How to Stay Comfortably Cool While Hiking

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Hiking is a wonderful way to get moving and enjoy the outdoors. But in hot weather, keeping it cool can be a challenge. Here are some ways to stay comfortable on your summer nature walks.

Get out early

Even on super-hot days, it will be cooler when the sun is lower. Evening is cooler than midday, but in the evening, the ground is still holding and radiating the heat that it soaked up throughout the day. In the morning, the ground holds some of the cool from the night, making the temperature lower than in the evening. So, get out early!

Go for shady and high elevation trails

High elevation and shade are both factors that add coolness to your hike. You’ll want at least one of these factors, if not both, for hot weather hiking.

If there’s an exposed hike you want to try, consider putting it on your list for fall. Do the shady hikes in the summer. Similarly, the lower elevation hikes can go on your list for fall, or especially for when you’re itching to get out in the spring, since the snow will melt faster at lower elevation. Do the cooler, high elevation hikes in the summer.

Stay hydrated

Staying well-hydrated helps your body function properly in many ways, including helping with your temperature regulation. Bring a water bottle on shorter hikes, or a hydration pack on longer hikes. There is no hike that is short enough that you ‘don’t need to bring any water.’

Plus, when you’re well-hydrated, your body won’t produce the gross lip goo and the terrible mouth sounds of a thirsty person.

Dress for success

Some people like to wear as little clothing as possible to let the breeze cool as much of their skin as possible. Fine, as long as you apply and re-apply sunscreen.

Others prefer to cover up, keeping the sun’s heat and harmful UV rays off their skin for ‘better than naked’ comfort. Look for the sun protection ratings that many outdoor apparel brands use to explain how well their clothing protects you from the sun.

For either approach, make sure that whatever you wear is breathable and moisture-wicking. Technical clothing, that allows fresh air in and pulls perspiration away, will keep you much more comfortable than you would be with your everyday cotton jeans sticking to you, and chafing your skin, and smelling bad.

Don’t let the heat be your excuse to stay inside. Just a bit of planning can keep you more comfortable so you can better enjoy your hikes this summer.

Kendall Fischer, Content Manager,