As an official desert, hiking in the Okanagan presents its own set of challenges, particularly in the heat of the summer. If you’re thinking about heading out for a hike, make sure to follow this Okanagan hiking packing list to make sure you have the best experience possible.
There’s lots to see, so make sure you’re prepared for it!
1. Water, water, and more water
I can’t stress this enough. In the summer, the temperatures in the Okanagan often reach above 35 °C (95 °F). Unless you’re in the lake, you’ll start sweating just by standing. Once you start hiking, your sweat will immediately kick up a few levels and you’ll burn out fast if you aren’t hydrating. Without water, you’ll also run the risk of heat stroke.
Try to keep your water out of disposable plastic bottles as the plastic will leach into your water from the heat. Besides tasting really bad, drinking plastic-infused-water isn’t good for you. I love my Swell bottles, which keep my water ice-cold even in the sweltering Okanagan heat. I also always fill up my water bladder with ice cubes before heading out – it helps keep the water cold and the plastic from heating up.
Make sure to stay hydrated out there!
2. A brimmed hat
Next to water, a brimmed hat is your best friend. Not only will it help keep the bright sun out of your eyes, it’ll help keep your head from overheating. If you’re starting to feel really warm, pour some water over it – it’s like a breath of fresh air. Your hat will also keep your head out of direct sunlight, which will keep your face and scalp from getting sunburnt.
Even with a brimmed hat shielding the sun, you’ll want to protect your eyes. The sun is usually out to play in the summer and it can really hurt and dry out your eyes if you don’t protect them. Make sure your glasses have UV protection – if they don’t, you might as well leave them at home.
This one might seem a little unorthodox, but the number of times I’ve been thankful for tweezers while hiking is innumerable.
If you’re planning on doing more than pulling off the highway for a 50-foot walk to a viewpoint, you’ll want to bring a pair of tweezers. It’s easy to get a sliver while climbing a wooden staircase or exploring the forest. What’s not easy is getting that sliver out. You don’t want to be digging it out with a sharp rock (been there, it’s not fun).
You also need to be wary of ticks, as there are many areas where it’s easy to pick them up. It’s essential to remove them right away, so many sure to pack your tweezers.
5. Healthy snacks
Hiking in the sweltering heat can really wear you down. Make sure you bring some healthy snacks, like peas, watermelon, and nuts, to help refresh you; it’s also a great excuse to take a break in the shade. Don’t bring things like sandwiches or wraps as they often go soggy from the heat. If you bring fruit, make sure to put it in containers so that it doesn’t get squished.
Use sunscreen! If you think you’ve used enough, put more on. I’m not kidding. The sun is scorching and is just waiting to bite your exposed skin. A sunburn is a surefire way ruin your day, not to mention increase your risk of skin cancer.
7. Bear spray
There are lots of wild animals in the Okanagan. From deer and big-horned sheep to bears and cougars, you could run into an animal anywhere, even in downtown areas. While most people don’t ever see a large animal while hiking, it is possible. Make sure you’re prepared by researching bear safety and bringing bear spray.
8. Always, always bring a camera
The Okanagan is a gorgeous valley with thousands of picturesque views. With waterfalls and panoramic views as plentiful as the valley’s wine selection, you don’t want to miss capturing a once-in-a-lifetime shot. It’s hard to take a bad picture of the Okanagan.
Follow this Okanagan hiking packing list and you’re sure to have a great time out there. Let me know if there’s anything you wouldn’t leave the house without!
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