How to Hike in Hot Weather: Tips for the Summer
This article will outline the common tips for hiking in hot weather for a safe and enjoyable hike.
The finest season for hiking is during the summer when the snow has melted, the flowers are in bloom, and the skies are clear. But regrettably, that also means that it can frequently get unbearably hot. Despite my extreme heat sensitivity, I always want to go trekking, especially when the weather is hot.
So, can you hike in 100-degree weather?
Yes, you can hike at a temperature of 100 degrees, but there are better ideas. Hiking in hot weather puts you at very high risk for heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition. In other words, staying inside while the temperature is so high is advisable.
Quick Tips for Hiking in Hot Weather
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you know that hot weather can damage your plans. Hiking in the heat can be dangerous if you’re not prepared.
Here are the top 10 tips for hiking in hot weather, so you can stay safe and enjoy your hike.
- Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
- Wear loose, light-colored clothing to stay cool.
- Apply sunscreen generously and often.
- Take breaks in the shade to cool off.
- Monitor your body for signs of heat exhaustion or dehydration.
- Slow down your pace and take rests as needed.
- Hike during the cooler hours of the day, such as early morning or evening.
- Avoid hiking in direct sunlight whenever possible.
- Bring along a hat or other form of sun protection.
- Know your limits and hike within your abilities.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to hike safely in hot weather and enjoy the outdoors all summer long!
Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking: Tips For a Successful Adventure
Hiking in Hot Weather [Detailed Guide]
From the redwoods of California to the swamps of Louisiana, summer is the peak hiking season in the United States. But as temperatures go high, so does the risk of heat-related illnesses.
Read the detailed tips below for hiking in hot weather to help you enjoy the trails while staying safe in the heat.
Pick the right hike
A hot day might not be a great option for hikes along ridgelines or on mountaintops that receive direct sunlight. Pick a stroll through a forest with lots of shade if the weather is hot. You will fatigue more quickly in extreme heat, so you should choose a hike that is easier or shorter than usual.
Hiking near a river or lake in hot weather can be energizing as the air is frequently colder.
You can lower your body temperature by swimming in cool water. Some hikers also enjoy wearing a wet bandana or even soaking clothing in a stream before putting it on.
A swim is another excellent hiking heat-reduction strategy. You can bring a swimsuit, or wear your hiking gear. Before going swimming, remove any sunscreen or bug spray to prevent injuring aquatic life.
Avoid Hiking in the afternoon.
It gets warm when the day’s heat builds up in the late afternoon, around 3 or 4 pm. Plan a morning trek instead of hiking while it’s quite hot to get off the trail in time for lunch. Alternatively, go for a hike after sunset after dinner.
When it’s scorching outside, it’s easy to become dehydrated. You will sweat if the temperature is high because that is how your body cools itself.
Dehydration occurs if you don’t replenish the water you lose via sweat. The signs of dehydration include increased thirst and less frequent urination. The worst-case scenario can involve headache, nausea, dizziness, exhaustion, confusion, and vomiting.
The water you pack depends on the weather and how far you expect to hike. However, remember that some people may need to drink up to 1L water every hour while hiking in the heat.
NB: Before you start your hike, check the online trail conditions.
Also Read: How to Pack Your Backpack for Hiking: 6 Expert Tips
Keep Your Electrolyte Levels Up
You might not stay hydrated if you only drink water. Sweat contains salt, potassium, and electrolytes. When your electrolyte levels are low, you could have dehydration-like symptoms and muscle cramps. In this case, consume a sports drink with additional sodium, potassium, and other minerals to prevent electrolyte dehydration.
Sports beverages in bottles are frequently loaded with sugar. Alternatives like powder or tablets can be substantially less expensive. They are portable, so you may combine them with water wherever you are and adjust the mixture’s potency.
Wear Sun Protection
When hiking in hot weather, it is essential to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. However, many people do not apply sunscreen correctly, which can lead to sunburn.
Here are some tips for applying sunscreen correctly:
- Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, including your face, neck, ears, and arms.
- Make sure to apply sunscreen for at least 15 minutes before going outside.
- Re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours or more often if you are sweating or swimming.
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
While applying sunscreen is usually a good idea when hiking, it might be challenging to do so on a very hot day due to sweating it off. You can try using sweat-resistant sports sunscreen, but you’ll still need to reapply it frequently.
Wearing a wide-brim hat with a light long-sleeved shirt will protect you from the sun compared to exposing your skin and applying sunscreen.
Chafing is the worst effect sweating may have while hiking in hot weather. When your skin and clothing become wet from sweat or rain and rub against one another, chafing occurs. Foot and butt cheek chafing are also common!
Choose hiking attire composed of synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon, which absorb less water, to avoid chafing. Look for seamless choices or a variant with flat seams in sports bras and underpants.
Be aware of Heat Stroke.
It’s serious when someone gets a heat stroke. It might damage your organs or lead to death. When your body temperature exceeds 104F/40C, a heat stroke occurs.
Symptoms of heat stroke include headache, dizziness, lack of sweating despite the heat, hot skin, muscle cramps, nausea, and vomiting. The worst-case scenario could be convulsions and unconsciousness.
Immediately seek medical help if you suspect someone is suffering from heatstroke. Leave the trail and make a help request if you can. Try to move the person into the shade to decrease their body temperature. Dehydration and heat stroke frequently go hand in hand, so drench the patient with cool water and encourage them to consume electrolyte-rich beverages.
Use Caution at Creek Crossings
Snow can melt quickly in warm weather, converting creeks into raging rivers. Before you set out for a hike, check the trail to determine whether there are any potentially hazardous unbridged creek crossings.
Be prepared to turn around if you reach a swift-moving brook if it is unsafe to cross. Also, remember that when you cross a creek again on your way back, it can run much higher in the afternoon than in the morning.
Related: How To Waterproof A Backpack for Hiking (The Complete Guide)
Is It Safe to Hike in 100-Degree Weather?
No, unless you’re well-prepared for the conditions you’ll encounter on the route, it’s not safe to go hiking in temperatures over 100 degrees.
Although hiking in this hot weather is possible, doing so puts you at unnecessary risk for a heat stroke.
Your core body temperature increases when you have a heat stroke because your body can no longer regulate its temperature. Moving the affected person to a shade to cool down and await rehydration by medical personnel is the ideal way to manage a heat stroke.
Nevertheless, individuals frequently go hiking in temperatures of 100°F (38°C). Even though it isn’t advised, you need the appropriate equipment and knowledge to trek in these conditions.
How Hot Is Too Hot For a Hike?
This all depends on how comfortable you are in hot weather. However, hiking is not advised if the temperature is expected to rise over 90°F (32°C).
Hikers are likely to become dehydrated and experience either heat exhaustion or heat stroke when temperatures are this high. If you hike on arid terrains with little shade, you’ll lose a lot of fluid through sweat just from hot weather walking.
What Is The Best Time of Day to Go Hiking in the Summer?
Summer mornings from 7 AM to 12 PM are the finest time for trekking. The sooner you can go from the trailhead for a summer hike, the better. For various reasons, the best time to hike during summer is in the morning. You benefit from hiking early in the day by:
Cool Temperatures: Unless there is a severe weather anomaly, the day’s coldest and hottest hours are just after sunrise and noon, respectively. Going outside in the morning gives you the best chance to avoid the heat if you expect warm weather for your summer trip.
Few Thunderstorms: On hot summer afternoons, thunderstorms frequently occur in many mountain ranges. You’ll have a higher chance of finishing your hike before the thunderstorms arrive if you start early.
Hot Weather Hiking: Yes or No?
Hiking in extremely hot weather is risky and not advised for anyone but the most experienced hikers. With the right equipment, you can go hiking on a hot summer day; you might be okay going for a morning trek on a shady trail. However, it is wise to avoid hiking in hot weather whenever possible.
Hiking in hot weather can be dangerous if you are not prepared. The most important thing to do is to stay hydrated and avoid hiking in hot weather. Wear loose, light-colored clothing and a hat, and carry plenty of water.
I hope the tips above will make hiking in hot weather safe and enjoyable for you and your family.
Also Read: How Cold is Too Cold to Go Hiking? Tips For Beginners.
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