Summer is right around the corner and warmer temperatures are finally on the horizon! Backpacking season is here 🙂 With the warmer temps also comes more sunshine and I’m looking forward to a good sun kissed glow on my face from a hike in the mountains!! Our bodies and health benefit from the vitamin D the sunshine provides; however, too much sun is equally as harmful to your skin if you are overexposed. The sun projects uva and uvb rays that in excess can damage your skin. Even on cloudy days these rays can penetrate through the clouds to burn and damage your skin. Combine a painful sunburn with the skin damage and you’ll be dealing with the effects from the sun long after your hike is over. We try to find a healthy balance of enjoying the sunshine, while also protecting our bodies as much as we can from the sub. Does this mean I am getting old that I am thinking about this? Probably 😉 but here are some of our top tips to protect yourself from the sun!

Ways to Protect Your Skin from the Sun 

Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and wear a hat to protect your scalp. We are usually all wearing some kind of hat to protect our scalp and face from the sun, even my boys! It’s an easy and efficient form of protection. 

San Rafael Swell, Utah

Clothing. This can be the most effective way to protect your skin from the sun without using sunscreen. Wear long sleeves and pants that are breathable and lightweight so you don’t get too hot. Generally the tighter the knit fabric of the clothing the better the sun protection. Some clothing is even labeled specifically for SPF protection. 

Dutchman Arch, San Rafael Swell

Avoid peak hours in the sun. During the hot summer months early morning hikes or later in the evening will allow you to be out on the trails when the sun’s rays aren’t as strong. Plus the temps are usually cooler too so it can make the sun exposed trails a little more bearable.

Find shade and use it. Some trails offer a lot of shade when they are lined with trees. If we are hiking on sunny days we like to use the shadier trails for extra protection against the sun and heat especially when we have our little kids with us. Trails that lead to waterfalls or that are along rivers and streams are always a great way to cool off when its extra warm out. My kids LOVE to play in the water – so water trails are always a win for us any time of year!

Mineral Sunscreen. This will ensure maximum sun protection. Spf of 50 or higher will give you the best protection and is best applied every 2-3 hours when you are in the sun all day.  We found that we like mineral sunscreens best. Zinc Oxide and titanium oxide offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays without harmful chemicals that some sunscreens have.  Sunscreen has been a hot topic the past few years with some popular brands being recalled from store shelves. So I make sure to always check the ingredient list for what I am comfortable putting on our skin. EWG can also be a resource for the best sunscreens on the market today.                              

Lotions offer better protection than the sprays, although spray sunscreen can be more convenient especially when using on children.

Anti Inflammatory foods. While this might not be an obvious choice, veggies and antioxidant rich foods help reduce skin inflammation and fight free radicals in your cells which can help protect your skin from over sun exposure. Healthy fats rich in omega 3s like fish, eggs, flaxseed and walnuts can also be a great addition to your diet. How cool is that? Not only do healthy foods make you feel great on the inside, they actually provide support for your body on the outside too!

Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated will always lead to a better hiking experience when it is sunny and warm.  While this won’t technically provide sun protection, it’s always a good idea to drink plenty of fluids so you can feel your best on the trail. Dehydration can become dangerous fast, especially on the mountain. So make sure to drink enough water throughout the day and add in electrolytes to replenish what you sweat out.

We have a lot of fun new hikes and backpacking trips planned for this summer and hope you do too! So take time to enjoy the trails and stay safe in the sun at the same time!!

Are there any other tips you have for hiking during the summer? Drop them in the comments!!

9 thoughts on “Hiking and Sun Protection

  1. Our summer is a killer for hiking and I do most of mine in autumn/winter/spring but it is still sunny. I love these tips, look forward to seeing your photos and hearing about your hikes.

    1. Ahh yes middle of summer can be soooo hot sometimes!! Especially lately in Utah it just always feels hot and dry! So We love spring and fall hiking too when the temps aren’t as brutal! 😂

  2. Small boy had his choice of activities on his own with his dad on Sunday. He chose a hike up our local big hill, quite hard going if your aren’t fit or in the wrong shoes. Apparently small boy ran up most of it.

  3. These are all great tips to hiking when it’s hot and sunny outside. I usually try to wear a baseball cap too as it’s a great way to keep your face and scalp shaded. Even though water can be heavy, I’ve never regretted packing too much.

    1. Yes to the water!! I ALWAYS bring a lot and a water filter- and never regret it! 😂 especially in the middle of the summer it can make or break a hike for us- I’ve learned the hard way a few times so now I know to always be prepared and then some 😂

  4. I grew up in the 1950’s before we had any awareness of the damage sun can do to skin. Nearly everyone I know has had to have things removed from their heads or faces. I have dark spots on my cheeks where the sun hit when I swam and road my bike endlessly outdoors. Fortunately I never bathed myself in baby oil and lay in the sun for hours as did many of my friends. I found it too boring. Now I wear mineral based sunscreen, dark glasses and a large floppy hat.

    1. I was one of the teenagers who laid in the sun baking in baby oil🤦🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️ what I wish I could tell myself back then! At least I know better now😂 lol and I love a good floppy hat!! Great sun protection and so cute too!

  5. A hat and sunglasses are always a must for me. I like those light little climbing hoodies as well! They’re nice to wear on super sunny days! I can never bring myself to wear pants in the summertime, ever! I just lather up that sunscreen reaaall good!!

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