Summer Hiking Hydration Tips

Camel in the desertWe’ve passed the peak of summer, but there are still plenty of hot days left. Hydration is important, regardless of weather, but it’s especially important when hiking in hot weather. Dehydration can impair motor skills, cause fatigue, and decrease your resistance to heat-related illness. An adult male should drink close to 100 ounces of water on any given day. Of course, you need much more water when hiking on a hot day. Here are a few summer hiking hydration tips to keep you going on the trail.

Pre-hydrate

Drink plenty of water before you even begin your hike. The odds are stacked against you when you start a hike dehydrated.

Bring more water than you think you need

Don’t underestimate how much water you need while hiking. You can slide on cooler days, but you need as much water as you can get when the sun is pounding.

Bring a water filter

Of course, you can’t carry a 5-gallon jug of water on the trail. Unless your hike has reliable spigots to refill, bring along a water filter to make sure you never run out.

Don’t pass up a chance to refill your water

You never know when a faucet will be out of order, or a creek will dry up. Don’t take any chances with hydration. Refill your water containers at every opportunity.

Drink water often

The more water you drink, the better hydrated you will be. Some recommend drinking as much water as a quart of water (one 32-ounce Nalgene) per hour while hiking in the heat.

Don’t wait until you’re thirsty

Thirst is a clear sign of dehydration. Waiting until you need water is a bad idea.

Replenish electrolytes

Hyponatremia occurs when the sodium levels in your body are too low. This happens when you sweat a lot, replenish your fluids, but neglect to replenish electrolytes and carbohydrates. Eat food, and consider bringing electrolyte tablets to prevent this from happening.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine

Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages are diuretics, which actually dehydrate you rather than provide hydration.

Listen to your body

If you’re feeling nauseous, light-headed, dizzy, shaky, or weak, consider how much water you’ve been drinking. Dehydration on the trail is serious business. You may need to slow your pace, take more rests, get out of the sun, and – of course – drink more water.

Invest in an insulated bottle or water reservoir

A CamelBak is a great way to carry more water, and drink it more often, and insulate bottles – like those form Hydro Flask – deliver ice cold refreshment on the trail. Consider adding one, or both, or these items to your pack!

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