Venturing into the outdoors is one of the fun parts of summer, and this includes going hiking. However, when hiking, especially in the summer heat, it is important to dress properly, have the right footwear and stay hydrated. Preparation means you can enjoy a hike while remaining safe.
Dressing the part for your hike
Before heading out on a hike, make sure you are wearing the right clothes. Something as simple as clothing can help you avoid injury and stay cool during the summer months.
- Protecting your skin from the sun’s strong rays is important when planning your gear. Of course sunscreen is needed, but there is hiking clothing you can buy that offers SPF protection, too.
- Choose clothing items that are also light both in color and bulk. Make sure they are made from a breathable material that wicks moisture away, which can help reduce chafing and painful blistering.
- Think about where you are hiking and avoid clothing that could get in the way. You want loose-fitting items; however you don’t want pant legs that can get caught on roots or rocks and cause you to trip.
- Your feet take a beating when you hike. Wear a shoe that is designed for the terrain you hike in to help with traction and to prevent falls.
- Wool socks offer some protection against blisters. They can help keep your feet dry while hiking, too.
Preparing for your hike
Wearing the appropriate outfit is just the first part of planning for your hike. Before hitting the trails, make sure to also go over the following:
- Make sure to review the area you plan to hike in even if you are familiar. Trails can change and weather can create hazards that weren’t there before.
- Plan your hike for times in the day when it is cooler and try to find shady trails. The best time to hike to avoid the summer heat is early in the morning before noon or after 4 p.m. You will still have a few hours of daylight remaining but think about shorter hikes as you may not want to be on trails after dark.
- If hiking at night, be sure to use trails that are designated for night hiking. Also, take flashlights and headlamps.
- Always take plenty of water; more than you think you might need. If it takes you longer to complete the hike you won’t run out of water. Most experts suggest taking enough water to drink a few sips every 20 minutes. If it is very hot, consider taking a sports drink along as well to replace loss of electrolytes.
General hiking safety tips
While hiking is great exercise, it can be dangerous when you don’t take the proper preparation steps. The following easy tips will help to reduce the risk of injury during this fun activity.
- Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan on being back. In case of an emergency, they will know where and when to start looking for you.
- Take sunscreen and insect repellant.
- A small first aid kit is smart to clean up small scrapes and cuts.
- Know the signs of heat-related illnesses. If you feel you might be experiencing this, get out of the heat and seek medical attention.
- Choose hiking trails that match your experience and level of fitness. If you’re new to hiking, start off slow to learn your limitations safely.
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