A water backpack is a big consideration if you are a nature enthusiast who has not tried hiking yet. Are you interested in spending time in the wild with a hiking bag and camping under the stars? Do you hate drinking water? In order for a hike to be successful, you will need to take adequate food and water to sustain yourself for however long you’ll be hiking the trails. You may be surprised to learn the most crucial mistake beginner hikers make when they begin hiking excursions. All too often, hikers forget or don’t realize just how much water their bodies need while hiking. If you’re reading this, you’ll have nothing to worry about because you’ll be informed with this article.
Avoiding Dehydration While Backpack Hiking
Let’s use the example of an overnight weekend camping trip. You’ll leave mid morning on Saturday and end your hike late afternoon on Sunday. How much water should you consume in that time period? Experienced hikers may know the answer, while beginners may just try to guess. A good rule of thumb is to consume approximately 1 liter, which is equal to one quart, for every two hours of hiking.
Of that approximate 26 hours , you will be sleeping roughly 8 hours of that time and resting about 3-6 hours, depending on your break times for relaxation. Therefore, we’ll “guesstimate” an average of 12 total hours of actual hiking. In this case you would need to consume a total of 6 liters when you drink 1 liter for every two hours of hiking.
As you hike, you may think you are not thirsty because our thirst mechanism doesn’t readily coincide with our actual intake. Not giving your body the fluids it needs to be properly hydrated, aka dehydrated, is pretty serious. When I use the term “water”, it can include any water based beverages such as Gatorade, flavored water or any other non-caffeinated liquid. Straight up water in your hiking backpack is always good for your kidneys because it doesn’t need internal filtering.
When Hiking, I Don’t See Myself Sweating Much
Your adult body is made up of 60%-70% water. Hiking depletes your body of essential fluids, salt and electrolytes because you will sweat, even if you don’t feel like you are. So how much is enough? Frequent sipping of 1 liter of fluid over a 2 hour period of active hiking is recommended. Instead of large gulps, you will help your body retain the fluids more efficiently by drinking slower instead of overloading your bladder. If you do this over the entire time of your hike, even when you don’t feel thirsty, you won’t have issues with hydration.
Hikers; Can’t Recall How Much You Drank? Watch For These Signs
If you lose track of how much fluids you drank, you may be having so much fun exploring that you may think you consumed more than you actually did. It’s not like you have to write it down but empty bottles in your backpack is a good indication of how much you’ve taken in. What does a body feel like that is dehydrated or needing to replenish fluids? First, you will begin to feel overly tired and not as energized. You may begin to experience a headache. Whenever the body loses more water than it takes in, you are susceptible to dehydration. We lose water through our urine, feces, sweat, skin and breath.
Be aware; when did you pee last? Since you’ll most likely be peeing on the ground, you may not be able to note its color. Your pee should be a light straw color, not dark yellow. You could feel dizzy or light-headed if you are hiking over rough terrain and not adequately hydrated. Your heartbeat and breathing could become rapid. If you feel any of these symptoms, don’t try to drink too much all at once. Continuous sips of water and snacks of cucumber, watermelon, berries and apples work well. Taking a rest break while slowly re-hydrating your body will get your strength back.
Hiking Water Weighs A Ton In My Backpack Bag
Your water backpack will have it’s own sleeve to carry a water bladder for drinking water. If not, you can carry your own individual bottles, in fact it’s not wise to rely on a water bladder alone because it could always spring a leak and then you’d be at a loss for drinkable water. If the map in your hiking pack shows sources of fresh water along your hike, such as a creek, lake, river or waterfall, be attentive to the weather. During hot summer spells, your water source could have dried up. Otherwise, you won’t need to carry heavy bottles, you can refill at sources along the trail, which is always ideal when it’s available
If relying on these outdoor water sources, you’ll need to carry purification drops or tablets in your hiking pack. This will avoid sickness from water with bacteria that you can’t even see. Trust me, you don’t want a bad case of stomach pains and diarrhea to ruin your hike. Water that looks crystal clear to the naked eye can easily have harmful bacteria in it. It’s better to be safe than sorry when you are in the wild.
A water backpack can be a hiking backpack that you add a bladder to, or simply carry water in it. A hydration backpack is predominantly for the bladder and gear tubing without a whole lot of room for your other essentials. The important take away is the knowledge of how hikers can easily become dehydrated while hiking if they are not careful with fluid consumption.
Accidents could always happen while you’re on a long hike, but dehydration is very preventable if you listen to your body and heed this advice. NatureTrailBackpacks community consists of very experienced to brand new hikers. We can all learn from each other. Feel free to comment below your ideas for staying well hydrated when you take a hike. Most of all, enjoy your hikes to the fullest by staying happily hydrated : )