Hot Spots - What do you do?
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Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Hot Spots - What do you do? on 03/15/2009 01:06:55 MDT Print View

Hi All,

I have just returned from a solo hike to test out my current gear list for an upcoming annual trip.

One thing that I have been paying attention to more recently is the development of hot spots or areas that seem to get hotter than the rest of my body, an how do I go about reducing that heat.

The areas I noticed are; The feet, my back where a pack would sit, my head under my hat and the top of the inner thigh or groin area.

A hot spot in the feet, as we all know can lead to blisters and general discomfort. I have been experimenting with different socks over the past year and have come down to a pair that seem to work really well in the warmer temperatures here in Australia. My sock of choice is now the Cloud 9 by Defeet. Not forgetting to keep the laces loose.

Heat on the back, well I didnt think there was much that I could do about that, and this area seems to produce the most heat, increasing my overall body temp and generally creating a lot of sweat. On my test trip I managed to get my pack weight down to 6 kg in total, I was very impressed. For the first hour the temp was 25.4 C and the sun has a real bite to it. 5 - 6 Km into the walk I decided to try and carry my pack on one shoulder (Ray Jardine style) and felt this gave some amazing relief. The sweat soon gave a cooling effect when even a dry breeze passed over. I swapped from shoulder to shoulder the remainder of the trip. I have several packs all with some form of air cooling system on the back, none of which were as effective.

The heat on my head is of concern, if prolonged I soon develop a headache which puts a downer on the whole trip. I need to investigate a better ventilated cap rather than my standard baseball cap, any ideas?

Lastly the heat buildup in the groin area, if left, soon turns into chafing which can become painful. I have tried a cream which works well but after days on the trail with no opportunity to really get clean it does become an issue. I am not a big person so weight loss is not something I can afford to do, picture a stick insect with a larger head, thats me! So I was thinking on lycra pants under some light weight shorts, or just the light weight shorts alone. There is nothing to say I need to wear a heavy material short.

Comments, suggestions would be great.

Cheers
Mark

Edited by markmclauchlin on 03/15/2009 01:07:53 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Hot Spots - What do you do? on 03/15/2009 03:14:15 MDT Print View

Hi Mark

OK, since you asked:

> Not forgetting to keep the laces loose.
And choosing shoes which are wide enough, after which most any thick sock works for me.

> carry my pack on one shoulder (Ray Jardine style)
Hum ... interesting. More reports on this please. Maybe only up to a certain weight?

> The heat on my head ... a better ventilated cap rather than my standard baseball cap,
Blimey - a baseball cap under the WA sun? How about a large soft cabbage hat, with a broad brim! Very seriously.

> lycra pants under some light weight shorts
Um ... sounds awful hot to me. Bonds?

Cheers

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: Re: Hot Spots - What do you do? on 03/15/2009 03:49:39 MDT Print View

Hi Roger,

I will answer best I can;

Shoes, yes definately, perhaps I should try out the old Kt26? they look nice and wide? Currently I am using some columbia trail meister's which I like.

Pack, well mine was 6 KG, and I think heavier than that would be an issue. I also found that a pack with all the "extra's" on it made it a little harder, lots of straps to get in the way. A nice basic pack is needed. Which will also save on the weight.

I Laughed at the hat, only because I have worn a baseball hat all my life, and lived all of that in Perth. But a good idea you have, just need to find something thats light and ventilated.

Still stumped on the shorts, lots of research to do there I think.

Cheers
Mark

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Hot spots. on 03/15/2009 04:43:34 MDT Print View

I don't agree that having the laces loose on your shoes will help. In fact, i think that would lead to hot-spots and blisters. Any movement in the shoe can lead to friction, a major cause of blisters.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
chafing on 03/15/2009 08:36:03 MDT Print View

There's something called anti-monkey butt powder you could try for chafing. I used it on my feet last year. It's really nice.

I also saw a nice Sunday Afternoons hat at the garden store of all places. It had vents in front to allow the air in. That doesn't sound as crazy as it actually was. It was more like slots to catch the air than little holes.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
Hot Spots on 03/15/2009 10:17:15 MDT Print View

I strongly suggest that you get your shoes sized about 1/2 size larger. And lace 'em loose. I lace my shoes loose enough so I can pull 'em off without un-tying them.

I use ONLY ONE thin sock. Just a liner sock works fine for me.

I use a tiny bit of Hydropel between my toes - the only place I get blisters. It's a great product.

I use Montrail Hard Rock shoes.

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Hot spots on 03/15/2009 11:58:50 MDT Print View

" I lace my shoes loose enough so I can pull 'em off without un-tying them."

You must be hiking on level, dry trails Mike. If i wore my shoes like that, not only would i get blisters, but i would lose them in every bit of boggy ground, or steep, rocky scramble. I don't fancy digging in a bog to find my shoes, or falling off a rocky ledge because my foot has slipped out of the shoe! ;)

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Hot Spots - What do you do? on 03/15/2009 13:58:43 MDT Print View

Mark,

Some comments based on my experiences. Some options are not 'lightweight' but consider them for dealing with extreme heat. Look at the 'theory' and see if you can use some adaptation of them.

For the past 30+ years I have lived and hiked in the hottest desert in North America, the Lower Colorado. Summer temps in August average 106F, 115F is not uncommon, and I have experienced a high of 125F. So here is my perspective. First of all, desert dwellers need to acclimate and accept a certain degree of persperation and hot spots. Over time, you can tolerate it better. You must stay hydrated at all times and replace lost minerals. Some sports drinks are good for this. A minimum of salt intake can be helpful, and too much salt is bad. You would be surprised how much a few Pringles can perk you up after sweating profusly for a few hours. I also avoid hiking from noon - 4pm whenever possible. With moonlight or a headlamp, I often travel at night. I usually hike in the mountains in the summer, but do make some summer desert trips.

Feet - proper fit of footwear is critical, along with moisture control. I Almost never have blister problems. Also I keep my feet in shape, by wearing my hiking footwear around town. If you have to loosen your laces, your shoes do not fit properly.

For over 20 years I used a pair of heavy leather Danner Mountain Light boots with Cambrelle linings (gasp!). I always used silk liners with a wool sock. I would switch socks several times a day and let the wet socks dry on my pack. When switching socks, I washed my feet with rubbing alcohol and added a little foot powder. This works well in temps over 100F.

I have switched to two other pairs of boots/shoes. The first are a pair of Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra Trail Running Shoes. In the hot desert I wear silk liners with SmartWool trail running socks. In the mountains I wear SmartWool hiking socks without liners, so the sock thickness it about the same. Again ensure the proper fit. There is no loosing of laces. Either they fit correctly, or they do not. At times I do have problems with the Salomons in very sandy or nasty terrain. Sand gets into the shoes because of the breathable material. Also plants and debris can be a problem with the ankle area. Here I may use some low gaiters, but they add heat. Also, the surface temperature of the ground can make the soles of my feet unbearably hot. In these situations I wear a pair of Vasque Synergist Gore-Tex Mid Hiking Boots.

Now people will tell you about the heat problem with Gor-Tex. But I need to keep things from getting inside the boots, while dealing with moisture. These boots get a silk liner with SmartWool hiking sock. The hiking socks do better than thinner trail running socks. Again, I will switch out socks during the day and use rubbing alcohol. I know I will probably get flamed about these boots, but we are talking extreme heat up to 115F at times. These boots are only used for summer desert hiking where sand, brush, cactui and rocks are issues. I prefer the Salomons for most trips.

Frequent changes of socks and foot maintenance is not an efficient technique, but is required for preventing blisters in extreme heat.

Heat on the back - again, you must learn to accept a certain amount of heat and sweat. Your method of carrying on one shoulder works well... with light packs. I often do this with my new ULA Conduit. Hike a coule hours with it on my back, then go for a short time alternating shoulders. Then it goes back to the standard method. But at times I must carry 2 - 3 gallons, or more of water. When you need to carry a lot of water, then 'wasting' water for cooking is out. Depending on how much water I need to carry, I switch to a pack with mesh panels and a frame to support the needed loads of water. I have 3 packs for this. A Kelty Serac which weighs over 7 lbs (double-gasp!), a Deuter Futura Pro 42 which weighs 4 lbs (neither of these are 'light' packs but I am dealing with extreme heat and the need to carry lots of water), and lastly an REI Venturi 30, which weighs just under 2 1/2 lbs. The mesh panels really help with the hot back. The water weight and pack weight is somewhat offset by not needing any sleeping gear, other than a light silk sheet. No rain gear needed, but I carry a light tarp for shade or a possible monsoon rain. Again, this is not lightweight backpacking, it is survival.

Clothing. You need to really look at this. I have a dark complexion, so I usually wear a thin synthetic t-shirt for temps up to 100F. Above this temperature, one must change to something that helps reduce evaporation, which requires long sleeves. From 100F - 110F it is a Rail Riders Adventure Shirt. If I expect higher temps, it is a white Columbia Titainium long sleeve shirt to reflect heat. It doesn't breath as well as the Rail Rider, but it does a much better job reflecing heat.

Hot spots on the thighs - actually this can be worse than blisters on the feet. Constant moisture on the thighs results in fungi growth and painful rashes. Yep, it is fungus. Because my skin is usually tanned and conditioned to the sun, I can get away with shorts. And I am talking breathable and baggy. I can also get by with running shorts with a mesh liner. I never wear underwear. My legs are so thin, that the thighs never rub, but I must avoid constant wet material against the thighs. If I was prone to my thighs rubbing, I would look into a longish and the lightest merino wool underwear I could find (I have not tried this, but it would proably work). Plus, I would be willing to change them several times a day. I would also wash my thighs with rubbing alcohol and maybe even apply some sort of anti-fungal powder. If it was a real problem, I would bite the bullet and bring a small spray can of anti-fungal treatment. You only need to use it at night, and the rash will heal overnight. For many years I worked as an auto mechanic and had the fungi problem during the summer. Temps inside the garage could go over 120F during the heat of the day. This treatment worked well, after suffering many years with rashes.

Heat on the head - WIDE brimed breathable hat!!!! Again, WIDE brimed breathable hat!!!! Nix the baseball cap. I use a Tilley Air Flow. If I have ample water, I place a wet bandanna over my head and under the hat. The evaporation of the water helps regulate heat. As it dries, I soak it again.

I hope this is helpful. Again, I realize that some of these are not lightweight solutions, but they are effective solutions. An interesting perspective is Andy Skurka's Western Loop, and his section from Parker AZ to Morongo Valley CA. From Eagle Mountain to Black Canyon (areas I have hiked extensively), Andy carried 38lbs of water and a total pack weight of 50lbs, using a frameless GoLite Jam2 (ouch!). To be honest, he would have been much more comfortable with one of my heavier packs, but this was a thru hike for him. This kid is tough, and few people could have done that section. Just as you need a heavier pack weight in winter snow, you need a heavier pack weight in extreme heat.

Edited by ngatel on 03/15/2009 14:07:51 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Hot Spots - What do you do? on 03/15/2009 18:48:07 MDT Print View

Hi Mark

The KT-26s are not super wide, but they do have an extremely soft side-wall. This means they can span a wide range of foot-widths. You probably know I buy them in bulk? Cheap enough to try at low risk, and very light.

Hat - Nick G has some comments, and a nice hat in his avatar too. I will simply say that Sue and I would never go out without our broad-brimmed bush hats.

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 03/15/2009 21:20:57 MDT.

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Hot Spots - What do you do? on 03/16/2009 04:21:00 MDT Print View

Thanks for the comments/suggestions.

My job for this week is to look for a new hat with a broad-brim,

Cheers

ben wood
(benwood)

Locale: flatlands of MO
Re: Hot Spots - What do you do? on 03/16/2009 08:30:59 MDT Print View

well first off i live in New Mexico where it is usually hot. i always use gold bond in my socks it helps to keep my feet dry. when going uphill i keep the laces a little loose, when downhill i tighten them to give more support. you can use moleskin or athletic tape if you have no other choice. even duct tape will work.

you could try a ventilated pack, but i just wear a wicking shirt and that seems to help the back a little.

as far as the head heat. look for a light ventilated sun hat. outdoor research has good ones i believe, i got mine at REI. i also use a cotton bandana on my head alot. if it gets really hot you can wet the bandanna to cool you off.

and lastly the crotch, i use ex-officio wicking breifs, they work great!!! also get some light pants that dry quickly they will really help let that hot air out. when i am in dry rugged terrian i wear gaiters with the light pants. it will protect the pants from thorns and rocks.

keep well hydrated.

ben-

ben wood
(benwood)

Locale: flatlands of MO
Re: Re: Hot Spots - What do you do? on 03/16/2009 08:39:39 MDT Print View

i forgot to add, no cotton socks, they will get wet and definately cause blisters. i use wool, as do most people here, (i think)i has a wicking quality to it and willnot cause chafing.

someone said you will have to accept a certain amount of heat, which is true. i have lived in NM for a long time and can handle it better than a noob.

the same person mentioned long sleeves, i like to use long sleeves that can be rolled up as i am fair skinned and burn easily. just make sure the shirt is breathable. many wicking shirts have a high SPF to them.

sunburns are extremely dehydrating!!

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Hot Spots - What do you do? on 03/16/2009 10:09:00 MDT Print View

> sunburns are extremely dehydrating!!


and they hurt :)

René Enguehard
(ahugenerd) - MLife

Locale: Newfoundland
Re: Re: Re: Re: Hot Spots - What do you do? on 04/19/2009 21:05:17 MDT Print View

Worst of all on the head. But worst of all in the eyes.

Welding! America's most common extreme sport.