Sunny weather instantly makes us want to get our boots on and get outdoors on a hike. Longer days that leave more time for hiking, needing to wear less layers and generally not being freezing cold on a mountain are just a few of the positives. But the hot weather also brings challenges and if you’re not prepared properly, it could potentially be dangerous. Wearing the right clothes and packing the right accessories are key, so let us talk you through the basics.
What to wear
Starting from the top, keeping your head and face protected from the sun is super important for avoiding sunstroke. A wide brimmed hat is ideal to keep your neck and eyes protected too. Some hats even have UV protection built in which is even better. At the very least, wear a cap, keep topping your neck up with sunscreen and pair this with a neck gaiter and some sunglasses.
A breathable top
A breathable long sleeve top is ideal for hiking on those sunnier days. It might seem counterintuitive to cover up when the weather is hot, but this protects your skin from UV rays. If long sleeved tops aren’t your thing, at the very least wear a t-shirt to protect your shoulders from the sun. This will also prevent chafing on your back from your rucksack. Dark coloured clothing will soak up the sun and can overheat you, so where possible wear lighter colours to keep yourself cool.
Breathable shorts or trousers
Shorts are the go-to for most people on a sunny hike for keeping cool. But there’s also benefits to wearing trousers, such as protecting your lower legs from UV rays and any bushes or branches you may pass on your hike.
Warm shoes are a hot spot for blisters, so choosing socks made from the correct material is key for long hikes. Merino wool has temperature regulating properties, so opting for socks that contain it is always a good choice. Many people go for those made from cotton as it’s breathable, however it also absorbs moisture and dries slowly which isn’t ideal for long, warm hikes. Furthermore if you’re blister-prone, go for seamless socks.
What to take
Make sure you apply sunscreen before you start your hike, as well as topping it up throughout to avoid getting burnt or experiencing heat stroke. The higher the SPF, the more protection you’ll get.
First aid kit
You never know what could happen to yourself or a fellow hiker when you’re outdoors,so it’s always best to be prepared and carry a first aid kit. Make sure there’s tweezers, bandages, plasters and antiseptic cream in there as a minimum.
Water, food and electrolytes
Physically working your body, especially in the heat, makes you lose crucial minerals through sweating. So it’s super important to keep yourself hydrated with water and if you’re feeling especially tired, try a rehydration solution. Many hikers use water pouches with a built in straw when walking, as this gives you easy access and will prompt you to hydrate more often. For food, dense snacks are ideal for taking on hikes, as they cram the energy and calories into a small package. Granola, energy bars and bananas are all perfect examples of this.
The key to staying at an optimum temperature when on a hike is to wear thin layers and pack extras in your bag. The temperature at the base of a mountain often differs to that of the summit, so it’s crucial to be prepared. Whilst carrying extra layers might not be what you desire for your walk, if you take a backpack with a breathable harness, this should ease the strain on your back and reduce chafing. Lastly, even though rain might be the last thing you’re expecting on a warm day, it’s always a good idea to take an emergency raincoat in case the weather takes an unexpected turn.
What to do
Take regular breaks
It might seem obvious, but make sure you regularly stop to rehydrate, reapply sunscreen and rest. Even if you’re raring to go, it’s important to remember slow and steady wins the race with hiking. Plus, it’s a chance to take in the stunning scenery that surrounds you.
Plan your route well
On particularly sunny days, it’s a good idea to walk a route with plenty of shade, like under trees. This not only protects your skin from UV rays and keeps you cooler, but it gives you plenty of areas to stop if you need to rest or rehydrate. Unlike an exposed route, where you’re directly in the sunlight with nowhere to have a break. If a shady route isn’t possible, try to go for one where there’s water involved, like a river, where you can cool off.
Avoid the hottest time of the day
Starting early or starting late is your best bet for hiking on a hot day. Between 12pm-3pm is generally the hottest time and when you’re most likely to get sunburn, so try to avoid this time frame. It’ll also probably be quieter on your hike at these times too, which is a bonus.
Listen to your body
Everyone has different levels of stamina, so go at your own pace and know when to stop. However if you do start to feel unwell, whether that’s a headache, dizziness or nausea, make sure you stop somewhere in the shade, rehydrate and cool off for a bit. You might be keen to complete the full hike, but it’s crucial you listen to your body and know when to turn back or make a call for further assistance.
Preparation is key when it comes to hiking. So get this part nailed and you’re sure to have a fantastic experience.
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