Drinking Water While Hiking in Cold Weather

You know you have to drink plenty of water while hiking in warm weather. Beads of sweat and parched lips are pretty good reminders to reach for your water. You don’t always have these cues when hiking in cold weather, however. Still, it’s just as important to drink water in cooler temperatures as it is in warm weather. You can get dehydrated regardless of how hot or cold it is outside.

Staying hydrated while hiking in cold weather has its challenges. Here are a few things to think about so you can avoid trouble on the trail.

Start hydrated

Pre-hydrate before you start your hike. Drink plenty of water the night before your hike, and drink 32 ounces of water – a standard Nalgene water bottle – in the morning before you hit the trail.

Don’t rely on thirst

You’ve probably heard that you’re already dehydrated by the time you’re thirsty. The trouble is, many of us don’t feel as thirsty in cold weather as we do in hot weather.

Thirst is an unreliable indicator. Drink water even if you’re not thirsty, and replenish electrolytes with food or drink mixes.

Water freezes

Water has a pesky habit of becoming undrinkable when it gets below freezing. Sure, you can boil ice or snow to return water to a drinkable state, but this is a tedious and time-consuming process.

Insulated water bottles are clutch for hiking in cold weather. At the very least, boil water before you hike to keep it from freezing.

You can keep your water in your sleeping bag to keep it from freezing overnight.

Winter is the bane of water reservoirs

The more water there is, the longer it takes to freeze. Think pond vs. puddle. Water reservoirs rely on a long, thin tube to deliver water, and this water tends to freeze quickly when it’s really cold outside.

Invest in an insulated hydration tube cover. This will help keep your water from freezing. However, consider ditching the water reservoir altogether on really cold days.

The trouble with water filters

Be careful with water filters in cold weather. Water may freeze in the filter, causing it to crack and fail. If using a water filter do your best remove excess water and keep it from freezing.

Another option is to use a Steripen, which upurifies water with UV light. Just keep the batteries warm.

Water can be scarce on the trail

It can sometimes be difficult to find water in the off-season. Water valves at campgrounds are often shut off to prevent freezing and save resources, and springs, creeks, and other water sources may be frozen or barely trickling.

Make sure that you have a well-thought, and well-researched plan to get water on the trail. Carry more water with you than you normally would, and take advantage of every opportunity to re-fill your water.

Visit us at Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters for insulated water bottles, insulated tube covers, water filters, water purifiers, and any other backpacking or hiking gear you need before your next trip!

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