The Hiking Water Calculator: Making Sure Your Aren’t Running on Empty
An adult human body is composed of about 60% water. When out hiking, you need to know how much water to drink and how to stay hydrated. If your body is not well hydrated, the water in the body gets depleted leaving you dehydrated.
How much water to drink while hiking
How much water you need to drink depends on many factors. It depends on your age, your body type, your sweat rate, the activity you are doing, intensity level and the duration of the hike. It takes planning to know how much water and fluids one needs to carry or how often you need to refill your water container.
It is recommended to take about a half a liter of water per hour if you are engaging in medium level hiking activities and if the temperatures are moderate. If the hiking activity is intense and the temperatures are high, then you will need to take about a liter of water every hour.
You may read this post too: Beginner’s guide to hiking - Everything you need to know
How much water to bring on a hike
When planning your trek, you need to know the estimated amount of time you will take hiking the trail. On the other hand, if you know your approximate hiking speed, then it is easy to determine how long you will take to complete the hike. Check the distance of your hiking trip versus how long you take to do a mile. Calculate how much water to carry by how long you will take on the hike.
If for example, your speed is 4 miles per hour, if you are doing a 16 miles distance, then it means you will take 4 hours to complete the hike. That means that you will need to have about 2 liters of water if the temperatures are moderate. More water will be required if the weather is hot.
Dehydration happens when the amount of water taken in is less than what the body is losing through sweating. A main symptom of dehydration is feeling thirsty. Other signs of dehydration are a dry mouth, dark urine, decreased energy levels, headaches among others.
Determining if you are dehydrated
As mentioned above, the main symptom of dehydration is feeling thirsty. Another way to determine if you are not drinking enough water is to check your weight before a hiking activity and immediately after. You should weigh the same. But if your weight has dropped, the cause may be dehydration. Drink enough water to compensate for the fluids lost in your body. Remember to add energy and sports drinks to the fluids you are taking. They help restore electrolytes and carbohydrates.
How to stay hydrated
To keep taking water, the water needs to be within easy reach. When out hiking opt to use a hydration reservoir, not unless you prefer to use a water bottle. Make sure you pack your water bottle within easy reach.
On the day you are hiking, start your day well-hydrated by pre-hydrating. Try to drink a liter of sports drink or water as soon as you get out of bed. Drink water and sports drink until you have about two hours before you start your hike. Drink water often by taking small sips every few minutes. When hiking, the standard recommendation is to take a sip of water every 10 to 20 minutes. Don’t take large amounts of water after a long time. You don't even need a hiking water calculator to know this - do you?
When you sweat you lose body fluids, not just water. Body fluids contain electrolytes. Too much loss of electrolytes affects performance. Your body needs electrolytes and carbohydrates. Ensure that about half of what you are drinking has carbohydrates. If you are hiking for longer than an hour, buy an electrolyte replacement sports drink, powders or tablets. Follow the mixing and consumption directions provided on the packaging.
Drinking Water tips while hiking
When planning your hiking adventure, check if the hiking destination you have chosen has sources of water. If there is water available, then plan to take along a water filter, a little water, and water bottles.
When choosing a hiking trail, opt for routes that have water. That way you will only need to carry a little water and a water filter. If the hike is not so long, then plan to have some water in your vehicle.
Never drink river or stream water to avoid water-borne diseases until it is treated using a water filter. It is important to drink water and fluids, whether the weather is hot or cold. If the weather is too cold, plan to take hot drinks.
Rehydrate after a hiking adventure to compensate for the water and fluids lost in your body. After your hiking trip, check how much weight you lost, which mainly represents a loss of body fluids. Drink enough water with electrolytes to return your body to normal.
When you cannot get access to water
Sometimes it is not possible to gain access to water while on a hiking trip, and it is also impossible to carry a lot of water because of weight. It, therefore, means that you have to do with the water that you brought from home or hotel.
In that case, then it is important for you to take a minimum of 3 liters of water per day. The worst-case scenario should see you taking 2 liters of water the whole day, but that is if the temperatures stay moderate. Anything less than that will be too much for your body to endure.
Other than watching out for dehydration only, you also need to avoid overhydration. Though it is a rare condition not associated with hikers. Overhydration occurs when sodium levels in the body become diluted causing cell malfunctions. The symptoms of overhydration are similar to dehydration: fatigue, nausea, and headache.
To prevent overhydration, monitor how much water you are taking, how much water you are likely losing and also how much electrolytes you are losing in your body. Don’t overdrink water and ensure that your electrolyte levels in the body are the recommended ones. You can take a salty snack to increase electrolytes in your body and also take salt tablets.
One of your goals of going on a hike is to exercise your body. The impact of the hike on your life should be an improvement in your health. Ensure you stay hydrated to reap maximum health benefits from the hike. Enjoy your hiking trip.