Survival Guru

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Q: What should I wear for desert hiking?

When you're hiking in the desert during the summer, is it best to be fully clothed or to wear minimal clothing? What outfit would you recommend?
— The Editors
Santa Fe, New Mexico

By: Question from: ,

Free Newsletters

Dispatch This week's featured articles, reviews, and videos. Sent twice weekly.
News From the Field The most important breaking news from around the Web. Sent daily.
Outside GOOur hottest adventure-travel tips and trips. Sent occasionally.
Outside Partners Outside-approved deals and special offers from select partners. Sent occasionally.

Subscribe
to Outside
Save Over
70%

Magazine Cover

iPad Outside+ App Access Now Included!

Advertisement

Four-Star Camp Food

$ad.smallDesc

$ad.smallDesc

$ad.smallDesc

A:

E.F. Adolph was a physiologist commissioned by the Department of Defense during WWII to gather data on U.S. Army recruits training in the Mojave Desert. He wrote a landmark book called Physiology of Man in the Desert, which documented his groundbreaking and much needed work. He found that a person who remains clothed will survive 25% longer than someone walking around in shorts and t-shirt. The more skin that is exposed to the sun and wind the more evaporation occurs. So keep covered! Take a lesson from the cowboys who are covered from head-to-toe and even wear gloves and a bandanna on their neck. If you don't remain clothed, you will become jerky!

My preferred outfit is to wear cotton/poly (5.11 brand) pants, lightweight hiking boots, SmartWool socks, cotton/nylon long-sleeve shirt, brimmed (Tilley brand) hat, sunglasses, and a wet bandanna around my neck when hiking in the intense heat. (Note: In addition to the 5.11 brand of clothing, Filson also makes some excellent, but pricey, clothing designed for safari outfitters and desert trekkers.)

The less exposed skin, the better. When I get into camp after backpacking all day, I will shed some layers and let my body soak up the cooler air. This involves donning sandals, shorts, and a t-shirt while replenishing my body with a hearty dinner combined with a dose of salt along with some electrolyte replacement drinks before going to bed.

If you are ever lost in the desert, remain clothed, get shade-hungry, and hole up under a tree or boulder, and stay hydrated.

More at Outside

Next in Adventure (50 of 101)

Where can I learn to track summer game?

Read More »
Current Issue Outside Magazine

Subscribe and get a great deal! Two free Buyer's Guides plus a free GoLite Sport Bottle. Monthly delivery of Outside—your ultimate resource for today's active lifestyle. All that and big savings!

Free Newsletters

Dispatch This week's featured articles, reviews, and videos. Sent twice weekly.
News From the Field The most important breaking news from around the Web. Sent daily.
Gear of the Day The latest products, reviews, and editors' picks. Coming soon.
Outside Partners Outside-approved deals and special offers from select partners. Sent occasionally.

Ask a Question

Our gear experts await your outdoor-gear-related questions. Go ahead, ask them anything.

* We might edit your question for length or clarity. If it's not about gear, we'll just ignore it.