What SPF sunscreen is best for hiking?
When we are busy enjoying the beauty of nature from the top of the mountains, we are inadvertently but continuously exposed to the sun for long hours. Hiking is a beautiful experience.
However, not many are prepared for the perils of hiking. What are they?
While many people prepare for the harshness of the cold, wind, and rain, many avid hikers forget that they must also protect themselves from the sun during hiking.
Hiking is the supreme outdoor activity, and while the sun might not always be shining from a clear blue sky, your face will nevertheless be exposed to its damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays – even on a grey and cloudy day, at least 40-50% of the sun rays will penetrate through the cloud cover.
Different surfaces such as snow, water, sand and grass reflect the sun's rays upwards. The potency of the UV rays also increases with altitude, 4% for every 305 meters (1000 feet), which makes it crucial to wear sunscreen with high protection (at least SPF30), no matter your natural skin tone.
If you don't look after your skin, there is the potential for various health issues, ranging from sunburn to premature ageing, hyperpigmentation and skin cancer.
Need to apply sunscreen for hiking
The sun's warm rays contain UV light, which can damage the delicate DNA in our skin cells. Since our DNA is responsible for the proper reproduction of our cells, any damage to this DNA can cause uncontrollable cell mutation, also known as cancer.
Exposure to UV radiation can be hazardous. It is known that getting sunburnt just once every two years can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer.
Recommended SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of the sunscreen
Hikers must use sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30. Sunscreen with SPF 30 protects against 97% of the harmful UV rays from the burning sun. In other words, after applying sunscreen, the user is exposed to only 3% of the sun's UV rays.
Broad-spectrum, water-resistant, and sweat-resistant sunscreen A broad-spectrum sunscreen protects the user from the scorching sun's UVA and UVB rays. Besides broad-spectrum sunscreen, the sunscreen used for hiking should be water-resistant and sweat-resistant so that the sunscreen does not get washed away with the accumulation of sweat on the body or if the hiker goes through a water body during the hike.
As there is a high probability that you will be sweating during your hike, it is necessary to reapply sunscreen every 90 minutes or so – even if it is water-resistant.