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It goes without saying that proper hydration is essential for outdoor activities. Without it, we’re not getting far. A good water bottle or hydration pack should always be the first thing you think about when preparing for even the shortest of hikes.
Over the past few years we have changed our how we approach hydration with some great results. Specifically, we focus a lot more on how to keep properly hydrated before, during and after our outdoor activity.
The end result is that we find we have less fatigue during and quicker recovery after, which is essential when we are doing multi-day trips. Another side benefit is that we find our muscles don’t get as sore after hard days, and we think having lots of water and a short stretching routine has really helped.
So how much water do you need to carry? Water can quickly become the heaviest part of your kit, weighing about 2 pounds per liter, so you may be tempted get away with as little as possible. That’s fine if you have a water filter or a reliable water source ahead.
There’s no exact science to how much water you should drink, as we’re all different, and the longer (and hotter) the hike, the more you’ll need. But a good rule of thumb is to carry at least two liters of water at any given time, with either a filter or extra storage in case the need arises. Our founder, Richard, carries 3L while hiking in summer, however for big days that are hot he will lug up 5L of water. He may be the extreme, but he loves hydration 😉
To avoid becoming too thirsty on the trail, it’s essential to hydrate before you head out. This means starting to hydrate the day before you head out, drinking lots of water so the body and cells get as much hydration as possible. We also like to have some electrolytes, and for home use we love Vega Electrolyte Hydrator. We prefer the lemon lime flavor, and have a glass before bed and again when we wake up.
It’s also critical to continue to hydrate when you wake up. We have a liter of water and more Vega Electrolytes and start the trip off on the right foot. This is different from chugging a liter of water right before heading out on the trail!
We also drink a lot during the day. We don’t like to ration our water, instead drinking when we are thirsty. We use a try good idea to sip slowly on your water throughout the day, staying constantly hydrated. In especially hot weather where you’re sweating quite a bit, aim for about a liter of water an hour – which means you’ll either want to carry more than 2 liters of water or have a means to purify water. We like Aquatabs, which are easy to use and light.
We also make sure to have some electrolytes on hot days. Our favourite electrolytes on the trail are Nuun Electrolytes. These tabs are easy and tasty, and we usually have 1 or 2 while on the trail.
Water bottles are perfectly fine for carrying water, but for longer hikes, we prefer a hydration pack. They can hold more water and can be sipped on hands-free without reaching into your pack. Our favorite is the Platypus Big Zip LP.
The Big Zip comes in both 2 and 3-liter sizes, is very slim and fits in any appropriately sized daypack or hydration pouch. We’re huge fans of its wide-mouth opening up top, which makes filling, and especially cleaning, very easy – something that bladders with small openings are not. We make a point to empty and let the reservoir dry every night, which is easy with such a big opening.
The plastic is taste-free and mold-resistant, is BPA-free, and the flexible drinking has a quick-release and shut-off valve. It’s also substantially higher-quality than most other bladders.
Finally, as mentioned earlier, we have added electrolytes as part of our hydration routine. As important as water is, it isn’t enough alone. Sweating causes you to lose vital electrolytes and minerals, which give your muscles the energy they need and allow them to hydrate properly. These need to be replenished as well; that’s the idea behind sport drinks, which are an easy source for quick electrolytes and energy. But they’re also packed with sugar, and we prefer healthier mixes like Vega Hydrator.
Vega Electrolyte Hydrator contains all the electrolytes and vitamins your body needs, but with zero calories and zero sugar. We like to use this while at home or camping, but not while hiking. It’s just a bit messy and you have to take the whole jar with you. At home, we just toss a scoop in a glass and stir. Super easy.
We also like Nuun Tablets. Similar to Vega Hydrator, these sports mix tablets are made with all-natural, clean ingredients such avocado oil and monkfruit sweetener. We usually take a few while out on the trails. Simply pop into your water bottle to create a hydrating drink full of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, calcium and potassium. We find they’re simple, easy ways to stay properly hydrated on the trail, and fit discreetly into your kit. We don’t personally use these in our Platypus as cleaning is more difficult with the platypus.
Finally, make sure to have some healthy snacks on your trip. We pack a few recovery snacks on our trips – snacks such as nuts, bananas, granolas. They’re easy to pack and carry, taste great, and packed with all the nutrients you need for a day – protein, fat, carbs – and are high in electrolytes as well.
With the right planning and hydration gear, you’ll be set for safely tackling any trail. Happy hiking.