun’s glaring light. Invest in a good strap to keep your eyewear in place though.
4. When choosing location for a summer high, experts suggest that you go high: Many novice hikers believe that day time heat is the same on any day in summer hiking which is absolutely not correct.
Heat, along with humidity levels, will vary day to day and change depending on location and existing conditions. There are many trail routes or paths that are better to hike through during the early morning while others are better during the afternoon.
Learning about weather conditions should not be limited to your hiking day but for the days before and after that day because there are certain locations which after rain, traps humidity. So if follow up days have hot burning sun, the heat could get to the “sauna” level and such routes should be avoided by new hikers especially.
Keep in mind that you’ll be dropping off some 3-deg of temperature for every 1000 feet of elevation gained. Find a location which also offers cool oases like waterfalls, streams, cold springs, lake, and any swimming holes. Scour locations online and you’ll be amazed at the marvels of hiking locations near you.
5. When doing some summer hiking trips planning, it is also important to consider the time of day to start off a hike: Start as early as possible like around 5AM or just as the dawn breaks. Starting off allows you to take advantage of cooler temperature while covering substantial square inch footage of a trail.
Always void the hottest time of day which is usually around noon to 3 p.m. On scorching days, it is best to avoid this time altogether by starting your hike early in the morning and ending it by early afternoon. If there is no way you can avoid hiking during the warmest hours, try to plan your hiking route in a way that you’ll be in the shade or near a water body during that time. If you’re hiking next to a river or lake, dip your hat, shirt or bandana frequently and drape them on your body to keep you cool as the water evaporates.
If you are hiking to a known area where the scorching day temperatures is unbearable, you can plan for a night hike which can bring relief.
You may want to have a good watch like this Casio Pathfinder for assistance while on a trail and keeping watch of time. Think: digital compass, barometer, thermometer, altimeter, daily alarms and so much more!
6. Even if you’re hiking to lose weight, never miss out on the right food to pack: Like hydration, your body needs sustenance to fuel a hike. Keep in mind to bring portable yet nutrient and electrolyte savvy food items. While one can make do with protein-filled snack bars for day hikes, this should not be the case when planning an overnight hike. Take a sneak peek on this portable and easy to cook food packs from Augason Farms. No wonder it’s also a favorite among preppers.
7. Choose just the right hiking backpack: There are hundreds of styles and brands out there for you to choose from. The idea is to pick one that’s sturdy and portable yet can accommodate everything you need in a hike. Feel free to start choosing from this LIST.
8. Don’t forget blisters and bugs: Along with blisters and sweat is the threat of disease-causing insects and bugs. These pesky critters love to feat on sweaty hikers like you and bringing along a portable bug spray or perhaps, using a protective lotion particularly at dusk will help keep those sucking mini-monsters at bay. This one from Natrapel comes highly recommended as it also keeps tick away.
How To Avoid it during Sumer Hikes
Heatstroke happens when your body literally overheats. It is a medical condition that can strike fast and will require immediate medical attention. Common signs of heatstroke are throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, confusion and disorientation. Body temperature can get up to 104-degrees-Fahrenheit or higher.
How to Treat someone suffering from heatstroke:
The first thing to do is to rapidly cool down the person with heatstroke. Lay him or her down in a shade, remove all extra clothing and use cool water and fan to lower their temperature. If you’re near a waterbody you can lay the hiker down in the water. Just take care to keep their airway clear.
If he is alert enough to hold a water bottle, get him to drink water. Heatstroke can cause internal organ damage, so it is better to get the hiker out as soon as possible and take him to the hospital for further evaluation.
If you are someone who wants to be better prepared to respond to medical emergencies in the outdoors, consider taking a wilderness medicine course.
Safety– A Must!
When it comes to any hiking trips , the main lookout is safety. Venturing out the great outdoors is going to be a challenge regardless of the weather conditions. During summer hikes, you need to keep watch of dehydration and heat stroke which can prove to be fatal.
A big mistake done by many novice hikers is believing that their body will react only in the first days of summer. They do not allow the transition and hence suffer more. This is observed more in weekend hikers who tend to rush things up.
To adjust for summer hiking, it is best to start with small and easy routes under shade. Another “trick” to adjust your body for the transition is to spend 20 to 30 minutes in a sauna. This will tune up your body for the upcoming heat during your summer hiking trip.
As much as possible, go with a hiking buddy. Besides, it is so much better to enjoy the scenery with someone.