How to Stay Cool When Hiking in Hot Weather

forest with sunlight

Summer is a prime time for hikers and backpackers to get out on the trail. It is also a time when temperatures are at their hottest, and it can be difficult to stay cool during a long day of hiking. However, there are some tricks that hikers can use to stay cool and to avoid serious medical problems related to the heat, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

How to Plan Hikes to Avoid Hot Temperatures

When planning a hike or even a multi-day backpacking trip, try hiking in either the morning or late afternoon. During the mid-day and early afternoon the sun is highest in the sky, and it is the hottest. Take advantage of the mid-day break as an opportunity to take a break in the shade, to rehydrate by drinking water or sport drinks, or to even take a nap before continuing the rest of the hike.

How to Stay Cool When Hiking

A wet bandanna is a simple way to help a hiker stay cool. It cools the skin and can lower the temperature in a small area of the body. Wet a bandanna or other cloth with water, then twirl it in the air for a few seconds. Apply the cool cloth to the head or face, or tie the bandanna around the neck.

If stopping for a break to drink water in order to stay hydrated, stop in a shady area such as from trees or large rocks, instead of out in the sun. The shade can offer some temporary relief from the effects of the sun, and be more comfortable.

Sometimes a quick head dunk or immersion in a creek, stream, or pond can help cool-off the body when it is hot out. Be careful not to swallow any of the water, as it is untreated and could carry harmful diseases and bacteria.

How to Use Clothing to Stay Cool

Clothing made of lighter materials with wicking qualities can help to keep the body cool. For instance, a shirt that is made of a lightweight, synthetic wicking material will help keep the body cool during the hot part of the day, but will quickly dry by evening.

Hiking when it’s hot doesn’t mean one has to suffer all day. By taking some simple steps hikers and backpackers can stay cool all day long.

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