Beat the Heat: 5 Keys to Staying Safe on the Trails

Temperatures have risen to over 100 degrees across the region making for some interesting and sometimes dangerous hiking conditions.

I made the foolish mistake last winter of leaving most of my water in the truck (by accident) while I did the 15 mile Butterfield Trail over at Devil’s Den in northwest Arkansas. I paid dearly for this mistake and by mile 8 I was paying for it. This kind of mistake could be life threatening in the hot conditions we are currently experiencing.

No matter if you are an experienced backpacker or a new day-hiker, here are specific steps you can take to stay safe from the heat on the trail.

  1. Hydrate before you get on the trail. Drink a bottle of water or two even before you head out. Your body is going to need it in this heat. Aim for at least 32 oz. of water before you hit the trail.
  2. Take plenty of water with you and drink often. Take a sip every twenty minutes or so. You’ll prevent a dangerous situation by staying on top of it.
  3. Be careful what you are eating. Make sure your snacks or meals have enough sodium in them to replenish while you move along. Water alone does not replace everything you need that this heat is zapping out of your body.
  4. Take either a Camelbak or a several liters of water, both if your pack can handle it. The worst thing that can happen in this heat is getting stranded without water.
  5. If you are getting thirsty you are already beginning to dehydrate. Be deliberate and preemptive on the trail. Years ago in basic training for US Army Infantry there were two things the drill sergeants pounded into us, keep your feet dry and “drink water.” To this day I can hear their howls “Drink water,” as I move through the trails of the mid south and reach for my water.


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  1. Pingback: Sweating the details of summer hiking | Two-Heel Drive, a Hiking Blog

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