Are you looking for fun things to do this summer? Or maybe a way to get some physical activity in that doesn’t involve the gym? Well, look no further because hiking in summer is an awesome way to get outdoors and stay active. However, with the heat comes a variety of dangers, and it’s important to know what they are so you can be well prepared for them.
In partnership with Grayl (our favorite water purifier and filter), we’ve made this list of our 9 top tips for hiking in summer to help keep you safe in the heat!
How to Be Prepared for Hiking in Summer
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! If you only take one thing away from this list, let it be the importance of staying hydrated. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, dizziness, and confusion, among other unpleasant and dangerous effects. It’s easy to become dehydrated on any regular day, let alone while you’re exerting yourself in the heat. You lose about one liter of water an hour during exercise, but in hot weather you can lose even more than that, so it’s important to replace what you’re losing. You should also be consuming electrolytes to replenish the loss of sodium and potassium when you sweat.
Another tip is to start drinking plenty of water the day before the hike as well, so you’re not starting a hike already dehydrated. And make sure that you are sipping water often instead of chugging all at once, so your body has time to absorb it.
Bring a Water Purifier
This hiking hack goes hand in hand with staying hydrated, but it’s one of our secret weapons when it comes to outdoor activities. Bringing a water purifier bottle allows you to drink safely out of lakes, streams, and nasty bathroom faucets so you’ll never run out of drinking water. Water from unfiltered sources can contain harmful viruses, bacteria, and/or parasites, which can cause a variety of water-bourne illnesses. No thanks! This is why it’s so important to always purify water before you drink it, even if it looks clean.
A water filter is also great because water is one of the heaviest things to carry. If you bring a portable water purifier, you won’t have to pack a bunch of heavy water bottles in your backpack, which can get exhausting to carry in extreme heat. Our favorite water filters are Grayl’s GeoPress (see full review here) and UltraPress Purifier, as they’re efficient, reliable, and speedy. They’re also extremely easy to use – all you have to do is fill, press, and drink!
Wear Proper Clothes
The clothes you wear can make all the difference between an enjoyable summer hike and a not-so-enjoyable one. We suggest wearing sweat-wicking material and light colored clothing so that the sun is reflected away from you. Avoid cotton if possible, as it will absorb your sweat and leave your wet clothing sticking to your skin. We also recommend wearing a long-sleeved shirt to protect you from the sun, and loose fitting clothes with zipper vents for ventilation.
Use Sun Protection
The sun can be strong any time of the year, but especially in the summer. Make sure to wear high-SPF sunscreen that you reapply regularly, ideally every 40-80 minutes if sweating or swimming. Also, wearing a brimmed hat and a neck gaiter is essential, as your neck and face are very susceptible to burning. People often forget that their eyes can get sun burnt too, so bring a pair of polarized sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes from the harsh rays.
Wear Bug Spray
Tick and mosquitos have a field day when it’s warm out, so if you’re hiking in summer, wearing bug spray is a must. Not only are bug bites annoying, but they can cause horrible diseases like lyme and malaria. To shield yourself from these pesky bugs, we recommend wearing bug repellent with DEET for maximum protection. Also, try to avoid going in super grassy areas, where the number of ticks tends to multiply.
Pick a Good Route
There’s more that goes into picking a summer hike than the difficulty or location. When you’re hiking in warm weather, it’s good to choose a trail with shade so that you’re not directly under the sweltering sun the whole time. Aside from having shade, check if the hike has rest spots so you can take breaks and rehydrate when needed. Another thing to consider is to choose a hike near water. That way, you have the option to go for a swim if you want to cool down. Hiking near water also ensures that you’ll always be able to hydrate, as you can use your water purifier bottle when you get thirsty.
Go in the Morning
Hitting the trails in the morning is one of our top tips for summer hiking, as you’ll have a much more enjoyable time than if you go in the afternoon. Temperatures typically peak around 12-3 PM, so try to at least get the tough part of the hike done before then. Otherwise you’ll be stuck in the worst of the heat, making it easier to dehydrate and burn. Another bonus of going earlier is that the trails will be a lot less crowded, making for nicer views and a more peaceful experience – win-win!
Be Prepared for Weather Changes
Even if you check the weather forecast beforehand, it can never be completely accurate. Make sure that you’re prepared for a change in weather so that you don’t get caught unprepared. Storms can come out of nowhere, so be sure to bring a rain jacket, as there’s nothing worse than being stuck in wet clothes. We also recommend packing layers so you can adjust depending on the temperature. If you’re hiking in the morning or evening, it will typically be cooler, so having clothes you can add/remove is key to an enjoyable hike.
Know the Signs of Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is simply when your body overheats, and your internal temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a very dangerous condition that requires immediate medical treatment, as it can damage your internal organs and even lead to death. Knowing what to look out for in both yourself and your hiking buddies can be potentially life-saving.
Some of the common symptoms are confusion/agitation, slurred speech, and nausea/vomiting. If you or someone you’re with starts experiencing these symptoms, call for immediate help. While you’re waiting, try to cool down the over-heated person in any way you can. Remove excess clothing, get them in the shade, and splash them with water to try to bring their body temperature down.
Editor’s Note: This is intended for informational use only, and is not meant to be or replace medical advice.
Hiking in summer is one of our favorite outdoor activities, but with it comes its challenges and dangers. However, thanks to our Grayl water purifier bottle (which we bring with us everywhere!), we always feel well prepared for hiking in the heat. Hydration is so important on any regular day, but especially when we’re exerting ourselves in warm weather. Knowing that we’ll always have access to clean water with our Grayl purifier gives us peace of mind on our summer adventures.