The Okanagan has countless hikes in and around the valley that could keep you entertained forever. When you’re out exploring, it’s important to remember that parts of the Okanagan are semi-arid and have unique challenges due to the summer’s sweltering heat. To really enjoy everything the beautiful valley has to offer, these Okanagan hiking essentials will keep you safe and happy.
1. Water, Water + More Water
Water is the first on the 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. I’ve written about staying hydrated in the heat so you can keep yourself safe.
Hydration packs are my favourite way to bring water on any hiking adventure. I stay way more hydrated when I use a hydration pack instead of a water bottle because I have easy access to water the entire time. They’re lifesavers while hiking — you can carry lots of water and easily access it at every moment.
I’m also huge believers of reusable bottles. Not only are they environmentally friendly, but the plastic doesn’t leach into your water from the heat. I love my S’well bottles because they keep my water ice-cold even when in direct sunlight. I can’t count the number of times I’ve left my S’well bottles baking in the car only to enjoy ice cold water from it. They’re a little expensive but totally worth it.
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Use sunscreen! If you think you’ve used enough, put more on. I’m serious. The sun is scorching and is just waiting to bite your exposed skin here in the Okanagan. A sunburn is a surefire way to 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. Be sure to wear SPF lip chap to protect your lips as well.
3. Watch the Weather
Most summer days here in the Okanagan are sunny and hot! We don’t get much rain and storms don’t often roll in. However, with the heat come dangerously dry conditions and forest fires. And with the fires come smoke.
The summers of 2017 and 2018 saw some of the worst smoke I’ve ever experienced here in the Okanagan. We were literally confined to our homes because ash fell from the sky. If you happen to be in the Okanagan during such extreme fires, don’t go on a hike. The ash gets into your lungs and can damage your body. Play it safe and stay indoors.
4. A Brimmed Hat
I always make sure to pack a brimmed hat when I’m hiking in the hot Okanagan heat. Not only does it keep the bright sun out of my eyes,
When we start to feel too hot we simply drench it 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.
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).
6. Healthy Snacks
Hiking in the sweltering heat can really wear you down. Make sure to bring healthy snacks like peas, granola bars, and nutty cookies 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 they’re hiking, it’s important to be prepared if you do. Besides knowing bear safety, always carry bear spray and a knife.
8. First Aid Equipment
No matter where you explore, it’s important to pack first aid equipment. 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. The one time I didn’t carry a first aid kit we needed it! My feet swelled up and almost started to bleed — a simple bandage would have made a world of a difference on that adventure. Do yourself a favour and carry a small first aid kit on every hike.
If you pack these Okanagan hiking essentials, you’re sure to have a great time out there in the hot sun! Happy exploring!
These Okanagan hiking essentials will keep you safe while you explore the Okanagan. If you’re looking for fun places to explore, make sure to check out our Okanagan Bucket List! It features adventures from all around the valley.