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Hydration, Electrolytes, and Sodium Replacement in the Backcountry —Simplified.

A Simplified Approach to Determining Your Needs for your Next Backcountry trip.

Sweating, breathing heavy, and peeing can all cause us to lose the fluid we need to stay hydrated. While we have some “wiggle room” for these losses, it isn’t much (about 2% of your total body weight is the max). To say that hydration is important- especially in early season hunts and backcountry pursuits- is an understatement.

We don’t have the luxury of measuring this in the backcountry. But, we do have a few points of reference to determine how hydrated we are or aren’t.

  • What’s your baseline? Do you normally sweat alot or very little? Do you have a history of having cramps and electrolyte-related issues (headaches, etc.)?

  • The color of your pee. The important thing to know is that we want to avoid urine that’s dark in color (gold-to-bronze or darker). Instead, we’re aiming for a straw yellow color.

  • Logic: is it now almost 4pm and you still have a bladder full of water in they hydration sleeve of your pack? Logic tells us that you’re likely not in a good spot if this has been your normal over the day.

If this has always been an area of struggle for you, here's seven tips to consider while planning for your next trip.

Here are 6 tips to consider when staying hydrated in the backcountry:

  1. The single best thing you can do is show up to the trail head well-hydrated 24-hours before your planned departure. This means little-to-no alcohol and plenty of fluids the day before your hike.

  2. Include plenty of fluid with breakfast in the morning. Typically a few big gulps of water, electrolyte mix, or similar fits the bitt (that’s about ½ of a Nalgene bottle).

  3. Set timer on your watch/phone if you’re not naturally good at drinking water WHILE hiking. Drinking at regular intervals is the best way to offset problems with dehydrations while hiking.

  4. Consider adding packets of lemonade, Kool-Aid, or an electrolyte blend to your water. This tends to increase the likelihood many folks will drink as it enhances the sometimes bland flavor of water.

  5. If you intend on hiking for 60-minutes or more (straight push), then it’s strongly encouraged to add an carbohydrate-rich electrolyte mix to your bladder. Two products that would fit this range from your everyday Gatorade mix to Tailwind Nutrition mix.

  6. Consider an electrolyte mix that does have a decent amount of sodium (300mg/serving) in it. This will help promote fluid retention and prevent dehydration.

Whether it's a quicker overnighter or an extended trip, staying hydrated is a key part of how well you feel in the mountains. You certainly don't need to obsess about the topic and many can simply rely on thirst. However, many of us aren't as good at simply relying on thirst. In those scenarios, here are several things to consider to be sure you stay strong through the entire duration of the trip!

Other questions about nutrition we can help with? Shoot us a quick email and we'd be glad to help!


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