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By Diane Spicer
There are several philosophies on hiking hydration.
As an "old school" hiker (way over 40), I am fine with stopping for quick water breaks.
Typically, this involves handing my trail buddy his/her water bottle while waiting for mine to be handed to me.
Or taking off my backpack if I'm on a solo hike.
Too much water hitting an empty stomach quickly can lead to nausea and sometimes cramping.
But there's an easier way to get to your water supply.
Many hikers vehemently support the "hydration system" approach to hiking hydration.
Why carry a water bottle in an external pack pocket when you can have continuous access to water?
A hiking hydration system is a bit more complicated than a bottle.
A water bladder or reservoir, carried inside your backpack, provides water via a drinking tube whenever you choose to sip.
A hiking hydration backpack provides ample room for the full bladder and the tubing, with a bite valve controlling the flow of water into a hiker's mouth.
These hiking hydration systems can get pretty fancy, along with an implied commitment to regular hygiene.
I freely admit that I've never tried one, so I can't comment on their worth.
Why is that?
I wonder about the necessity of adding a slime inhibitor to my hiking gear list.
As a retired microbiologist, I'm a bit squeamish about what can grow on all that closed plastic surface area (biofilms).
These questions have stopped me from using a hydration system.
Regardless of the delivery system, you need lots of clean water while you hike, before and after your hike, too.
I don't know about you, but I tend to go into open-mouthed breathing when I'm hiking uphill, so I lose even more water during that phase of each hike.
If you consumed dehydrating beverages or food recently, you are starting off with a water deficit.
You might not notice it until you ask your legs to start tackling the trail.
Feeling sluggish, tired or irritable is a clue that you're dehydrated.
Stay alert for the dehydration signs and symptoms discussed here.
You've either learned to ignore your thirst sensations, or you're going to be hit soon with overwhelming thirst during your hike.
It's a cruel twist of physiology that once the thirst drive kicks in, you're already on the slippery slope toward a large water deficit.
Here's an easy way to monitor your water level, other than your thirst: Keep an eye on how much, and what color fluid, you are urinating.
Drink more water immediately until your urine becomes abundant and straw colored (i.e. pale yellow).
Ouch! A dehydration headache.
Mine tends to throb around my temples and pull at my eyes.
I sometimes have to drink a quart or two of water before it goes away.
And if I don't have that much with me?
I always make time to sit quietly and drink at least a quart of water after a strenuous hike, headache or no headache.
If I don't need the water, no harm don.
My kidneys will produce abundant clear urine and my cells will be properly hydrated.
Kidneys are very wise organs! Support their proper function with good hiking hydration.
Does that go against what you've been taught in terms of personal hygiene?
You perspire to dump excess heat in your core. If you're burning up the trail, you don't want your internal organs to get overheated and cease to function.
And if you're hiking with a doggie friend, be aware that the only way they can dump excess heat is to pant - which makes them thirsty, which means you've got to carry water (or have them carry water) to replace what's lost in the drool.
I don't wear antiperspirant or deodorant when I hike, because I want to capitalize on the ability of my sweat to carry away impurities and toxins and to clean out my pores.
An additional benefit of your muscular contractions during a hike: it gets the lymphatic system moving.
That's another way to purify the blood and allow toxins to flow out of the skin pores where they can be flushed away when you shower or swim.
Sweat won't smell bad until bacteria have had a chance to start metabolizing it, so on a day hike, what you are smelling is that person's characteristic "signature" odor.
A garlic eater will have different odor than a curry eater than a meat eater.
As long as you shower or bathe after a hike, the odor won't be much of a problem.
On multiday hikes, washing
up each evening not only feels good, but removes odors. Here are my backpacking hygiene kit tips.
Don't ask me.
I always have a soaked shirt by the time I've reached my destination.
I just dry off in the sun during the summer - a perfect excuse for an after-lunch siesta on a comfy rock.
Can you tell that I'm a big fan of perspiration?
If you are hiking with someone you are romantically involved with, or want to be involved with, the pheromones in your sweat can be a huge turn-on.
A lot of human reproduction/romance is tied up in smell.
Really!! If you don't believe me, ask the perfume manufacturers. They make a fortune on your sense of smell along with perceived or learned olfactory associations.
Water, right? Duh!
But you can add "enhancements" if you're really serious about preventing muscle cramps and post-hike aches and pains.
As far as what to add to your water bottle or hydration system, there are many opinions about sports hydration.
And play it safe with your drinking water.
Hiking hydration means keeping the water you put into your body where it belongs: in your body!
Add powdered electrolytes to your hiking hydration routine in hot or strenuous conditions.
Also, carry some in your first aid kit in case you are losing precious body water via diarrhea or vomiting. It will buy you some time so you can hike out and get help.
No sugar, keto friendly, gluten free, and delivers important ions like potassium, magnesium and calcium in each sip!
The hint of flavor makes it more likely that water breaks will be appealing.
Convinced that hiking hydration truly is a big deal?
Make sure you're paying attention to your level of "juiciness" throughout your next hike!
And don't ignore a headache or cramping. It's your signal to gluggggggg down some clean cold water ASAP.
Your kidneys will love you for it.
Hurrah for your kidneys!!
Send them some love, in the form of water molecules.
Hiking For Her recommends only what works on the trail. When you purchase through this website, you pay nothing extra while helping these tips to flow freely.