How to Hike in Hot Weather: Tips for the Summer
This article will outline the common tips for hiking in hot weather for a safe and enjoyable hike.
The finest season for hiking is during the summer when the snow has melted, the flowers are in bloom, and the skies are clear. But regrettably, that also means that it can frequently get unbearably hot. Despite my extreme heat sensitivity, I always want to go trekking, especially when the weather is hot.
So, can you hike in 100-degree weather?
Yes, you can hike at a temperature of 100 degrees, but there are better ideas. Hiking in hot weather puts you at very high risk for heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition. In other words, staying inside while the temperature is so high is advisable.
Quick Tips for Hiking in Hot Weather
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you know that hot weather can damage your plans. Hiking in the heat can be dangerous if you’re not prepared.
hiking in hot weather
Here are the top 10 tips for hiking in hot weather, so you can stay safe and enjoy your hike.
- Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
- Wear loose, light-colored clothing to stay cool.
- Apply sunscreen generously and often.
- Take breaks in the shade to cool off.
- Monitor your body for signs of heat exhaustion or dehydration.
- Slow down your pace and take rests as needed.
- Hike during the cooler hours of the day, such as early morning or evening.
- Avoid hiking in direct sunlight whenever possible.
- Bring along a hat or other form of sun protection.
- Know your limits and hike within your abilities.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to hike safely in hot weather and enjoy the outdoors all summer long!
Hiking in Hot Weather [Detailed Guide]
From the redwoods of California to the swamps of Louisiana, summer is the peak hiking season in the United States. But as temperatures go high, so does the risk of heat-related illnesses.
Read the detailed tips below for hiking in hot weather to help you enjoy the trails while staying safe in the heat.
Pick the right hike
100 degrees weather
A hot day might not be a great option for hikes along ridgelines or on mountaintops that receive direct sunlight. Pick a stroll through a forest with lots of shade if the weather is hot. You will fatigue more quickly in extreme heat, so you should choose a hike that is easier or shorter than usual.
Hiking near a river or lake in hot weather can be energizing as the air is frequently colder.
swimming during a hike
You can lower your body temperature by swimming in cool water. Some hikers also enjoy wearing a wet bandana or even soaking clothing in a stream before putting it on.
A swim is another excellent hiking heat-reduction strategy. You can bring a swimsuit, or wear your hiking gear. Before going swimming, remove any sunscreen or bug spray to prevent injuring aquatic life.
Avoid Hiking in the afternoon.
It gets warm when the day’s heat builds up in the late afternoon, around 3 or 4 pm. Plan a morning trek instead of hiking while it’s quite hot to get off the trail in time for lunch. Alternatively, go for a hike after sunset after dinner.
When it’s scorching outside, it’s easy to become dehydrated. You will sweat if the temperature is high because that is how your body cools itself.
Dehydration occurs if you don’t replenish the water you lose via sweat. The signs of dehydration include increased thirst and less frequent urination. The worst-case scenario can involve headache, nausea, dizziness, exhaustion, confusion, and vomiting.
The water you pack depends on the weather and how far you expect to hike. However, remember that some people may need to drink up to 1L water every hour while hiking in the heat.
NB: Before you start your hike, check the online trail conditions.
Keep Your Electrolyte Levels Up
You might not stay hydrated if you only drink water. Sweat contains salt, potassium, and electrolytes. When your electrolyte levels are low, you could have dehydration-like symptoms and muscle cramps. In this case, consume a sports drink with additional sodium, potassium, and other minerals to prevent electrolyte dehydration.
Sports beverages in bottles are frequently loaded with sugar. Alternatives like powder or tablets can be substantially less expensive. They are portable, so you may combine them with water wherever you are and adjust the mixture’s potency.
Wear Sun Protection
When hiking in hot weather, it is essential to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. However, many people do not apply sunscreen correctly, which can lead to sunburn.
woman applying sunscreen
Here are some tips for applying sunscreen correctly:
- Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, including your face, neck, ears, and arms.
- Make sure to apply sunscreen for at least 15 minutes before going outside.
- Re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours or more often if you are sweating or swimming.
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
While applying sunscreen is usually a good idea when hiking, it might be challenging to do so on a very hot day due to sweating it off. You can try using sweat-resistant sports sunscreen, but you’ll still need to reapply it frequently.
Wearing a wide-brim hat with a light long-sleeved shirt will protect you from the sun compared to exposing your skin and applying sunscreen.
Chafing is the worst effect sweating may have while hiking in hot weather. When your skin and clothing become wet from sweat or rain and rub against one another, chafing occurs. Foot and butt cheek chafing are also common!
Choose hiking attire composed of synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon, which absorb less water, to avoid chafing. Look for seamless choices or a variant with flat seams in sports bras and underpants.
Be aware of Heat Stroke.
It’s serious when someone gets a heat stroke. It might damage your organs or lead to death. When your body temperature exceeds 104F/40C, a heat stroke occurs.
Symptoms of heat stroke include headache, dizziness, lack of sweating despite the heat, hot skin, muscle cramps, nausea, and vomiting. The worst-case scenario could be convulsions and unconsciousness.
Immediately seek medical help if you suspect someone is suffering from heatstroke. Leave the trail and make a help request if you can. Try to move the person into the shade to decrease their body temperature. Dehydration and heat stroke frequently go hand in hand, so drench the patient with cool water and encourage them to consume electrolyte-rich beverages.
Use Caution at Creek Crossings
Snow can melt quickly in warm weather, converting creeks into raging rivers. Before you set out for a hike, check the trail to determine whether there are any potentially hazardous unbridged creek crossings.
Be prepared to turn around if you reach a swift-moving brook if it is unsafe to cross. Also, remember that when you cross a creek again on your way back, it can run much higher in the afternoon than in the morning.
Is It Safe to Hike in 100-Degree Weather?
No, unless you’re well-prepared for the conditions you’ll encounter on the route, it’s not safe to go hiking in temperatures over 100 degrees.
Although hiking in this hot weather is possible, doing so puts you at unnecessary risk for a heat stroke.
Your core body temperature increases when you have a heat stroke because your body can no longer regulate its temperature. Moving the affected person to a shade to cool down and await rehydration by medical personnel is the ideal way to manage a heat stroke.
Nevertheless, individuals frequently go hiking in temperatures of 100°F (38°C). Even though it isn’t advised, you need the appropriate equipment and knowledge to trek in these conditions.
How Hot Is Too Hot For a Hike?
hiking in hot weather
This all depends on how comfortable you are in hot weather. However, hiking is not advised if the temperature is expected to rise over 90°F (32°C).
Hikers are likely to become dehydrated and experience either heat exhaustion or heat stroke when temperatures are this high. If you hike on arid terrains with little shade, you’ll lose a lot of fluid through sweat just from hot weather walking.
What Is The Best Time of Day to Go Hiking in the Summer?
Summer mornings from 7 AM to 12 PM are the finest time for trekking. The sooner you can go from the trailhead for a summer hike, the better. For various reasons, the best time to hike during summer is in the morning. You benefit from hiking early in the day by:
Cool Temperatures: Unless there is a severe weather anomaly, the day’s coldest and hottest hours are just after sunrise and noon, respectively. Going outside in the morning gives you the best chance to avoid the heat if you expect warm weather for your summer trip.
Few Thunderstorms: On hot summer afternoons, thunderstorms frequently occur in many mountain ranges. You’ll have a higher chance of finishing your hike before the thunderstorms arrive if you start early.
Hot Weather Hiking: Yes or No?
best time to go hiking
Hiking in extremely hot weather is risky and not advised for anyone but the most experienced hikers. With the right equipment, you can go hiking on a hot summer day; you might be okay going for a morning trek on a shady trail. However, it is wise to avoid hiking in hot weather whenever possible.
Hiking in hot weather can be dangerous if you are not prepared. The most important thing to do is to stay hydrated and avoid hiking in hot weather. Wear loose, light-colored clothing and a hat, and carry plenty of water.
I hope the tips above will make hiking in hot weather safe and enjoyable for you and your family.
Water for hiking: how much do you need to carry?
Few things are quite so fundamental to the maintenance of a fit and fully functioning human body as adequate water intake. And never is getting our fill of H2O more important than when we’re exerting ourselves and spending hour upon hour exposed to the elements, as is the case when we’re hiking.
Given that many hiking trails cover terrain that’s short on reliable, non-seasonal water sources, though, and that even the best water bottles and best hiking flasks are only capable of carrying so much, how are we supposed to go about getting our fill of H2O while getting our wander on? And just how much water should we be carrying in order to avoid the (potentially grim) symptoms of dehydration?
In this article on water for hiking, we’ll answer the above questions and provide ten tips on how to stay hydrated on your hikes.
Water for hiking: why keeping an eye on your intake is important
If dehydration simply amounted to feeling a bit parched and suffering cravings for a can of something cool and bubbly long before the post-hike watering hole is within sight, it wouldn’t be so much of an issue. Sadly, the consequences of not getting our adequate fill of H2O can be more serious by far.
Water for hiking: signs and symptoms of dehydration
- Headaches, lightheadedness, fatigue
- Pungent and darker-colored urine
- Poor coordination
- Stumbling and mumbling
While all of these symptoms would be not much more than a mild inconvenience at home, in backcountry terrain, a few of them – poor coordination and disorientation, most notably – could easily lead to land you in serious trouble.
Dehydration treatment: what to do if you’re showing symptoms
If you’re showing any of the above symptoms, the temptation is to hightail it to the nearest water source and guzzle down as much of the stuff as possible. This, however, might prove counterproductive. Instead, you should:
- Stop hiking
- Find shade, sit down, and rest
- Rehydrate with water and electrolytes, salt, or sports drinks
- Soak a shirt or hat in cool water to get your body temperature down
- Only start moving again when the symptoms have eased off
Water for hiking: having a bottle with measurements will help you hit your hydration targets (Image credit: Kieran Cunningham)
Water for hiking: how much water to bring on a hike
The age-old rule of thumb regarding the quantity of water needed to keep ourselves healthily hydrated on the trails is that we should carry one liter of water for every 2 hours of hiking. This estimation, however, is best taken with a hefty pinch of salt because several variables can influence how much water you’ll need on any given hike, most notably the weather, the level of physical exertion involved, and your metabolic rate.
Weather. As you might expect, our bodies tend to perspire more when hiking in warm weather than in cold weather (by up to 20 percent or 300 ml per hour (opens in new tab) ), though the difference between the two might not be as significant as we’re apt to think. For starters, the amount we sweat varies from person to person, not only depending on our metabolic rate but also on how well acclimatized we are to certain temperatures, as explained in this post by Science Direct (opens in new tab) . Also, when hiking in cool weather, we tend to wrap up in warm clothing that creates a microclimate that’s every bit as warm – if not warmer – and sweat-inducing as ambient temperatures when hiking in summer.
Given the above, the best policy is to carry the aforementioned minimum whatever weather you’re doing your hiking in – unless, of course, there are reliable water sources at regular intervals along your route – and up this by 150-200 ml per hour per 10 °F above what you personally consider a comfortable hiking temperature. If for example, you can hike in 60-degree weather without sweating excessively, in 80-degree weather you could carry around 1.4 liters of water per 2 hours of hiking instead of 1 liter.
Level of physical exertion. The type of trails you plan on hiking will also impact how much H2O you need to carry. The harder a trail makes your body work, the more sweat your body will generate; the more sweat it generates, the more you’ll need to drink to replace the lost fluids. This being so, it’s wise to research the type of terrain you’ll be hiking in before setting off and adjust the quantity of water you carry accordingly. For example, on a mellow, well-maintained trail with little elevation gain, sticking to the 0.5-liter-per-hour baseline will comfortably suffice. If, however, you plan on putting in a few thousand feet of ascent, or hiking in more rugged, off-trail terrain, then carrying an extra half liter per two hours of hiking is something you’re unlikely to regret.
All of the above, of course, also depends on your hiking MO – are you more of a stroller or speedy strider? If the latter, you’re more likely to work up a thirst and will need more H2O to replenish your system’s resources.
Personal hydration needs. No two hikers are alike, either as regards their general physiology and hiking style or their water intake requirements – we all have that one friend who seems to barely squeeze in a breath between chugs on their water bottle and another who can happily hike for hours on end without so much as a sip. The take-home from this observation is that determining the quantity of water you need on your hikes requires listening to your body, and that the above rule of thumb (one liter per two hours) should be regarded as a guideline only.
If you’re heading on a longer hike, it’s a good idea to carry a water filter so you can treat/process water taken from wild sources (Image credit: Hagephoto (Getty))
H20-101: How Much Water to Bring on a Hike
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Keeping hydrated is one of the most important factors in assuring a phenominal hiking experience. Drinking enough water helps maintain energy, staves off dehydration and reduces the risks of heatstroke. But figuring how much water to bring on a hike can be confusing. Carry too much of this heavy stuff and you’ll be weighed down. Carry too little and … well, you don’t want to be in this situation!
When figuring out how much water to bring on a hike you’ll need to consider the mileage, difficulty level, temperature, elevation and the remoteness of the trail. If you’re trekking far from civilization – always err on the side of having too much water, and bring a water purification system just in case you run dry and have to tap natural sources.
How much Water Should You Bring?
Although hydration needs vary from person to person, the general recommendation for a moderate level hike is to consume 8-10 ounces of water each mile (or about 16-20 ounces per hour). For a strenuous hike, or in high temperatures or elevations, these amounts should be doubled. Plan to drink 16-20 ounces of water per mile (or 32-40 ounces per hour). Use the guide below to help determine how much water to bring on a hike:
What’s the Best Way to Carry Water on a Hike?
Of course, there are better ways to carry water on a hike, than totting around a bunch of loose bottles. Hydration backpacks, by companies like CamelBak and High Sierra are great options, and offer various size interior bladders to match your hiking needs. Water belt systems, from companies like Everest, are ideal for shorter hikes.
Note: Although the primary goal of azutopia is to provide awesome hiking information, I will receive a small commission (to help offset the costs of hosting the website) if products are purchased via the links above.
Other Tips for Keeping Hydrated:
1. Down a tall glass of water before heading out the door. This helps you kick off your hike fully hydrated.
2. Avoid caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, tea or soda, before hitting the trail, as these increase dehydration.
3. Take small drinks, as soon as you begin to feel thirsty. This wards off dehydration and the resulting fatigue.
4. In hot weather, or on very strenuous hikes, consider bringing a sports drink, instead of water. The electrolytes in these drinks help replenish salts lost through sweating. A potassium tablet will also help to replenish lost salts.
5. Purify water from natural sources before drinking it. Lightweight straws or iodine pills that filter or kill the gastro-intestinal illness causing bacteria, Giardia Lamblia, are readily available for purchase.
6. Drink another tall glass of water as soon as you finish your hike, to replenish any needed fluids.
Below is a water calculation chart courtesy of Greatist and Camelbak, for additional reference:
One Response to H20-101: How Much Water to Bring on a Hike
Great blog, nice post, learn a lot of stuff about how much water i should bring on hiking. Great blog, nice post, good read and informative.