Summer Hiking - A Comprehensive Guide

Summer is finally here! Summer hiking is a completely different experience. Summer is wonderful but can also come with serious issues when you are active in the great outdoors. Hiking in summer is one summer activity you need to get prepared for.

Deal with warm weather during your hiking by being properly prepared.

Your pace and gear will change due to climate conditions. You need to be 100% prepared. Summer hiking has some hidden dangers. Knowing how to walk under heat is a skill to be developed in order to enjoy and not to suffer.

What to Wear When Hiking in Summer?

We will share a range of useful mistakes and tips many do in summer hiking activities and thus you will be ready for getting out there.

Heat is not an obstacle when you are well prepared and you can enjoy the lovely hiking experience all summer long.

These items below are really hot right now.

Summer Hiking Clothes

A phrase many times said out loud: It’s hot, lets remove some clothes!

That is a mistake! Many thing that in order to get cooler or -at least- not to get hotter, it is better to remove t-shirts and all. In reality that is far from the truth.

The more the naked body is exposed under the hot sun, the worst it gets.

This doesn’t mean that we need to wear heavy clothing. A shirt is fine or a light-colored t-shirt (light color reflects sunlight) will do the job against sun-rays.

Part of the summer hiking clothes you need to wear are ones with UV protection materials. Usage of sun protection creams/lotions, adds up to that. Choose UPF-rated clothing (ratings include UPF 15, UPF 30 and UPF 50+.)

A more “technical” blouse with long sleeves, helps your body to maintain its temperature in a cooler and normal level. At the same time it releases moisture (from sweating), while letting your body “breath”.

Ever seen people in countries like Africa wearing long shirts with long sleeves? There is a reason for that.

You can choose to wear short sleeve clothes too, but do apply sun cream on your arms to avoid sun burn.

Summer Hiking - A Comprehensive Guide
With short shirts wear sun cream.

Apply sun cream to all exposed parts of your body. Did you know that many get sun burn on their ears and/or neck as it is one part not covered by hats?

Do apply cream on your nose too, when you were sun glasses. The reflection from the sun on them, adds up to the power of rays hitting on your nose.

Finally, here is a mantra to repeat: “Wear a hat! Don’t go under the sun without a hat!” (repeat 20 times and wear a hat).

Summer Hiking Pants

Same happens with summer hiking pants. Choose summer hiking pants where you can remove part of the legs area with a zipper and turn them into shorts.

Summer Hiking - A Comprehensive Guide
Shorts from long pants. Just unzip them…

These come really helpful and you have 2 in 1 when you want to “slip into” something cooler.

Such pants are made from special lightweight material that allows your skin to breath. Summer hiking pants dry really fast even after soaking them into water and moisture from sweating “escapes” in the same way. They are not like regular pants.

Get Wet

Summer Hiking - A Comprehensive Guide
Photo from @ingle_jake, Unsplash

This will make you apply sun cream a little bit often but it is a wonderful way to deal with heat.

Hikers simply dip their hats, scarfs, bandanas, shirts, shorts/pants in water and just wear them. In a hot day these will dry up fast. Keeping your neck cool is a life saver.

Ever seeing these far-west movies where the cowboy dips their scarf in water and wears it around the neck? That’s the case. Be that cowboy!

Do the same with pouring water over your head. Just make sure you don’t use really cold water on a “heated” head.

The water will vaporize soon, while providing you with the necessary coolness, protecting you from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Not All Routes Are Made Equal

Many hikers believe that heat is the same on any day in summer hiking. That is not correct. Heat, along with humidity levels, change depending on location and existing conditions.

Many routes/paths do not “respond” in the same way during hot days, even months. Some of these paths are better to hike through during early morning time, while others during afternoon.

Summer Hiking - A Comprehensive Guide
Photo from @austinban, Unsplash

You need to keep a note of the places you want to hike and get information about weather conditions and their difficulty level.

Weather conditions “intelligence” is not limited to your hiking day but for the days before and after that day. If there was rain some locations trap humidity and with a burning sun they get to “sauna” level.

The opposite happens with periods where temperature is lower. Some routes become easier to hike during such.

Body for Summer Hiking: Make, Don’t Break!

You need to adjust your body for heat. Have you ever noticed that during the first summer days we feel them far hotter than the following ones?

Same thing happens during first cold days in winter. Your body needs to adjust.

Your body is not accustomed to the “new” temperature conditions and we must allow a few hikes to adjust and deal with that change.

A big mistake done be many is believing that their body will react in the first days of summer, as if it was in the last days of previous summer. Many hikers don’t allow this transition and they suffer. Especially weekend hikers tend to rush things up.

How to adjust for summer hiking? Start with small and easy routes under shade. Another “trick” is to spend 20 to 30 minutes in a sauna. This will tune up your body for the upcoming summer heat during your hiking.

Take Your Water Seriously

You can’t imagine how many design poorly their water intake strategy during summer hiking. Many end up without water at the first hour of their hiking time.

Others consume all the water too fast so to spare the weight of their flask/bottle. Most don’t search to see if there is a water supply along their hiking tour, especially when such takes many hours to finish.

The result: Poor water intake. During summer time this can lead to fatigue, feeling sick and are prone to micro-accidents.

Summer Hiking - A Comprehensive Guide
Photo from @averieclaire, Unsplash

Many people lose their water by not placing their bottle correctly in their backpack (and thus spill it along the way).

The majority thinks that need to hydrate properly only on the hiking day. This is wrong, especially in multi-hour hikes. Good hydration starts a few days ago and if you hike for many hours/days under the sun you need to continue proper hydration after completing your hiking trip.

In that way you can reduce how much water you have to carry (depends on the route and difficulty and weather conditions) as your body is ready to cope with heat in a better way.

Some energy gels or drinks full with electrolytes (i.e. salt capsules) can be really useful on long hike under hot conditions.

Important tip: If you feel your mouth sticky it means more than you are simply thirsty for “some” water… It is a sign that your body is seriously thirsty and you need to act in an urgent way.

Summer Hiking - A Comprehensive Guide
Learn about water springs prior your summer hiking

Don’t drink large portions of water along your hike (depends on body weight and conditions). Better to consume some every 15-20 minutes and no more than the amount that leaves your body through sweat.

If you drink lots of water in fast manner you may notice that you immediately get sweaty, especially if the water is cool to cold. This is a defensive mechanism of your body and you don’t need to do it like that.

Summer Hiking Shoes & Socks

On a hot day keep your feet dry. You need to wear socks and shoes that permit proper ventilation.

Your socks must not be wet (don’t dip them in water). Wet socks in warm shoes or poor ventilation leads to blisters.

Make sure your socks are made from really good material (not cotton) and are not too thick.

Make sure your shoes allow air to circulate and your feet feel comfortable on them; not too tight or loose.

Avoid water proof boots & shoes during summer hiking. They block ventilation and keep all the moisture and heat inside the shoe. This will lead to excessive sweat.

Better test your shoes and socks prior your hiking, during some short hikes or around the house.

Depending on the terrain a nice pair of trail running shoes can do the job, so you can be comfortable, lightweight and with good grip on the ground.

Choose Time Wisely

In hot and dry conditions with no shade it is better to hike early in the morning or late afternoon.

Start no later than 11:00 am and plan to get some rest under shade and -preferably- near water. As mentioned, proper planning and knowledge of the terrain is crucial for your well being during your summer hiking.

During your break (12-1pm) eat your main lunch but not a heavy one with lots of fats. This will provide you with the necessary energy to complete your hiking.

Walking under shade (at least for most of the part) is a must for both directions.

Summer Hiking - A Comprehensive Guide
Learn about where it has shade along your route. Any shade…

Following such simple instructions for your gear and conditions, allows you to enjoy summer hiking with the least possible troubles.

Heat needs not to be an obstacle to stop us from hiking, but just another thing to handle.

Here is a list of additional posts for hiking.

Enjoy your summer hiking!