Summer is definitely upon us! This week saw heat waves all across the US. Here in Texas we have been having daily triple digit temperatures for quite a while. If you are going to be in the great outdoors for any amount of time this season, then you are going to have to take steps to handle the heat.
The single most important thing you can do when you are in the heat is hydrate. If you know ahead of time that you’ll be outside for a while, go ahead and increase your water intake early. Once you’re out, you want a way to carry enough water so that you can drink a little at a time over the whole time you’re out. One of the best ways to do this is with a CamelBak. I carried mine with me every day while I was a student. It slipped right into my backpack and I always had water while I was trekking across campus. I liked mine so much I gave one to my dad as a gift. He carries it with him every time his job takes him out into the woods. The wide mouth opening allows me to add ice while I’m filling it up. This keeps the water cool for a long time and even keeps me cooler if I’m wearing the camelback directly on my back. The 3-liter volume is enough to last me at least half a day.
One thing I learned the hard way is that if you are going to be out in the heat all day, water alone will not be enough. Take some type of sports drink along as well. You’ll need to start replacing the electrolytes you’ve lost to perspiration around lunch, if not sooner. Doing so allows your body to make better use of the water you’re drinking. For a meal in the field, it’s hard to beat an MRE. They’re light, easy to pack, and are calorie-dense enough to keep you going for the rest of your outing. If you do not hydrate and eat enough while you are in the heat, you can face dehydration and fatigue when you are only halfway through your day.
This summer I decided to switch to wearing mainly moisture-wicking shirts because they work. These shirts are better at keeping me cool and dry than more traditional fabrics. If I stay cool, then I don’t have to work as hard to keep from feeling fatigued. If your outdoor activities this summer will involve heavy brush or some other situation where you may want long sleeves, then do yourself a favor: get a combat shirt. The sleeves are ripstop which is fairly light for uniform fabrics, but still tough enough to deflect snags and scrapes. What makes a combat shirt special is that the torso of the shirt is made of a moisture-wicking fabric instead of ripstop. This way you will stay more comfortable than you would think you could with long sleeves.