what do you use to beat the heat?

8:08 p.m. on June 27, 2010 (EDT)
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i spent a lot of time walking and hiking this week - logged over 20 miles in 90-100 degree weather and stinky humidity.

what i used from the ground up: balega socks and running shoes for flat areas, midweight merino wool socks and non-gore tex trail runners for trails. brought water shoes but they stayed in the bag, ended up rock hopping my way across a few streams. my feet were very happy, actually. my trail runners look like they were dipped in the dead sea with all the salt crusted on the outside.

running shorts, light wicking briefs/t-shirt. /shirt - did pretty well, but still drenched pretty quickly.

100 ounce hydration reservoir plus 1 liter bottle. took vitamins (calcium/magnesium zinc helps ward off cramping); staying hydrated and snacking on relatively short intervals was crucial - no cramps, no heat symptoms.

hats were a low point. cotton tilley hat and an old cotton ballcap both felt too hot, and most of the water i encountered was too stagnant to consider dipping my hats, so i stuck them in the pack and used sunblock (even in my hair). hats only useful for the stray rainshower.

dry bags inside my pack - not only kept the rain off, but kept the sweat and hydration reservoir condensation away from my stuff. really digging a new eVent dry bag.

what i might benefit from:

-anything else you take on hot/humid trips that i may be missing?

-i have never had much luck with button down shirts in summer, but any thoughts about a short-sleeved button down shirt that dries quickly? i might be willing to try that.

-the cotton hats have usually been OK if i can get them wet, but that wasn't an option. suggestions for lightweight hats? i'm thinking a cheap straw hat would have been a huge improvement.


1:46 a.m. on June 28, 2010 (EDT)
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I started wearing synthetic long sleeve hiking and fishing shirts a couple years ago and wear them almost exclusivly these days in the backcountry. They are light wieght, keep the sun off, and can have any combination of of vents and features you might like. There are many available and one of my favorite places to buy them is Sierra Trading Post. They always have a couple different makes and styles marked down. I have not worn one of these Mountain Hardwear shirts but it is a prime example of whats available and at a very good price.


9:20 a.m. on June 28, 2010 (EDT)
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Actually I don't like the heat anymore. I used to come to Arizona because I fell in love with the warmth of the desert after my first time in 1983 when I was in my 20s. But now even Flagstaff seems too hot for me and it mainly just the dryness I guess.

I go outside only when I have to, or know I will be working in the shade. Currently I work outside doing landscaping and house maintenance and only work till midday then quit for the day. I work my own hours so I can do this.

I wear as light of clothes as possible, shorts and a button up shirt, no socks unless they are ankle socks, Nike shoes and a hat to shade my eyes from the bright sun.

I am so used to Jackson Hole's summers after nearly 30 years of being there that here the last couple summers I am uncomfortable. There is no water anywhere, no streams,creeks,lakes or ponds. It rains only in the late summer, but only briefly and then it drys up as fast as it fell. The only place close with wateris 2000 feet lower and hotter down in Oak Creek and Sedona, which are beautiful, but without more then feet and a bike it hard togo down there like those with cars do.

Next fall I plan to move back north to Wyoming to live again.

9:33 a.m. on June 28, 2010 (EDT)
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Hi Leadbelly2550,

First off, the looser the clothing the better!

Secondly, don't be scared to try protective shirts with sleeves, especially loose fitting, vented ones. I find these work very well and the lighter the color the better, when in direct sunlight.

Straw hats are way underrated in my opinion, they work very well. At the very least wear something with a wide brim, light colored, and vented, it doesn't have to be high dollar. If you can keep the sunlight from cooking your head, you have won half the battle in my experience.

I personally leave the boxers & such at home during the summer, I'm much cooler & more comfortable without any.

I also prefer to switch to a wool / synthetic blend sock during summer, I am currently using Wigwam Merino Comfort Hikers, a blend of 70% wool - 25% stretch nylon - 5% elastic. I find them more comfortable and cooler. I am using Cool Max wicking socks as well.

Also consider getting something like the 'Cool Downs Bandanna'.


They cost around $5.00 and work incredibly well. You just soak them in water for a few minutes and the polymer beads inside the bandanna retain water for hours and have a cooling effect. It is very important to keep your neck cooled off in high temperatures.

My basic approach is to dress in a way that provides as much ventilation & shade / protection from the sun as possible, while using a good sunscreen on any exposed skin, and a good pair of polarized sunglasses. I have found this to be the best approach, especially on multi-day trips.

Too many people treat hiking in hot weather, especially direct sunlight, like a trip to the beach, trying to go shirtless, hat-less, and slathering on sunscreen for protection. There is a big difference between 4 hours at the beach, and several days on the trail. Accidental sunburn out on the trail can make for a miserable and possibly dangerous trip.

One thing to watch out for are very thin, or loose knit shirts that stick to you when your sweaty, you can get a terrible sunburn right through the material without realizing it until it's too late.

Stay hydrated, replace those electrolytes, take frequent breaks. If you feel like you need to take a break in the shade, do so!

There's no shame in taking breaks, and playing it safe when the temps are in the 90's with 100% humidity. I personally handle winter weather much better than the high heat we have during summer, but I do pretty good if I dress right, and manage my fluids & nutrition.

One thing I do is carry fresh fruit when possible, I love Cantaloupe, Nectarines, Peaches, and Plums. I can eat fruit just fine even when my stomach does not want any solid food due to the heat.

Hope that helps. Stay cool!

9:53 a.m. on June 28, 2010 (EDT)
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I've been actually wearing a couple REI Sahara Shirts lately. (http://www.rei.com/product/794447). I picked them up at an REI garage sale for $10 piece so I thought WTH and they've worked out great (minus some Steve Irwin comments from my hiking friends lol). They're long sleeve but the sleeves button up. It's loose fitting and very airy and it dries very quickly (both sweat and rain). Also has some convenient pockets with Velcro. In the evening I pull the sleeves down when it gets buggy. I think the fabric has an SPF rating as well??

I've gone through several iterations of hats and I've actually found my golfing hat to be the most comfortable in the heat. It's a Dri-Fit hat so it dries quickly and its perforated so it doesn't hold in the heat. It seems to absorb stains a bit but I can live with that. (http://www.amazon.com/Nike-Golf-Dri-FIT-Perforated-GREEN/dp/B002PD9ALU)


10:30 a.m. on June 28, 2010 (EDT)
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Yeah....well Steve Irwin had a great deal of experience in the outdoors, so I would take the ribbing as an unintended compliment!

Long sleeves are not something I would wear to the beach or pool, but they make perfect sense if you can roll them up during the day and roll them down for protection from insects, like you said. If you're trying to travel light a multi purpose shirt just makes sense to me. You can always carry a short sleeve or Tee shirt as well if you want.

I'm glad you have found stuff that works for you, and you'll probably refine your clothing as time goes by. Ultimately everyone has to figure out what works best for them. Like you, I just ask around and try different things until I find what works best for me.

I don't give a rats behind what other people think of my choices if their criticism is based in ignorance, you know?

I've been smartly asked before: "Off on Safari are we?" Or something like that, but most people are pretty cool about it.

6:58 p.m. on June 28, 2010 (EDT)
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Big chunks of ice in the hydration bladder are nice -- cold water cools you down a bit (just don't drink too fast, it might be a shock to the system).

Lately I've used 16-ounce plastic beer cups (Dixie and so forth) filled w/water about 3/4 of the way up and frozen overnight. The bigger the chunks, the longer it takes to melt the ice. I also have a sit-pad that I place up against the hydration sleeve in my day pack -- keeps water cold for hours. Note your ice water will sweat like crazy, so it helps to wrap it in a dish towel to avoid getting the rest of the stuff in your pack wet.

9:50 p.m. on June 28, 2010 (EDT)
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I just got back from a 16 day backpacking trip in Tennessee and man oh man it was hot. The gnats got me crazy and when I got back home I ordered two Sea to Summit head nets. Just might need 'em on my July trip . . . .. . . .

Anyway, when I was out I kept a journal and wrote a few things down on summer camping:

** "Bugs and heat make tent living tough and ya gotta have a plan to get thru it. Here are some pointers:

** Always have plenty of stick incense to burn by the tent door, even citronella incense comes to mind. Creates a sort of smoke smudge.

** Have a tent with two doors and more ventilation.

** Camp by water and jump in frequently.

** Set up in deep cool spots under shade.

** Staying at 6,000 feet versus low by a creek is mixed: sure, it's cooler higher up but hot and dry--the bugs can still be miserable. My current opinion is to stay in the valley by creeks and rivers where there's sometimes a breeze and always cold water to jump in."

Use a head net. Noseeums can kill ya--build a smudge fire or stay in tent. Forget about DEET--on a 16 day trip you'll be swimming in it. Toxic? Who knows. I prefer something like Herbal Armor, etc.(oils of citronella, soybean, peppermint, cedar, lemongrass, geranium).

6:27 p.m. on July 10, 2010 (EDT)
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Beating the heat is often hard, and where I live impossible during the summer months. One thing I do to create a cooling effect is wear a cotton bandana wrapped around my forehead. It absorbs the sweat, and provides a bit if a cooling sensation as the moisture evaporates.

Please excuse the model wearing the hippie helmet. He was unpaid for his work.

7:29 p.m. on July 10, 2010 (EDT)
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I love the Columbia PFG (Performance Fishing Gear) hat in my avatar photo. I wet it down every so often and it keeps my neck and head very cool.

Like others have mentioned I keep ice in my hydration bladder. If doing numerous day hikes from a car camp, The bladder goes into the ice chest when not in use.

I prefer long sleeves on a hot day. If shooting wildlife, will wear a cammo long sleeved tee, but wear a Magellan sportswear nylon vented LS when not worried about blending in. Wore that in the desert in April when temps were over 100 degrees and it kept me going.

November 20, 2018
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