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Extreme Heat Camping

So when you decide to venture out to death valley in August and it is 135, these basic tips might help make your trip a little more enjoyable. I have been in tons of heat camping situations, I even lived in a tent for an uninterrupted 5 months over a summer in the New Mexico Desert. I have discovered a few things about keeping cool. Here is my list of ways to beat the heat:

Make friends with the shade. When I was in New Mexico I would carry a Tyvek tarp that I put grommets in to make a porta-shade. Tyvek worked well because it is super tough, super light, and white, which helps it radiate heat. This extra weight was worth the full 13 oz. Along with some 3mm cord, it can be your best friend. Remember that in dry climates the shade can make a 20 degree or more difference.

Keep hydrated. Seems easy, but it isn't always, when you sweat, you lose water, and if it is really hot, the sweat will evaporate so fast that you may never feel it. So you need to keep drinking constantly, even if you don't think it is necessary. In fact, You should know that once you feel thirsty you are beginning to get dehydrated. Also when you sweat, you lose electrolytes. If you don't replace them, your body is unable to retain the water you drink. To replace them there are many options, one that I fancy is Camelback Elixir.

Move at night. Moving creates heat, so to keep cool, staying still helps immensely. Try to stay still and in the shade during the hottest time of the day usually 2-5pm. Start your days early. If you can't finish by noon, relax until the evening hours and finish your hike as it cools off. Your pack will make you hotter, and so will hiking. If you get stuck be prepared with a book, a deck of cards or something to do.

Dress Light. Keeping cool with high quality performance clothing from a company like The North Face can help keep you from getting too hot. Something that gives a high UPF rating to help block the sun, and something that is lightweight, breathable, and not too absorbent. Patagonia Clothing also makes Capiline, a great product for this purpose.

Put all your water inside your pack. Putting your fluids inside your pack opposed to in the outside mesh pockets may seem inconvenient, but it will keep it out of the sun, so it stays cool all day long. There is almost nothing harder than trying to force yourself to drink steamy hot waterin 120 degree weather.

Find a Breeze. The cooling sensation from a nice cross breeze is quite magnificent. Thus, you should try to pick a rest spot where you will get some good cross wind, it will keep you cool and comfortable, if you've got your porta-shade, it should be easy to find a spot almost anywhere with both shade and a breeze.

Eat cold food. Eating warm food will raise your core temperature, making you feel hotter than ever. Eating food that does not require heating will help you stay cool. Fruits have a high water ratio also, so they help to cool you off and stay hydrated.

Cover your head. Wearing a hat is a great idea, it helps keep your head in the shade which is a major influencer in how hot you feel, but it also helps your head stay cool. A quality hat with moisture management will help keep your head cool and comfortable. Another tip is in super hot situations where you have lots of available water, you can soak the hat and cool off your head.

Use that bandanna. A bandanna to shield your neck can be very beneficial. grab a white or lightly colored one to cast off the sun, and get it wet if you have enough water, keeping your head and neck cool will help the most.

Adventures in the desert can be great if you know how to deal with the harsh weather. The desert offers its own brand of beauty and serenity. As Edward Abbey said, "Strolling on, it seems to me that the strangeness and wonder of existence are emphasized here, in the desert, by the comparative sparsity of the flora and fauna: life not crowded upon life as in other places but scattered abroad in spareness and simplicity, with a generous gift of space for each herb and bush and tree, each stem of grass, so that the living organism stands out bold and brave and vivid against the lifeless sand and barren rock. The extreme clarity of the desert light is equaled by the extreme individuation of desert life-forms."