There’s nothing I love more than waking up to a beautiful blue sky and heading out for a hike. Luckily for us, the Okanagan offers countless hikes in and around the valley that could keep us entertained forever. However, the Okanagan is a desert and presents unique challenges when hiking in the sweltering heat of the summer. To fully enjoy everything the beautiful valley has to offer, we’ve created a unique Okanagan hiking list that keeps us both safe and happy.
1. Water, water, and more water
Water is the first on our list for a reason and I can’t stress it enough. In the summer the temperatures in the Okanagan often reach above 35 °C (95 °F) and dehydration is a real concern. The heat in the Okanagan is very dry and, at the peak of summer, the sun is out for over 16 hours. Without proper hydration, heat stroke is a very real possibility. While it’s important to keep properly hydrated while hiking, it’s equally important while at the beach.
We’re huge believers of reusable bottles. Not only are they environmentally friendly, the plastic doesn’t leach into our water from the heat. I love our S’well bottles, which keep our water ice-cold even when in direct sunlight. I can’t count the number of times I’ve left my S’well bottle baking in the car only to enjoy ice cold water from it. We also always fill up multiple water bladders with ice cubes before heading out which helps keep the water cold and the plastic from heating up. Water bladders are a life saver while hiking — you can carry lots of water and easily access it at every moment.
Make sure to stay hydrated out there!
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. Make sure to reapply your sunscreen periodically to replenish what’s been sweated off.
3. A brimmed hat
We always make sure to pack a brimmed hat when hiking in the hot Okanagan heat. Not only does it keep the bright sun out of your eyes, it helps keep you from overheating. When you start to feel too hot, simply drench your hat in water — it’s like a breath of fresh air! Your hat will also keep your head out of direct sunlight which stops 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 damage 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).
The Okanagan is also a hotspot for ticks in the summer and 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.
6. Healthy snacks
Hiking in the sweltering heat can really wear you down. Make sure to bring healthy snacks like peas, granola bars, and nuts to 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 in the heat. If you bring fruit, make sure to put it in containers so that it doesn’t get squished.
7. Safety equipment
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’s important to be prepared for if you do. Besides researching bear safety, we always make sure we carry bear spray and a knife.
8. First aid equipment
No matter where you explore, it’s important to pack first aid equipment in case you hurt yourself. With so many natural places to explore on your own in the Okanagan, the possibility of twisting an ankle, developing a blister, or worse is very real. Do yourself a favour and carry a small first aid pack on every hike.
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!