- Wear a hat! Not a baseball cap but something that has good coverage — wide brim — of your head, neck and shoulders. Do I sound like a mom? Yes, I am one 🙂
- Bring extra water. You should allot at least one liter for every two hours of hiking so add in extra (and do the same for others in your group, like kids).
On hot days, I will often set an alarm to remind myself to drink water every hour. I find using a Camelbak also makes it easier for me to drink a lot of water, rather than having to dig out a bottle from my pack. My 2-year-old daughter loves drinking from my Camelbak, too. Offer your kids water and snacks at the same time that you have them.
- Snack well and often. Dried fruits, nuts, chocolate, bananas plus drinks with electrolytes. You can also bring a treat, like frozen strawberries, blueberries or blackberries. Those will be light to carry and provide a refreshing treat on the trail. I will also use the alarm for snacks.
- Take regular breaks to check in with yourself and your kids. Find shade under an oak tree, have a snack and some water, and assess how you’re all doing.
- Lightweight clothes with long sleeves and long pants to help keep you cool and to reduce sun exposure. Think breathable cotton and try to avoid polyester or clothes that will retain moisture. Wool socks are great for keeping your feet dry, rather than sweaty. You can look and feel your best by dressing well for the trail and hiking conditions.
- Check the forecast and know how much the temperature will increase by the hour. You should find the address of the park and use the specific zip code to find the weather forecast; don’t rely on the forecast for an entire city. The heat can increase greatly from one hour to the next, and you don’t want to get caught in a situation of extreme temperatures.
Many weather services will also tell you if it’s going to be windy or if there will be other events like rain. Make sure to check the details because hot weather can be accompanied by extreme weather events, depending on which part of the country you live in.
- Start early! They say the early bird gets the worm and in this case they/she/he will be getting the cooler temperatures. Challenge your family to get out the door early and enjoy the cooler weather while you’re climbing uphill instead of slogging through the heat.
- Backpack with suspended mesh. What is that? It’s one that has a mesh space providing airflow between you and your pack. This helps to reduce the sweat and irritation that can occur on your back and make you feel really uncomfortable. I’m not recommending one specific pack but linking to an example.
- Pack light! Your pack is only going to feel heavier in the heat.
- Do your research and choose the hike wisely. Is it shaded or fully exposed? Redwood forests tend to be shaded whereas chaparral tends to be more exposed. Look up reviews of the hike and see what other people are saying about the conditions. You don’t need to hike to that exposed summit on the hottest day of the summer!
- Let someone know where you and your kids are going. This is good practice whenever you go hiking, but especially in the case of hot weather.
- Know your limits! If you or your kids start to feel unwell — dizzy, tired, have a headache — turn around. You can always do the hike another day; the forest isn’t going anywhere!
Tell me: What are your tips for hiking with kids in the heat?