We all need to drink water regularly, as not only are we normally 50-65% water, but it is a vital part of the many processes and reactions that keep our bodies running smoothly.
The more “work ” we do the more water is lost to;
- Chemical reactions (creating energy and body metabolism)
- Breathing (gas exchange, and the bodies air conditioning system – cooling)
- Sweating (bodies air conditioning – cooling)
- Waste management – ( flushing the system via the urine)
When we don’t drink enough to match the loss of water from our bodies, dehydration will occur. The symptoms of which include;
- Impaired decision making and concentration
- Nausea (the last thing you want to do is drink! – common)
- Dizziness / Faint(common)
- Decreased urine output / Yellow colour(always)
- Dry skin
- Thirst /Dry Mouth
- Unexplained excessive fatigue / Lethargy(early)
- Headaches(very common)
- Aching stiff legs / slow recovery
- Confusion / Irritability
- Increased body Temperature (water evaporating from your skin cools)
Monitor your Hydration
One of the best methods for measuring your hydration, is to keep and eye on the frequency and colour of your Urine output.
- Passing clear Urine, more often = well hydrated,
- Passing yellow / dark yellow Urine, less often = getting dehydrated / Very dehydrated.
While many people still use drink bottles in the outdoors, the best method to encourage good hydration is to use a Drink Bladder System
Drink Bladders allow you to carry an adequate supply of water, while maintaining pack balance,(*1) and make it easy to drink without needing to remove your pack while hiking.
Camelbak have a useful Hydration calculator tool on their website, which provides a “snapshot” estimate of your hourly water consumption to help guide you to best amount to carry.
Adequate Water Intake
When you are consuming an adequate amount of water to match your water output (breathing, sweating, production of energy) during physical activity like hiking, you will feel;
- Full of energy
- Clear mind
- Increased urine output and colour clearing(adjust your water intake down when its clear to avoid over hydration.)
- No ill effects during or after activity like: headaches, tiredness, aching muscles.(combined with stretching)
There is no place for Energy drinks in hiking,(or any where!)while these sugar heavy (simple carbohydrates) drinks may give you the feeling energy its is very short-lived and causes a crash in your energy after a very short period.
These drinks (including Alcohol (*2)) also make your body lose water faster, increasing urine output, and dehydration.
Resting after a long hard day hiking, keep drinking water through the evening to help clear the waste products of exercise from your body and avoid waking up the next morning aching and stiff with a headache.
It is a good idea to always filter and purify all drinking water in the New Zealand Outdoors, as it is impossible to define which water is safe and which is not.
- A Guide to the Ministry of Health Drinking-water Standards
- for New Zealand, 2008.
- Human Anatomy and Physiology, Marieb
- Pathophysiology, Concepts of Altered Health States, Porth
- NSW Rural Fire fighters Pocket Book, How Dehydrated are you?
- Exercise,the low down on hydration
(*1) Most modern hiking packs will have a Drink Bladder Sleeve already installed, so the bladder sits in the best balance position Low, centred and against your back. For older packs you can make your own port and “Sleeve.”
(*2) The ugliness of a hangover is actually the result of the amount of alcohol you have consumed overwhelming your body’s ability to get it out of your system – effectively poisoning, and the dehydration resulting from its diuretic effect.