Summer Hiking Essentials


Gear Guide, Hike Reports / Friday, July 10th, 2020

Summer is here and I’ve put together a quick pack list of some of my must-have items for hiking in the sun & heat! While you are out enjoying the trails, lakes, camp, or beach, make sure to protect your skin from UV rays!

5 Must-Have Pack Items for Summer Outdoors

Sun Block

There are two types of sunscreen: chemical sunscreen and physical sunblock. Chemical sunscreen is absorbed into the skin and converts the UV rays into heat and then releases it from the skin, and physical sunblock sits on top of your skin and blocks the UV rays. I’m going to focus on physical sunblock as it seems to be the more popular option for sun protection products in the outdoors industry and what I usually use. Physical sunblock offers instant sun protection (chemical sunscreen needs to be applied 15 mins before sun exposure), is usually thicker, harder to fully absorb into your skin, and comes off faster when you’re sweating… so don’t forget to reapply!

On average, 20% is the highest amount of Zinc Oxide I’ve found in sunblock. Zinc Oxide is a skin protectant and one of the two types of active ingredients in sunblock to protect from UV rays so the higher the concentration the better.

I’ve been a fan of ThinkSport for body sunblock for years, but I recently started using their Everyday Face sunblock for the last two months and absolutely love it. Heck, everyone I’ve introduced it to loves it too so I’m confident you’ll enjoy it as well. It’s actually the reason that sparked this blog post – I’m so thrilled about this product and want y’all to try it out too this summer!

thinksport everyday face sport sunblock

What sets this apart from the other sunblocks I use? There’s a silky, velvety feeling when you apply the sunscreen. It does not feel thick like some of my other favorites. The natural tint blends very well with all skin tones (that I’ve seen) so you don’t need to worry about being white from other sunblocks not fully rubbed in. It’s free of biologically harmful chemicals, does not contain any known chemicals harmful to coral reefs, achieved the highest level of biodegradability testing, has no parabens or BPA, & no this is not sponsored.

Don’t get me wrong, I still like most of the other sunblocks I’ve recommended (Juice Beauty is still a favorite because it’s organic), but this one is great for the face because of the lightness feel to it.

PS – The highest amount of Zinc Oxide in sunblock I’ve found was 23% but I just didn’t like the formula of that particular sunblock. 25% is the highest allowed concentration.

Sun Shirt

There’s a misconception that short sleeves are better for summer hiking but it took me years to learn that you’re better off hiking in a long sleeve when it’s sunny! When you’re in the sun for extended periods of time, wearing a long sleeve will shield your skin from the sun and keep you cooler because you’ll be shaded. It also reduces the risk of sunburns! You will likely still get warm hiking in a long sleeve but ultimately your body will stay cooler than hiking in a short sleeve. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to try it out. Don’t get me wrong, I still like to un-layer once in a while for an instant breeze but I never hike without a baselayer long sleeve and I strongly recommend you to look into this more.

Try to get one with sun protection (UPF) – UPF is the sun protection rating system for clothes (like SPF for sunblock) and my current favs are from Icefloe and Divide long sleeve shirts from Stio as pictured respectively above. They’re lightweight, moisture-wicking, soft, and controls odor!

source: REI

Hydration/ Water Filter

Staying hydrated is extremely important in the heat and wearing a long-sleeve shirt is not a substitute for this. I cannot tell you how much water to pack for a hike as you know your body best, but if you’re hiking near rivers, lakes, or any water sources, a water filter can come in very handy for both day hikes and overnight trips!

BeFree is my favorite because it’s lightweight (about 2 oz), collapsible, filters up to 2 liters of water per minute, and just so dang convenient! It filters up to 1000 liters of contaminated water without using chemicals and removes harmful organisms like bacteria and protozoa 99.9% surpassing EPA standards. It’s easy to use if you’re on-the-go – like any normal water bottle, you just screw off the top (filter is attached on the inside), scoop up water, screw the top back on, and drink directly from or squeeze into another bottle – I use it both ways! 😉

Remember that when you sweat, your body loses salt too so make sure you replenish that with some electrolytes.

Sun Hat

I know, I know… your first thought is you don’t want to look like a dork – but every smart hiker owns a sun hat. The wider the brim, the more protection you get all-around. I’ve been wearing these more to protect the side of my face and even my neck. I understand some people think it looks dorky, but you can always bring a cap to swap out for photos! The two hats I alternate between are both from Sunday Afternoons: the Charter hat is great because it has structure and I can tuck my hair in a bun under to cool down my neck but the Adventure hat has a slightly larger brim, is better to fold/pack away and has neck coverage.

Quick-Drying Towel

If you’re heading to a lake, a quick-drying towel is a must! Yes, you can simply wait to dry off in the sun or use your dirty hiking clothes, but I find it’s nice to always have a small, clean towel… you just never know. They’re usually very compact, can hang from the outside of your backpack and dries within 15 minutes. I like the Sea to Summit Dry Lite Towel (mine is size S)

quick drying towel for hiking

This post is NOT sponsored but includes some affiliate links – I would appreciate if you supported me by shopping through those links if you found any of these to be useful 🙂

If you prefer to shop on REI for dividends instead of Amazon, here are those affiliate links:

Thanks for reading!

Let me know if you have any questions or recommendations below.
Please like and share this with your hiking friends as well!

Don’t forget to practice Leave No Trace

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