When hiking in hot weather, the proper summer hiking clothing can make all the difference. Whether you’re planning a day hike or a multi-day backpacking trip, it’s essential to have clothing that will keep you cool, comfortable, and protected from the sun. This article will look at some of the best hiking clothes for hot weather and explain what to look for when choosing the right gear.
Growing up in Arizona, I find myself some sort of an expert on how to pack and what clothes to wear when the lows are warmer than some places’ highs. Regardless of what you’re wearing, you want to avoid being outside in the hottest parts of the day – usually 11-3 pm – and do your hiking, adventuring, and running in the morning or night.
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What you need to know about hiking in hot weather
Commonly asked questions about hiking in the heat
Is 100 too hot to hike?
For most people, yes, it is. This is likely hotter than anything you’ve experienced, and sweating and exerting yourself can lead to bad outcomes. Now, on the other side, as someone who grew up in Phoenix, I have hiked in 95-100 degrees before.
There’s a big caveat here. Most of the time I did this, the sun was already low in the sky, and I did a trail where it was almost entirely in the shade. So while it was still technically hot out, the trail itself was not overly dangerous.
If you’re not experienced, don’t try it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
How to plan your trip in hot weather
There are a few things to do when planning a trip to a hot weather climate. First, plan your activities for early in the morning or later in the evening. This will help you avoid the hottest parts of the day when the sun’s rays are most dangerous. Additionally, get gear that will keep the sun off of you regardless of the time of day.
What you need to do to hike in warm temperatures
You need to be so well hydrated that you’re peeing a lot on your hike. But water isn’t just the key here. You also want to be eating salty foods to replenish what you’re sweating out and keep your electrolytes balanced. This means having a Gatorade or Powerade during or after your hike.
But as I mentioned above, just stay inside from 11-4 pm. You’ll have a much better trip if you don’t end up in the hospital.
Gear up: Hiking clothes for hot weather
First and foremost, it’s important to choose clothing that is made from lightweight and breathable fabrics. These materials will help to keep you cool by wicking away sweat and allowing air to circulate through your body. Some of the best fabrics for hiking in hot weather include synthetic materials like polyester and nylon and natural fibers like wool.
Hiking shirts for hot weather
When it comes to tops, a lightweight, short-sleeved shirt is an excellent choice for hot-weather hiking. Look for shirts made from breathable fabrics that wick away sweat and dry quickly. Avoid cotton, as it tends to retain moisture and can become heavy and uncomfortable when wet. Instead, when choosing hiking shirts for hot weather, opt for synthetic materials like polyester or nylon when hiking in the desert.
Additionally, if you’re interested in keeping the sun off you, “sun shirts” have become quite popular lately, and I highly recommend them. REI, Patagonia, and others have some great offerings of the best hiking shirts for hot weather. The long-sleeved hiking shirts for hot weather and pants with built-in sun protection can help to keep you safe from harmful UV rays.
Also, look for clothing with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) ratings of at least 50, which will block out at least 98% of UV rays.
Best hiking pants for hot weather
For pants, a lightweight, quick-dry pair of hiking pants are ideal for hot weather. Look for pants made from breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics like nylon or polyester. Avoid heavy, insulated pants as they will not allow heat to escape, and opt for quick-dry, lightweight pants. Prana is one of my favorite hiking clothes for hot weather and offers the best hiking clothes on the market.
A wide-brimmed hat is also a must-have for hot-weather hiking and in the desert. Not only will it protect your face and head from the sun, but it will also help to keep you cool by providing shade for your neck and shoulders.
Look for a hat made from a breathable fabric with some mesh, and ensure it has a chin strap to keep it securely in place in case of wind. This is surely one of the summer hiking clothing items you don’t want to forget at home.
Another essential gear to consider is a pair of hiking shoes or trail runners. Look for shoes with breathable uppers and good ventilation to help keep your feet cool and dry. In warmer climates, trail runners are a perfect shoe that provides good traction and support. You don’t need boots because they are heavier and are usually waterproof, which is less needed in drier climates.
Related: The best hikes near Phoenix
Finally, don’t forget to pack plenty of water and a way to purify it. Staying hydrated is especially important in hot weather. A water filter or purification tablet will allow you to refill water bottles or hydration packs from streams or lakes along the trail.
However, this is a mostly desert issue; you ideally want to filter flowing water. If you’re in bad shape, drink whatever water you can (it can take a while for waterborne viruses/bacteria to take hold), and your body can only go three days without water.
Summer hiking clothing – Best hiking clothes I recommend
- Sun Shirt: REI Sahara or this one, or this
- Pants: Prana
- Shorts: Prana
- Socks: Darn Tough
- Trail Runners: Altra or Salomon
- Hiking backpack: Gregory daypack
- Hat: Outdoor Research sun hat
In conclusion, your summer hiking clothing does matter in warmer climates. Choosing the proper hiking clothes for hot weather is essential to staying comfortable and safe on the trail. Ultimately, it all comes down to keeping the sun off your skin, making it a much more enjoyable experience.
Once you’ve added some of the best hiking clothes above, you’ll be ready to tackle the hottest trails confidently.
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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