Having just completed one of our Walk & Talks in Victoria’s Point Nepean National Park on a particularly hot day, here are my tips for making your experience on the trail more enjoyable and safer when you are out in the heat this summer.
Sip don’t gulp
It’s far better to sip water than gulp it down as small quantities of fluid at regular intervals does a better job at keeping you hydrated. Even though it sometimes feels good to drink a whole lot of water at once, it won’t do as good a job. People require different amounts of fluids during exercise and the best gauge is the colour of your urine. If this is concentrated – you are not drinking enough.
An electrolyte replacement drink (powder or tablet form) is a great way to prevent dehydration. I highly recommend carrying one bottle that has Gatorade/Hydrolyte/Gastrolyte in it as well as either your water bladder or another bottle full of just water. Having the two options makes for very refreshing breaks. (Please discuss any pre-existing medical conditions with your health professional before consuming.)
Avoid alcohol the night before
It’s best to avoid drinking alcohol the day before a long walk, especially when it’s going to be hot. Even consuming relatively small amounts of alcohol can cause dehydration. Alcohol suppresses your body’s antidiuretic hormone that sends fluid back into your body while simultaneously acting as a diuretic, causing water to be flushed out of your system much more rapidly than normal.
Wear lightweight clothing & good sunglasses
To help stay cool, wear clothing that is lightweight, breathable, and SunSmart.
- Choose a wide-brim hat to protect your neck and ears.
- Choose hiking specific shirts – the ones with sleeves that you can roll up, and ventilation flaps.
- Choose good-quality hiking socks. Unlike regular socks, hiking socks are designed specifically to protect the foot and wick away moisture. It’s personal preference, but merino is a good option.
Wearing a broad-brimmed hat can cut the amount of UV radiation reaching your eyes by 50%. Wearing both a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses can reduce UV rays to the eyes by up to 98%. Choose a close-fitting, wrap-around style of sunglasses. Polarised sunglasses will reduce glare and make it easier to see on a sunny day.
Apply and reapply sunscreen
Sunburn is not just painful; it can also dehydrate you and make for a horrible experience. It’s not much fun if you burn your shoulders then need to strap on your daypack – you will likely experience painful rubbing. Wear plenty of broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply it regularly (at least every 2 hours), especially if you sweat a lot. Wherever possible, avoid exposing your arms and shoulders. Protect as much skin as possible by covering up when you are out in the sun.
Take regular breaks & eat well
Find a shady spot to enjoy a drink and a snack (something that offers slow releasing energy and is low in sugar). Take your bag off and let your body cool down. Don’t exhaust yourself early on. Pace yourself so that you can comfortably walk the rest of your route.
I am a firm believer that you deserve a reward after a long day’s walk. For me, at the end of a hot day on the trail, there is nothing more satisfying than an ice-cold beer!
Our top tips on how to sustain energy throughout the day, along with some fave snack ideas from RAW staff.