Staying hydrated in the outdoors can seem a low priority. You're out enhjoying the view, your run, or your walk and thirst strikes!
You want to ignore it and carry on with your day. Sadly, our bodies don't care what we're doing or looking at, they know what's best.
If you're travelling in a hot country, if you lost water from sweating, crying or from a poorly stomach, then your body is simply telling you to drink up. As you may well know, water accounts for a huge amount of our body composition, around 70% at an optimum level. Your body wants to keep it this way.
This percentage of course has peaks and dips, dependent on what we are doing, the temperature, and how much fluid we consume. We can't always be at optimum levels, and some days, we may need more than the reccommended 8 glasses.
Sports and periods of high activity can make you sweat out your body’s water levels, and if too much is lost, this can result in dehydration. It's so important to stay hydrated, that you should dedicate plenty of time to ensuring you, and your outdoor companions are well hydrated, particualrly in:
This includes sports such as skiing and swimming where you don't notice fluid loss and sweat as much as within sports such as running.
There are 4 ways of hydrating yourself when you are on the move and far from the nearest tap. What you choose should be based on your time away adventuring, and how much weight you can cope with.
Hydration packs are ideal for fuss free hydration, whatever activity you’re doing. Hydration packs are styles of bags that can provide water pouches inbuilt, with attached tubes for on-the-go supping.
Space varies from design to design, but ideally your pack or reservoir should be able to hold all the water you need for all day drinking, whilst still offering a small area to fit in other key items, such as spare clothes, a torch or a pair of goggles.
In terms of fit, you should follow the same guidelines set down for securing a rucksack, making sure that the bulk of the weight is distributed with a low centre of gravity, rather than placing stress on your spine and back muscles.
Fabrics vary with each bag, from polyester to plastic. Ideally your hydration pack should be able to withstand the same debris as your rucksack, so any signs that it can fight abrasion, such as ‘rip stop’ areas or reinforced features can make sure your hydration pack stands the test of time.
As well as the fabric, make sure that the hydration features are easy to use and easy to clean and maintain. Many styles of hydration pack also come with cleaning tools, or you can purchase these separately, perfect for keeping your drinking tubes and the water bladder clean and free from bacteria.
Any anti-microbial treatments in the lining can also help keep away germs and mold.
As well as function and hydration being covered off, you can choose your hydration pack based on added extras too. From MP3 compatible areas, reflective tabs for visibility and helmet guards, as well as outer storage areas, your hydration pack should be able to offer a whole new level of organization.
Detachable hydration systems are the reservoir and tubes from a hydration pack that can be taken in and out of various bags, for on the go hydration for a multitude of activities.
These come with clip on straps that means you can easily attach your reservoir to your bag or pack. This comes with tubes and bite valves that feed through your pack and into your mouth, ideal for using on the go.
Waist packs are great ways of storing your water bottle without the need for hands. Look for adjustable features, so you can get the perfect fit, whatever you’re up to. Designed to be lightweight, practical and comfortable, waist packs are created to be easily worn and should fit snugly around the pelvis and waist.
Look for styles that incorporate reflective features for visibility, as well as zip pockets so you can also stash in keys or loose change.
Water bottles are perfect for having a low cost way of keeping yourself hydrated. Styles vary, from simple plastic bottles, to high tech stainless steel creations that won’t drip or spill when you don’t want them to.
Whatever your passion in the great outdoors, a sturdy water bottle is ideal if you’re close to a water supply.
If you’re headed further into rural areas with no clean or safe water likely to be available, your best bet is to try a hydration pack instead.
Look for a water bottle with an ergonomic fit, such as hand gripping areas, or anti slip functions, so you can stay hydrated even when wearing thick gloves.
Another benefit of a water bottle is it’s easy to clean style. Most water bottle can be popped into a dishwasher, so you can avoid using special brushes or equipment to get a clean shine on your bottle. As with hydration systems, look for anti microbial, or anti bacterial linings and treatments in your bottle, so it can fight off mold for longer.
Dehydration can result in lower performance levels, and if it gets to serious levels, for example whilst exercising in a hot climate, you can even be at risk of heart failure, so it's important to keep a check on your fluid levels.
* For your daily intake, tea and coffee, fruit juices etc can be considered into your fluid intake. Although caffeine is a dieuretic, making you go to the bathroom more, the overall intake is more beneficial than nothing at all.
In other words, water or diluted juice is best, but tea and fruit juice is a better fluid intake than nothing.
If you are already dehydrated, tea and coffee should be avoided. *
You should ideally be consuming around 8 oz of water for every 20 minutes of running or biking.
Our bodies are deigned to use natural salts to help us process fluids without 'flooding'. Too much water can cause damage, as the electrolytes are overpowered, whilst too little water can be just as problematic.
Whilst exercising in the outdoors, or travelling in the sun, you need to stay hydrated so as to avoid dehydration. For the UK, you need an extra 2 pints of water on top of the recommended 8 glasses for exercise, and this rule should apply for hot countries as well. If you feel thirsty- drink.
However, recognize the signs of dehydration. Many of us, when outdoors, walking, travelling or running ignore these first warning signs of dehydration simply because we are too busy to drink. We put it to the bottom of our to do list. The good news is your body loses fluid slowly, but if you ignore the first signs of dehydration, the problems of dehydration can soon escalate.
When a certain percentage, over 10% of body fluid loss occurs, blood can stop circulating.
Thirst is the first sign of mild dehydration, anywhere from 1% of overall body fluid loss to 5%, but this can also be accompanied by
Prolonged dehydration and ongoing deprivation of fluids can result in kidney damage, liver damage, or loss of strength.
All of the above symptoms, plus:
Rehydrating is important, not only in terms of the volume of fluid, but the type of fluid.
When the body sweats, it loses electrolytes, the natural salts found in our bodies.
Too many lost electrolytes can damage the bodies’ cells, and can lead to death, or at least an unhealthy level of water intoxication.
Along with lost salts, a dehydrated body will also be low on natural sugars, so you should look for a blend of salt, sugar and fluid as soon as possible.
Sports drinks allow electrolytes to be replenished safely, but small meals and salty foods also work well.
For severe dehydration, advance past self care and get medical assistance