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How are you? Summer is fast approaching! Now is the time to plan some fun summer trips with your friends and family. Here at Hyke & Byke, we love to try and summit a few Colorado 14ers each year during the summer. To safely summit these peaks and capture those stunning views there are definitely some things you need to know. In the paragraphs below I'm going to share with you some information on how to properly hydrate yourself to hike safely, avoid altitude sickness, perform your best, and enjoy your hike!
Summer hiking can definitely be fun and exciting. You get to enjoy the fresh air, you are awed with the beautiful views, and you get in tune with yourself and with nature. With all these perks, it’s easy to get distracted and not notice that you have been sweating profusely (though it may evaporate quickly) for the past hour. Your body needs to hydrate ASAP, but you don’t notice it until you’re parched and the heat and exhaustion are taking turns in beating you down.
So how much should you hydrate? Should you be drinking every five minutes on your trek? Well, not necessarily, but if that’s what floats your boat (pun intended), then feel free to do so.
Otherwise, the amount of hydration varies, depending on certain factors listed below:
Climate plays a huge role in determining how much water you lose during your hike. Naturally, if you choose to trek in humid conditions, you will sweat more profusely compared to when you hike in the cooler highlands. At least a liter is recommended for a few hour hike, since you’d be losing more water through perspiration and respiration.
2. Level of effort
If you know you will be climbing a steep terrain, we suggest being conservative on the amount of water you bring. For us, when we hike a 14er, we typically bring 3 liters per person. It's also important to map out your water sources before you start hiking. If you have water sources on your hike, you can bring a water filter like this one we love from MSR to fill your Nalgene or Camelbaks (we prefer hydration reservoirs ourselves).
3. Individual needs
There are no standards as to how much water you should take in when you hike. It all depends on the individual. One way to determine your own hydration needs is to weigh yourself before and after an hour of exercise without drinking any water (it's ok to not drink water for 1 hour of exercise or less) and subtract the numbers to get the difference which will tell you how much water your body sweats for one hour of exercise at that intensity. That number will tell you how much water you should drink each hour on a long hike. Overall, listen to what your body is telling you and remember that it is always better to err on the side of caution.
A couple of helpful tips:
• Avoid caffeine and sugary drinks – Caffeine, a natural diuretic, should be avoided before a hike because it can cause you to lose water more easily. Likewise, though, sugary drinks can give you an energy boost which could leave you beat as soon as the sugar high fades off.
• Bring sun protection – The higher the temperature, the more you will sweat. Therefore, shy away from Mr. Sun by bringing umbrellas or wearing hats to keep yourself cool.
There you go! Please keep these tips in mind before you head off to your next trip! :)
Remember: a hydrated hiker is a happy camper!