I hate summer heat in Phoenix – and Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™d hate it in any other hot, desert city. But you know what? Itâ€™s not so much the heat that bothers me. Itâ€™s the people who donâ€™t know how to deal with it. Iâ€™m going to clue you all in based on my experience living here since 1980.
Stop Obsessing Over the Temperature
Right, thatâ€™s it: No more posting graphics about the forecast. No checking the forecast. Look, you donâ€™t need to know whether itâ€™s going to be 95 or 125. In this case, knowledge isnâ€™t power. There is literally nothing you can do as a result of knowing the exact temperature that will make summer heat in a desert any more comfortable or any less challenging. Youâ€™re gonna be hot until October, and thatâ€™s simply all there is to it. Whether itâ€™s 95 0r 135, you should take exactly the same steps. Repeat it with me: Exactly. The. Same. Steps. The only impact knowing the temperature has is psychological, and it’s demoralizing rather than helpful.
Drink a Lot of Water, Already
I donâ€™t want to hear anyone say â€œbut you can drink too much water, too.â€ Tell you what – come up with a sourced number of people who have died from hyperhydration Â (aka, drinking too much water) in a given year. Then, Iâ€™ll reply with stats from the same year from dehydration deaths. Guess which one will be astronomically higher.
Iâ€™m now at 6â€™2, 198 pounds. I usually drink north of a gallon a day – more if I do anything outdoor. Oh, and it helps to know how to drink water. Donâ€™t sip it: Pound a quart per sitting if you can. Read Cody Lundinâ€™s â€œ98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Aliveâ€ for the science behind it. Something salty to go with your water or even an electrolyte tablet now and then will also help. I have a post with more advice about hydration.
Get Out In It
If you do nothing but scuttle from air-conditioned area to air-conditioned area, you will never acclimate an iota to the summer heat. You need to spend at least some time in the heat. That doesnâ€™t mean you need to be stupid about it, so dress right, wear sunscreen and – I canâ€™t possibly say this enough – drink your damn water.
What does dressing right mean? On days I head to the office, I wear breathable, light clothes. Fortunately, I work in a place where people wonâ€™t think twice about my Eddie Bauer Guide Pro pants and (discontinued, damnit) Mountain Hardware McClane shirt.
On my own time, I favor my Onno hemp t-shirts and â€¦ well, pretty much the same sort of pants I wear to work. I donâ€™t believe in shorts. If Iâ€™ll be in the heat a long time, Iâ€™ll cover my head with something. And I never, ever hike without a pretty good bunch of gear that works for me; one of the more unusual items is a shemagh, which is great for covering up from the sun or even any sudden dust storms that blow in (yes, that happens in the summer).
Why no shorts? Because I like to cover skin from the sun. If I were really smart, Iâ€™d probably opt for a long-sleeve version of my hemp t-shirts. Look at traditional Arab dress – itâ€™s light, flowing and layered. Great for insulation from the summer heat. Oh, and avoid wicking materials. They dry too quickly to cool you. Stick with quality cotton or – as I prefer – hemp or bamboo blends. Theyâ€™ll keep you cooler and wonâ€™t make you stink.
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