The basics of staying hydrated

Wilderness First Aid

Staying hydrated while hiking sounds simple enough, right? Yet it is still something nearly all of us neglect to do at some point. Your body is composed of more than 60 percent water; that means even a tiny bit of physical activity, like hiking, can lead to dehydration. This is especially true in hot weather. If you are feeling thirsty, you are already at least slightly dehydrated.

Symptoms of Dehydration

As the dehydration worsens, these symptoms appear and increase in severity:

Extreme thirst

Less frequent urination

Dark-colored urine stream




Complications of Dehydration

If dehydration is left untreated, it can lead to serious consequences. These include heat exhaustion or the extremely dangerous heat stroke. You may even experience a seizure due to lack of electrolytes. Repeated bouts of dehydration can lead to urinary and kidney problems.

How to stay well-hydrated

The cure? You guessed it - drink water. So simple, yet nearly all hikers don’t do enough of it. A few tips include, drink a couple of big glasses of water before you head out on your hike, that is to say, start out well-hydrated. While you are hiking drink frequently, rather than slugging a nalgene all at once. Something that helps us with that is adding a hydration bladder to your day hiking gear. That way a sip of water is always a few inches from your mouth. Also, you need to restore electrolytes. We have a dedicated nalgene that we only use for sports drinks, such as propel or gatorade. After your hike, again drink a couple of big glasses of water. Remember when it comes to peeing,  “copious and clear” is what you are after.

Advantages of being well hydrated

You will have more energy and endurance. Again, your body is more than half water, it only makes sense if you deplete your reserves that you are not going to be able to perform at peak levels. Also you’ll simply feel better, stay cooler, be able to push harder and you’ll recover faster so you can hit the trail sooner and do it all over again!