Use Proper Hydration to Stay Cool on the Trails

Stay Cool

On an exceptionally hot day, go slow and rest often. Try to hike in the early morning, rather than mid-afternoon, to beat the hottest time of day. Whether you go in the morning or afternoon, you must still remember the importance of hydration. 

Another way to stay cool is to start higher on the mountain, where temperatures are lower. When possible, drive to a higher point in the trail, and hike up from there. Keep in mind, however, that the summer season often brings afternoon thunderstorms to many mountain locales. Never ascend above tree line when there's lightning in the vicinity. And if you're already above tree line when a thunderstorm approaches, try to descend as soon as possible.

More: Hydration: What to Drink, How Much and How Often?

Wear the Right Clothing

Wear moisture-wicking clothing made of polypropylene or polyester to carry sweat and moisture away from your body. Moisture-wicking material keeps you dryer, cooler, and more comfortable than sweat-inducing cotton. It's also a good idea to wear light colored clothing because it tends to reflect heat away from your body.

Wearing a hat—a baseball cap or wide-brimmed hat—will help protect your face and neck from the sun, as well.

More: Hiking Checklist: What to Pack for the Trail

Know the Signs

Once you know the importance of hydration, you must be able to recognize when someone isn't being hydrated enough. You should know the signs for heat exhaustion, heat stroke and even hyponatremia; knowing what to do if someone in your party exhibits any of these signs is critical to everyone's safety.

The importance of hydration cannot be overlooked when hiking in the summer sun. Enjoy a safe solo or family hike with proper hydration. 

More: How to Hike Longer and Faster

RAFind a Campground at

  • 2
  • of
  • 2

About the Author

Jeff Doran

Jeff Doran is author of the Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog and an online trail guide for Hiking in the Smokies.

Discuss This Article