TOP TIPS FOR STAYING HYDRATED WHEN HIKING
Becoming dehydrated is common when hiking. The hiker’s mantra out on the trails is “hydrate, hydrate, hydrate” but that is often easier said than done. Don’t let dehydration creep up on you with these top tips for staying hydrated, safe and comfortable when hiking.
DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU SET OFF
Come up with a good hydration strategy before you set off on any hike. Whether your hike is a one-hour stroll or a multi-day through-hike, you need to consider how much water you will take with you and where you will get water from on-route, before you set off.
Look at maps, go online and call national park agencies to find water sources on your proposed hiking route and ask for advice on how much water you will need to bring with you. You will also need to find out if the water sources require treatment before consumption. Just because there is a stream on a map, that doesn’t necessarily mean it offers clean, potable water.
PLAN YOUR DAY
Hiking in the summer requires even more planning. With the sun at its fiercest in the middle of the day, plan your itinerary to give yourself a break in during this period. Walk from sunrise until 11am. Then find a shady location to relax and prepare and eat your largest meal of the day. Resume walking at 2 or 3 in the afternoon and you should be able to walk until sunset, having already consumed the bulk of your daily calories.
Underpacking water is the most common cause of dehydration. When you are planning your hike, aim to bring enough water to consume one litre an hour in hot and humid conditions. If you are hiking in the winter, half a litre an hour will suffice.
If you are drinking a lot, it is a good idea to bring some snacks to replace lost electrolytes. The more you drink, the more your sodium levels will drop in your bloodstream. Salty hiking snacks are the best to have on hand to boost your electrolytes. Carrying powdered sports drinks to mix with your water will give it a boost of flavour and also help keep your electrolytes up.
DRINK ENOUGH BEFORE YOU SET OFF
Before I set off on a hike, however, I feel, wherever I am going, I drink half a litre of fluid to set me up for the day. Starting your hike dehydrated is asking for trouble. Similarly, every time I reach a water source, I drink close to a litre before I set off again. This means I don’t need to carry so much water and can move a little quicker in between sources.
If you hit unexpected bumps, like a water source you counted on having run dry, don’t panic. Consult your map and think logically about which other water sources are likely to be running. Head for those and carefully ration out the remaining water you have to give yourself something to drink until you get there.
With these tips, you will be able to devise a hydration strategy that will ensure you remain hydrated throughout your hike and eliminate the possibility of dehydration.
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