While hiking in the sun is fun (and a great chance to get a tan), it can also be quite dangerous. The sun can leave the ground baking hot and some trails have no shade, so you and your four legged friends can quickly end up overheating. This can turn an enjoyable hike into a stressful situation, but you can help avoid this situation if you wear the right clothes.
This list might be simpler than you were expecting, but it’s all about preventing the sun from even hitting your skin. Here’s how to dress for a hike in the sun.
Hiking can be a strenuous activity, so many people assume they should wear short sleeves in the summer so they don’t overheat. Sadly, arms that are exposed the sun are much more likely to burn, and they will probably feel just as warm due to the bare sun beating down on them.
This is why it is best to wear woven long sleeve shirts on a hike, just like the cowboys do in the Texas sun. Make sure that the top is loose fitting so that warm air can still easily escape your clothes. It is also advised to wear clothes in light colors, as light colors trap less heat and reflect heat more than dark colors. There are plenty of synthetic fabrics out there with built in SPF protection.
Shorts are another popular hiking option, but it is likely that they will leave you with sunburned calves and thighs, and a few itchy insect bites for good measure. Loose fitting, lightweight long pants are your best option for a summer hike, as they will protect you from insects, thorns, scrapes and the sun, while still providing you with some ventilation.
Some people swear by cotton as it is so light and comfortable, while other people prefer wool due to its natural temperature-regulating properties. And these days, synthetic blends are all the rage. Try on a few options in a store to see which material you prefer.
One of the most important things you need to wear for a hike in the sun is a hat. Your head is getting the most contact with the sun and your face and scalp are extremely sensitive. This could leave you feeling thirsty, achey and nauseous, so it is very important to wear a hat, especially if you have thin hair on top or fair skin in general.
Lots of hikers favor baseball caps, but these hats don’t cover your ears, your shoulders or the back of your neck. They are still better than no hat, but a better choice is a wide brimmed hat that will cover your whole head, neck and shoulders.
If you’ve decided to wear a baseball cap, add some extra protection by tying a bandana or wearing a Buff to cover your ears and the back of your neck.
If you’re going out on a sunny day sunglasses are always a good idea, and that rule applies to hiking. You will be spending a lot of time in the sun on a hike, sometimes with nowhere to escape, and you will want full visibility even if you are walking toward the sun. A setting sun can be blinding without protection.
Sunglasses will do more than just make it easier for you to see: they will also protect your eyes from harmful sun rays. You can actually sunburn your eyes if you’re not careful. If you regularly hike in the sun, make sure to invest in a pair of sunglasses with 100-percent UV protection.
Hiking in the sun your feet will soon be sweaty. This might not seem like much of a problem—after all, you are doing physical activity—but sweaty socks increase the chance of blisters. Make sure to pack a spare pair of socks so that you can swap them out if you notice they are sweated out and causing hot spots or blisters. Clean socks will also be less appealing to bugs.