As we all know, we are 70-80% water. That means that our bodies constantly strive to replace lost fluids by drinking water and eating juicy fruits and vegetables. The body expels toxins through sweat, urine and other body fluids. It is important that we provide the body with enough water to improve the detoxification processes. If your urine is dark yellow to orange (and has an unpleasant odor) you are obviously dehydrated and your body is fighting harder than normal to eliminate toxins.
Therefore, to avoid this kind of situations, you should drink an average of 2.7-3.8 liters per day. For women it is in the lower limit and for men the upper limit. A cup or two on top of that is also enough. Even so, you probably know that our body also uses water that comes from food. It is estimated that 20% of the liquids we consume daily come only from food.
Therefore, keep in mind that the more juicy and watery the foods you eat (fresh fruits and vegetables), the greater the water consumption, which is exactly what you want. Here we will talk about all the different water sources.
Smart ways to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Hydration on a regular day can be quite basic, but it can be applied even to hikers and tourists.
It is not surprising that water is the best hydration drink that can be found. It is true that some sports drinks claim that they hydrate faster and more efficiently, but most of them have calories. If you want to avoid a higher calorie intake, water is definitely the best option that exists. Drink one cup every hour to avoid dehydration. If you do not know if you are dehydrated, there are some signs you can look for. If the color of the urine is dark, it is a certain sign of dehydration.
The thirst in your mouth (dry mouth) is also a strong sign of advanced dehydration. It may surprise you, but being thirsty means that you are well advanced in dehydration. You do not have to wait for these signs to take action. Stay ahead of the curve by drinking regularly, every hour.
Another easy and intuitive method is to simply eat fruits at least 3 or 4 times a day. As mentioned, they will provide 20% of your daily fluid intake. If running water is too much for you, fruits can be your savior. However, there is a note about children: it is difficult to keep children drinking the necessary amount of water, so you can opt for fruits and vegetables, or even give them sports drinks from time to time. As children are physically very active, a sports drink would make sense. They would also like the taste.
There are also low-calorie versions, so if you’re worried about weight gain, you can opt for them. Of course, there is coconut water that is even better. Coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes, without the suspect additives contained in some sports drinks. It is always better to go for natural sources when possible.
It can be more complicated to stay hydrated on the track. There are many situations during the walk that can make it more difficult to avoid dehydration: lack of water sources, extreme heat, location (you are far from civilization), etc. There are some very useful tips that we will share with you. here.
Tips on how to stay hydrated on field trips.
Before starting your walk, you must know your route. This is extremely important as it will help you plan ahead how much water you will need. Is it a long trail or just a one-day walk? Are you going through steep terrain all the time, or is it even? The harder you try, the quicker you will become dehydrated.
So we have to mention the water again, but this time there are some things you should keep in mind. Before continuing on your way, drink half a liter of water in the morning (before leaving). That would replenish the body’s reserves of needed fluids and keep it hydrated for a few hours.
When it comes to water, always keep a spare bottle (container) of water in your backpack, as a backup. Do not drink it, unless absolutely necessary and save your life. Otherwise, always try to find water sources. And do not forget the purification or water filtration systems. If you are only walking at low altitudes, the water may be contaminated. You do not want to get any life-threatening disease.
Another very important advice is to drink in small sips. Do not think that drinking large quantities at once would do you good. In fact, it can make you sick, which would lead to faster dehydration. By drinking small sips, it helps your body use water more efficiently and prevents long-term dehydration.
Do not be afraid to always use the water sources you find on your way. If you know your area and know all the water sources, then you know how to plan your water consumption. Otherwise, maintain a filtering system and replenish your stores. However, remember that the higher the altitude, the lower the risk of diseases and bacteria in the water. Higher altitudes are not as hospitable to living organisms and there are fewer that cause problems. Of course, it will not hurt to filter the water, so if you’re not in a hurry, it’s better to purify it, it’s a good habit.
Another good tip we can give you is to use a Camelbak hydration system, where you store the water while it stays on your back all the time and can drink through a hose. Stopping and removing your backpack to drink water, and then putting it back on, can be very stressful at some point, and you need to conserve your energy and lose as little fluids as possible. The more you are sweating, the quicker you will become dehydrated. Therefore, optimize your backpack with a camelback to drink efficiently.
As mentioned in the Camelbak, these hydration packages that recently began to attract the attention of athletes and climbers and mountaineers, are an excellent way to distribute water evenly in your backpack. These hydration packs are compact and kept close to your body. They are made of sturdy plastic that can be frozen before hiking. When it is on the way, it will melt slowly and keep the water cool, which is excellent when it is very hot.
It is much more uncomfortable to carry several bottles just to make sure you comply with the recommendations. Having a Camelbak is the ideal way to do it. People get so used to it and see the benefits that they would never return to the old ways. We strongly recommend you try this way to keep the water close. Of course, we still think it’s a good idea to keep a spare bottle of water just in case. Always keep extra water, even if you never touch it. It is better to have more, than to have nothing.
If you want to keep your water cooler during the summer, go for aluminum bottles better. Plastic bottles can heat the water very quickly. After all, when hiking in hot weather, you want to stay cool and warm (even hot) water will not help.
Some more details of experienced people.
Also think that you lose water even through your mouth. Your breathing is always warm and humid, so if you are already dehydrated (but lacking water sources), at least try not to talk and think about preserving your bodily fluids.
In case the weather ends up being too hot than you expected when you started your hike, you should know a few more things.
Severe dehydration has some more unpleasant and dangerous symptoms that you should consider. You may experience dizziness, muscle pain (cramps), increased heart rate (pulse), nausea, etc., then you should know that your dehydration reached serious levels and that you must take immediate action.
If there are no nearby water sources and you have run out of your own water supplies, this means that you have not been well prepared or that you have been lost. For this last situation, it can be useful to know that a human can survive several days (3, maximum 4) without water. Otherwise, to avoid being unprepared, you must consciously include in your list that you need to have at least 2 liters in your backpack, per day, per person. The optimal amount is 6 liters, if you can carry all that weight, including the other equipment you had packed.
You should also know that dehydration means that your body loses not only water, but also vital elements and electrolytes. Therefore, these you have to replace. You can do this by adding sodium and potassium to your water bottle. There are hydration tablets (usually for athletes and sold at sports stores) that can be added to the water container. They have many minerals vital for health and, more importantly, they contain sodium and potassium that contribute to well-balanced hydration.
As we noted earlier, if you experience cramps, this is because your body is losing salts and this affects the proper function of your muscles. After all, salt contributes to the electrical impulses that are transmitted from the neurons to your brain. Without salt, electrical impulses can not occur and bodily functions deteriorate, therefore, cramps.
Another tip from our side: if you plan to go hiking in a very hot climate, better take more than you think you need. Sometimes, in very hot conditions, when you constantly sweat a lot, you may need even one liter every hour. This is especially true when you are moving, walking, climbing, etc. When you are resting, your water needs are significantly lower. We would not recommend that you go alone in such hot conditions, especially in deserted areas where you know in advance that there are no water sources.
You never know what can go wrong. Going with a group of friends is much wiser. It is also a good idea to keep transportation not far from where you are walking. If something happens and you need medical attention, you should be able to drive home to be treated.
You may want to consider bringing coconut water along. You can use it only in extreme situations when you are really exhausted and run out of water. Coconut water has those precious electrolytes that help your body hydrate more quickly and efficiently. Drinking only water will not replace the lost amount of sodium and potassium, unless you take them explicitly (tablets or supplements).
If you are hiking through forests, you may be lucky enough to meet wild berries, such as wild blueberries. If you are 100% sure they are blueberries, you can eat them safely. The strawberries are easily recognizable so there is no doubt that you see them. We advise you to do an advance investigation on how to recognize the imitators and make sure you eat what you think the fruit is. There may be some poisonous fruits that look like blueberries and other wild berries. Whenever you know what you are doing, fruits can be your savior, if there is a lack of water supply.
Of course, if conditions allow it and it is humid, it can accumulate rainwater (it may not need any type of filtering). You can also build a system where you can collect water. You can dig a hole and cover it with plastic. Place a bottle inside the hole so that the bottle is completely inside the hole, but the opening is not covered. If the soil is wet enough (or rainy), water will accumulate in the hole. Now place a slightly heavy rock on the plastic sheet so that it is just above the opening of the bottle; condensed water will drip into the water bottle.
Place the foliage and leaves inside the hole to increase the water content. You must be patient with this method, as it takes time. If it is very hot, the water will condense quickly. If there is already a lot of water in the hole, you can be sure to have a drink within a few hours. If you are hiking on much simpler terrain without trees, foliage, shrubs or water sources, then this method can hardly be useful.
The harder the conditions you expect, the better your preparation should be. And our previous advice would be incomplete if we did not talk about how to prevent severe dehydration, or at least how to reduce it.
An important thing is your clothes. Tight clothing is a worse idea if you want to optimize your hydration. Loose clothing is a much better option because the air between the surface of the skin and the clothing layer remains relatively the same, while the general temperature of the air that it breathes is much higher.
Therefore, the skin exposed to the ventilated air under your clothes is a little cooler. Tight clothing (if it is not appropriate for hiking) would actually prevent the process of perspiration and, in fact, this will make you feel hotter and cause more sweating. Sweat is the way for the body to cool, so it needs to work properly. The perfect clothing for warm weather is always made of synthetic materials, such as polyester and nylon.
As we have been talking a lot about dehydration in hot climates, we also have to talk a little about cold conditions and winter. Because it’s cold, you may not be thirsty in the same way as when it’s hot. Thirst also tends to be a sign that the body needs to cool down, but proper hydration is as important during winter as it is during summer.
Dehydration also leads to hypothermia and freezing much faster than you may think. Remember also that the higher elevation puts stress on your body, so you need more water, the higher it rises. We strongly recommend that you do not drink cold water, as your body will lose heat when you try to warm it up. This often leads to hypothermia and is potentially dangerous. As advised before, drink regularly, sipping at the same time is much better than drinking when you are already dehydrated.
Hydration is extremely important and the symptoms of dehydration must be taken very seriously. The first stage is thirst. When you are thirsty, you should know that you are already dehydrated. You should try to avoid this first stage and always take a few sips every 30 minutes of normal physical activity. For more strenuous walks, try to drink up to one liter about every hour.
That’s when hydration packs can be extremely useful. Keeping a water hose on your shoulder reminds you occasionally to take a few sips. If you follow the above tips and always go on well-prepared hiking, you should be fine on your next trip.