Everyone who hikes regularly knows the importance of staying hydrated while hiking. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, dizziness, weakness, nausea, headache, or heat stroke in extreme situations.
In our previous entry, we talked about best water purification methods, but now we’re going to expand our knowledge by mentioning a few useful tips on how to keep water and fluids in our bodies during strenuous hiking activities. There are some techniques you could rely upon in order to not lose the body’s supply of fluids and have the most possible fun on your hiking trip.
Read these tips to make your next hike rather enjoyable than painful!
1. Start With a Full Load of Water
Even if a map shows the spring of clean, drinkable water somewhere at your hiking trail, there’s always a chance that water is contaminated due to various reasons or that the stream is bone dried. Fill your water containers and drink one or two glasses of water prior to a hike.
2. Fill Up Your Water Containers Whenever You Have A Chance
Better safe than sorry. Never pass an opportunity to reload your supplies of water. Although you may feel you have enough water for your hiking adventure, always be prepared to unexpected situations. Your extra water could be useful to someone new and inexperienced in the group who doesn’t have enough water to withstand the hike. And always drink a lot of water before leaving each water source you encounter along your trail.
3. Don’t Overdress for Hiking Activities
It may seem difficult to dress adequate for hiking, especially when the weather is variable, but extra layers will make you sweat more and lose indispensable water which can lead to dehydration.
4. Replenish Lost Electrolytes with Food
Electrolytes are important minerals such as calcium, sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, and phosphorus which we lose through our sweat when we hike. To replace the loss of electrolytes you have to eat adequate amounts of foods high in electrolytes. For example, bananas are the excellent source of potassium. If you replace water, but not the electrolytes you’ve lost, you’re being at risk of developing a serious medical condition called hyponatremia.
If you replace water, but not the electrolytes you’ve lost, you’re being at risk of developing a serious medical condition called hyponatremia.
5. Avoid Food and Drinks That Make You Thirsty
Besides the sufficient amount of water needed for your hike, you should plan your lunch closely cause hiking make you burn a lot of calories. So it may be difficult to choose food that will fuel your body, instead of just being tasty and causing the thirst without providing you energy.
The amount of burned energy varies from a person to a person and besides these individual needs it also depends on climate, terrain, the level of exertion, the amount of weight you’re carrying etc, so you should know well your average energy requirements.
Avoid food that makes you thirsty such as extremely salty food, high-fat food or sugary drinks and choose snacks with higher caloric density and eat small amounts of complex carbohydrates such as energy and nutrition bars, peanuts, raisins (or other dried fruit), bananas etc, several times at the day.
6. Avoid Hiking Under Hot Afternoon Sun
Hike while the temperature is cooler and rest when it gets hotter. Start your hike early in the morning, at sunrise if possible. Take a break in a shady place around 2 or 3 pm when the sun is directly overhead. Use this break to eat your lunch and boost your energy. When the hottest part of the day passes, you may continue your walk under more pleasant conditions.
Never take a hike if the temperatures are likely to be life-threatening.
7. Protect Yourself From The Sun
When hiking in hot conditions or at high altitudes, protecting yourself from the direct sun is the most important consideration. Always wear a hat since it provides an instant shade and helps you protecting your eyes, hair, ears, neck, and skin from UV rays. Keeping your head in shade will make you less thirsty and you’ll won’t have to drink as much water.
8. Take a Swim in a Mountain Lake
If your group is taking a break next to a mountain lake, you can use the opportunity and refresh yourself by swimming in the lake, if the water temperature is suitable for swimming, of course. Swimming in the refreshing mountain lake will help you rehydrate by absorbing the water in through the skin. It is not efficient as drinking water, but it will help you rehydrate and refresh yourself a bit.
9. Avoid Caffeine Drinks and Alcohol
Scientists are still debating over the connection between caffeine and dehydration. It has been widely known that coffee is a diuretic and drinking much of it can lead to dehydration. But recent studies suggest that coffee isn’t a diuretic, but can lead to dehydration in another way. Coffee speeds up a metabolism, heating up your body and making you thirsty.
So, limit caffeine drinks, including coffee and sodas while hiking and avoid alcoholic drinks at any cost! Drinking a beer while you’re hiking in the beautiful Swiss Alps on a warm day may feel so good, but there’s no need of reminding you that alcohol causes dehydration.
10. Post-hike Hydration
When walk ends, drink a lot of water to replace fluid losses. Even if you’ve been drinking water regularly during the entire hike, your body has probably lost a lot of fluids.
Water will help you regain your strength, and once you’re feeling fresh again, now it’s time to drink a bottle of beer to celebrate another successful hike! Cheers!