Ask Buck

How can I beat the heat?

Is it possible to acclimatize to hiking in hot temperatures?


I don’t do well in hot temperatures and have suffered heat exhaustion a couple of times. Is there a way to acclimatize?

Submitted by – Terri Anne, Tucson, AZ


Yes, you can acclimatize to hot environments. The process takes eight to 10 days on average and requires you to slowly increase the intensity and length of time of your hot-temp workouts during those 10 days. How much you increase them by depends on your level of fitness at the start, the temperature, the load you’re packing, your body mass, and other factors. If you’re acclimatizing on the trail, during a backpacking trip, I tell people to hit the trail in the morning until they feel the stress, then stop. Hit the trail again when it’s cooler, and go until they feel the stress, and then stop for the day—and night. And so forth. 

Staying cool is still important though, so it’s a good idea to rest in the shade during the hottest part of each day and, of course, to stay hydrated; your pee should be nearly clear. You’ll also stay cooler if you dress in loose clothing made of natural fibers, with most of your skin covered—especially your head (a wide-brimmed hat works well). Keep in mind that no matter how well-acclimatized you become, it’s still possible to suffer heat-related problems, so pay attention to signs of heat exhaustion, such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, and confusion.