Hydration Basics: How To Make Sure You Won’t Be Hating Life On The Trail

I realized I may have jumped the gun by diving into finding the right reservoir before going over basic hydration tips. Staying hydrated (no matter how you actually take in the liquid) is one of the most important ways to make sure you enjoy yourself outdoors.

You may be wondering, “It’s 5 degrees in Denver right now, so I don’t think I’ll be breaking a sweat anytime soon. Do I really need to worry about staying hydrated during a polar vortex?”

The answer is a resounding yes. Colorado is dry, and gets even drier in the winter. Even if you don’t live in Colorado, your body uses up a lot of water to heat up the freezing cold air that you breathe in all winter long, making hydration a year-round priority.

There’re a few different routes you can take – none of them include bottled water. It’s overpriced, wasteful, and you fit a lot more into reuseable water bottle. This could be the souvenir bottle from your company retreat, some free one you got at a conference, or one of these puppies:

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I have a mild obsession with Camelbak Eddy water bottles. The .75 liter size is great to pack plenty of water for up to an hour hike or so (although you might need more if you’re just starting to get into shape). These bottles can take a beating, plus they have the Camelbak bite valve/straw on them, which makes it easier to drink more water. I think that’s been scientifically proven, but I can personally chug much more through a straw then just downing it out of a Nalgene-type bottle.

They’re pretty reasonably priced at $10 or so, considering you’ll just have to invest in one. Unless you’re like me…and lose them consistently. I’m on my third one now (my original is somewhere at BWI Airport and the second bottle is out there on a horse show grounds in Vermont). I realize I made the exact same argument for Sweaty Bands, but believe me, this water bottle is worth the price. Plus, if you think about how much money you would spend over a lifetime of buying bottled water, $10 is nothing.

For those of you worried about plastics, Camelbak products are marked BPA-free, but they also make this water bottle in a glass version if that’s your preference.

If you’ve decided to take the plunge into an outdoorsy lifestyle (and by that I mean you have decided you like hiking enough to do it more often and for longer periods of time) I would highly recommend getting a bladder. No, I don’t mean the internal organ. I mean this:

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Like I said in my bladder blog, they are awesome because you don’t have to reach back into your backpack and it’s easier to drink out of them on the go. You can bring more water with you as well, and it doesn’t take up much extra room in your pack.

For the warmer months, if you’re going to be sweating a lot, consider adding some sort of electrolyte to your water supply.

I love Vitalyte because it is predominately made up of sodium instead of sugar. The taste is discrete and the product is overall very cost-effective. I have had some issues with low blood pressure levels, and Vitalyte became my drink of choice to keep any light-headedness at bay. My second favorite is Clif Shots, but they are much more expensive and the flavor is definitely more noticeable.

If you prefer sports drinks, at least try Gatorade Zero, since it has less sugar. Salt and potassium are the biggest things to replace if you’re sweating a lot. I have nothing against Powerade, except for I threw up right after drinking it once and the blue flavor came up black. It was necessary to share that disgusting story with you to explain why I will never drink Powerade again. I could be biased, but getting your wisdom teeth taken out is traumatic enough without that experience added on.

Now that you’ve got that image in your head, get out there and recreate safely! Staying hydrated is the key to actually enjoying yourself outside, so don’t skimp on the water and have fun.

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