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Hydration on the Trail
Prepared for RAM Hikers
by Carl Berney

Intro - What this document will tell you

Why to keep hydrated while hiking.
     We focus on what is necessary for our 2-4 hour hikes.
How often and when
Various waters and supplements

Options for carrying water

How our body loses water while hiking

We lose water by perspiration, metabolism, and urination.
Clear to yellow is fine, dark you need water quickly.

The human body is roughly 60% water, so water is necessary for all of the systems in our body to function properly. Water helps us regulate body temperature, aids in smooth digestion, delivers oxygen to our muscles, protects and cushions joints, and flushes out unwanted toxins.

How much and when

While hiking, a few mouthfuls every 15-20 minutes will keep you hydrated. Maybe more if it is strenuous or hot and you sweat more.

It helps to pre-hydrate in the morning of a hiker even in the evening before bedtime. Eight to sixteen ounces of water with breakfast, fortified by electrolytes (see below) will get you ready for that initial
burst of exertion. Some of our hikes start with a significant elevation gain. Skip coffee or tea. They are diuretics and you will tend to pee out all that preparation.

If the hike was particularly strenuous, another eight to sixteen ounces of water when you get home will help with recovery.

While the recommended daily water intake varies widely by individual condition, weight, and age, the table below offers some guidelines:

Dehydration Dangers

Many hikers underestimate the amount of water they need to drink while on a hike. A lack of water can lead to serious consequences. Mild symptoms of dehydration are thirst, dry mouth, headaches. More severe symptoms are rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, sunken eyes and cheeks. Severe dehydration may also cause dizziness or fainting spells which could be dangerous if you are on a steep trail.

Hydrated Waters

When you sweat, you lose essential nutrients like sodium (salt), potassium, and chloride. Plain water is essential. However, there are many waters that are boosted with sugar and/or electrolytes:



Pedialyte Sport
Bodyarmor SuperDrink
BioSteel Sports Nutrition

Electrolyte Supplements

Here is a list of supplements you can add to water or other drinks.
Most are recommended by Forbes.

Note, many of these have sugar as their main ingredient.

Read the specifications before you order any of these.

Nuun Sport Electrolyte Tablets
LMNT Electrolyte Powder Packets
Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier
Ultima Replenisher
Key Nutrients Electrolyte Recovery Plus
NOW Effer-Hydrate Recovery
Vital Proteins Hydration + Collagen
Tailwind Endurance Fuel
Essential Elements Hydration Electrolyte Mix
Original Quinton Isotonic

Trace No! Muscle Cramps *
*Recommended by hiker Gary Taft-Used by Russ and Carl

Or make your own

• ¼-1 tsp of iodized salt
• 1 ½ cups of boiling water
• 2 ½ cups of juice made from 100% fruit
• ¼ cup of lemon juice
To make an electrolyte drink at home using this formula, add the salt to boiling water in a large pitcher. When the salt has dissolved, add in the juices, chill, and enjoy.

Means to carry water while hiking

There are a multitude of products available to carry your water from the elegant to the simple. The simplest is to stick a couple of bottles in your hiking pants pockets. Here are a few fancier suggestions:

Waist hydration packs

PYFK Belt with bottles $20

Water bladders

Pro- Easy access to water mouthpiece
       Encourages more frequent drinking
       Can carry accessories

Con- hot to wear
       Must be emptied and drained and dried after use


Take a drink every 15-20 minutes when hiking. More if sweating.
You need more water than you think you do. Bring more.
Pre and post hydration is helpful.
Watch out for dehydration.
Urine should be clear to yellow. Dark is dangerous; get water ASAP.
Plain water is essential. Hydrated waters with electrolytes is better.
Fanny packs with water bottles are an easy carry.
Water bladders carry more water and are more convenient to use.

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