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Old 04-11-2010, 10:41 AM
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Default Heat related problems while hiking - time to review



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Summer time is almost here, and so is the summer heat. It wont be long and the 90s and 100 degrees will be the norm, so lets take some time to review.

Pace yourself - You should know your own physical conditioning, your not superman, so dont act like it. If you rush up a hill, get overheated, wear yourself out and still have 6 more miles to go, you have nobody to blame but yourself.

Carry plenty of water - stay hydrated at all times. If your thirsty, then get something to drink.

Wear a hat - to keep the sun off the top of your head.

Wear clothing that wicks away moisture and promotes evaporation - this will help keep your body cool.

While on a hiking trip with my son and nephew in 2009 I got overheated, and I felt like I was on the verge of heat exhaustion, if not heat stroke. It was a very dangerous situation in which we arrived at our destination just in time - a nice cool stream.

Video from my September 2009 hiking trip.


One of the mistakes that was made on the 2009 trip - we did not carry enough water bottles. Instead of having 32 ounce water bottles, 2 of us carried 1 quart water bottles and canteens. For the heat, the 1 quart canteens just were not big enough. When its 100 degrees outside, and you just hiked a hike uphill, 1 quart could be sucked down in a matter of minutes.

For this years trip, the 1 quart US Army canteens are going to be replaced with 32 ounce water bottles. The clear bottles also allow the water level to be viewed, so there is no guessing "the canteen feels like its 1/2 full". Even though a 1 quart canteen holds the same amount of fluid as a 32 ounce water bottle, I think being able to see the water level helps the hiker keep things into perspective.

One mistake that we made, that caused problems later on - creeks that were "supposed" to have water in them were dry. My hiking party crossed over streams that had water in them, when our canteens were 1/2 full. Instead of filling up our canteens at the full streams, we said - we will fill up the canteens in the next stream. Well, there was no next stream, not for a long, long ways. And when your talking about heat in the 90 - 100 degree range, walking up and down hills,,, even distances in the 1/2 mile range feel like a really long way.

Even though my hiking team had some heat related problem during the 2009 trip, I'am hoping to avoid some of those same problems this year.
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Old 04-11-2010, 11:41 AM
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Down here in Florida, we have high heat and high humidity( 98deg w/ 90% humidity)......we need about 1 gal /person/day, so we each carry a 2lt camelback and 2 qt bladder. Imo, the key to staying hydrated is forcing yourself to drink 6-8 oz every 1/2 hour...... we don't hike much, but we kayak alot , so we get out early in the morning and get to where we're going and then get settled in by noon......we stay out of the hottest part of of the day( and in the water) and then move around again in the late afternoon/evening......we wear mostly cotton or linen, because synthetic clothes holds more heat( raising our core temp) and sweat evap is our cooling system......we actually want our clothes to stay wet, as that aids in cooling as well....Also,the body needs more than just water, it needs electrolites, too.....either pills or Gatorade, etc. Tropical fruit grows wild down here, so it's pretty easy to find bananas, citrus, etc, but folks might consider packing more fruit.
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Old 04-11-2010, 07:25 PM
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Good reason not to trust maps. In dry areas it is especially true. Very few year round water sources and those are many miles apart. I carry a 128 oz. hydration pouch on long hikes. For short ones I carry the military 64 oz. soft canteen.

It is not difficult to tell how full an opaque canteen is. Just make a note of how far you have to tip it before water comes out.

Another important means of keeping away heat related problems is simply to slow down on the uphill. Also don't hike during the middle of the day and wear light colored clothing to reflect heat.
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Old 04-11-2010, 07:46 PM
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very valuable lesson...thanks for sharing Kev
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:46 PM
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If your thirsty you are already becoming dehydrated. Drink plenty even before getting thirsty. Carry plenty of water in your stomach. If your overheating get in the shade and rest. A bit of water in your hair and on your clothes can help cool you in dryer climates, but probably won't do you much good in high humidity areas.

Badlands makes some great day packs that have an internal frame system that allows the air to circulate across your back. I have the Hypervent (http://www.badlandspacks.com/hypervent.php) and find it substantially cooler in warm weather than any other back pack I've worn.
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:59 PM
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Good thread and advice Kevin.

One thing I learned growing up in both Houston, Texas and southwestern Iran - do NOT go out in 100 degree heat.

Certainly do not go out in 125+ degree heat. It literally makes your head spin and one sees stars in front of their eyes, even with a hat, even at the resilient young age of 16.

You don't last long in either case.

I DID learn in Houston and the Gulf Coast working as a roofer and in home construction during college that the humidity will get ya before the heat does. There is just no good reason to go out in those high temps unless it is absolutely critical to do so.

Also, if you are taking any prescription medications, talk to your doctor first about going out in the heat. Many meds increase your susceptibility to heat stroke and other dangerous heat-related effects.

Anything with caffeine, including chocolate and most soft drinks, dehydrate you. Even sodas without caffeine have some caffeine in them. Alcohol, including beer, dehydrates you. Your best response to heat is water. Science proves that your body absorbs water faster if it is warmer. Ice cold actually is not good for you when you are in 90+ degree heat.

My best advice is to hike at night, if you must, instead of during the day. Except in treacherous and unknown terrain, where darkness can lead to falls and injury.
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Old 04-13-2010, 12:22 AM
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from Kev- Wear clothing that wicks away moisture and promotes evaporation - this will help keep your body cool.

i believe in the desert or arid places (during the heat), cotton is best because it slows down the evaporation.
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Old 04-13-2010, 12:34 AM
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Yup. There are different strategies for high humidity and low humidity environments. Arabs are covered head to foot with multiple layers of cotton. People in high humidity areas tend not to wear a lot of clothing and what modern folks wear is synthetic. Primitive people in high heat and humidity areas often just go naked.
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Old 04-13-2010, 01:30 AM
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I had a heatstroke at 19 and have been living with a permanent electrolyte imbalance ever since. I drink water like a fish and have to be very careful in the heat. Several times at the academy in Georgia, I had my temperature get up around 102 degrees after a long run. Be careful all.
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Old 04-13-2010, 02:11 AM
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Thanks for the timely reminder Kev, both for keeping hydrated and the need to properly prepare for conditional variations on the trail. It helps keep things in perspective to hear that even someone with your experience can run into potentially desperate problems through lack of proper planning. Thanks for reminding us all to properly prepare before setting out.
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Old 04-13-2010, 09:40 AM
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Remember that if you feel cold, even when you ought to feel hot and miserable, that's when it's dangerous, that's panic time. Feeling hot, sweaty, and miserable isn't necessarily dangerous. When something bad is going to happen if you don't change your tune, you'll usually feel cold, start shivering, etc. Ironic, but true. Very strange feeling. Stop whatever you're doing and take extreme measures to cool down and/or hydrate up.


Also, it kills me to see people gearing up for hot sweaty excursions with nothing but water. You lose sodium like mad when you sweat like that. Lose enough sodium and body functions don't work like they should, your nervous system don't work right. If given the choice, always use something that will get sodium back into you, such as powerade.
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Old 04-13-2010, 10:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corndogggy View Post
Also, it kills me to see people gearing up for hot sweaty excursions with nothing but water. You lose sodium like mad when you sweat like that. Lose enough sodium and body functions don't work like they should, your nervous system don't work right. If given the choice, always use something that will get sodium back into you, such as powerade.
This might be one time that I can justify the high salt content in an MRE.

The MRE main entree Meatballs in Marinara Sauce – has 1,620mg of salt, which is 68% of the recommended daily allowance of sodium.

I like to bring sun flower seeds on my hiking trips, they have a lot of salt as well.
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