5 Ways to Stay Cool While Hiking in the Heat

Hiking in hot weather can get… well, hot! Temperatures easily and frequently exceed 100°F where I live, and when you’re hiking in that temperature with limited shade, you want to do everything you can to stay cool. In this post, I have 5 simple tips for staying cool on all your hot weather hikes this Summer!

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Hiking in Hot Weather Video

If you prefer to watch, check out my YouTube video below for all the tips. If not, keep on reading!

5 Ways to STAY COOL While Hiking in the HEAT

Hot Weather Hiking Tips

1) Your Clothing

Light colored clothing reflects heat, while darker colored clothing tends to absorb it. When I’m going on a really hot hike, I like to wear light colored clothing, whenever I can.

In addition to light colored clothing, nowadays you can find clothing that’s specifically made to help keep you cool.

Patagonia’s Capilene Cool fabric is my absolute favorite. I have 2 different styles and I linked my favorite below! It’s made with a quick-drying, moisture-wicking stretch fabric and provides 50+ UPF protection.

I know that it might seem counterintuitive to wear long-sleeves on a hot hike, but this fabric is so light and breathable, and I love that I don’t need to worry about sunscreen on my arms!

My Favorite Hot Weather Hiking Shirt:

2) Wear Loose Fitting Clothing

The next tip is to avoid wearing super tight clothes and swap them for looser options. Looser clothing will allow for more air circulation as you hike to help keep you cool.

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3) Bring a Buff

“Buff” is just the name brand of a headband or neck gaiter. It’s “multi functional headwear” that offers sun protection.

Why is this great for hot weather hiking? You can get it wet and wear it around your neck or as a headband to help keep you cool.

I prefer to wear it around my neck and then rotate it as I hike.

Getting a buff neck gaiter wet in a stream to help stay cool on hikes
Using a Buff headband on hot hikes to stay cool and protected from the sun

On really hot hikes, having a nice cool band on my neck feels amazing! It really goes a long way to cooling me down.

If you’re hiking near a river or alpine lake, you can keep re-wetting it as you hike, or just get it wet at home before your hike. They come in so many fun colors and patterns. I have the original Buff style and love it.

Sunrise at balanced rock in Arches National Park

4) Avoid the Hottest Time of Day

This next tip is probably pretty obvious, but it’s to avoid hiking in the hottest time of day, which is typically 12pm-3pm.

I’m a total morning person, so I love to get an early start and be done hiking around the hottest time of day.

Also, I try to hike in the shade as much as possible, or at least take frequent breaks in the shade during hot hikes. Don’t underestimate a good break in the shade!

When hiking, it’s important to be self-aware and stop when you need a break, especially when you’re in the heat.

5) Stay Hydrated

This last point is important on every hike. Proper hydration is crucial, and it will actually help keep you cool.

Too many people go for hours without drinking and then stop and chug a bunch of water – this is not a good practice.

Drink frequently, and make sure you’re carrying plenty of water for the duration of your hike.

In addition to water, you also need to replenish electrolytes in order to stay hydrated.

Packing salty hiking snacks will help, but I like to pack LMNT salt packets as well to really stay on top of my hydration.

I love the Nuun tablets because they taste great and they’re so easy to carry in your backpack.

I like to bring along an extra collapsible water bottle to put them in so that I don’t have to put them in my main water bladder.

This is a really easy way to stay hydrated on hot hikes which ultimately helps your body regulate temperature and keep you cool while you hike!

hiking in southern utah desert

More Hiking Tips and Hacks

Did you like these hot weather hiking tips? If so, I have plenty more hiking resources for you here on the blog!

Check out some of the other popular hiking blog posts below:

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