The forecast is for warm weather. You carefully open the tent door and look outside. Yes! The sky is blue, there’s barely a cloud to be seen, it’s going to be a great day for an Adventure.
By mid morning things are starting to heat up. It’s clear that it’s going to be more than just a warm day, it’s going to be hot hot hot! This hike is going to be harder than you thought.
Here are our 10 tips for hiking in hot weather – and enjoying it.
Tip 1 – Hydrate before you go
We’ve been told for a long time that we need to drink 8 glasses of water a day, which is roughly equivalent to 2 litres. It can be hard to remember to keep drinking when you’re out of routine, and being on holiday or away from home can throw us out of our habits. If it’s going to be warm try and remember to drink little and often the day before. Then have a drink at the car park or campsite before you set off and you’ll be starting your day the right way.
Tip 2 – Carry plenty of water with you
I know some people worry about not having loos on the route so they deliberately don’t drink while they’re out. It’s not good for us to do that! You’ll quickly become tired and your decision making will suffer. At the extreme end of things, you could negatively affect your health. I’ll write another blog shortly on ‘peeing in the wild’ but for now it’s all about the drinking.
You can use a bladder in your backpack with a hose so you can sip water as you go. This means it’s easier to drink regularly throughout the day. It’s nice though to have some squash in a bottle too (I find the bladder too fiddly to clean so I only put water in mine). When we stop to admire the view, or take a layer off I’ll take a swig or two of the squash. Depending on the length and difficulty of the walk and the forecasted temperatures I’ll take anything from 1.5 litres to 4 or 5 litres with me. Remember though, 1 litre of water is equivalent to a kilo of extra weight in your pack. So when you finish make a note of how much you drank and you’ll know if you need to take more or less next time.
Water filters are an option if you know you’ll be crossing streams or going past waterfalls. When taking water from a stream always take it from a clear, cold fast-flowing section where the water is constantly being aerated. Avoid stagnate still pools. Human and animal waste tend to be the biggest aggravators in water contamination, so look around and make a judgement on how that will affect the water quality. An important note about water filters is that they only remove particulates, protozoa and bacteria from the water. Water filters will not remove viruses. For that you will need a water purifier such as a UV pen or chlorine dioxide solution such as Aquaprove.
If you’re taking your four legged friend on your walk with you, don’t forget to take some water for your dog! Don’t rely on streams being in flow. Take a bottle of water and a bowl for them to drink from. Make sure you keep an eye on then so you know when they need more.
Tip 3 – Start early
Setting off earlier in the day means you’ll usually be walking in cooler temperatures. Take a long lunch break in the shade if you can, or finish early and head to a cafe or pub for the afternoon.
Tip 4 – Walk at a steady pace
Hot days are not the days to race around a route. Choose a shorter route if you think you’ll be too slow to complete your original one. Take your time and take breaks whenever you spot some shade.
Tip 5 – Dip your bandana/tshirt/buff in a stream
It’s warm, and you’re feeling it. There’s a stream ahead but you don’t have a water filter with you and you’re not sure what’s further upstream so you don’t want to drink it. But it can still be useful. You could have a paddle, but take care as you don’t want to slip over or cut your feet when you still have a few miles to walk. If you have a neck gaitor or bandana in your pack (always useful to carry one, as it can be used in first aid instances as well as for many other things) dip it in the stream, give it a shake and put it on your head or around the back of your neck. It’ll help to cool you down and feels fantastic!
Tip 6 – Find shade in the hottest part of the day
If your route doesn’t have any obvious shade, then consider choosing a different route if it’s going to be a warm day. But if you are lucky enough to find a good shady spot consider making the most of it and taking a long lazy break in the middle of the day.
Tip 7 – Use sunsceen or sunblock and reapply regularly
You know best how often you need to reapply suncream for your skin. But remember that if you’re sweating, the cream might be sweating off so you’ll need to reapply more often than when you’re at home. If you’re walking on a ridge and there’s a breeze it might feel cooler, but the sun could still be strong so if in doubt, reapply.
Tip 8 – Wear loose fitting clothing and a wide brimmed hat
Avoid wearing cotton clothing as it is likely to absorb your sweat and could end up chaffing your skin. Merino wool t-shirts are great in the warm weather as they’ll wick the sweat away from your body and it’ll evaporate away. Loose long sleeved shirts are good as the air can circulate and you’ll have less chance of getting sunburnt arms. Light coloured clothing will reflect the suns rays away.
A wide brimmed hat keeps the sun from burning the top of your head, ears and back of the neck and also helps to keep the sun out of your eyes.
Tip 9 – Eat salty snacks
You’re sweating from the exertion but also from the heat, so you’re losing sodium. Drinking water is great, but your body will absorb it better if you also have a little salt with it. Salty peanuts, crisps or pretzels and cheese crackers are all good for this. Some people take salt tablets, but we prefer to get our salt from our food.
Tip 10 – Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke
Signs of heat exhaustion are headaches, muscle cramps, feeling nauseous, feeling thirsty, excessive sweating, high temperature and feeling tired. Watch out for yourself and for others in your group. If in doubt then stop (preferably in the shade), cool the person down and encourage them to drink some water.
If their breathing becomes rapid, their pulse is fast, they’re dizzy, they stop sweating, their skin is hot and dry, their temperature goes above 40 degrees, and/or they become unconscious then you’ll need to call for help. They’ve likely moved from heat exhaustion to the more severe heat stroke and they will need urgent help.
Now you know some of our tips for warm weather hiking, you might find these related blogs useful in planning your day;
Or maybe you’re after a RockRiver Expeditions neck gaitor to dip into a stream. You can get yours from here