If you're planning on hiking this summer, it's important to monitor your water intake. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps, and even heat stroke. It can be easy to forget about your hydration when your activity levels are high, but the consequences of dehydration are too serious to be taken lightly.
Luckily, staying hydrated is simple if you are willing to plan ahead and think about your hydration. To help you stay hydrated on your next hike, wherever you may be, we’ve created this guide. Plus, we’ll review why careful hydration is truly something to raise a glass to.
What Are the Benefits of Hydration?
Most people know that the right amount of water to drink is about eight glasses every day. Hydration can have a profound impact on your overall health. It can have far greater impacts than keeping you from not passing out during flag football.
Here are just a few ways that staying adequately hydrated can benefit your body and mind:
For one, proper hydration is essential for detoxification. Your body relies on high water content to flush out toxins and waste products. If you're not drinking enough water, these toxins can build up and lead to health conditions and issues like fatigue, headaches, and even an increase in body weight.
Drinking plenty of water is also crucial for digestion and absorption of nutrients like calcium and potassium. No matter how many bananas you eat, without a glass of water, you won’t be able to reap those potassium gains.
Water helps to break down food and get it through the digestive tract. Without enough water, digestion can slow down or even stop altogether, leading to uncomfortable symptoms like bloating and constipation.
It’s not only sunscreen (though sunscreen and hat protection are definitely part of it).
Staying hydrated is essential for healthy skin. Water helps to keep skin cells plump and hydrated, which helps to prevent wrinkles and dryness. Proper hydration is also necessary for wound healing. So, if you want to keep your skin looking its best, drink plenty of water daily.
With benefits like these, it's easy to see why staying hydrated is vital for your overall health.
What Are the Consequences of Dehydration?
Dehydration is a serious condition that can have several negative consequences. It can lead to fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and dry skin, and in severe cases, it can even lead to organ failure and death.
When you skip the water cups at the office or during the half-marathon, you risk issues like muscle cramps, heat stroke, and other heat-related medical conditions.
What Are the Signs of Dehydration?
Dehydration can be a sneaky health problem because its symptoms can masquerade as other issues. Plus, since dehydration can happen gradually, it's often hard to recognize that you're not getting enough fluids until you already feel the effects.
To prevent dehydration (and the problems it can cause), it's essential to know the signs to look out for.
One of the first signs of dehydration is increased thirst. If you find yourself reaching for a water bottle more often than usual or are feeling thirsty after activities that usually don't leave you parched, it could be a sign that you need to up your fluid intake.
Other early warnings include dark yellow urine or urine that has a strong odor. Your urine color changes because when you're dehydrated, your body holds on to water and eliminates fewer waste products. If this continues, severe dehydration can result in kidney damage.
You might also notice that your skin isn't as supple as usual or that cuts and scrapes heal more slowly. This is because dehydration can reduce the amount of blood flowing through your vessels, making it harder for wounds to heal properly.
Dehydration can also cause headaches, dizziness, dry mouth, and fatigue.
Tips for Staying Hydrated on Your Next Hike
Here are a few easy-to-implement tips to keep you hydrated on your next hike — or wherever life may take you.
Drink Water When You Wake Up
Start your day by downing a glass of water as soon as you wake up. This habit will help to rehydrate your body after a long night's sleep and get you ready for the day ahead.
Much like with donating blood, you need to start your fluid intake in the morning. Chugging 36 ounces of water as you pull up at the trailhead won’t help much at all.
Carry a Bottle of Water With You
Make sure to always have a reusable water bottle with you when you leave the house, even if you are only going on a short trip. If you are looking for a water bottle for a hike in hot weather, look for double-wall insulated stainless steel options.
Insulated water bottles offer top-of-the-line temperature regulation to keep your drinks hot or cold for hours, along with a durable stainless steel build. This sturdy design gives you unmatched resilience for all of your hydration needs.
Why Insulated Water Bottles?
The key to staying hydrated on your hike is having a water bottle you can take with you. That way, you'll always have water on hand. Patriot Coolers insulated water bottles are the perfect choice to keep your water ice cold on your hike and anywhere else.
Our water bottles come in several sizes so that you can have as much or as little water as you need or have room to carry. Plus, our bottles have a non-sweat coating, which helps prevent condensation from building on the exterior of your bottle, so you've always got a firm grip.
Cut Out Sugary Drinks
Drinks with added sugar like soda and juice can actually contribute to dehydration.
These drinks contain large amounts of sugar and other additives that can cause your body to lose water. So, instead of reaching for a sugary drink, opt for plain water or an electrolyte-rich sports drink.
Drink Before You Feel Thirsty
Thirst is a sign that you’re already experiencing mild dehydration, so it's important to drink before feeling thirsty. A good rule of thumb is to drink about eight ounces of water every half hour — or more if you are sweating heavily.
Similarly, if you’re inclined to making toasts in the forest, wait until the hike is finished to raise your tumbler. Alcohol is dehydrating and doesn’t mix with exercise (for many other reasons as well).
Eat Electrolyte-Rich Foods
In addition to drinking plenty of fluids, keep yourself in good health by eating foods that are high in electrolytes. These include fruits and vegetables like bananas, cantaloupe, watermelon, and leafy greens.
How To Stay Hydrated on Your Next Hike: Takeaways
Staying hydrated is vital for feeling good and staying healthy, especially when exercising. To stay hydrated, drink water when you wake up, carry a water bottle with you, cut out sugary drinks, drink before you feel thirsty, and eat electrolyte-rich foods.
Grab your water bottle, hiking poles, sunscreen, and maybe another water bottle, head out into Mother Nature and blaze a new trail.