141: Staying Cool

Show Notes: Episode 141

Today on the First 40 Miles, if you’re too darned hot, today’s episode will give you some ideas for cooling down.  And we’ll keep the heat coming with a review on a fire starter that’s non-toxic, long burning and waterproof.  Then, on the Backpack Hack of the Week you’ll learn how create your own ultralight human powered AC unit (is that overselling it a bit?)


  • Staying cool in hot weather
  • Where is it hot? Where to go when you want hot weather
  • How to avoid the heat: summertime at high elevations. near water
  • Heat exhaustion:
  • Red face, nausea,vomiting, headache, dizziness or vertigo, fatigue
  • Rapid heart rate, decreased sweating
  • Shortness of breath, decreased urination, blood in urine or stool
  • Heat stroke:
  • Confusion, anxiety, or loss of consciousness
  • Very rapid or dramatically slowed heartbeat
  • Rapid rise in body temperature that reaches 104 degrees to 106 degrees F
  • Any other heat-related symptom that is not alleviated by moving to a shady or air-conditioned area and administering fluids and salts
  •  Disclaimer: This is not meant to be medical advice…everything we know about medicine we learned from Google.  Consult your physician.

Top 5 Ways to Stay Cool When it’s Hot

Cotton bandana

  • But what about “Cotton kills” and “cotton is rotten”—it’s still true for cotton clothing.
  • Your bandana is about the only item of clothing you should have that’s cotton. The great things about a cotton bandana is that cotton is extremely absorbent. It can hold 27 times its weight in water.  You can use it to cool your skin and it feels great!
  • If you wear cotton clothing while hiking and backpacking, the cotton will absorb sweat, but because the sweat is trapped in the article of clothing, it’s not going to be drawn away to create that cooling effect like it would be in synthetic or wool clothing.
  • Bring some cotton along—on your hot trips—in the form of a cotton bandana


  • Humans are not camels. Our bodies don’t really have the built-in hardware to store extra fluid. If you drink more than your body needs, it’s going straight to a little dump tank called the bladder—where it isn’t going to be used for rehydration.
  • Plus if you try to overload your body with water, you’ll experience a little ocean in your stomach which may lead to cramping and discomfort.
  • Urine doesn’t have to be completely clear
  • TRUTH: “Obey Your Thirst”
  • Probably a good idea to monitor your water intake…be aware.
  • You can also cool down with water by getting into some water. Feels great to just take off your shoes and dip your toes into some glacial runoff…


  • Back panel of your backpack should provide
  • Zip off or convertable pants
  • Minimalist shoes/sandals like Xero Shoes


  • Layers are always a good idea—whether the temps are hot or cold.
  • Always bring layers, no matter what the temps are.


  • Parasol/umbrella
  • Bandana on back of neck
  • Stand of trees that provide a cool patch of shade
  • Breathable hat (Protects your face from burns and lets the heat out of your head and covers you from the direct, beating rays of the sun)

BONUS: Menthol

  • WIKI “Menthol triggers the cold-sensitive TRPM8 receptors in the skin is responsible for the well-known cooling sensation it provokes when inhaled, eaten, or applied to the skin. The TRPM8 channel is the primary molecular transducer of cold somatosensation in humans.”
  • Menthol can be found it a lot of common items
  • Mint chewing gum
  • Methol-lyptus cough drops
  • Burts Bees lip balm or a little screw top container of Mentholatum or Vicks Vaporub
  • Straight up peppermint essential oil

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Quickfire All Purpose Fire Starters


  • Plastic wrapped all-natural paraffin wax
  • Plastic wrapper is actually a compressed vegetable oil, so it’s 100% safe to burn


  • To use these firestarters, simple light the edge. No need to unwrap.  Just light it and it’ll catch fire with 1-2 seconds and give you a steady strong flame.
  • You can light QuickFire with a match, a lighter or even a magnesium striker that shoots off sparks
  • If you’re more of a magnesium striker kind of fire person, just scrape off a little of the magnesium then spark it, and the magnesium will catch fire and light the QuickFire.
  • QuickFire packet can be used to cook food and boil water—so it’s a great back up plan to have with you in case something unfortunate happens to your stove or your fuel.
  • QuickFir can burn in winds up to 30 MPH.
  • Waterproof
  • These firestarters burn at about 750 to 1000 degrees, which means, it could provide enough heat and duration of heat to dry out damp wood.
  • No explosive hazard. Due to its wax composition, it is recommended that QuickFire is kept in a place below 150 degrees – this is extremely hot, and the worst that would happen is that the product might simply melt. “
  • Little to no scent while burning and also little to no smoke while burning


  • Weighs .2 ounces (5 grams)
  • About the size of a mini Milky Way …after it’s been stepped on.


  • 30 year shelf life
  • Light edge of wrapper
  • Wax paraffin will melt in temps over 150 degrees…but will still work
  • Remember, always light your fires in a ventilated area, away from tents, in a designated fire ring.


  • Under a $1 per fire, depending on what size package you get.


  • QuickFire is a great replacement if you like to keep a few solid fuel tablets in your 10 essentials. Safer than hex tablets/solid fuel tablets.
  • The QuickFire firestarters are declared by California to be safe and non-toxic
  • They have a burn time of about 8 minutes
  • No explosive hazard
  • If you use them for cooking, you’ll get a blackened pot, just like you would with a campfire…
  • Nice, tall flame about 6-8 inches, that can start fire or cook your food.
  • Quickfire is a non-messy firestarter that you can keep in your 10 essentials.

Backpack Hack of the Week™:  DIY Air Conditioning

  • Get yourself wet (arms, face, legs) then create a source of moving air—using a map to fan yourself or use the front of your shirt to create a little wind tunnel for your face.
  • You have a portable, DIY evaporative cooler…or a “swamp cooler”

Trail Wisdom

“Outdoor recreation experiences can help mold into people the wholeness concept and the balance that is essential to a satisfying life. The outdoors embodies something that cannot be found anywhere else. It is not merely the scenery, or the mountain breeze, or the open spaces that delight us. The outdoors embody history, primitive experiences, and elements capable of lifting the spirit.” –Clayne Jensen