6 Essential Heat and Sun Protection Items – You Need In Your Backpack

As the weather starts to get warmer, many are looking forward to a wide range of outdoor adventures, from hiking scenic trails to setting up camp nearby lakes or canyons. However, one thing all outdoor enthusiasts must prepare for is intense heat. An NPR article explains that extreme weather conditions can bring about various health risks, to the extent that heat kills more people on average than other weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes. 

Although the human body can regulate its own temperature through sweat, high temperatures with equally high humidity can also lead to not just dehydration but also severe health consequences, including heart attack, kidney failure, and organ failure by heatstroke. To minimize these risks and ensure a safe and healthy outdoor trip, here are six essential heat and sun protection items to put in your backpack.


One of the most common consequences of staying under the sun for prolonged periods is sunburn. Leaving your skin unprotected can also increase the risk of premature aging and skin cancer. So, it’s best to apply sunscreen, especially to the most sensitive and exposed areas like the arms, neck, face, and legs. 

When choosing a sunscreen, board-certified dermatologists interviewed by USA Today recommend opting for the mineral type. Mineral sunscreens are not only more environmentally friendly than the chemical kind, but they’re also preferred for active ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which provide a broader spectrum of coverage. Additionally, ensure that your sunscreen has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 for protection against the sun’s ultraviolet rays.


Besides skin damage, the sun’s UV rays can also affect the eyes, raising the risk of developing eye conditions like cataracts and photokeratitis. Since it’s unsafe to apply sunscreen directly on the eyes, you can wear sunglasses as your line of defense against UV radiation.

In this case, Oakley sunglasses are among the most reliable options, as their lenses are made of a proprietary Plutonite material to effectively block out 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Besides stylish and functional designs like the minimalist Holbrook and high-coverage BiSphaera, the frames feature the lightweight O Matter material for optimal comfort, no matter how long you wear them for hiking and camping.

UV protective clothing

Another effective way to protect yourself from the heat and the sun is to wear appropriate clothing. For instance, the clothing brand Claudent offers a wide range of apparel with a UV protection factor (UPF) that provides up to 98% of broad-spectrum coverage. The most recent collection features 12 garment pieces perfect for outdoors, such as long-sleeved tops, bodysuits, skirts, biker shorts, and neck shrugs.

Alternatively, your choice of protective clothing can also depend on the specific outdoor activity you’re planning. A previous post entitled ‘What Makes a Fishing Shirt Special?’ highlights how fishing shirts from brands like Simms feature not only moisture-wicking technology for comfort and breathability but also UPF ratings of 30 or higher for maximum sun protection.

Sun hat

Lastly, you can complete your backpacking wardrobe by packing a sun hat. Because the scalp, face, and neck are often exposed to the sun and thus more sensitive to heat and UV damage, wearing a sun hat can provide additional protection. When choosing a sun hat, prioritize materials like nylon, cotton, and linen, as these are lightweight, durable, and breathable.

Hydration pack

As mentioned earlier, extreme heat conditions can contribute to signs of dehydration, as you lose more fluids through sweating. Fortunately, you can bring a water bottle or hydration pack to meet the recommended levels of water intake. While the specific amount depends on factors like your age, your body type, and the outdoor activity’s level of intensity, it’s generally recommended to drink at least an 8-ounce cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes.

Cooling towel

Lastly, you’d want to bring a cooling towel to experience immediate relief while you run, trek, or hike. Outdoor-oriented brand REI offers a Co-op Cooling Towel, which you can wet down and wring out to serve as a cooling system and neck coverage by itself or under a hat. Besides offering UPF 50+ sun protection, the towel is small and foldable, allowing easy and convenient storage in your outdoor backpack.

As you add these essentials to your packing list, remember to watch out for signs of dehydration and heat strokes throughout your outdoor trip, which include heavy sweating, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea.

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