Updated: Apr 2, 2022
During summer, the heat can make hiking hell and totally unenjoyable, this is such a shame because summer is often the best time to get out in the bush, especially over those summer holidays. To help you with this we have made a list of some of the things to look out for, prepare for and tips on coping with the heat, don’t let the summer heat ruin your hiking plans, here is five tips to have fun and keep safe.
1. Be Sun Smart
During summer it is very important to be sun smart, the cancer council’s important five rules are always great to follow and easy to remember, they are slip on some clothing, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shelter or shade, slide on your sunglasses. These five rules are some of the most important to remember during the summer as they help us to remember what being “sun smart” actually is; protecting yourself from the effects of sunburn is really important as it can lead to pain while you’re hiking and irreversible damage to your skin that can lead to skin cancer. Following these rules is not hard but do make sure to pack everything you need to follow them as forgetting it for a weekend could make a lifetime of pain later down the track.
2. Know when to start
Knowing when to start is all about knowing the weather, if you know that it's going to be hot tomorrow then make sure to get an early start, the earlier you leave the less time in the heat you will have. The mornings are so good for hiking on hot days because the sun is not fully out yet and it's full heat is not yet present, because of this you will be much cooler during the morning than the afternoon and intern making your hike better. It's not only just the mornings that are good though but the evenings too, once the sun is past it's peek then hiking in late afternoon/evening is really good as well because like the mornings you won’t have the heat of the sun directly on you. If you set off in the night or late evening make sure to know where you are going and what you are doing as hiking at night can be very dangerous if you’re not prepared so you should have some quite substantial hiking experience before you try it. Choosing when to go is up to you but if you choose to go in the heat then make sure to be prepared for the heat that you will encounter, follow sun smart rules and stay hydrated.
3. Be Fire Ready
Summer means that you are in bushfire season, bushfires can be fast moving and very dangerous when you’re in the bush and have no shelter so planning for this is an absolute must to protect yourself and others from the dangers. In your bushfire plan you should have what action you will take at each fire rating and what you will do at each warning level such as advice, watch and act and emergency warning, these levels are related to incidents happening around you and should be watched closely. If a fire breaks out on the trail the best advice is to leave, getting out can be hard so make sure to mark exits on your maps before setting off. Something that should also be included in your planning is at what temperature do you call off your hike, chose a temperature around the high 30’s and low 40’s as anything around this can be very dangerous fire conditions and are very bad for hiking. Overall make sure that you are fire prepared for your next hike to make sure everyone has a safe and has a fun time, hikers are some of the most susceptible groups to bushfires as they have little ability to escape when one appears so planning is everything.
4. Rest and Replenish
Hot days can tire you out so it's important to rest often and replenish lost liquids and electrolytes, having frequent rest intervals will help you maintain energy and stop you from tiring too quickly in the heat. When picking a spot to rest try find some shade and make sure that you set a timer for how long you want your break to last, rests are great opportunity to get some more fluids into your body, drinking water is nothing but mandatory on hot days as dehydration can severely hurt your ability to continue with your hike. Along with water make sure to bring lots of high in carbohydrates snacks and foods to give you the energy to continue, hot days use far more energy on average compared to colder ones so having some food to eat along the way at your rest points is also a must. These rest periods don’t only play a key role in drinking and resting but also provide a great opportunity to check your fellow hikers for the effects of the heat, some effects can be Sunburn, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, dehydration and hyperthermia. Take the time to check each other for the effects of each condition as continuing without action to unrecognised conditions can put people in harm’s way unintentionally.
5. Plan Ahead
Planning is something you must always do for a hike but when you add heat into the mix it means more planning that must be done, heat poses many unique challenges and risks that all must be planned for before you set off for the bush. Some of these risks are Bushfires and Heat related injuries/conditions, heat also is a challenge when it comes to what times of the day you hike; all of this as already been talked about but it's important to stress that planning is key. All of the issues that might arise of a hike can be minimised with good planning, while hiking things are bound to go off script but with a good solid plan you hike has less interruptions and is less effected. Make sure your plan is clear, being clear doesn't mean that you can understand it but means anyone can pick it up for the first time, read it and understand exactly what to do, if your plan is this clear than you can rest a little easier that you are good to go for your next hike.
Now you should feel more prepared to tackle the scorching summer heat while hiking and know how to plan for it to make it the most enjoyable it can be, hiking in the summer poses very difficult challenges but with good planning it can be done and can be tons of fun.
Need some tips for hiking in the rain? Well then check out this article right here.
Written by Josh Welch