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Hot Weather Hiking Tips

Updated on July 23, 2010

Hot weather can mean different things. It can be seasonal, for example, Summer is upon us, at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere any way. Depending on where you are that can mean hot and humid, hot and dry, scorching hot, or hot and thunderstorms. It can also be based on location, desert, jungle, tropical rainforests, etc. Regardless of where or when you find yourself in hot weather, can you still get your hikes in?

Here are a few tips I've found that work for me.

Five Ten Women's Savant Hiking Shoe
Five Ten Women's Savant Hiking Shoe

These are the mesh hiking shoes I use. The grip is fantastic without it being a "hot shoe" as well. Five Ten is a climbing shoe company so they know how to make their shoes stick to all sorts of terrain.


Top 5 Tips

1. Dress accordingly. This doesn't always mean wearing shorts & tank tops (or for guys, no shirt), if you're going to have a lot exposure to the sun you might think about bringing a moisture wicking long sleeve shirt to cover up in. I've been cooler wearing my white long sleeve sun shirt than bare arms at times. While we're talking about covering up, think about other parts of your body as well. Cover your head, neck and some of your shoulders with the shade from a brimmed sun hat. Think about your footwear as well. Hiking shoes with a lot of mesh panels or Chaco sandals are my top footwear choices for when the temperature rises. I'll sometimes wear Injinji sock liners with my Chacos on a longer hike where and to be especially careful about not getting blisters. Speaking of blisters, I try to air out my feet when I can on a hot day, for example if we take a long sit down lunch break. Wet feet can mean blisters (and smelly hiking shoes!).

2. Shift your hiking schedule. My friends and I tend to shift to an early morning hike if the weather's going to be really hot. Not only is this a good idea to beat the heat but it's also particularly advisable if you are hiking in high exposed terrain somewhere where afternoon thunderstorms can develop, for example in mountainous areas like the Sierra Mountain range in California. Locally in Southern California, we'll sometimes hike early, take an afternoon break just having lunch, enjoying the view, etc and then hike back in the evening. Always having a headlamp in your pack gives you great options.

3. Drink a lot of liquids. I think we all know how important water is when you're hiking. Bring more than usual on hot hikes though. I like to bring "Sports drinks" on summer hikes, I find the flavor helps me drink more which helps me hydrated. This is also one time my body really can use the electrolytes in the drink as well. There are two ways I might bring a sports drink. One tip a friend shared with me is to bring a small packet of the powdered version of a drink, then you can decide how strong you want to make mix the drink and you have the option of just sticking to water for a bit longer and saving the powder for later. The second way (and my favorite way) to bring a sports drink is as a frozen drink. I freeze a Gatorade bottle before a hiking day and then I have a nice slushy/cold drink during my hike! I also love using a drinking tube hydration system, this lets me sip a bit of water without stopping to get a bottle out of my pack.

4. Hike in the shade. Seek the shade! This is how I was able to hike and climb in Joshua Tree National Park in August. Do a bit of research before heading to a new place and find out if any trails will be partially or fully shaded. If you can't research before you got to a place, ask some locals. A nice waitress in Mammoth steered my friends and I to a new climbing crag with advice for shade. We were quite grateful for it.

5. Wear sunscreen. I've got genetics working for me in this department but I still put on a bit of sunscreen. Pay special attention to the tops of your shoulders if you're wearing a tank top or going shirtless. Also put some on the tops of your feet if they are exposed and the tops of your ears.

There you go, my top 5 tips for hiking in warm weather. What's your favorite way to beat the heat and keep getting outdoors?


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    • profile image

      pchung74 7 years ago

      Excellent tips. Recently I hiked 27 miles on a near 100 degree day. I started out at 6 AM, took a nap in a shelter from 2 to 5 PM, and then continued from 6 to 9 PM. I went through several liters of water and two packets of Propel.

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 7 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Very good advice, so many people get into strife out in the bush because they do not realize the dangers especially of dehydration.

    • Eileen R profile image

      Eileen R 7 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks guys!

      Brian good point on the stronger sun at altitude. Though the air may get cooler, the sun gets stronger. Though I was trying to pack lightweight, I still brought sunscreen up on my hike/climbs to Mt. Whitney's summit (14,505 feet).

    • BRIAN SLATER profile image

      Brian Slater 7 years ago from England

      hi Eileen, I spent last July in the Pyrenees on the French and Spanish sides, we walked early in the day and found that to be a blessing. Also has you gained height up to 3000mts the sun is so much stronger- good advice about sun cream and i lived for 3 wks in my

    • climberjames profile image

      climberjames 7 years ago from Steel City

      Really great advice! Thanks :)