One of my worst backcountry experiences (and the reason I don't go anywhere in the backcountry without my Garmin In-Reach Mini or a hiking parner, or both) was because I went on a solo trip in the middle of July and didn't plan property. I didn't carry enough water, didn't stop tontake breaks often enough and didn't listen to my body telling (screaming at) me that something was wrong. I assumed that I knew what I was doing, could handle it, didn't want that extra water weight, didn't want to stop and add unnecessary time to the clock, etc The net result was heat exhaustion, hallucinations (honestly thought there was a chupacabra outside my tent) and cutting the trip short. Longer term results were a few lessons.
- Drink before I'm thirsty. Eat before I'm hungry. Stop before I'm tired.
- Hydrate. I carry 2L of water all the time and I don't pass water sources without "cameling up" and topping off.
- Electrolytes. I carry Nuun tablets with me and will usually have one or two liters of water with electrolytes added. Worth noting, I only put them in one of my bottles and i stick that bottle in my bear bag at night now. I believe I read that here.
- Food. I tend to *hate* to stop once I get going until I get to camp. I keep a few snacks in my hip belt pockets so that I can eat without stopping.
- Clothes. I carry three pair of hiking socks and change them out regularly. In the summer, I wear very thin clothes that breathe well and have become a Merino Wool snob, especially in the undergarment area. I also try to wear a wide brim hat thats well ventilated. I'll also sometimes drench my buff in a creek and wear it around my neck.
- Pay attention to your body and heed its warmings. You know if you need fuel (food), eat You know if you're dehydrated (no / dwindling sweat, dark urine, faint or dizzy, you think there is a chupacabra outside your tent), drink.
What are some summer backpacking trips you've learned that make the hot weather more pleasant?
So heat is tricky. There are very few things you can do to prevent heat exhaustion. Limit your activity when the sun is high. Find shade whenever possible. Drink water regularly. Most of all don’t hike when it’s above 90f unless you have a ton of water. Even then you have to worry about electrolytes (salt, potassium, calcium, etc.)
Heat is not like cold where you can just dress appropriately. However, I do have a few pointers. I used to do work outside in Arizona (Phoenix) when it was over 110f. I wore long sleeve, loose, breathable, synthetic shirts. I would also wear a mesh trucker hat with a cotton bandana underneath. I would wear it so the bandana would cover the sides of my face and neck from the sun. I would regularly dampen the bandana so it acted as a swamp cooler in the breeze. This will only work in arid conditions. Also the fastest way to cool down with a bandana is to dampen it and get it cool by waiving it in the air (just enough for the evaporation to cool it off.) Then place it on the front of you neck. This works to cool the arteries that pump blood to the brain.
Another pointer, I freeze my hydration pack (I know it’s not good for the pack) in the freezer. This keeps your back cool and melts as you heat up. But unless you pack a freezer this method only works on day hikes.
Be safe! By the time you start feeling the effects of heat exhaustion, it’s too late! Plan ahead for cooler weather!
Trick I learned this summer, if you're camping near a stream, relax in the stream, preferably under shade.