While backpacking and hiking, proper hydration must be of premier concern. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of hydrating your body with appropriate fluids. Even before you feel thirsty, your body could already be on the road to dehydration.
Here are some possible consequences of improper or inadequate hydration:
1. Electrolyte imbalance,
2. Heat exhaustion,
3. Heat stroke,
4. Kidney failure,
5. Death.Here are additional important points to remember with regard to proper hydration while hiking and backpacking.
1. If you want to effectively avoid any of the above dire consequences of improper or inadequate hydration, avoid thirst. Don’t let yourself get thirsty while hiking or backpacking. Keep swigging continuously on your water bottles, electrolyte drinks and/or hydration pack.
2. The rule of three states that you can live three minutes without air, three weeks without food, and just three days without water.
3. Hydrate before you start your trip.
4. Hydrate continuously during your hike.
5. Hydrate when you have finished your trip.
6. It is a good practice to map out your water sources before you start your hike or backpacking trip. Consult your topographical map and the Rangers or other authorities in charge of the area where you will be hiking. Also consult other hikers to find out what the availability of water will be along the trail. Let this research help you decide how much water you need to carry.
7. Hiking in the desert makes proper hydration even more critical.
8. Include in your gear water purification equipment such as iodine tablets or water filters.
9. Consider all backcountry water undrinkable without purification.
10. Avoid, before and during your hike or backpacking trip, caffeine and alcoholic drinks. Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics and will contribute only to depleting the water that you already have stored in your body.Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
by Richard Davidian, Ph.D.
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