With summer now upon us, here’s a refresher on how to avoid becoming dehydrated on your next blue bird tramping day.
To help clear up some misconceptions about water consumption, Wilderness spoke to Dr. Dan Exeter, sports and exercise physician from Axis Sports in Auckland.
Tip #1: Drink to thirst. This, Exeter said, is the golden rule for water consumption. He said that despite what some people think, it’s not a good idea to drink gallons of water before heading out on a tramp. “If you try to preempt thirst, you can actually get yourself in trouble with exercise-associated hyponatremia, where if you drink too much, you might end up dropping your sodium level.” Warning signs of hyponatremia could be puffy skin or a sense of swelling, or odd behaviour. Hyponatremia can quickly become a dangerous situation, Exeter said, and a person should be evacuated if showing signs or symptoms.
Tip #2: Plan for 2-3 litres per day. If you’re going on a long tramp to the tops or a hut where there may be no water, this could mean a very heavy pack. Exeter said it’s a good idea to check your map before you leave to determine where you might find water sources along your route to avoid carrying the extra weight.
Tip #3: Take rests and don’t forget to snack. Dehydration can be avoided by taking frequent breaks, especially if it’s a hot day. And while it may seem like a good idea to take electrolyte powders to supplement your drinking water, Exeter said that for tramps over an hour, it’s better to eat carb-focused snacks to help boost energy.