Summer is here and so are the summer vacationers! Hikers of all skill levels will be hitting the trails as the weather warms. So what do you need to know to make the best experience you can while exploring the great outdoors? Use these 5 tips to help make your next summer hiking trip the best it can be!
Get An Early Start
It doesn't matter where you live in this case. Summer days, like all days, start out much cooler with the temperature climbing throughout the day. If you can start early, you should! You'll be more likely to complete your hike before the temperatures skyrocket and the hike becomes really miserable. Also, by starting early, you can hopefully beat most of the crowds as not everyone will be as quick to hit the trails.
Be Mindful Of The Weather
Summer, as we all know well, can be HOT. On top of that, depending on where you hike, you could also be facing oppressive humidity. These two are the biggest weather factors you will face on your summer hike. Alone, they can each provide for a particularly miserable experience and together, they can be downright deadly. Play it smart, don't hike in the peak heat of the day, don't hike when the temperatures are above your comfortable range, and don't hike when the temperature and humidity, both, are high. You can skip out on a hike for one day to find a better day if it means you have a better experience.
Come Prepared With Lots Of Water
It's summer and that means a risk of dehydration. You know you're losing water when you break into a full body sweat so of course you know you need to replenish your fluids while you're hiking! Why wouldn't you? OK, glad that's settled! Wait.. how much water should you bring? Great question! For long or arduous hikes, such as while backpacking, you'd want to bring enough water to consume at least 1 liter of water per hour. For an easy to moderately strenuous hike, bring enough water to consume at least ½ a liter of water per hour. But hold on... It's really hot, really humid, or both... What then? My favorite way to go is overprepared! Double or triple your water supplies of your standard hiking needs! Sure, it'll be a lot more weight but it's better than running out while on the trail. True story, I've been known to bring 6 liters of water on some pretty standard hikes. I've never regretted it.
Dress Appropriately With Proper Clothing & Shoes
Switching from spring into summer means you can put away the light jacket in case it's a bit chilly. Chances are, when you wake up, the temperatures will be plenty warm to start without a jacket. Like spring, you should still be aware of what your clothing looks like to bugs, particularly the stinging pollinators, but the more pressing clothing concern in summer is heat. You definitely want to wear light weight clothing but you also want to wear light colors like white. This will help reflect the sun rays away from you and help keep your clothing from absorbing too much heat and holding it next to your body.
Bring Adequate Sun Protection
Although the sun can be an issue in any season, typically it is a more noticeable issue in summer. You will definitely want to bring some form of sun block to apply to your skin to prevent serious sunburns. Aside from the well known medical reasons for blocking the harmful UV rays, looking at you skin cancer, sunburns can be absolutely agonizing to deal with day to day. The fire-like burn that rages when anything brushes against it, your clothing included, the constant application of aloe to reduce the burning feeling, and the eventual unsightly peeling skin are all great reasons on their own for wearing sunblock. It's simply not enough to put on sunblock and be done either. No, you need to reapply from time to time too as you sweat and wash away the earlier applications. It might seem like an inconvenience but it's far less of an inconvenience than what's to come without sunblock, believe me.