75% of the human body is water, and when we drink an adequate amount of water every day – whether we are resting, exercising, doing our office work, and so on – we keep holding approximately 55-60% of it.
On a hiking trip that involves constant movement and, hence, water loss, hikers need to keep hydrating themselves to prevent dehydration or signs of it.
However, most people tend to hydrate themselves once they notice one of those signs of dehydration. But what are they and how can you tell when a person is dehydrated while hiking?
Check the answer to that below!
What Are The 6 Signs Of Dehydration?
You Are Thirsty
This is an obvious one. Feeling thirsty is the first and most evident sign that you need to have some water.
Your Mouth Feels Dry Or Sticky
To produce saliva in our mouths, our bodies need to be hydrated. Therefore, if you feel your mouth sticky and dry with little or no saliva at all, that is another sign you should grab that bottle of water and have some sips.
You Haven’t Peed In A While
Not all people pee the same number of times in a day, but during a hiking trip that is something you should be checking.
If you see that it’s been a couple of hours since you last peed, that is a definite sign that you need to sip some water.
Your Pee Is Of A Dark Yellow Color
The color of your bodily fluids is another sign that can tell you if you are dehydrated.
Your urine has a pale-yellow hue when you are hydrated, but when the opposite happens it becomes dark yellow, indicating dehydration.
Your Skin Has Dried
How elastic your skin is can also tell you if you’ve been dehydrated, and a way to test that is by pinching your skin.
If you see that it doesn’t move back fast, that means you need to drink some water, and if you see that it’s ‘sticking’ together, then you need lots of it.
You Have A Headache
Are you aware of the fact that our brains are 80% water? Now that you know it, you realize how important drinking water and eating water-rich snacks on a hiking trip is.
So, if you feel dizziness or a headache, before reaching for your first-aid kit for some pain relievers, drink some water first.
How To Stay Hydrated While Hiking
Hydrate Before Your Hiking Trip
Even before you embark on your hiking trip or head to the campsite, make sure you drink water.
Consuming 16-24 oz of water before you set out on the hiking path is perfect for staying hydrated during those first miles.
Drink some more if you are going on your hiking trip very early in the morning because you will probably have depleted your body’s water storage from the night before.
Take Frequent Sips
To keep yourself hydrated during the hiking trip, you should have small sips of water every 15-20 minutes, or every half an hour.
Having small sips is much better than having an entire bottle of water every couple of hours. And, if you feel like you can’t keep track of time, set an alarm to remind you to drink some water.
Keep Your Water Easily Accessible
Putting your water bottle in the bottom of your backpack isn’t very helpful when you are hiking, as you will need to stop every 15 minutes to get it out, which will prolong your trip and stall your group.
Hydration bladders and soft bottles are great alternatives to bigger, standard bottles as you can fit them in outside pockets or even carry them in your jacket’s pockets.
They are also equipped with tubes that make it much easier to sip on the water without even having to take them out!
Even so, if carrying a classic water bottle is what you prefer, make sure to keep it in an accessible side pocket to easily get it from there without having to stop.
Don’t Forget About Your Electrolytes
When you plan on hiking for more than an hour, resupply your body with electrolytes to compensate for those lost through sweating.
Mass-produced sports drinks, such as Powerade, are typically too sweet, though.
However, you can dilute them with water, get powders or tablets like Nuun or Skratch Labs, or even end up making your own by mixing a teaspoon of salt with a teaspoon or two of fruit juice with the water that’s in your bottle.
If you prefer eating your electrolytes, packing some salty snacks is also a great way to do it.
Drink Pure Water
Refilling your water bottle isn’t always possible, but most hiking trails have some water source nearby at some point.
So, have a water filtration system or purifier with you and refill your bottle with fresh water. This way, you can get away with any illnesses caused by infected water.
Ignore The Weather
Many hikers tend to underestimate their body’s need for water when it’s cold outside but staying hydrated is extremely essential in cold weather as it is during a summertime day.
Our bodies can get cold way quicker when we are dehydrated, so if you want to keep yourself warm, drink your water.
However, many people dislike drinking cold water in the winter. Thankfully, the solution to that lies in the use of a thermos that can keep your water or hot tea at the right temperature.
Protect Your Skin From The Sun
Use sun cream, sun-protective layers, and a hat to shield yourself from the sunlight.
Exposure to sunlight accelerates dehydration, whereas shade (from your hat) keeps you cool in the summer, reduces the sweat produced, and thus keeps you more moisturized.
Plan Your Hiking Trip For When The Weather Is Cooler
When the weather is extremely hot, it is best to start your hiking trip early in the morning and take a break under some shade when the sun is at its peak (typically from 11a.m to 3 p.m).
You can then continue hiking till the sun has set.
The Bottom Line
Before going on a hiking trip, the most important thing to remember is to have enough water with you. Failing to do so will result in severe dehydration.
So, make sure you check yourself for signs of dehydration and sip on water regularly throughout the trip!