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How To Beat The Heat On Your Next Day Hike

June 28, 2019 3 min read 0 Comments

How To Beat The Heat On Your Next Day Hike

It’s a bit of a misnomer: Beating the heat. In reality, it’s the one obstacle you can’t naturally overcome; you can’t power through dehydration or heat exhaustion. But you can prepare for the sweltering temps of summer instead of fighting the heat.

Don’t Fight the Heat


First off, you can’t prevent dehydration or heat exhaustion unless you know what to look for. Symptoms are wide-ranging, and not everyone experiences dehydration the same way, but here are some of the most common warning signs:

  • Headaches
  • Cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Rapid Pulse
  • Fatigue
  • Chills or Cold Sweats
  • Claminess or Excessive Sweating


Picking the right hike can make all the difference — you don’t want to hike Death Valley during a heatwave.

Find routes with ample shade and accessible water bodies, and hike early. Avoiding peak temperatures altogether is the best way to avoid heat exhaustion.

Set a schedule for completing the route. Doing so can stop you from overexerting yourself.

Lastly, it’s best not to hike alone during heatwaves. Some of the more serious symptoms of heat stroke are confusion, poor judgement, hallucinations and unconsciousness. Having a partner to keep an eye out for such symptoms and intervene if necessary could be the difference between life and death.


Though there’s a limit to what you can train for, acclimatizing to the heat will head off many problems. More than just working your way through smaller hot hikes in preparation, learn your body’s hydration patterns. You may even be able to develop a schedule for water breaks to use as a guide during the big hike. A common guideline is that for every pound of sweat lost, you should add a half-liter of water on top of your normal intake.

It’s not just during the hike that drinking water is important, either. Knowing your own hydration tolerance is key to a safe adventure. Not everyone hydrates the same; some people just have a harder time holding water.

Especially if you’re inexperienced in or unused to hiking in hot weather, take some time before your hike to think about your water intake during the day and how often you feel thirsty. That’s going to be amped up to 10 during the hike, so get a feel for your body’s hydration balance. A common phrase among doctors and trainers is, ‘if you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.’ Be proactive about drinking water both leading up to and during your hike.


You’d be surprised at what can help in sweltering weather — your style of hat, for example. We lose a significant percentage of body heat through our scalps, so if you set out on a hike with a thick polyester ball cap, you’re going to have a harder time releasing heat as it builds up. Your favorite sports team won’t prevent dehydration, so go with something light and wide-brimmed instead.

Similarly, the right clothes and even the right footwear shouldn’t be overlooked. A hike through Arizona in mid-July probably isn’t the right time to put mileage on your thickest pair of indestructible hiking boots. Opt for thinner hiking shoes with breathable mesh. They might not hold up to a particularly long or technical hike, but it’s probably not the best time to be going on a particularly long or technical hike, dummy.

Pick light-colored pants and shirts that are made of breathable fabrics. Ideally, something that would be comfortable to walk in while wet — one of the best ways to brace against heat is to take a mid-hike dip in a river or lake. (Just don’t jump in with your shoes on!) Don’t be afraid of long sleeves or leggings; it may seem backwards, but preventing sun exposure usually does more good than extra fabric does damage.


Duh, but it has to be said. Staying hydrated is essential.

Drink steadily throughout the day. It will both help your body maintain during a hike, and also ensure that you don’t run out of water halfway through. Don’t force yourself to drink, as over-hydration is also a possible issue for many athletes. Diet affects performance even more with heat — have salty snacks on hand to replenish electrolytes, and complex carbs for energy.

Be proactive about hydration, plan for the worst, and the only thing you’ll have to worry about on your hike this summer is finding a lot of good places to pee.

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