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Curtis Nemechek

Tips for trekking in extreme heat that you need to know.

Tips for trekking in extreme heat that you need to know.

We all know that summer is the best time to go hiking. The flowers bloom, the snow melts, and the skies are pretty blue. Unfortunately, summer hiking also means experiencing ridiculous heat during this weather. Hiking in extreme heat is dangerous, especially when you don't know how to prepare for it. The damage that you can do to yourself by stepping out in extreme heat can be serious.

Learning to make challenging summer hiking a smooth and stress-free experience can make a difference here.

Key challenges of trekking in extreme heat

Let’s look at the key challenges here to understand things better.

So, here we go:

  • The hotter it gets on your hiking trail will progressively impair your endurance performance.
  • Dehydration is a typical challenge for hiking in summer. You must avoid it by drinking plenty of water to withstand the hot weather throughout your hiking trip.
  • On the other hand, over hydration can also cause severe effects on your body when you trek in extreme heat. In the worst-case scenario, it can even bring life-threatening consequences.
  • Besides that, heat-related problems such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or heat injury are also potential challenges here. The heat-related problems during summer hiking can range in severity. However, the conditions can often result in fatigue, discomfort, and even major complications.
  • Summer hiking can also cause heat cramps.

Key tips to make your trekking experience smooth even during extreme heat

Let's look at the key tips we have enlisted to make your hiking in summer stress-free.

1. Always check the weather before going summer hiking

Get into the habit of checking the weather before heading to any hiking trail. The practice will assure you that you have properly planned your hiking day accordingly. Also, check the weather forecast even before leaving your house. It will let you see if you need to change your hiking plan.

2. Always plan your hiking in summer beforehand.

Choosing a suitable hiking trail per your weather forecast would be better.

  • Planning your summer hiking should also include choosing an adequate distance.
  • Leave the longer hiking days to the cooler weather whenever possible.
  • Choose trekking trails with shades for longer and hotter summer days.
  • Pack your essentials according to your weather forecast.

3. Always pick the right trail for summer hiking.

A hot day to trek on the trail with lots of sunshine is never a wise decision. It would not be the best time for mountain top hikes or ridge-lines because these get full sun throughout the day. Therefore, it is always better to choose a forested hike to stay most of the time in the shade. Otherwise, hiking in hot weather can make you feel tired very quickly. So, always pick a shadier, easier, and shorter hike than usual.

*Important tip*

If the weather is hot outside, you can also consider picking a trekking trail near a lake or river. It is because the air closer to water bodies is cooler and more refreshing than otherwise.

4. Start your trekking journey earlier.

You may not like waking up earlier, but starting earlier is the key to having an enjoyable summer hiking experience. From 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, the temperature is usually at peak. So, it would be better to gain most of your elevation gain before that. The practice will let you have a nicer time on the hiking trail.

5. Ensure to stay hydrated throughout the trekking.

When it’s extremely hot outside, getting dehydrated is pretty easier. Our body cools itself naturally by sweating. Therefore, high-temperature outside means you will sweat a lot.

  • Always consider bringing more water than you believe you will need.
  • Replacing the water your body lost isn't enough. You also need to rebalance your lost electrolytes. Sodium and potassium are what you need to ensure staying energized on the trail.
  • In addition, consume complex carbs, which will be easier on the stomach and keep you energized for longer.

6. Always remember to take short breaks for rest during hiking in summer.

When sipping water and eating your snacks, why not take these by sitting in the shade? Taking short breaks during your hiking journey in the summer lets your muscles recover. It will also give the sweat time to evaporate. Ultimately, the temperature of your body will cool down.

7. Understand summer hiking clothes essentials.

Your summer hiking clothes are also essential for both function and comfort. It would be better to choose light-colored summer hiking clothes as these will reflect sun rays and keep you cool.

  • Typically, hikers avoid wearing cotton shirts as these don’t wick sweat away from the body. However, in summer, cotton clothes may make you feel a bit cooler by remaining moist.
  • You may see it as counterintuitive. However, long sleeves are good to consider. You can be happier by shielding more of your body. Loose-fitting pants and sleeves with a wide-brimmed hat can do wonders during hiking in summer.
  • Also, wear UV-blocking sunglasses to cover your eyes.
  • In addition, cover every exposed inch of your body with sunscreen to keep your skin from getting burnt.

*Important warning*

Avoid cotton clothes if you plan to go hiking in the summer during the evening. Instead, go with wicking or wool fabrics. Otherwise, it may be effective for your core temperature because it suddenly drops when the sun disappears.

8. Learn the signs of heatstroke.

Your core body temperature may go too high during summer hiking. It will increase the possibility of experiencing a heatstroke. Heatstroke is a fatal condition potentially. So, learning the earlier signs of heatstroke will let you stop hiking immediately. The early heatstroke signs are:

  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Throbbing headache
  • Confusion
  • Nausea.

If you or your hiking partner experience the signs, stop, find a shade, and sit. Plan to get off the trail or call 911 for medical attention.

Final Thoughts

Summer hiking also brings unique challenges besides being the best hiking period. Therefore, learning how to trek smoothly, even during extreme heat, is imperative. The tips we mentioned will help you stay cool during hiking in the summer.

Image by Mario from Pixabay


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