It should go without saying, but staying hydrated is the most important thing you need to do when walking in hot weather. Making sure you’ve packed enough water should be your number one priority before setting out. While walking, make sure that you have easy access to your bottle. Sipping small amounts of water regularly is much more effective at keeping you hydrated than stopping every hour and drinking a large amount. Wearing a hydration pack can be a good way of doing this as you are probably more likely to keep sipping on the straw in front of you as you walk.
It’s a fairly obvious one but always worth a mention. Wear sunscreen. Just applying sunscreen in the morning, or before you set off is not enough. A good sunscreen will only last around 2 hours before you need to reapply,. It’s also worth noting that sunscreen has an expiration date on the bottle. If you’ve had the same bottle at the bottom of your backpack for years, it’s probably no good and you’ll need to get a new one each year.
As well as staying hydrated, it’s important to replace the salt that you lose through sweating. Packing salty snacks such as crisps, crackers and nuts is a great way to do this. The body needs salt to retain water, so eating these salty snacks actually helps with hydration too.
Even though you may have allowed additional time when planning your route, it’s very easy to begin walking at your usual pace subconsciously. Be intentional about walking at a slower pace. There’s no rush to get to where you’re going and you’ll enjoy it much more if you’re cooler and less exhausted.
A walk that would take you four hours on a normal day could take you quite a bit longer on a really hot day. Prolonged walking in high temperatures can be exhausting and it’s physically draining. Make sure that you are taking plenty of little breaks and are listening to your body. If you’re hot, sweaty and out of breath, take a 5-minute break. Heatwaves are not the time to be setting summit time records.
Now is the time to sort out your backpack. Is the bottom of your backpack is full of things that have been left in there for months, if not years? So pack only the things that you need and don’t carry any unnecessary weight with you.
Light colours reflect light and dark colours absorb it so stay cooler - wear lighter colours.. Counterintuitively, it’s also better to cover up as much as possible when walking for long periods in the sun. Lightweight, loose-fitting clothes are essential and long sleeves are recommended.
There’s a big difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke, although you’ll often hear the term heat stroke in the wrong context. Heat stroke should be considered a medical emergency and help should be sought if you suspect that you or someone you are walking with has it. Common warning signs include rapid, or shortness of breath, feeling confused, and not sweating even though they are hot.