Hiking in hot weather just got a little bit more bearable. Thanks to Hong Kong's hot and humid weather for 9 months out of the year, hiking in the heat is one thing I know how to do.
For those of you who are new to hiking in hot weather or are new to hiking AND in hot weather, here are my top 10 tips.
"There's no such thing as bad weather – only unsuitable clothing."Alfred Wainwright
1. Start Early. The earlier you start, the less of a chance you will be out during the hottest part of the day (according to the Almanac, the hottest part of the day is around 3 pm in the Canadian summer).
2. Hydrate. It is recommended to drink half a liter of water every hour for moderate activity in moderate temperatures. I am not much of a 'water drinker' but I always carry at least 2L for each hike, up to 3L depending on the temperature and hike length. The easier it is to access the water, the more likely you will drink it. For a 'non-water drinker', I carry a hydration bladder where I can take small sips and a visible hose reminds me to drink. In addition, I also carry a few 1L water bottles as a backup. Hydrating the night before, in the morning, and after hiking can help with recovery when hiking in hot weather in Canada..
3. Electrolytes. You sweat more than just water. Electrolyte replacements help replenish what you lose and prevent dehydration. Electrolytes can come in the form of food, sports drinks, or tablets. I prefer tablets for many reasons, the main one they are more compact and weightless, not to mention one container contains 10 tablets. They are also lower in sugar and calories than sports drinks. I always keep a few containers in my bag so I never worry about running out.
4. Sunscreen. If you sweat a lot, reapply as recommended by the brand. Buying sunscreens that are water-resistant or sweat-resistant will be a lot more helpful than regular sunscreen. I always carry face, body, and lip sunscreen and try to reply every hour.
5. Sweat Rag. As much as I love having my sweat, along with sunscreen, run into my eyes, bring a towel or bandana can prevent that. I normally keep it tucked on one of my straps so I can quickly use it when needed.
6. Protective Clothing. Proper clothing can go a long way with how memorable your hike is. Nothing is worse than when you know you're burning and there's nothing you can do about it (and no amount of sunscreen is going to help). I burn easily and sweat more than most and prefer not to wear a lot of sunscreen if I don't need to (only on my face). A hat, long pants/leggings, and arm sleeves will help prevent being sunburnt when hiking in hot weather in Canada. If you don't know what arm sleeves are, they are 2 pieces of material that are long enough to cover your arms. They fit just under your armpit and go down to your wrists, or you can get the ones I have that are longer with thumb holes and go over the top of your hands. These are lightweight, UPF 50+ and I wear them for every outdoor activity I do.
7. Food. Hot weather can make it hard to eat but the food is also another great source to replenish any electrolytes or vitamins you may have lost. Having quick, bite-size foods (granola bars, nuts, dried fruits, or sandwiches) or water-based fruits (blueberries, oranges, or my favourite, watermelon) make it easier.
8. Shade. The shade will become your best friend during these hikes. Stay in the shade as often as you can or if it's not as available, use it as a rest period for a few minutes. Every change you have to get out of the sun, use it and make sure your breaks/lunch are in well-shaded areas.
9. Spare Clothes. At the end of the hike, you might feel as if you just walked out of a shower. I like to keep an extra pair of clothing (shirt, shorts) in the trunk of the car, especially flip-flops. If you only bring one item, flip-flops. Your feet will thank you.
10. Know Yourself. I can't stress this point enough. Only you know how much you need and how you feel. When I do strenuous hikes, I need to pack a lot of food in addition to my 2L of water as I'm constantly eating whereas my sister will carry up to 5L of water and eat a little amount of food. Make sure you bring enough water and food for yourself and listen to your body. If you feel lightheaded, dizzy or you're body just isn't agreeing with you, turn back when hiking in hot weather in Canada.
Go out and enjoy summer by following these simple tips on how to hike in hot weather.