Gearing up for hot weather

28th Jun 2019

Finally the temperatures in this UK summer are rising (albeit temporarily!) and across parts of Europe things are hotting up with record temperatures forecast for the coming days.  This got me thinking about hot weather activities.  

Many of Peak Mountaineering’s overseas trips involve trekking, climbing and travel in very hot conditions and I’ve done my fair share of coping with high temps on this side of the pond too.  So, over the years I’ve developed quite a lot of ideas about how to dress and what equipment to take when the sun is shining, the slopes are steep and the heat is on.  I thought I’d share a few.

Over the next ten days I’ll be adding an idea a day to build up an arsenal of options you might find useful.  Here goes……

Patagonia Tropic Comfort Hoody II

Patagonia Tropic Comfort Hoody II

A natural instinct is to strip off as many layers as possible in hot weather, but if you look at the clothing worn by people who live in extremely hot places you will notice they often have far more clothes on than the westerners walking nearby. 

In hot conditions it is generally better to wear a few loose fitting layers of light clothing and in recent years I’ve used a fantastic garment called a sun hoody.  Several companies make these and I’ve tried a few, but my absolute favourite is the Patagonia Tropic Comfort Hoody II.

This is a lightweight, comfortable and fast-drying hoody made from breathable polyester with 50+ UPF sun protection and Polygiene permanent odour control.  They have a relaxed fit and the silky smooth fabric has a bit of stretch to facilitate easy movement.

The hood is generously sized to fit over a hat and yet it can be buttoned tightly to frame your face and minimise skin exposure.  It is my first line of defence in very hot weather and I really rate these tops.  Give one a try on you next adventure.

Tilley Wanderer T3 Hat

Tilley Wanderer T3 Hat

A protective hat is pretty much a sunny weather essential.  Keeping the sun off your head (especially if you've got less on top!) will help protect from sunburn, keep you cooler and generally make life a lot more comfortable.  Baseball caps or a Shemagh are an option, but for many situations a broad brimmed hat is optimum.  It helps to protect the face, neck and ears and, if you choose one with the right fabric, it stays quite comfortable even when the temperatures soar.  

There are many of these wide brimmed hats available, but last year I reviewed a Tilley hat and it was the first time I’d tried this iconic brand.  I was sold. Their Wanderer T3 is well styled, beautifully made and ticks all the boxes.  You can read my review here.  Oh, and if you use a sun hoody, you can get the hood over the hat without an issue.  So, there’s my second hot weather top tip - go wide brimmed!   

Riemann P20 Once a Day Protection

Riemann's Once a Day suncream

The dangers of UV exposure are very well proven and for outdoor folk who are often out for many hours at a time,  suitable protection from the sun is a vital consideration.  It is then also important to consider additional factors like altitude and geographical position.  The UV levels rise the closer you get to the equator just as the thinner atmosphere filters less UV radiation as you climber higher.  Infact, the World Health Organisation say that, for  every 1000 metres increase in altitude, UV levels increase by 10% to 12%.

Covering your self in clothing is one key defence, but that will still inevitably leave some of the skin exposed and the solution there will be suncream. The problem can be that applying suncream regularly throughout a mountain day can be quite tricky as there is often never a good time and you usually have plenty of other things to think about.   

In recent years we have favoured Riemann’s P20 Once a Day Sun Protection.  It is easy to apply but, as it does need to be applied 15 minutes before exposure to the sun, it takes a bit of pre planning.  Once applied, though, it is great to know it will go on protecting for quite some time.  The protection comes in different protection levels and in spray or lotion format.  Infact, way back in 2017 I made it one of Peak Mountaeering’s Top Tips and you can see that here.

I will just say that, although I have found it effective, I generally don’t rely on one application for a full day (depending on various factors such as whether I’ve been in water and how much I’ve been sweating) and I have no way of being sure how scientifically proven it is. Please only take this as an ideas sharing suggestion as everyone’s sun protection needs will be different.

Sea To Summit Ultra Sil Trekking Umbrella

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Trekking Umbrella 1

This is quite a curveball recommendation, as using an umbrella in sunny conditions isn’t a very common strategy in the UK mountains.  I guess we have pretty windy conditions and umbrellas don’t work so well in our typical conditions, but they do work brilliantly anytime it is sunny and still.

Umbrellas have been popular in hot dry climates for years and they work exceptionally well - it is like walking with your own bubble of shade.  Of course, if you use trekking poles you will have to find a way to use the umbrella hands free, but many thru hikers have developed ways to fasten them to their shoulder straps and this should be quite easy by using a strap or 2. I only ever really use one trekking pole and so haven't found this an issue. 

I tend to use them a lot on our longer treks overseas and, of the ones I’ve tried, the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil model seems to strike the right balance between weight, cost and durability.  This model weighs 225 grams and clicks down to a very compact package that can easily live in the bottom of your day pack until needed.  Once you do decide to deploy it, a quick click up and you are good to go.  It comes with a handy storage bag and it is also big enough to offer good coverage.  The canopy angle ensures good forward visibility too.  Of course, they can also be used in wet weather!

High UV Protection BUFF

High UV Protection Buff

Who would think a simple fabric tube could be so versatile?  Well, over the years BUFF have convincingly proved the benefits of their colourful headwear and, for sunny weather use, my favourite is definitely their High UV protection model.

The appropriately titled High UV protection BUFF is made with Coolmax Extreme which is a special 4 channel fibre fabric which creates a transport system to move moisture to the outer layer of the fabric.  This moisture can then quickly evaporate on the outer surface. This model is also treated with Polygiene odour control treatment. 

BUFF’s can be worn as, amongst many other things, a neckerchief, headband, face mask, balaclava, beanie or bandana - the options are only really limited by your imagination. I mostly use them as face masks which, as well as fending off the sun, also really work well to shield against the dusty conditions often experienced in mountain areas. Oh, and you can buy Buff’s in a frankly ridiculous range of colours and patterns.

Patagonia Bandana

Patagonia Bandana

When I received this I wasn’t sure I’d find much use for it, but infact they are a really useful addition to your sun protection arsenal.  Yes, at heart they are just a simple square of organic cotton with a cool print (2 print designs are available), but they can actually do so many things.  Infact, rather than me try and explain, I’ll leave the explanation on this one to Corey from Patagonia…….

Smith Longfin Sunglasses

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The effects of sun damage to eyes is well documented.  UV exposure can contribute to the formation of cataracts as well as causing macular degeneration.  Leaving eyes unprotected can also makes eye tire more easily and cause problems with identifying hazards or performing tasks effectively.  Sometimes, eyewear may also be performing the task of protecting eyes from foreign bodies as well (such as bits of dust or grid flicked into the eyes when mountain biking).  

My advice is not to scrimp on eyewear.  For sunglasses to offer adequate protection they need to be manufactured to the correct standards and the useful category scale offers a good way to select the right protection level for the task in hand.  You may also, depending on the activity undertaken, want to consider whether things like side protection (to help prevent sunlight getting in at the sides) or a particular fit or shaping is important.

There are lots of makes and models out there, but in recent years I’ve used a number of models by Smith Optics and think they are producing some fantastic eyewear.  The styling and construction are great, but their ChromaPop technology is a superb innovation. ChromaPop filters two specific wavelengths known to cause confusion which, in turn, allows the lens to deliver greater definition and more natural colour.  At the moment I have a pair of their Longfin model on test and, although the review isn’t finished yet, these already warrant a strong recommendation. The styling is spot on, they incorporate ChromaPop and also have discreet side fins which I’ve found to be great in conditions where sunlight is bounced in from the sides.  Another hit from Smith and my full review will follow soon. 

Patagonia High Moss Trekking Shirt

patagonia high moss shirt

A lightweight and breathable long sleeve shirt is a great clothing option for hot weather trekking.  The long sleeves protects your arms, the collar can be rolled up to protect your neck and the light fabrics will even be comfortable when the thermometer sky rockets.  Oh, and if you choose the shirt fabrics and styling well enough, you will have a shirt smart enough to wear for that invitation to the in country ambassador’s ball!

There are loads of trekking shirts on the market, but my recent shirt of choice is the Patagonia High Moss.  These are made of 52% nylon and 48% polyester with mechanical stretch.  This material is designed to allow free movement while resting lightly on the skin.

The High Moss works a treat in hot weather as the synthetic fabric, while breathing well, also ensures that the shirt stays looking good - you can arrive in country, pull one of these out of your crammed duffle bag and yet they still unravel to be relatively crease free.  Details include a button-front for easy venting, lay-down collar to protect your neck in the sun and button-closing cuffs. The button closure chest pockets accommodate a passport and the shirttail hem stays put under pack straps.

Nivea Lip Balm with UV Protection 

Screenshot 2019-07-12 at 21.25.46

This may seem like quite a simple suggestion, but essential nonetheless. The skin on the lips is delicate and has no sebaceous glands.  This means the moisturising oils that the rest of your skin produces aren’t available. Add to this the fact that the skin of the lips is thinner and more delicate than other skin areas and the simple truth is they are extremely susceptible to weather damage. 

That's where lip balm with UV protection comes in to its own. Firstly, it’ll stop the lips from experiencing painful sunburn and dryness. Secondly, it will help to keep your lips healthy and minimise the premature aging caused by UV exposure.

There are loads of lip protection products on the market and I’m sure they all do a great job.  Having said that, over recent years I have mainly used Nivea Sun Protection and I really rate it - easy to apply, doesn’t become too soft when stored in a pocket or rucksack lid in hot weather and works really well.  Other brands I have used a lot and really rate include Himalayan Herbals, Neutrogena and Piz Buin.  

HydroFlask Insulated Drink Bottle

Hydroflask Drink Bottle

And so we come to my final hot weather suggestion.  The importance of staying hydrated in hot weather is well known, but then again not all water carriers are created equally!  For the last few years I’ve rarely been parted from my trusty HydroFlask and I am devoted fan of these mighty fine drink bottles.

Yes, HydroFlask have got their styling just right and the quality is certainly top notch, but the key thing I love is having a bottle that efficiently keeps drinks cool (they will also keep hot drinks hot….but that’s not really about hot weather!). HydroFlask are the best I’ve found for keeping liquid cool in hot temps and there really is nothing better then a nice cold drink when you’ve just slogged up that big hill. 

If it is really hot I often add some ice cubes to my drink before leaving home, but most times if it is just filled with chilled water then the water will still be chilled by the time you come to drink it.  Of course, using a reusable drink bottle is also a key part of reducing our over reliance of single use plastics too. Go HydroFlask.

Posted by Paul