Warm, sunny summer days beg to be spent outside. Hiking during the summer can be fun and rewarding, but it is important to make safety your number one priority. Staying hydrated and wearing the right clothes and shoes is tantamount to staying safe in the heat and enjoying your time outside. Follow this helpful guide for advice on the best things to wear on your summer hike.
When deciding if you should wear traditional, durable hiking boots, or a more lightweight option such as trail runners, there are a few things to consider. You will want to consider the terrain and how technical of a trail you are going on, the climate and chances for rain or extreme heat, plus the distance you plan on hiking.
If you are hiking on very rocky terrain, you may want to consider hiking boots that will cover and stabilize your ankles. In addition to providing extra coverage to ensure that little stones and pebbles do not make their way into your shoe, the additional support will help prevent rolling or spraining your ankle if you happen to step on a rock the wrong way. Hiking boots also typically have thicker and more stable soles, which can be more comfortable when hiking over very uneven surfaces.
In addition to bringing along a rain jacket in climates where rain may be eminent, hiking boots are also probably a good choice for keeping your keep dry. If you are hiking very long distances, however, or in very high temperatures, traditional hiking boots may be too much. They can trap heat and moisture and cause blisters. For these situations, we recommend a lightweight, breathable trail runner. Trail runners are technical, high-performance running shoes that are perfect for hot, long-distance hikes.
Though it may seem counter-intuitive, Merino wool remains the best fabric for hiking socks. Wool may not seem like the ultimate choice for hiking on a hot summer day, but merino wool socks, made specifically for warm-weather hiking, are your best bet for keeping your feet cool, dry, and blister-free.
Summer hiking is all about staying cool. For this reason, shorts seem to be the best option for summer hiking; however, that may not always be the case. Fitted, sweat-wicking running shorts are usually the best option for summer hiking as they will keep you cool, wick away moisture and prevent chafing.
If you are hiking in areas where there may be lots of brush or plants such as poison ivy(which grows very near woodsy hiking trails in the summer), long pants may be the best option for you. Be sure to choose lightweight fabrics and light colors to keep your legs cool.
When hiking in the summer heat, it is vital to wear a shirt that will both protect you from the sun and keep you from overheating. Choose an activewear shirt that is specially designed to keep bodies cool while being active. These tops will be moisture-wicking to prevent chafing and overheating.
If you are hiking in the direct sun, choose a shirt that offers additional SPF protection.
Depending on the climate and weather, you will also want to wear or bring different additions to your summer hiking outfit. If you are hiking in full sun, remember that staying hydrated and protecting your skin from the sun should be your priorities. This includes wearing a full, wide-brimmed sun hat to protect your face from the sun’s harmful rays.
Other items you may want to pack in your hiking backpack include a bandana or neck gaiter to protect your neck from the sun. This accessory is also great for helping you stay cool. Bring an extra along in a baggie, pre-soaked with cool water to switch out when you get hot. Bring extra sunscreen to reapply as you sweat if off and, of course, bring plenty of snacks to refuel as you hike.
Remember to stay hydrated by bringing lots of water or, if you are hiking near fresh water, bring a backcountry water filtration system. Always pack in what you pack out and never leave any trace besides your footprints. Wear sunscreen, even on overcast days, and try to hit the trail early. Hiking earlier in the day will help you to avoid both the crowds on the trails and getting overheated during the hottest time of the day. Happy Hiking!