Hydration in the Heat
By Rebecca Gonzalez, Girls Who Hike Texas Ambassador
Summer in Texas is upon us. Yes, I know it’s still technically Spring, but the temps are creeping up! Hydration is incredibly important when you participate in any outdoor activity. Hiking is no exception. Although we may have some cool mornings and shade from trees, always be mindful of your water intake.
Some things to think about-
1. How much water do I need?
2. How do I stay hydrated?
3. Is there a wrong way to keep hydrated?
How much water do I need?
How much water you need depends on several factors. A few things to keep in mind- intensity level, duration, weather, your age, your sweat rate and your body type. As a rule of thumb, you should have at least a half-liter of water per hour of moderate activity in moderate temperatures. That being said- a hike in the Texas Hill Country in June may require more than a liter per hour.
Water isn’t just necessary on the heat. Make sure you have plenty of water even in cooler climates.
How do I stay hydrated?
Keep your water readily accessible. If it’s easy to get to, then you’re likely drink more. It can be as simple as carrying a bottle of water (not a fan) or something more elaborate like wearing a hydration vest. You could also stick a few bottles of water in a daypack/backpack.
Drink often and replace electrolytes. Don’t chug when you feel thirsty (believe me I’ve done that. It’s not pretty.) Rather, drink small sips regularly. Also, consider adding electrolytes to your water. I’m a fan NUUN tabs and they come in amazing flavors. Sports drinks are an option too, but are often full of sugar which can make dehydration worse.
Is there a wrong way to hydrate?
Not drinking enough or at the wrong times can lead to dehydration. The opposite is also true- too much water can lead to overhydration, or hyponatremia. Symptoms are similar in both cases. Drinking small amounts regularly (instead of chugging) and adding electrolytes should help you keep hydrated properly. Consider pairing a hand-held water bottle along with an over-the-shoulder pack. You can then fill the handheld with electrolyte replacement fluid and the bladder in your pack with water.
As always- Slow down, stop and take breaks if needed, wear a hat and loose fitting clothing, and listen to your body!