Summer is the high season for outdoor adventuring. During the summer months, more hikers hit the trails, more climbers clamber toward summits, and more campers… um… go camping. The long, sunlit days and the temperate nights (not to mention the time off from school and the frequent cashing in of vacation days earned at work — OK so actually I did mention both of those things) make this the ideal time for enjoying the wilderness.
Related: Summertime Hikes
But in case you hadn’t noticed, summer is also the hottest season of the year. It’s true! Just check your almanac. That elevated heat means an elevated potential for dehydration, heat stroke, heat cramps, and more wretched stuff you will do well to avoid. One can safely enjoy the outdoors even on the hottest days of summer so long as proper precaution is taken.
And know the signs of heat-related ailments! If you find yourself or one of your fellow outdoorsmen exhibiting any of the following…
- Confusion or Extreme Fatigue
- Dizziness or Fainting
- Headache, Cramping, and/or Vomiting
- Pale Skin
- Rapid Heartbeat
…then it’s time to stop moving, cool down, hydrate, and potentially seek medical assistance. The right time to combat heat exhaustion is before it starts, so take plenty of breaks when trekking or climbing, drink plenty of water at all times, and consider these other steps to have a safe, enjoyable hot camping trip.
AN ICE COLD BOTTLE
Before you set out for a summer hike, take the time to freeze a bottle or two of water. (Remember that you need several liters of water per day when on the go.) Just make sure to leave some room in the bottle, as water expands when frozen and could crack some materials. If you forgot to freeze a bottle, or you just didn’t feel like doing so, instead load a bottle with ice cubes and then top it off with water. You’ll thank yourself a few hours later when you’re pouring sweat in the summer heat yet sipping water that’s as cold as winter’s chill.
KEEP DRY TO KEEP COOL
Perspiration keeps you cool thanks to evaporation. The more you sweat, the cooler you will be, so long as that moisture your body produces can dissipate. In extreme humidity, and/or when you are sweating profusely, it becomes harder for your body to cool itself with all that lovely sweat. That’s why it’s important you keep a dry towel or other garment on hand to wipe away your sweat, and why you should change out of sodden clothing clothing regularly. (Ironically, staying dry is also critical for staying warm: wet clothing is a leading contributor to hypothermia, and FYI more outdoorsmen are afflicted with hypothermia during the summer than the winter. The more you know!)
SUN BLOCK. HATS. SHADE.
As much as humanly possible, just stay out of the sun. Stay in the shade when you can, and when you can’t do that, keep the sun off your skin. Wearing a hat is critical, and while it might seem counterintuitive, wearing long but lightweight clothing can often keep you cooler than letting the sun fall on your exposed skin. (Do you think the Bedouin wear long robes purely for fashion?) If your skin is going to be in the sun, make sure it is slathered with sun block. A sun burn will elevate your body temperature, and let’s not even get started on the long term damage sun exposure can cause.
WATCH IT WITH THE PROTEIN
You need protein to keep you going when on a hike or climb, but if possible, ingest those meatstuffs, eggs, and other protein sources after you have finished the day’s trek or when you have sufficient time for digestion before getting under way. Digesting protein increases your body’s metabolic activity, a side effect of which is heat. Also make sure to eat smaller meals when on the move outdoors for the same reason. And if you like spicy food, indulge: that spice sweat cools you down without the need for accompanying exertion.
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