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Sun Protection While Backpacking

We love the sun as much as the next person, but try to limit our exposure as much as possible while backpacking.

Below is a list of our suggestions for how to protect yourself from the sun while backpacking:

  • If you read anything on sun protection, one of the first suggestions is to avoid hiking during mid-day, when the sun is at it's strongest. While it is not possible to entirely avoid backpacking during the hottest part of the day, we do recommend waking up early to get a head start on the heat.

  • Wear sunscreen! You can skip out on most other personal hygiene products while backpacking, but do not forget your sunscreen. We recommend bringing at least SPF 30, and applying it throughout the day.

  • Wear a hat— we prefer wearing a ball cap while backpacking. If you are used to wearing a wide-brim hat, try it out with your backpack before you leave for your trip. Sometimes the back of the hat will bump into your backpack, so make sure you try it out and adjust your pack before you hit the trail.

  • Bring pants and long sleeves, just in case. While you don't have to hike in them the whole time, having a pair of pants and long sleeve shirt is essential to cover your skin during the hottest part of the day.

  • Speaking of long sleeve shirts, we LOVE sun hoodies. These are lightweight and are typically made with UV protectant material, so they keep the sun off of you as much as possible. The best thing about a sun hoodie specifically is the lightweight hood that protects your neck and ears. Wear a ball cap with one of these and you are set!

  • Another great piece we've found are sun gloves. They are made from the same UV protectant material, and keep you hands protected from the sun.

  • Wear sunglasses! Make sure your sunglasses provide UVA and UVB protection. We also recommend having polarized glasses, they make everything in nature stand out more.

Signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and recommended treatment:

Heat Exhaustion:

Inability to cope with heat stress.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea and/or vomiting

  • Muscle cramps

  • Elevated heart rate and respiratory rate

  • Dizziness


  1. Rest, preferably in shade to avoid further heat stress

  2. Hydrate

  3. Use gentle stretching to treat muscle cramps

Heat Stroke:

Exaggerated heat production and inability to cool down due to extreme heat challenge or exertion. This is a life-threatening situation.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Change in level of responsiveness, becoming disoriented, combative, irritable or unresponsive

  • Decreased coordination, balance and speech

  • Elevated heart rate and respiratory rate

  • Hallucinations and/ or seizures

  • Body temperature above 104°F


  1. Aggressive cooling (spray with water, fan, immerse in water)

  2. Rapid removal from heat


When the body has less water or other fluids than it needs to carry on normal functioning.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Thirst

  • Fatigue, headache, weakness, irritability

  • Decreased urine output and/or dark-colored urine

  • History of inadequate water intake


  1. Drink enough water to make you not thirsty anymore, could take time


Excessive water intake that dilutes sodium in the blood.

Signs and symptoms:

  • History of excessive water intake, usually over four or more hours

  • Headache, unusual weakness or fatigue

  • Swelling and/or bloating

  • Nausea and/or vomiting


  1. Restrict water intake

  2. Eat salty snacks to restore some of the sodium in blood

  3. Rest until symptoms are no longer present

Recommendations to prevent heat-related illnesses:

  • Keep hydrated and avoid overhydration.

  • Amount of water needed per day depends on the individual, environment and activity, but 3-4 liters of water per day is a good starting point for most people.

  • Start early, and try to avoid being active in the hottest part of the day.

For more information, read "Preventing and Treating Heat Illness" from NOLS

Be smart and safe, and enjoy the sun this summer!


Featured Trip: Cascade Corner

“Cascade Corner” refers to the southwest corner of the park, and it’s easy to see why — this guided trip through Yellowstone follows the Bechler River and its many cascading waterfalls. You have the chance to experience the solitude of backcountry geysers, soak in hot springs, gaze into crystal-clear rivers, and enjoy the vast and expansive Bechler Meadows. This backpacking trip offers a little bit of everything.

Come see why so many people call this the best backpacking trip in all of Yellowstone!

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