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Hydration on a Hike: How Much and What to Drink?

Hydration is one of the keys to success for any hike. Whether you are an experienced hiker or a novice, knowing how much and what to drink is essential for maintaining your energy and fully enjoying your adventure.



 



Importance of Hydration on a Hike

The importance of hydration on a hike cannot be underestimated. It is crucial for maintaining your energy levels, preventing fatigue, and ensuring proper muscle function. Good hydration also helps regulate body temperature and transport essential nutrients to your cells.

The consequences of poor hydration can be severe. Dehydration can lead to headaches, dizziness, muscle cramps, and in extreme cases, heatstroke or hypovolemic shock. These situations can not only ruin your hike but also put your health at risk.



Understanding Hydration Needs

The duration of the hike, intensity of effort, temperature, and altitude are all factors that influence your hydration needs. The more intense the effort and the more extreme the weather conditions, the more you will need to drink. For example, during a mountain hike, altitude increases dehydration due to drier air and the extra effort required to climb slopes. Similarly, hiking under the blazing sun will make you sweat more, increasing your water needs.

Signs of dehydration to watch for include intense thirst, dark urine, dizziness, and decreased energy levels. Other symptoms may include headaches, dry mouth, and muscle cramps. Recognizing these signs quickly can help you take corrective action before the situation worsens. It is also important to note that sometimes the sensation of thirst can be a late indicator of dehydration, so it is important to drink regularly.



How Much to Drink While Trekking?

As a general rule, it is recommended to drink about 2 to 3 liters of water per day. During a hike, this can translate to about 0.5 to 1 liter of water per hour of walking. These recommendations can vary depending on your size, weight, and metabolism. A larger or heavier person, for example, will have higher water needs than a smaller and lighter person.

Adjustments based on conditions are essential. In hot climates, at high altitude, or during intense efforts, you will need to increase your water intake. For example, during a hike under the blazing sun, your body loses more water through sweat, requiring increased fluid intake. It is recommended to drink up to 1.5 liters of water per hour in extremely hot conditions or during very intense efforts. At high altitude, dehydration can be accelerated by dry air and water loss through breathing.



What to Drink?

Let's explore the various options for hydration.

1. Water: The Essential Base

Water remains the number one choice for hydration. It is easily accessible, inexpensive, and perfectly suited to maintaining your hydration during hikes. Pure water is generally sufficient for short and moderately intense hikes. However, for longer or more intense efforts, it may be necessary to supplement with other types of drinks to maintain a good electrolyte balance.

2. Isotonic Drinks: When and Why to Use Them

Isotonic drinks can be beneficial during intense or prolonged hikes. They help replace electrolytes lost through sweat, such as sodium and potassium, and provide a small amount of carbohydrates for energy. Using energy drinks can help prevent fatigue and muscle cramps during prolonged efforts. Isotonic drinks are specially formulated to be quickly absorbed by the body, allowing for more effective rehydration.

3. Electrolyte Drinks: A Key Option for Prolonged Efforts

Electrolyte drinks are designed to replace essential minerals lost through sweat. These minerals, or electrolytes, include sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. They play a crucial role in maintaining fluid balance, nerve function, and muscle function. During prolonged or intense hikes, electrolyte drinks can help prevent muscle cramps and maintain your energy levels. Check out our range of electrolyte drinks to find the one that best suits you.

4. Natural Alternatives

For those lucky enough to hike in areas where wild fruits are abundant, natural alternatives like coconut water or diluted fruit juices can also be helpful. They offer natural electrolytes and effective hydration while being tasty. For example, coconut water is rich in potassium and can be a refreshing and nutritious alternative. Diluted fruit juices can provide additional vitamins and minerals, as well as a light dose of sugar for energy.



Necessary Equipment for Good Hydration

A day of hiking requires several liters of water. In hot weather, 4 to 5 liters of water may be needed. This represents weight and bulk in the backpack. We will present the different options for optimizing your water.

1. Reusable Bottles and Canteens

Reusable bottles and canteens are the classic accessory for any hiker. They are eco-friendly and allow easy transportation of water. There are flexible models, called flasks, as well as rigid models made of stainless steel or plastic. None is better than the other. Choose the solution that best suits you. Bottles with volume indicators can also help you keep track of your water consumption throughout the day.

2. Hydration Bladders

Hydration bladders with their drinking tubes offer a convenient solution. They allow you to drink without stopping, which is particularly useful during long or technical hikes. Most backpacks are compatible with hydration bladders. A space in the main compartment is dedicated to them, and a hole for the tube is provided. Some models even have a magnetic system on the backpack strap to prevent the tube from wandering while you walk.

3. Portable Water Filters and Purification Tablets

As mentioned in the introduction of this section, how to optimize weight and space? With a portable water filter. Rather than carrying 4 or 5 liters of water on your back, plan for 2 liters of potable water and a water filter. You can refill your bottles and bladders as soon as you come across a fountain or river. A water filter purifies the water to make it drinkable. Some models weigh less than 100 g and are a good alternative to 1.5-liter bottles. However, make sure to have water points on your route.



3 Tips to Stay Hydrated

You know what to drink, how much, and with what equipment. Let's now look at 3 tips to optimize your hydration.

1. Frequency of Consumption

Adopt a regular drinking rhythm. Drink regularly, even if you are not thirsty, to avoid dehydration. A good rule is to take one or two sips every 10 minutes. Keep your bottle or hydration system within reach to remind you to drink frequently.

2. Water-Rich Foods

Bring water-rich foods. Fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, watermelons, and oranges can help keep you hydrated while providing essential nutrients. These foods can also be refreshing and energizing, which is particularly pleasant on hot days. Fruits, however, have the disadvantage of being heavy. Unless you come across a market gardener or a supermarket during your hike, this tip is difficult to implement.

3. Importance of Breaks

Take regular breaks to drink and rest. This helps maintain your energy levels and hydrate effectively. You will also lower your body temperature and limit sweating, which causes dehydration. Plus, breaks allow you to enjoy the scenery and take photos!

4. Hydration Before and After the Hike

Prepare by hydrating well before you leave. This is often neglected but simple and effective to implement. Drinking enough water before starting the hike can help prevent dehydration. Try to drink at least one liter of water in the hours before your departure. Good pre-hydration can also include consuming water-rich and electrolyte-rich foods as previously mentioned. Rehydration after the hike is just as important to make up for water and electrolyte losses.



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Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

After reviewing the tips, let's see how to avoid mistakes.

1. Drinking Too Much or Too Little

Avoid drinking too much or too little. Excessive water consumption can lead to hyponatremia, where sodium levels in the blood become dangerously low. Conversely, a lack of water can cause dehydration. Finding the right balance is essential for effective hydration. Listen to your body and adjust your water intake based on your individual needs and the conditions of your hike.

2. Neglecting Signs of Dehydration

Do not neglect the signs of dehydration. Learn to recognize the symptoms to act quickly. If you feel intense thirst, unusual fatigue, or cramps, it is time to take a break and drink. Prevention is always preferable to managing the consequences of dehydration.

3. Inappropriate Drink Choices

Be careful with inappropriate drinks. Alcohol and excessive caffeine can further dehydrate your body. Prefer water, isotonic drinks, or natural alternatives to stay hydrated. Also, avoid overly sugary drinks that can disrupt your fluid and energy balance.



Key Takeaways

In summary, do not wait until you are thirsty to hydrate. It is recommended to drink 500 ml of water per hour, which can increase if it is hot. Finally, do not neglect your equipment. In addition to your bottle or hydration bladder, we recommend having a water filter.