Mountain climbing is one of the great outdoor activities that many people enjoy. Aside from the difficulty of the trail, another challenge that hikers can face is keeping themselves hydrated all throughout the hike. If you’re planning to go for a rigorous hike soon, here are some tips to help you keep yourself hydrated.
To prepare yourself for the activity, you must first know the kind of mountain you will be climbing. You may use the web to search for information or ask other people who have gone on a hike on that mountain for information. Once you’ve done enough research, you will be able to decide how much water you should bring. This depends on different factors such as climate, level of difficulty, the duration of the activity, and your personal needs as well. If you will be hiking in a hot place, you might consider around 4 cups of water per hour (1 liter). If it is a cooler place, 2 cups (1/2 liter) will be enough every hour. That’s a general guide only and you need to be aware of your own needs and the conditions you will be hiking under.
How quickly your body needs water will in great part depend on how challenging the mountain trail is and how much effort you will be exerting while climbing. It is important to replace the fluids you are losing from respiration and perspiration. It’s important to be aware that different people have different levels of stamina or energy. The best thing that you can do while hiking to know your needs is to listen to your own body.
Here are some of the techniques you can do to stay hydrated during the hike.
- Dress properly: It is important to dress according to the climate of the mountain you will be climbing. Make sure to wear light colored and lightweight shirts when going on a hot or sunny place and wear thick clothes and gloves when going to a cold or snowy hike.
- Pre-hydrate: Drinking water two hours before the activity is a good practice to stay hydrated. This prepares your body for the journey ahead.
- Always keep water available: Remember to place your water bottle in a place where you can easily reach for it even while walking. This will encourage you to drink when you feel ready versus waiting to unpack.
- Drink frequently: It is better to take small sips often while hiking rather than drinking a lot infrequently. Since you are losing electrolytes when sweating, it is better to replace them immediately rather than waiting for your energy to decrease.
- Use sun protection: It is also important to bring a hat to provide you shade when the place you are hiking is sunny. Shade helps to keep your body cooler and reduce your water requirement.
- Drink even in cold weather: Though you may not have the same urge to drink water in cold weather, it is also important to take in fluids to stay hydrated. You may also bring hot drinks when you’re hiking in a cold place.
- Drink more at higher parts of the mountain climb: When you are at a higher altitude, you might feel less thirsty which but you still need to drink.
- Set an alarm: You may also remind yourself to drink water by setting a timer using your watch or phone. For example, you may set an alarm every 20 minutes so you won’t forget to take a sip of water during the hike.
- It is important to drink water after the hike as well. If you are doing an overnight hike, make sure to rehydrate once you reach the campsite then pre-hydrate again after you wake up the next day before continuing the activity.
You also need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of dehydration. This is important for you to know what you need to do if ever you or one of your colleagues experience it during the hike. Some of the early symptoms of dehydration are thirst, dry mouth, and a decrease in energy. More serious symptoms are cramps, dizziness, fatigue, headache, and nausea. When you experience these things during a hike, the best thing to do is to find shade and rest. Drink water with a pinch of salt or use a rehydrating powder.
While drinking a lot of water is important in mountain climbing, overdoing it may also cause a risk. Being over-hydrated is called hyponatremia. Its symptoms are similar to dehydration such as a headache, fatigue, and nausea. This is the reason why keeping track of your water intake during the hike is important. Aside from monitoring your water intake, adding salt to water can also prevent being over hydrated by causing your body to retain water.
Aside from water, you may also bring other foods and drinks that are rich in electrolytes. Some examples of snacks that are rich in electrolytes are mixed fruits and nuts, avocado, sweet potato, and yogurt.
Staying hydrated is one of the important things that can make your mountain climbing more enjoyable.