There is a simple rule of survival called “The Rule of Threes”. Do you know her? This states that one can survive three weeks without food, three days without water, three hours without shelter, and three minutes without oxygen.
In this article, we will delve deeper into the point regarding hydration. Why is it important to stay hydrated? How to do it? When? _ Where? What are our tips? The answers are in this article
The Risk of Dehydration When Hiking
Water is the main component of the human body and represents about 60% of the body mass of an adult. An insufficient percentage of water can therefore have serious consequences because water is involved in the process of eliminating waste present in the body and contributes to maintaining body temperature.
What is the cause of dehydration?
Dehydration is very often due to losses of water and mineral salts, not compensated by the person. From a loss of 1% of water, symptoms may appear. From 15% water loss, the life of the person is in danger.
What Are the Symptoms?
The first symptom of dehydration is obviously thirst, which is accompanied by a decrease in the quantity of urine, the color of which becomes darker. If you do not react to these first symptoms, other signs appear, such as dry mouth, dry eyes, lack of energy, headaches, feeling tired, reduced physical performance or still dizziness.
If following these signs you still do not hydrate yourself, more advanced symptoms and also more consequences for your health will appear, here is the list below:
- Less elastic skin
- Sunken and sunken eyes
- Muscle weakness/cramps
- extreme thirst
- Disappearance of perspiration
- Absence of urine
- Body extremity colds
- Consciousness disorders
What Are the Treatments?
Mild or moderate dehydration (loss of less than 10% of body weight) can be treated by rehydration, in small quantities, and on a very regular basis. Otherwise, when it is a loss greater than 10 %, we speak of severe dehydration. In this case, medical intervention is essential to follow intravenous rehydration.
How Much Water is Needed?
In order to estimate the sufficient amount of water to consume during a hike, variables come into play, such as:
- Perspiration: it depends on your tendency to sweat during efforts or in case of high heat.
- Weather conditions: the hotter the climate, the more you have to compensate for your water losses. Don’t underestimate the cold weather, just because the temperatures are low doesn’t mean you don’t sweat.
- The intensity of the effort: the more intense your effort, the more you are likely to sweat, and therefore the more you will need to hydrate yourself to compensate for your water loss.
- The duration of the effort: it is logical that you do not have the same water loss for a 1-hour hike as an 8-hour hike.
To give you an idea, it is recommended for an adult to drink between 1.5L and 2L. It is a daily recommendation, which does not take into account the criteria mentioned above.
When to Drink?
At all times, you must continuously hydrate throughout your hike.
- Before: you must drink within 3 hours before departure, in order to anticipate water loss.
- During: to compensate for water loss. One or two sips every ¼ hour are enough. The most important thing is to drink continuously and in small quantities.
- After: to recover all the losses during the effort.
Where to Find Water?
Now we’ll see where to find drinkable water when hiking…
One Day Hike
If you are going on a day hike and you have planned several stops at supply points, such as villages, refuges, fountains, etc. There is no point in overloading yourself with water. In this case, a 1.5L bottle may suffice. You will only have to fill it at each supply point.
If you plan to go on a hike over several days, you should find out whether or not there are abundant sources of drinking water.
If you have the opportunity to encounter multiple sources of drinking water, you can leave with a bag or a 2 L bottle and fill it as soon as a source comes to you.
Otherwise, where the presence of a source of drinking water is rare, it is therefore necessary to bring your own water supply. In this case, you can also look for a filtration system, in order to be sure of being able to supply you with water without endangering your health.
The Different Water Tanks/Bottles
You can also carry different types of water bottles for staying hydrated.
It is a flexible food plastic gourd, which is equipped with a pipe for drinking. These water pockets have the advantage of being practical. Indeed, they slip easily into the bag and you can constantly hydrate yourself without having to stop, open your bag, etc.
If you decide to choose this water tank, two solutions are available to you. You can either orient yourself towards the purchase of a hiking bag with an integrated water pocket or buy a water pocket in annex and place it yourself in your bag. Depending on the model, the water bottles can hold up to three liters of water.
Besides these numerous advantages, the water bag has some disadvantages. First of all, it is difficult to clean and its maintenance must be regular and meticulous to eliminate all the bacteria present.
In addition, it is difficult to follow the evolution of the water stock, which can be problematic in a situation where you have to save water.
The water bottle is undoubtedly a must-have during a hike. On the market, it can be designed either in metal or in plastic. Although the plastic model is less heavy, metal has a number of advantages. Indeed, it guarantees you rigidity, and durability can contain a wide range of different drinks and is sold at an inexpensive price.
However, compared to the water bag, the water bottle does not only have advantages. It is relatively heavy, and bulky and requires a stop every time you want to hydrate.
Plastic Water Bottle
Although it is economical, solid, and light, with hindsight we realize that the plastic water bottle is not the ideal solution. Indeed, it is not ecological and pollutes our environment.
If during your hike, you have no source of drinking water at your disposal, alternatives are available to you.
Bring the Water to a Boil
This is a very old technique, which has managed to prove itself. In a few minutes and at a high temperature, the water is cleaned and purified. However, this technique requires equipment, such as gas, wood or alcohol stove, cooking pot and also fuel.
If you want to buy a stove or camping stove, we have written an article where we explain everything.
There are in particular tablets based on chlorine or silver which will eliminate bacteria and viruses present in the water. It is an effective and safe solution. However, it requires having clear water beforehand and not being in a hurry. Indeed, the pellets must be left to act for 1 to 2 hours before being able to drink the water in question.
Filters and Filter Straws
Filters and filter straws are very effective against bacteria, but less against viruses. There are several types of filters, including activated carbon, fiberglass, ceramic, etc.
If you are interested in this subject, we have written several articles delving deeper into certain subjects: drinking filtered water bottles, including Lifestraw filter straw, as well as the filter gourd.
It is an emerging solution, which uses ultraviolet rays to neutralize bacteria. It comes in the form of a “pen”, which is immersed in a container of water. This technique is quick, simple and effective. However, it requires batteries, at a relatively high price, and is fragile.
Tips and Tricks
- Don’t wait to be thirsty to drink e. Thirst is one of the first symptoms of dehydration.
- Cover your head, especially if it’s hot, it decreases your water loss and will protect you against sunstroke.
- On hikes lasting several days, give preference to soups and herbal teas for the meal. They will contribute to your hydration.
- Avoid alcohol, which is extremely dehydrating.
- If you are hiking where drinking water sources are scarce, fill your water bottles and drink at least 1l of water before leaving each source.
The siesta theory e. In warm conditions, the majority of the hike should be done when temperatures are cool. The goal of this strategy is to rest during the hottest hours of the day (11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) so that you can make do with a smaller supply of water.
For a trek of several days, what is the best option to treat water?
Filters, filter straws, and chemical treatments are the most suitable solutions for a hike lasting several days. Conversely, the least suitable in this situation is the UV filter. Indeed, the UV purifier works with batteries and therefore has a limited lifespan.
If I am a victim of severe dehydration, what should I do?
Stay on the phone until the problem is solved. In the meantime, lie down in the shade, hydrate frequently, keep calm, and cool off with a damp cloth.
Between water pockets or water bottles, which is the best choice?
There is no right or wrong choice. The water bag is the most practical solution, but can cause water to taste, and cleaning it is not an easy task. On the other hand, the water bottle is the most economical and easy solution, but it is bulky and sometimes heavy.
It is important to hydrate properly, whether you are walking in the city, hiking, biking, skiing, climbing or trail running. We hope you were able to learn a lot about water. If you found any errors or think we should add content, leave us a comment below.