Dehydration is sneaky. It can show up as joint pain, dizziness, decreased vision, low energy, slower hiking speed, decreased focus, or just a bad attitude. These are all normal while hiking, but if you might be able to avoid all this by drinking more water.
Many people I talk to believe they don’t hydrate enough, even more drink plenty of water while hiking but not enough beforehand. Most people’s solution is a stated intent to “drink more water” but like dieting or doing your homework just saying it will happen doesn’t always pan out.
I try and drink 2 to 3 liters of water minimum every day. A liter is about the size of a bigger Nalgene type water bottle, so imagine 2 or three of those…or maybe 6 glasses of water? Something like that.
The trick for me is getting a jump start when I wake up, if I need to hydrate more I’ll drink a cup of tea, then a second cup with the same tea bag because why not. Then I take my water bottle and fill it and add a packet of drink mix, or some lemon juice, or something to give it a little flavor and maybe a tiny bit of sugar. Then I’ll drink this over the course of about two hours. At this point, within a few hours of waking up, I’ve drunk half or more of my water for the day…and if I keep drinking off an on I’ll end up well over my 2-3 liter minimum.
At this point, I can now comfortably hike for 4-6 hours with only a single bottle of water…or do a shorter hike without bringing water at all.
Here are some extra thoughts…
- Your body can only take in 1 liter of water per hour, but in hot environments when you are exerting yourself you can sweat and exhale 3 or more liters per hour…the only way to deal with this is to hydrate in advance, and during your activity…and even then you’ll run out eventually.
- Yes drinking too much water can be a problem, maxing out at 1 liter per hour should be fine though, and that’s still a LOT of water. Snacking will also help keep things in balance.
- I pretty much only hydrate with water…soda, coffee, Gatorade, beer, etc. might work for you but I certainly don’t recommend it :)
- Having to pee more is better then being dehydrated, even in a tent, even in the winter, in fact especially in a tent in the winter. Cold temps can make it even harder to recover from dehydration so be extra careful not to go down that road in the winter.