Hiking is more fun in the sun, but take care you don’t get burnt when walking during a heatwave. Sun worshippers, check out my tips for feeling as cool as a cucumber when hiking in the heat.
Start Hiking in the Morning
The air is cooler in the morning than in the afternoon, so beat the heat and venture outdoors early in the day. It will help you stay cooler for longer, and means you can pause or end your hike before the hottest part of the day. Side bonus: the lighting in the morning is better for photography than in the late afternoon.
Drink More Water when Hiking
Your body sweats far more when hiking in a heatwave, so make sure you are keeping your body’s fluid levels topped up. Bring an extra water bottle, or if you have regular opportunities to refill your water bladder/water bottle, make sure you do.
Reapply Sunscreen throughout the Day
Besides sweating off sunscreen when hiking in the heat, the lotion’s efficiency gradually wears off throughout the day. For pale or freckly hikers, or those that use a low spf, make sure you apply it more than once to properly protect yourself from the sun’s UV rays. As for hikers not using sunscreen at all, start slathering it on!
Wear Sun Protection
It’s hard enough hiking in a heatwave with sweat dripping into your eyes; it only gets worse if you constantly have to squint. Wear a hat with a brim, and sunglasses to offer your eyes and face additional protection, not to mention more comfort for yourself.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
Breathable, light-coloured, loose, anti-chaff clothing is key to hiking in a heatwave. As for whether to wear long-sleeved tops or vests, leggings or shorts, consider your environment and skin type; fair-skinned hikers might prefer to wear a long-sleeved top and avoid sunburn. While shorts might be tempting, you might want to reconsider if the trail leads you through stinging nettles or scrambles.
Take Regular Breaks (in the Shade Where Possible)
Intense heat makes your body work under further strain than usual. Taking regular breaks when hiking gives your body a chance to rest and recover, and will give you the opportunity to check whether you’re drinking enough water.
Check Yourself and Fellow Hikers for Symptoms of Heat Stroke/Exhaustion
When out in the mountains, take care of yourself and your fellow hikers and keep in mind the symptoms for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Hikers with heat exhaustion will suffer from headaches, dizziness and/or confusion, excessive sweating with pale, clammy skin, and a fast pulse. Heat stroke is more serious, and has similar symptoms, although heat stroke sufferers will be very hot but not sweating at all.
Bring a Re-hydration Sachet
Sweating not only releases moisture from your body, but also electrolytes and salts. If you find yourself feeling dehydrated, sprinkle a re-hydration sachet into your water bottle to help replenish your body’s fluids.
Be Careful of Mountain Tarns
A mountain lake can look inviting on sweltering summer days, but appearances can be deceiving. Despite the high temperatures in the air, the waters in tarns, lakes, ponds, etc. can remain surprisingly icy. Hot hikers that cannonball themselves into a tarn can be exposed to shock. Avoid this by dipping your legs in first, and giving your body time to adjust its temperature.
Have you had any sunny adventures so far this summer? Tell me about them below!