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Staying hydrated in the hills

Image of the January 2018 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
January 2018 Issue
The long, warm days of summer are ideal for tramping – but there’s also increased risk of dehydration. Here’s how to keep your fluids up.

Start off right
In the days leading up to your trip, increase your water intake. Drinking upwards of 2.5 litres a day for one to two days prior means you’ll be starting off well hydrated, and will be better able to cope with a hot day’s tramping.

Know the route
Check the map for probable water sources before leaving home, and prepare for the possibility that small side streams have dried up completely. It’s better to carry extra water than rely on a chance encounter with a water source.

Don’t sweat it out
Avoiding excess sweating will go a long way towards preventing dehydration. Wearing a hat on a hot day will help shade your head and reduce sweat output. Similarly, appropriate layering will help regulate body temperature.

Small sips, often
It’s easy to ignore your water bottle when it’s out of reach or hard to access without taking your pack off. A hydration bladder keeps your water supply within easy reach. You could also consider attaching a lightweight mug or foldable water bottle to the outside of your pack for a quick drink when passing a clean water source.

Mix it up
Drinking plain water can get tiresome, so tempt your tastebuds with electrolyte tabs or sports drink powder occasionally. Taking onboard a cup of soup or hot chocolate with lunch or dinner adds variety to your daily fluid intake.

Be aware of diuretics
Tea, coffee and alcohol have a diuretic effect, increasing your urinary output. While there’s nothing better than a steaming mug of tea after a hard day’s walk, you may want to drink extra water to compensate.