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Keeping cool on trek

Keeping cool on trek

How to look after yourself when it's hot

Many Tribal Tracks overseas expeditions take place where the weather can reach very high temperatures. A few examples include Jordan, Morocco, Crete and Borneo, although even here in the UK the heat can make for some uncomfortable walking conditions, if you aren't properly prepared.Of course, Tribal Tracks only travel to our destinations at the most appropriate times of the year, but it is always important that precautions are in place to avoid succumbing to heat-related illnesses that may spoil your day or adventure completely. Here are a couple of tips to help you stay safe and comfortable.

Before the trek

Plan to set off early: It is best to leave for your trek early in the morning when the temperatures are cooler. If you're on a Tribal Tracks expedition, your leader will make sure the group departs at an appropriate time.

If you don't have an experienced leader or local guide with you, check the weather forecast and heat advisories so you know what to expect.

Choosing your clothing: Ideal clothing would be light-colored to reflect sunlight and moisture-wicking to allow sweat to move to the outer layer of the fabric and evaporate quickly. Clothes should be loose-fitting.

Hats: Wear a wide-brimmed hat (a brim of around 3") or a cap with a lightweight scarf, snood, or bandana. Shading your head, face and neck can help reduce your overall temperature.

Your bag: On most Tribal Tracks treks, your main luggage will be transported from A to B for you and you will carry a day sack/rucksack. Ensure it has a good ventilation system (such as ergonomic Air Mesh padding).


  • Suncream - An in-date high-SPF suncream/sunscreen to protect you from the rays
  • A container for water: The more you can carry the better, especially if there might not be an opportunity to fill up for a while. On some Tribal Tracks treks (such as the Crete Sea to Summit) we recommend carrying 3l of water. This can either be in refillable bottles or in something like a water bladder with a straw. We like this method as you can 'sip as you go' although you have to be mindful of keeping the mouthpiece clean.
  • Water purification tablets or similar: If you need to collect water from a spring or river en route, you'll want a way to make sure it's safe to drink. Water purification tablets weigh hardly anything and are pretty inexpensive for that little extra peace of mind.

  • Electrolyte sachets: Drinking lots of water in hot conditions can disrupt your electrolyte balance. During a strenuous trek in the heat, it's important to drink water with added electrolytes to maintain proper hydration and bodily functions.

'Nice to have': 

  • Consider a cooling towel — a towel consisting of three layers - one to absorb moisture and discharge sweat, one to circulate water, and one to regulate evaporation. Soak it, wring out excess water, and put it around your neck — simple. Not only will it help block rays from the sun, but it will keep you cooler for longer.

  • Small rechargeable fans are available to purchase fairly cheaply although remember it's just another bit of kit to carry and recharge — we'd probably err for the towel option above instead.

  • A good old-fashioned lightweight umbrella for your own portable, personal shade. Specialist trekking models are available but a 'normal' lightweight umbrella works too.

During the trek

Stay hydrated: The most obvious thing you can do to help yourself in the heat is to stay hydrated. Drink small amounts of water regularly.

Be aware: Look out for signs of heat exhaustion (including dizziness, feeling sick, headache, weakness, nausea) and the more severe heat stroke (very high temperature, lack of sweating, confusion).

Rest: Take plenty of breaks in the shade to cool down but be mindful that breaks won't leave you walking at the hottest part of the day to get to your destination. If you stop near a water source, take the chance to moisten your towel, snood, t-shirt etc.

Don't exert yourself: If you're struggling to keep up with the group, tell them. The team should walk as fast as the slowest member of the team. If that is you, then so be it. Don't put on a brave face.

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After the trek

Cool down gradually: Although it might be tempting to plunge yourself into the nearest pool of water, you should avoid going from extreme temperatures too quickly as it can have ill-effects on your body.

Stay hydrated: Remember to keep drinking while your body rests and recovers.

Most of the pointers here are fairly common sense tips you'll have heard time and time again, but sometimes it is helpful to have a little reminder before you head off on your expedition. If you'd like to share your favorite ways of keeping cool on trek, or if you have any questions, drop us an email.

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