Hiking in Hot Weather (Full Guide 2020)

Sunny mornings might look perfect for slipping into your boots and going out on a mountain trail.

But, the bright summer brings its baggage like intense heat, and if you are not smart enough to deal with them both, this fun day tour will turn into a dangerous one in no time.

So, stay on the safe side with some simple precautions and hiking skills discussed here for your convenience.

how to hike in summer time
“Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” – Henry David Thoreau

How to Plan properly for a hot weather hike?

There is no alternative to have a proper plan to stay fit and healthy enough for a perfect summer day hiking trip.

Your plans should include the timing, weather update, the choice of the trail you want to visit, the height to cover and your physical fitness for it.

Best time to go hike in the summer?

In Summer, the temperature is hottest nearly at 2-3 pm. With the scorching heat outside, hiking can be far more strenuous than it already is and you are likely to be too exhausted to even move.

So, it is wise to avoid the hottest hours of any summer day. If you are already on your trail, ensure you are properly covered to avoid the direct heat and if possible, find out a shelter with a nearby water source to cool yourself down.

Choosing a Night hike for hot weather.

The starry nights on mountain tops are far more attractive than the heat offered by the angry sun in the summertime.

So, get properly equipped to enjoy a clear-sky summer night hike. It will need little more preparations, like a tent, flashlights, etc; but, the night breeze over the hills under the open sky is worth every bit.

hiking in hot weather in night
“After a day’s walk, everything has twice its usual value.” – G.M. Trevelyan

Stay updated about the weather:

Before starting your day trekking trip, follow up repeatedly about the weather, probably the highest and lowest temperature, and humidity of the day.

You certainly don’t want to see yourself suffocated in heat and sweat on the hottest day of the year. Moreover, summer is known to be unpredictable for tornados and storms.

So, pay heed to the weather update whether you are yet to start your trip or already on it.

Choosing the best trail for a summer hike.

This is a crucial job when you are planning for a hot weather hiking trip. Choose a place that has greeneries and shades from trees. Camp within the steep walls of the canyon; it will be away from direct sunlight.

Stay close to water:

In case shades are not that much available, you can try camping near the waterfalls where you can take bath and cool yourself down.

It will also help to rinse your feet frequently to keep them clean enough in order to prevent hiking blister. Having a water source like a large lake is also of scenic beauty. The cool lake breeze is going to freshen up your body and mind after a long day hike.

hiking in hot water close to water
Hiking is a great passion of mine, and I find myself picking up empty bottles. Sam Heughan

How to prepare for a hot weather hike?

Hiking in general needs adequate preparation along with the planning part. You have to get your clothes, shoes, backpack ready as per the temperature suggests. At the same time, you need to pack your food and drinks, keeping the heavy sweating and dehydration on the mind.

Choosing the right clothes for a hot weather hike.

Dress appropriately, like: in layers, so that you can always shed one or two layers when needed.

Your dress should be made of breathable material, lightweight, loose-fitting; to help you let some steam off. Polyester and nylon are pretty good choices since they dry very quickly.

hot weather hiking clothes

Choose clothes of light color, since they reflect the sun’s rays and don’t absorb the heat much like dark colors. This will help you to stay cool in extremely hot weather. Take dresses with hiking friendly open vents.

Opening them up improves airflow and aids in temperature regulation. 

Some UPF-rated clothes are available in shops, which guarantee to provide protection from the direct sun rays. You’ll find them rated as UPF 30 and UPF 50+; take them as your trail and weather demands.

Add some extra cover-ups:

You might think who takes some extra cloth loads on a hot summer hike! But, this added protection can help people with sensitive skin issues like photodermatitis and rosacea.

So, if you are a victim of photosensitive skin, add some extra coverage like a full-sleeve lightweight shirt or a neck gaiter. This will keep you from facing unnecessary trouble. 

Take a Sun protective hat.

A Sun protective hat with a neck gaiter is going to keep your head cool and protect your face from awful Sun-burn. You can carry a bandana, wet it with some water and put it surrounding your head or neck to get some additional cooling effect. Polymer crystal filled bandanas or scarves also go a long way to cool you down.

sun protective hat for hot weather hiking copy

Choose the right shoes:

Any type of hiking needs a special type of hiking shoes. In case of a summer hike, you should take your pick on some lightweight boots that have open vents, which allow sweat to evaporate and dry faster when rinsed. 

hot weather hikng shoes
“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” – Beverly Sills

Wear proper socks:

Your socks should be anything but made of cotton; preferably made of synthetic or wool. They should fit you snugly but leave a little wiggling space for your toes. The right pair of socks can help you in the right way to prevent blister formation. Have 2-3 spare pairs in winter to change after a certain interval. You should rinse them and air dry properly so that you can wear a fresh pair each time.

Pack your water reservoir:

Hiking on a hot summer day is an obvious reason for dehydration unless you are loaded with enough water both in your backpack and body.

Calculate your water requirements as per the duration of your hike. Usually, average hikers need 2 cups of water per hour of the hike.

Add some extra keeping possible excessive sweating, dehydration, needs of rinsing and cleaning yourself in mind. You can choose between water carrier options like water bottles and water bladders; necessarily picking what fits your backpack properly.

Take a sip frequently before you start feeling thirsty and tired. Add some electrolytes rich drinks in your hydration pack considering the additional electrolyte loss.

Carry a small skin hydrator:

Spray some fine water mist on your face and neck frequently using small skin hydrators.

This will help to cool your skin temperature down and make you comfortable in hot weather.

Health issues in hot weather hiking:

Dehydration, sunburn, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and ultimately heat stroke are the most frequent health consequences in a hot summer hike.

Prevent dehydration when hiking in Summer.

It is one of the most dreadful consequences you might face when you hike in extremely hot weather without an adequate amount of hydration.

So, it’s a must to drink plenty of water to cope up with excessive perspiration and thirst in a summer trekking trip. Dehydration, if untreated; can lead to dizziness, extreme weakness, muscle cramps, and heat exhaustion.

You need to take water as per the temperature, humidity, age, body weight, and your sweat rate. 

hydrate for summer hike

A rough calculation suggests taking about half a liter of water for a hike at a moderate temperature. If the weather is extremely hot, your water intake rate should increase proportionately.

In case, you are facing some common ailments like vomiting and diarrhea, your dehydration level can increase faster. So, pack some oral rehydration salt as well in your backpack to tackle that kind of an emergency.

Take precaution for electrolyte imbalance with a good amount of electrolytes rich drinks at frequent intervals.

Overhydration:

To overcome the dehydration issue, most of the people make a mistake of over-hydrating themselves more than their kidneys can cope up with.

The result is hyponatremia with impaired consciousness. So, be aware and take enough water to keep yourself healthy enough for the hike. Incorporate oral rehydration salts in water within your calculated hydration pack only.

Beating Sunburn

UPF-rated clothes can provide a good level of sun protection. Still, you are going to need a broad spectrum SPF rated sunscreen cream to prevent nasty sunburns over the exposed area. 

sunburnn from hot weather hike

There are some factors for consideration when you choose and apply sunscreen. For any hiking trip with more than 2 hours of sun exposure, get a sunscreen with SPF 30 or above.

Apply sunscreen a minimum of 15 minutes before you go out. If it is a chemical sunblock, reapply every 2-4 hours or after swimming.

Heat cramps:

These are painful muscle contractions that happen during a strenuous hiking trip in hot temperatures. It is a kind of defense mechanism of your body to let you know when to stop.

It is mostly caused by extreme dehydration and electrolyte imbalance which hampers your muscles protein metabolism, resulting in an altered level of painful muscle contractions.

If they are already occurring, stop right there, get some rest and slow stretching activities, rehydrate yourself, keep your energy level high by eating energy-rich foods.

Heat exhaustion:

It occurs when your body becomes unable to deal with the stress of excessive heat; is often accompanied by dehydration.

Symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea, extreme fatigue, rapid pulse, profuse sweating. If you or any of your fellow hikers are suffering from these symptoms, immediately move away from the direct heat of the Sun.

Find out a shadow of a tree or any cool place to take shelter, loosen up cloths, and rehydrate with a sufficient amount of water and electrolytes rich drinks.

If possible, wash your head with river or stream water; get a quick sponge bath for the whole body with a wet towel or bandana, splash some cool water on your face. This will help cool down the body temperature.

To prevent this, make sure you acclimate better by easing yourself gradually in the hot hiking trail, wear loose breathable clothes, drinking a sufficient amount of water, take short breaks whenever needed.

heat stroke from summer hike

Heat Stroke:

It is a serious medical emergency that requires quick medical intervention. It is caused by the failure of the body’s temperature regulation system due to overheating.

The body temperature spikes are high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit or more and there’s barely any sweating accompanying with a throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, disorientation and ultimately loss of consciousness.

If any of your hiking partners display any of these symptoms, take an immediate detour and call for professional medical help.

Meanwhile, try cooling him or her slowly with water splashes and wet sponge baths, rehydrate with water if still conscious.

Having some sunny mountain hours can be alluring if you are well prepared with the required knowledge and gears. We have you pretty much covered in that department already?

So, grab your backpack, buckle-up shoes and get going! Tell us how these tips worked for you. Good luck!

Video of Hikers Guide to Heat Injury Prevention.

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Hiking in Hot Weather FAQ

How do you stay cool while hiking?

Plan for a early morning hike. Choose a shaded hike. Freeze your water bottle and Banana. Take Extra clothes. Stay hydrated and take rest under shade.

What is the best shirt for hot weather?

Choose breathable and lightweight clothes. Cotton and Linen are best option in a hot weather hike. Choose from these 4 best fabric: Cotton, Lineen, Rayon and Denim/Chambray.

Best snacks for hiking in hot weather.

Choose snacks which contain healthy fats, protiend and carbs. Pack apples, oranges and pears which are juicy and don’t need extra cushioning. Take banana and mix nuts for instant energy.

How much water do you need on a summer hike?

In a moderate temperature you would need half liter of water per hour. In a extreme hot weather the amount of water will increase. Staying hydrated in a hot weather is crucial. Pack enough water and freeze your water bottle before hike.

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