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Backpacker Magazine – October 2009

Stay Comfortable in Any Weather: Heat

Think like a desert dweller to stay cool and comfortable.

by: Molly Loomis

PAGE 1 2 3

Pick Your Conditions

On the Trail | In Camp | Key Gear


Sleep low. Cool air sinks, so look for shaded, north- or east-facing sites in valley bottoms.

Skip the stove. When you have to ration water in camp, save what you have for drinking–not cooking and pot cleaning. Pack dried fruit, bread with pesto, or backcountry sushi rolls made with cream cheese, pouch tuna, wasabi, and carrots on nori (or a tortilla).

Scrub down. You'll sleep better if you wipe off sweat and grime. Pack wet wipes, or use a moistened bandanna.

Sleep in a mesh tent. If you can't sleep en plein air because of bugs, use a well-ventilated shelter like Black Diamond's Beta Bug; $139, Leave the fly off of any tent when the sun is out so that solar heat doesn't collect inside.

Protect your pad. In the desert, shine your flashlight horizontally across the ground to locate pad-puncturing cactus spines. Sweep the area thoroughly before laying your pad down. Alternatively, pack a puncture-proof, closed-cell foam pad like Therm-a-Rest's Ridge Rest ($25,

PAGE 1 2 3

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Dan S.
Feb 10, 2010

It's a good idea to have a water purifier in case you run out of water.

Michael Rysenaer, Belgium
Feb 10, 2010

Correction of my previous comment : please read "by very HOT weather" and nor "old weather".

Michael Rysenaer, Belgium
Feb 10, 2010

By very old weather it may also be interesting to wear one or two tennis wristbands, so you can wip off the sweat on your forehead.

Feb 07, 2010

I have been hiking in the height of Australia summer 40 degrees celcius and 1 item i would never consider leaving without is my "KOOL IT" neck band. They last 2-4 hrs b4 you have to soak them in water again and boy do they work!

I swear by these things im not sure if they have a website or what country they are made but they can be found here http:


well worth the $15 Aus

Dec 28, 2009

Drinking hot tea on hot days, I'm told, is a trick used by Salt Merchants in North Africa. Apparently, there is some physiological reason why it works. This is what I heard: the tea heats up your core, and your body responds by pushing blood away from your core nearer the skin and into your extremities to compensate. Because more blood is passing near the skin, more blood is cooled by the effects of sweat evaporation. Presumably, this works best when humidity is lowest (< 50%).

Nov 02, 2009

The umbrella trick is a good idea but realize that nylon is tranparent to UV and you can still get a sunburn. Cover the umbrella with a piece of mylar emergency blanket and secure at the points. Very cool.

Oct 23, 2009

We kept our tent cool in the afternoon by placing a sleeping bag over it. It really made a difference.


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