Summer is coming. For many of us, the ice has cracked, the snow has fled, and the parks are once again open for some serious fun. But with great weather comes great responsibility. The sun burns, the bugs bite, the heat parches, and the kilometers blister. None of those are deal-breakers, though, provided you prepare.
The best sunscreen
Like Superman, we're powered by the rays of our strong yellow sun. But what makes us stronger can also burn us. That's why really good sun screen is an absolute must for anyone spending any time outside this summer.
According to The Sweethome's Shannon Palus, this is what you need:
[If] you're outside, you should be applying a full shot glass's worth of sunscreen to your near-naked body about once an hour in order to get adequate protection with your sunscreen. That's a lot. Which means the best sunscreen needs to be affordable.
You need your skin for life, so take care of it.
A great hat
It could be for your favorite sports team. It could be for your best-loved geek franchise. It could be from the latest fashion line or simply surplus. Whatever the branding — or lack thereof — the important thing is that it keeps the sun off your head and provides shade for your eyes.
Depending on where you live and how you style, a ball cap, a cowboy hat, even a pith helmet is fine. Kangol and fez, no matter how bowtie-cool you may find it, don't have the brims you need to keep the sun from making you squint.
I'm of two minds about headphones. Sometimes I can't stand hiking with headphones because all I want to hear is the rain, the river, the birds, and the wind. Other times the honking and hollering of city streets practically forces me into listening to podcasts or music. Either way, a great set of headphones are either a must-have or a must have ready.
Recently I've gone wireless. Being constrained by battery life has definite drawbacks but my ears have been worn down enough by grappling that wired headphones simply don't stay in. (What a different the lack of pull makes.)
I prefer AirPods to BeatsX, because when I go wireless I want to go wireless. But Apple still hasn't managed to keep them in stock, so buy what's available. I also really like PowerBeats as well, because the loop can keep them on any ear through just about anything.
Sunglasses aren't just about looking cool. OK, they're a lot about looking cool, but they're also about protecting your eyes. Anything and everything from particulates to UV light can get into and damage your eyes while you're out and about, especially if you're out an about at velocity on a bike, board, boat or skates.
If you're just strolling around town or picnicking in the park, any old dime-store or boutique lenses could do. If you're working out, be it prepping for a marathon or hunting down Pokémon or portals, you need more serious shades.
Bob Howells, writing for The Wirecutter:
What differentiates sport shades from the ones you wear for driving or around town? The degree of protectiveness is the short answer. Chances are, your around-town sunglasses (like eyeglasses, if you wear them) are almost flat. They don't hug your face. They permit a fair amount of stray wind and light to reach your eyes. They may have glass lenses, which can shatter in an impact situation (a stray pebble that kicks up, or a header while you're mountain biking). Glass lenses have awesome clarity and are highly scratch-resistant, but they're not practical for really active pursuits.
For a less sporty, more budget pick, his colleagues like the ZeroUV Longhorn.
Pounding the pavement is as brutal on your feet as it sounds. Cement and asphalt are hard and, the latter especially, can get HOT. If you're on the trails, there are rocks, thorns, and trash to worry about as well. So, if you want your feet to last, and with a minimum of blisters and strain, get good shoes.
For most activities, I love Nike Free. Your feet were designed to move, so the less that comes between them and movement, the better. (I get the lowest number I can find and take the soles out so my Nike are extra free.)
They're the next best thing to being barefoot in a world strewn with enough sharp objects to demand adequate protection.
Portable battery pack
No drain, no gain! It's goofy but it's true: Many outdoor activities demand a lot of power. If your Apple Watch is in workout mode, the heart rate monitor is firing. If your iPhone is being used to battle in Pokémon Gyms or navigate through a national park, the screen is lit and the GPS is hard at work.
Anything that keeps the screen and the radios on will hit the battery hard. So, if you know you'll be out for a good long while and you'll be using your gear on the go, play it safe and bring a power pack with you. That way, if you suddenly find your batteries running low, you don't have to cut your day short. You can simply plug in and keep playing — or at least get enough of a charge to reach a plug before it's too late.
If you have a backpack with you, I like the mophie powerstation XX because it can charge multiple devices multiple times. If you're sticking strictly to pockets or fanny packs, the TravelCard is great. If you have an iPhone but want it to be more like an iPhone Plus when you're out and about, Apple's Smart Battery Case has efficiency that simply can't be beat.
Water, water, water
It's critically important to stay hydrated when you're out, especially in the heat. That means drinking water regularly. You can find a fountain or Apple Pay for a bottle whenever you need it, but by the time you're thirsty you're already late.
If you have a backpack or even a decent-sized pocket or pack, keep some water with you and sip regularly. Otherwise, make sure you stop regularly to refresh. Set a timer if you have to. Do the environment a solid and use a Klean Kanteen or whatever water bottle you like best. Plenty of places give them away as marketing swag, so you should be able to find one cheap if not free.
Then keep it with you, keep it filled, and keep on drinking.
Take breaks, keep cool
No matter how well prepare you are, the heat can sometimes be too much. If there are warnings about UV levels or air quality, if it's too hot or too humid, or if you've simply had enough — stop. There's no prize for sunstroke, sunburn, or dehydration, other than dizziness, discomfort, and disruption.
So, take breaks when you need them and, if it gets bad outside, duck inside. If you really need to fill your rings or kill your step count, walk laps in a nice, air-conditioned mall for a while or wait until dusk and things cool down.
Play the long game and workout smarter, not harder.
Your top summer survival tips?
Nothing beats the great outdoors but with a few simple steps you can prevent the great outdoors from beating you. That way, you're not just surviving the summer — you're thriving in it. If you have any great tips or tricks for enjoying life in the heat, drop them in the comments below!
This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.