Keeping oneself hydrated during a trek should perhaps the first thing on a trekker’s To-Do list. But it doesn’t end with simply asking your trek buddy to help you get your bottle out of your backpack. There are a few other things to keep in mind too.
Drinking plenty of water while trekking is a no-brainer. Yet how often do we see trekkers struggling with dehydration and fatigue. Hydrating adequately is a critical aspect of trekking. Water keeps the body energized and the mind alert.
The amount of water you should drink depends upon the temperature you’re at and your level of activity.
Low temperatures and the high altitudes are bound to make you thirsty. As you go higher up in the mountains, the air starts getting thinner. In order to maintain levels of oxygen in your body you need to keep hydrating yourself at regular intervals.
While trekking you are constantly perspiring even though you cannot physically see sweat dripping off your forehead. Your body loses water even while breathing. Remember how we made foggy windows by breathing on it or when we pretended to blow smoke through our mouth in winters? So be sure that you are losing water even while you’re just breathing.
Since there isn’t as much oxygen as you go up higher you breathe faster since your lungs are trying to pump in as much oxygen as they can. The result being a drier mouth and consequent dehydration! So you need more water at high altitudes.
As you trek the body uses water to keep muscles moving and maintaining a right pH balance. To maintain a healthy balance your body will require an increased fluid intake. Dehydration can kill the fun of trekking. It can lead to a lot of unpleasant problems and makes you vulnerable to altitude sickness.
Now that you know the many reasons to keep yourself hydrated while trekking, let me give you a few tips to do this best.
Know how much water to drink
Your day starts from the time you wake up in the morning. Drink half a litre of water as you wake up on an empty stomach. You can have another half litre within an hour of waking up. When you start trekking, have regular sips of water in brief intervals. Your water intake while trekking should be 2 to 3 litres. When you feel tired, take a break and hydrate. When you reach your camp site, have a litre of water in small breaks. Aim to drink 6 to 7 litre of water each day.
Building water intake capacity
Getting yourself used to taking in those copious amount of fluids is not easy. Most people are just not used to drinking right amount of water. A solution to this problem is to use ORS/Energy drink packets and dilute them in the water. They are excellent for helping you recover on essential minerals and salts you lose due to sweating. They also come in flavours like orange, lemon etc and it can help you with your aversion to drinking water. The best time to have this is when you are half through trekking for the day.
Carrying the right amount of water
Planning how much water to carry in a day is very important. Keep with you an extra water bottle while trekking. We recommend carrying 2 bottles, each of 1 litre capacity. A hydration water pack is a better option to have. It makes sipping water easy and you can drink water without stopping.
Find out details of availability of water for the day. Trekking trails are mostly made keeping in mind the availability of water. It is always good to know what are your water-points on the trail. Sometimes you might not find any water throughout the trail. A water filter is a good option for such situations. Trying looking for running water or water coming out of a rock because these most likely will be clean.
Walking in shaded areas is a great way to reduce water loss. Your body will lose a great deal through sweat, and you can avoid this by sticking to the shade wherever possible. Always carry a hat with you. Start your trek early in the morning if the weather is likely to be hot in the afternoon. You can resume trekking after a good part of the peak sunny time is over.
Eat healthy and nutritious food. Avoid carbonated drinks or alcohol. You can incorporate water even in the form of warm beverages like tea, soup and hot chocolate.
Listen to your body
Don’t wait to feel thirsty before you drink water. A few sips every 15-20 minutes while trekking should come naturally. It is better to be conscious of drinking water than being hit by symptoms of dehydration and then gulping down gallons.