Hiking in Hot Weather

Hiking in Hot WeatherCareful hiking planning is imperative when outdoor temperatures are elevated. Warm days and sunny skies complicate trail excursions by increasing the risk of dehydration, sunburn and heat stroke.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Prepare for a hike. Choose a hike that has a shaded trail (if possible) or that allows a coastline breeze. Check the weather forecast and attempt to hike in the early morning, avoiding peak temperatures and full, direct sunlight exposure. Communicate to friends and family the name of the trail, location of the planned hike and estimated time of return. For safety purposes, never hike alone. Bring appropriate region maps or a GPS unit to help prevent potential disorientation that may occur. Begin properly hydrating the body at least 24 hours before the hike and bring salty snacks and a sports drink to replenish sodium.
Step 2
Dress for hot temperatures. Light-colored, lightweight clothing helps prevent dehydration and protects the skin from sun exposure. Look for products made from breathable synthetic materials and don't wear cotton clothing. Clothing should be loose-fitting. Additionally, wear long pants and durable, high-quality hiking boots. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and an SPF 45 (or higher) sweat-proof sunscreen.
Step 3
Carry and drink plenty of water. Drinking lots of water--and having extra--is extremely important when hiking in hot weather. If you become thirsty, your body is already dehydrated; Therefore, drink constantly and don't ration water. Carry at least one gallon of water per person on a day hike in hot weather. Additionally, pack an additional two gallons in your vehicle for emergency purposes. Alternate drinking water with a sports drink.
Step 4
Bring appropriate gear. For day hikes, carry a small pack for water, snacks, a lightweight jacket, flashlight, additional sunscreen, a first aid kit (including a thermometer and heart rate monitor), trail maps, pocket knife, waterproof matches, headlamp and a cell phone. Consider wearing a hydration pack, such as a Camelbak, for added storage compartments and wearable, easy-to-access hydration (see Resources).
Step 5
Understand your body's limits. Know when to stop and take a break--or turn around--while hiking in hot weather. Cut the hike's duration in half or slow the pace if temperatures are extreme. Frequently check your heart rate and be aware of signs of dehydration, such as lack of sweat, fatigue and nausea. If dehydration is suspected, stop hiking, take a break, drink water, eat an energy bar and call for help in an emergency situation. Replenish fluids with sports drinks in addition to water.
Step 6
Watch for sun-bathing animals on the trail. Rattlesnakes and other creatures bask in the sun and enjoy warm temperatures. Practice hiking safety and animal awareness while hiking in hot weather. Remember to protect the environment while on a hike. Avoid trampling sensitive underbrush and always bring out everything you carry in.

Tips & Warnings

Wear Body Glide blister preventative, as hot temperatures can increase body blisters.
Be aware of serious signs of dehydration: lack of sweat, nausea, fatigue and dizziness.
Always sign in and out at park registries.

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