We’re well into summer here in the Okanagan and with that comes blazing heat. Even though I love the outdoors, it can be hard to want to go outside in such high temperatures. When we do manage to go on a hike, it can be really hard to stay properly hydrated.
Tips for Staying Hydrated in the Hot Weather
Start Hydrating Before You Begin Your Hike
Proper preparation is important. Drink lots of water a few hours before you head out and continue drinking right up until you hit the trailhead. Even eat something with a little salt in it. There’s no point in fighting an uphill battle.
If you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
Keep Your Electrolytes Up
Electrolytes help regulate your proper cell function and nerve impulses but when you sweat, you lose them. If you lose too many, your physical performance will suffer. When you’re hiking for longer than an hour, especially in hot weather, you’ll need to compensate for that loss.
There are plenty of easy ways replace your electrolytes, such as powders and tablets to mix into your water. We like to add NUUN tabs to our water to keep our electrolytes up.
Hydrate Regularly Throughout Your Hike
Make sure to drink regularly throughout your hike and keep your water handy. Hydration packs are wonderful because you can easily drink all the time. If you prefer water bottles, keep them on the outside of your pack so you can easily access them.
Instead of chugging water at break time, take smaller sips regularly. Your body with thank you for it.
Carry as much water as possible. We always carry at least 3 litres of water each in a hydration pack, along with extra water bottles. Water is heavy, but it’s very important.
If you know you’ll be hiking somewhere near water, bring a water filter such as Lifestraw in case you run low or don’t want to carry as much water.
A good rule of thumb is that you’ll drink about a half litre of water per hour of moderate activity in moderate temperatures. Be prepared to drink more in hot weather.
In addition to packing water, make sure to wear breathable clothing, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
Monitor Your Hydration
The best way to monitor your hydration is to check the colour of your pee. The darker yellow your urine, the more dehydrated you are. This can be hard to monitor if you’re using outdoor facilities, but you can always find a way.
Yes, this is a thing. Try to eat food with moisture and other nutrients to keep yourself hydrated. Fruit such as oranges, apples, and bananas are great.
Drink More at High Altitudes
Hiking at high altitudes can easily lead to dehydration because you’re less likely to feel the need for water. Even if you don’t feel like it, remember to drink regularly.
Start Your Hike Early in the Morning
Early morning and late at night are the coolest times of the day. If at all possible, avoid hiking at in the afternoon because it’s usually the hottest part of the day.
Have Hiking Buddies
Hiking buddies let you monitor each other’s conditions and provide help if someone is becoming dehydrated.
Risks of Improper Hydration
If you don’t properly hydrate yourself, you run the risk of serious consequences such as dehydration, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke.
Dehydration is when your body loses more fluids than it takes in. If you feel thirsty, you’re already starting to become dehydrated. If you don’t drink some water, you’ll notice early signs of dehydration like:
Loss of energy
More serious symptoms of dehydration include:
The “umbles” (stumbling, mumbling, grumbling, and rumbling)
Decrease in physical and mental performance
Luckily, it’s fairly easy to fix dehydration: just drink water.
Heat exhaustion goes hand in hand with dehydration.
To prevent heat exhaustion, drink plenty of water, wear loose fitting clothing that covers your skin, and limit physical activity. If you’re hiking, be sure to take plenty of breaks in the shade and dunk your head water.
Mild dehydration and heat exhaustion don’t need emergency medical attention, but without treatment they can lead to heat stroke. If it’s severe enough, you’ll require medical attention.
Heat stroke can damage your brain and other vital organs as well as cause death.
Don’t mess around with hydration, especially in the heat.