What To Wear Hiking in Hot Weather: 7 Tips To Stay Cool

What To Wear Hiking in Hot Weather:7 Tips To Stay Cool

It’s already difficult to hike in the heat, so being well-prepared and protected by knowing what to pack and wear is essential. This article on what to wear hiking in hot weather offers advice on everything from picking the best base layer materials and hiking socks for warm-weather wandering to the finer points of UV and UPF ratings for sunglasses, shirts, and pants, and focuses on gear that will keep you cool in the heat. Visit our more general guide to hiking attire for information on three-season hiking.

What to Wear Hiking in Hot Weather

Choose Your Fabrics With Care

The best materials for hiking in hot weather are those that are lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying. While nylon and polyester, which are frequently less expensive, are also excellent options, natural fabrics like merino wool check all of these boxes. While cotton is highly breathable, it’s generally considered a poor choice for outdoor pursuits because it’s one of the worst “wickers” there is, meaning it soaks up sweat rather than transporting it to the surface of the fabric to evaporate.

Beyond the fabric type, it’s important to take the density into account. While this spec is rarely given in synthetic products, merino garments almost always specify the fabric’s “weight,” which doesn’t refer to its overall heft, but rather the amount of merino – in grams – used per square meter (e.g. 200 gsm). The best merino base layers for high temps, as you might imagine, are those with a lower “weight” – ideally in the 100-170 gsm range. Simply put, clothing in this weight range has a lighter, looser weave that allows for the passage of ambient air from the outside to the inside as well as the passage of body heat and perspiration from the inside to the outside.

The sun’s rays will be reflected by light colors while they will be absorbed by dark ones, so choose light colors instead of dark ones. Good options include white, beige, khaki, tan, and olive green.

Shorts don’t provide as much sun protection as pants, so make sure your pants are made from breathable, UPF-rated materials.

Cover Up

The extra coverage offered by long-sleeved shirts and pants will provide the necessary protection against the sun’s UV rays, despite the fact that it’s common sense to believe that vests or short-sleeved t-shirts are the best choices for hiking in hot weather.

Wear a Hat

In order to provide the necessary protection for your face, ears, neck, and dome on sunny days, a good sunhat can be worth its weight in gold. However, if you prefer a baseball cap, you can increase coverage by tucking a bandana under the back of the cap to add additional protection for your ears and neck. The best hats for hiking are those with a wide, 360-degree brim.

Every warm-weather hiker’s or backpacker’s list of hiking essentials should include a good sunhat.

Wear Sunglasses

Many of us are prone to forget that eyecare is just as important as skincare when choosing what to wear hiking in hot weather. However, wherever you happen to be hiking, protecting your viewers is absolutely essential due to the fact that the strength of the sun’s UV rays increases by about 4% for every 1000 feet of elevation gain.

But which eyewear is ideal for hiking? Category 3 lenses that block 80%-90% of the visible light will do the trick if you’re hiking on common trails below the snow line. The best choice is a category 4 lens, which blocks out more than 90% of visible light if you’re traveling above the snowline or through glaciated terrain. Although fashion is a very personal thing, wrap-around sunglasses or even those with side shields (leather patches) that block out glare reflected by the surrounding terrain are the best types of sunglasses for hiking in hot weather.

Choose Clothes That Maximize Ventilation

Choose clothing with ventilation zippers in the armpit, thigh, or other areas, and make sure to keep them down so air can flow around your body. With your pants, you can also increase airflow by pulling up the ankle zippers or, if you’re not too shy, by downing the front zipper – every little bit helps!

According to our article on trail walking shoes vs. hiking boots, a low-cut shoe may be a better choice for footwear than a boot depending on the type of terrain you’ll be hiking in.

Wear UPF-rated Clothing

The degree to which UV radiation can pass through fabrics is gauged by the UPF rating system for clothing. A product with a UPF rating of 50+ will block approximately 99% of UV radiation, while one with a rating of 30+ will block approximately 96%. Remember that synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester offer greater sun protection than natural fibers if the clothing doesn’t have a UPF rating.

Wear the Right Socks

Make sure your socks fit properly and avoid wearing cotton at all costs. Inadequate socks can cause pressure points and sock slippage, while excessively large socks may have wrinkles that rub.

What To Wear Hiking in Hot Weather:7 Tips To Stay Cool

Tips for Hiking in Hot Weather

Pack a Lot of Water.

This advice may seem obvious, but we frequently underestimate the amount of water we require when hiking in hot weather. A general guideline is to drink a half-liter of water for each hour of moderate-intensity exercise. In order to stay hydrated while hiking in the heat, you must consume more water. I always bring more water than I think I’ll need just to be safe. Another excellent way to maintain balanced salt levels and stay hydrated is to consume salt-containing liquids like sports drinks or to add electrolytes to water.

Cover Your Skin.

It might seem counterproductive to wear clothing when hiking in the heat, but I assure you that it’s essential. You must protect your skin if you hike in the sun (at any time of the year). UPF is a feature of many hiking clothing items that helps shield your skin from the sun. When hiking in hot weather, you should wear lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking clothing in a light color. Even if it’s not sunny outside, you should always wear sunscreen and reapply as you hike. For additional protection, you might also put on a hat and some sunglasses.

Pack Easily Digestible Food.

I am aware that sometimes when I hike in hot weather, my appetite drastically decreases and my stomach becomes picky about what it can digest. It frequently occurs, so it’s imperative to make sure you are consuming enough calories while hiking. I consistently bring calorie-dense, lightweight food. Because you are the expert on your body, be sure to pack foods that you are confident in your ability to consume, even if your appetite changes during the hike.

Avoid Hiking in the Hottest Part of the Day.

I advise against going on a hike during the middle of the day because it is typically much cooler in the mornings and late afternoons. When we were in Southern Utah, we started our hikes in the early hours of the morning, before noon, and around dinner and sunset to avoid the hottest time of the day.

Take Breaks as Needed.

In hot weather, you might need to stop more often than usual for breaks because of the heat.

Be Aware of Your Limits.

Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke can all result from hiking in hot weather. It’s essential to understand when to pause and turn around. Consider your body’s signals when making decisions, and always be safe!

Wrap-Up Notes: Wearing the Right Clothes

You will need to plan and get ready for a number of steps in order to stay cool while hiking in the summer heat.

To stay cool, hydrated, and safe, you need the appropriate gear, the ideal trail, the ideal weather, and the ideal time of day.

Wearing the right clothes can make a big difference when hiking in the hot days. You want to stay as cool and comfortable as you can while avoiding drawing attention to yourself or allowing anything to obstruct your vision. Consider these suggestions as you choose your outdoor adventure attire.