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Trekking Basics: Top Tips on How to Stay Hydrated on Treks

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Trekking has become one of the most cherished hobbies of the youth nowadays. It is quite common that this form of physical activity demands a lot of physical fitness and requires the body to remain hydrated. Staying hydrated while trekking is a no-brainer. Yet, very few of us know how to keep our body hydrated. Even though you cannot physically see the sweat dripping off your forehead, you are constantly perspiring while trekking. So, let us be logical and find out how to stay hydrated during trekking.

Table of Content

  • Know How much Water to Drink
  • Building Water Intake Capacity
  • Carrying the Right Amount of Water
  • Plan your Route for Good Water Sources
  • How to Stay Hydrated with These Tips
  • Effects of Over and Dehydration
  • Let’s Sum it Up

Know How much Water to Drink

The most important thing about staying hydrated is to know how much to drink. How much water should you drink depends on factors such as the trekking intensity level, temperature, weather, age and body type. You must not drink gallons of water when you please, otherwise, your bladder won’t be able to control it. Your day starts from the time you wake up in the morning and ends when you go to sleep. After waking up, drink half litre water on an empty stomach. You can have the other half within one hour of waking up.

While trekking you need to have regular sips of water during brief intervals. Your water intake during trekking should be between 2-3 litres. This will help you immensely in staying hydrated for a longer duration. 

how to stay hydrated on hikes
Sip water frequently during the treks (source)

Building Water Intake Capacity

If you have a list titled, “how to stay hydrated”, then building your water intake capacity must be on the top five of the list. Drinking the adequate amount of fluids is not really an easy task. You must start a month ahead of your trekking schedule to build a habit of drinking the right amount of water. The other important factor is that while trekking you would sweat a lot and lose some essential minerals and salts in the process. One solution to this problem is to use energy drink packets and dilute them in water. The advantage in using these energy drink/ORS packets is that they come in different flavours which help you in your discomfort in drinking water.

Carrying the Right Amount of Water

It is well-documented that during trekking you must not carry a heavy backpack. So, knowing the right amount of water to carry is a crucial factor. Staying hydrated is one of the most difficult tasks to perform while trekking, especially if you are trekking under hot and humid conditions. Drinking one litre per hour is essential to keep your body hydrated. So, when trekking under humid conditions and high altitude places, carrying 3-4 bottles each of 1-litre capacity is advised. Otherwise, you are advised to carry 2 water bottles, each of 1-litre capacity. Some experts have suggested that it is better to carry a hydration water pack, which makes it easier to drink water without stopping.

Plan your Route for Good Water Sources

You need to know the location of trekking beforehand in order to know how to stay hydrated. Surprised by the previous sentence? Calm down. As we have previously seen, that you need to assess the conditions before planning your trip, knowing the location also comes in handy while trekking. Find out details about the water sources available in the location where you have planned your activity. Most of the trekking trails are made keeping in mind the availability of water sources. Sometimes you may find no traces of water points on the trails. Try looking for water coming out of the rocks as those tend to be clean. These short tips will be helpful when you run of water.

purified water while hiking
Find good water resources while trekking

Tips on How to Stay Hydrated 

Till now, we have seen and discussed the importance of hydration. Now, let us dive deep into the pool of things (other than water) that will aid you in keeping your body hydrated. 

Tip #1 Start early

You must start your trekking during the wee hours of the day. In doing so, you are allowing yourself to cover most of the distance before the weather becomes hot. You can resume trekking as soon as a good part of the peak sunny time is over.

Tip #2 Rely on Liquid Foods

Try to keep your body hydrated with soup, tea, sports drinks, fresh juices and hot chocolate. You must avoid carbonated drinks, caffeine and alcohol as they can easily dehydrate your body. You may try keeping some fresh fruits like apples, oranges and bananas with you. They will not only provide you with energy but also aid you in keeping your body hydrated. 

rely on liquid foods while trekking
Depend on liquid foods for the right hydration

Tip #3 Listen to your Body

You must never stop listening to your body. You need to understand that, trekking takes a lot of energy out of your body. Your muscles become fatigued if you don’t take breaks at regular intervals. Similarly, while trekking or hiking, you cannot wait to feel thirsty before you drink water. A few sips after every 10-15 minutes of trekking shall keep your body hydrated.

Tip #4 Use Camp to Camel Up

Trekking is a strenuous activity and most of us forget to consume water at regular intervals. So, you must remind yourself how to stay hydrated in situations like these. Whenever you find it hard to constantly keep your body hydrated; you can use the time to set up your camp to keep yourself hydrated. Drink a litre or two before setting up the tents and before preparing your dinner. Just don’t drink gallons of water before going to bed or else you will have to frequently go to the bathroom.

Tip #5 Bladder or Bottle

Knowing how to stay hydrated and applying those techniques is a different thing. There are several methods to stay hydrated while trekking. One of them includes the usage of the hydration bags or the water bladder. This is where your choice comes into play. There are people who prefer to use the bladders and some prefer using the regular bottles. Some hikers hate reaching for their water bottles and some hate to take out their water bladders to refill. You must test yourself by using both the methods to find out which one you are comfortable with. Either way, it helps you keep your body hydrated.

Tip #6 Water Filtration

One of the most important decisions to make while knowing how to stay hydrated is choosing the best water filtration system possible. There are many filtration options to choose from and it depends on where you are actually planning to trek. Now, let us look into two of the most popular types of water filtration system. 

  • Sawyer Squeeze: This is one of the most frequently used filtration method often used by trekkers. These are light, filters quickly, and you can screw the filter onto most threadable bottles.
  • AquaMira Drops: One of the other options one has while choosing a suitable water filtration system are the Aquamira drops. They use chlorine dioxide to kill bacteria in the water.
aqua mira drops
Aqua mira drops an ideal water filtration technique

Tip #7 Research & Protection from Sun

Do your researches diligently. It is not always about knowing what to do and when to do during these strenuous activities. Sometimes playing it smartly does the trick. Study maps, guidebooks, hiking apps and check for up-to-date information about the location where you have planned to trek. One of the best ways to keep your body hydrated is to protect your body from the Sun. You must use proper sun protective clothing which provides protection from the sun and also keep you cool.

Other Important Hydration Tips while Hiking

There is one thing that you should always remember while you are trekking is that you must be hydrated before, during, and after your hikes.

  • When you are engaging in trail activities or when you are trekking under extreme conditions you must be drinking at least one-quarter of fluid per hour.
  • Replacing a portion of your fluid with a carbohydrate/electrolyte.
  • Limit the number of caffeine drinks such as coffee and colas as they increase fluid loss.
  • Continue drinking after hiking to replace fluid losses.
  • Instead of drinking water infrequently, you can always take many smaller sips to stay hydrated.

Effects of Over and Dehydration

Let's now find out what happens to your body if you over-hydrate or dehydrate it!

Overhydration

As it is very important to know how to stay hydrated during trekking, it is equally important to know the effects of overhydration. This is a rare condition that mainly affects endurance athletes. The key to preventing over hydration is to monitor how much you drink. You must perform the following steps to decrease the chances of suffering from overhydration.

  • Don’t over drink: Stick to drinking about half a litre about every 30 minutes and try not to drink more than you sweat.
  • Addition of salt: Keep your salt levels balanced by occasionally drinking a sports drink with electrolytes instead of plain water.

Dehydration

You must know how to stay hydrated in warm and hot conditions. Often times, when we are dead set in achieving the desired result for us, we forget to follow some of the simple steps. Keeping yourselves hydrated is the only important thing to do when you are trekking in difficult conditions. When your water intake is insufficient irrespective of the climate and the geographic locations you may suffer from dehydration.

Some of the symptoms include dizziness, headache, fatigue, and the most dangerous of them all, cramps. When you are experiencing any of these symptoms don’t just gulp down gallons of water down your throat. You must calm down, take a break and rest somewhere in a shady place and then drink some water.

Let’s Sum it Up

We have seen throughout this knowledge quest on how to stay hydrated, that it is more important to drink frequently than to drink gallons at a time. From carrying the required items in your backpack to finding water sources on the walking trail, we have dealt with every situation that would help us stay hydrated during trekking. We have also discussed the importance of hydration and the water of hydration during the filtration process.

Now, you all know how to keep your body hydrated during these strenuous activities like trekking or hiking. You can also use the above techniques as the steps required to you’re your body hydrated during hiking.

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