Summertime is an endless buffet of outdoor activities. My typical day starts before sun up, logging miles on a trail with my dog. I’ll hop in to my SXS, with a flyrod rack on top, and my mountain bike loaded on the back, and head to the office where I’ll work all day in dusty running shorts (it’s good to be the boss), because the minute the work is done, I’ll be back out for a couple hours on the river or an evening mountain bike ride, taking advantage of those long, precious, Utah summer days. But clear roads, warm temps, and longer days can almost lull you into a sense of safety after a cold, dark winter. As with any season, there’s plenty of reasons to keep vigilant. So in honor of all of you out there squeezing every drop out of summer, here are my essential tips and a few gear suggestions for summertime survival.
I’m just going to say it: I hate sunscreen. I start sweating and it runs in my eyes. It gets on my truck seats. It collects dust that sticks to your skin. But sun protection is a must, so I live in a lightweight hoody in the summer. Two of my favorites are the Black Diamond Alpenglow and the Sitka Core Lightweight Hoodie. SPF protection and a brush guard all in one, they breathe well, dry fast, repel dust and bug bites, and look good in the process.
I run hot. And so does my sidekick, a 120-pound Swiss Mountain Dog. On hot days, the duration of our adventures are directly proportional to how much water I can carry. I hydrate early, and often, and make sure I’m topped off when I depart from my truck. Making sure you’ve got accessible water within striking distance can be a lifesaver, and in my opinion, water is one of the few things worth its weight when trying to stay light. Just make sure you find a way to keep it from bouncing around.
In addition to carrying water on me, I keep a YETI Silo, topped off with six gallons of water, in the back of my truck. Whether for drinking or cooling someone down in case of overheating or dehydration, water is life. On muddy or dusty days, having extra water to wash off your gear before you get in your truck is a nice touch, not to mention saving you from swinging in to your local 7-11 and spending your hard-earned cash on bottled water those times you run short.
There are few brands I have used longer or more frequently than Garmin. I’ve been wearing some version of their Fenix series for over a decade, and to say it’s integral to my day, is an understatement. Not only is it going to track your fitness progress, but it can guide you back to your starting point if you get lost, warn you when your heart rate is too high, and even give you a storm alert when conditions quickly change. The newest versions have a built-in flashlight if you stay out a bit longer than expected, and can alert you if it thinks you are getting sick—just a ton of useful data that I leverage on a daily basis. If you’re a hunter, the new Tactix offers all the Fenix line has, plus several hunting-specific features I’ve been loving, like dropping pins on elk wallows and even ballistic calculations.
I’ve already justified carrying water, so last thing you want to do is be weighed down by more gear. BUT… the thing about first aid, is that when you need it, you better have it close and not back at the trailhead. Whether a few too many beers talked you in to a rope swing maneuver that went astray, or you run out of talent on your mountain bike, make sure you’ve got the proper gear to get yourself patched up. My company built the Triage Kit for this exact reason. It’s 130 grams, and filled with first aid and gear repair tools, to keep you and your gear on your adventure. MeI, and most of my adventurous friends, carry one almost all the time, and it will come in handy more than you expect, whether treating a blister or zip-tying a piece back to your bike. It’s designed to be so low profile, it’ll fit in your shorts pockets, chest pocket, or bike jersey without a problem, and I will guarantee you that at some point, it’s going to save the day.
This one may seem like an outlier, but stick with me… See what I did there? I am a huge fan of Body Glide. Specifically, the stuff that looks like a deodorant stick. Before any long activity, I cover any friction areas, because nothing ruins a day more than a hotspot that leaves you hobbling home like a cowboy who’s spent too many days in a new saddle. Yeah, you’re probably thinking crotch and armpits, which are both key, but I’ve also found covering the bottom of my foot exponentially reduces blisters on long adventures. And if you’re wearing a hip pack or backpack, putting some around where the straps apply weight from the pack will also help keep you more comfortable as the day wears on.
These are some of the most important pieces of kit that help keep me in my happy places longer. I hope you find the same. Until next time, happy trails.