Getting outside in less-than-ideal conditions can sometimes be a little fun. There’s something exciting about getting caught in the rain (as long as you aren’t in a flood-prone area), or hiking in an exotic place, such as the jungle. However, there is an art to suffering in icky weather conditions. Here are a few handy tips to keep you outside this season.
Have an Indoor Adventure
Dealing with a little bit of bad weather isn’t a bad thing, but being unsafe and reckless can lead to bigger disasters. Sometimes the weather just says no, and that’s okay. If the conditions are going to be horrendous, dangerous (think avalanche danger and slot canyons flooding), or just down-right miserable, pick an indoor adventure instead. Go to a museum, climb at a climbing gym, or simply Netflix and chill. It’s totally okay to say no to bad weather, especially if conditions are dangerous. Risking your safety simply isn’t worth it.
Blowin’ in the Wind
Most of the time, the wind is simply a nuisance, but there are those days where it really starts gusting and that can turn ugly, quickly. Use a face mask, such as a Buff or bandana to keep dirt and debris from kicking up into your mouth. If you’re climbing, you may want to consider staying home, since high winds can literally rip you off the wall, make it hard to communicate, and you can lose your rope by getting it stuck on features.
For hiking, protect your face and nose from getting wind whipped by spreading lip balm all over your face. It looks ridiculous but it's a lifesaver if you encounter windy conditions for multiple days. It also helps to throw on a rain jacket and rain pants to keep the wind from giving you a chill.
How to Beat the Heat
The key to hiking in overly hot weather is shade and water. For humid climates, you’ll also want to watch your sweat, as this can cause some gnarly infections or blisters if left unchecked.
Seek shady trails or opt to start super early in the morning (or evening) to avoid the heat. If you are out and about without light, be sure to carry a GPS, map and compass, and headlamp to help light the way.
Create your own shade by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and UV protection. Consider purchasing a sun shirt (long sleeved shirt with a hood that is super light-weight and UV proof) or even a hiking umbrella.
For humid climates, take care of your feet. Trench foot can set in fast, so be sure to bring an extra pair of socks and consider taking off your shoes for longer breaks to let your tootsies air out.
Lastly, drink up and drink often! Water weighs a lot, but do not systematically dehydrate yourself, carry the extra weight, or bring a filter if there are water sources nearby. In toasty, dry climates, use a soaked bandanna draped around the back of your neck to help cool you down.
Rain, Rain Go Away
It’s easy to get caught off-guard in the rain, no matter where you’re adventuring. If you're in an area prone to storms, always check the weather before heading out. Remember, hiking above treeline or hiking in a desert canyon is risky business during a storm. Flash floods and lightning kill every year, so again, if the weather calls for rain or storms, you might want to stay inside instead.
If you do get caught in a thunderstorm, seek lower ground as quickly as possible. Hide if you can, take your backpack off (toss it away if it has any conductive metal in it), stand on your pack and squat with your hands above your head. The object is to avoid having your vital organs get zapped. Avoid hiding under tall trees or on high ridges.
For slot canyons, simply don't go. Flash floods can come out of nowhere and they can form miles up the canyon, even if it isn’t rainy where you are. If you do get caught, scramble quickly to higher ground (much easier said than done). Sometimes this isn’t possible, so certainly take warning with rainy forecasts in canyons.
Overall, mildly bad weather can easily be negotiated by being prepared and knowing how to make the most of a crummy day. However, always be sure to assess the risks before you go. No adventure is worth your life, so be prepared and remember that staying home is still cool.