How Much Water Should I Drink While Hiking: A Basic Guide

Water is an essential element in the human body. Without enough water intake, your body would fail to work.

This post will inform you of the necessity of enough water consumption, and more specifically, it will investigate the question, how much water should I drink while hiking?. You will also get information about the treatment of dehydration and some practical hydration tips.

How Much Water Does The Human Body Need in General?

Water is your body’s primary component; it makes up about 60% of your body weight. Your body loses water daily through your breath, sweat, urine, and intestinal movements. Therefore the water supply must be replenished by drinking beverages and eating food containing water.

According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, a man is advised to consume 3.7 liters of water daily while a woman needs about 2.7 liters. For most people, 20% of the water comes from food while 80% comes from drinks.

You’ve probably heard of the Golden Rule of 8 glasses of water a day. While it has some amount of truth, each body has its own requirement. These requirements are determined based on exercise, climate, and overall health.

However, water isn’t the only way to reach your daily fluid intake goal. Many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon and spinach, are almost 100% water by weight and can contribute significantly to your daily water consumption. Additionally, milk, juice, and herbal teas mainly consist of water.

How Much Water Does a Hiker Need?

Hiking is a potent recreational activity that can benefit your body and soul. It can lower the risk of heart diseases, improve your balance, help control your body weight, and improve your mood.

It is essential to remain hydrated during a hike to avoid health problems.

When preparing for an outdoor workout, whether it’s walking, running, cycling, or tennis, a decent thumb rule is to drink two cups of water two hours before the activity. This ensures that you are properly hydrated before venturing outside.

The general guideline for remaining hydrated on the trail is to carry one liter of water every two hours of hiking. Be that as it may, this estimation is influenced by several variables, which are as follows:

1. Weather

The weather can be a crucial factor in determining the right amount of water consumption required by the body. Our body tends to sweat more when hiking in warm weather, perhaps up to 20% more per hour.

We also tend to wrap up in warm clothing when hiking in cold weather, creating a microclimate below our clothes that is just as warm and sweat-inducing as ambient temperatures when hiking in summer.

2. Metabolic Rate

How much an individual sweats differs from person to person. This is controlled by our bodies’ metabolic rate and how accustomed we are to specific temperatures.

Sweat glands secrete sweat onto the skin’s surface, which helps to discharge excess metabolic heat. The sweating rate can rise to a maximum of 4 liters per hour. When the sweat evaporates from our bodies, they tend to cool down. This is essentially why we sweat more in higher temperatures.

3. Level of Physical Exhaustion

The type of trail also plays a significant role. The more difficult the hike is, the harder it will make you sweat, thus resulting in loss of water. Keeping this in mind, it’s best to research the terrain you’ll be hiking in and ensure you’re carrying enough water.

4. Personal Hydration Needs

Each individual has their own hydration needs. It varies either regarding their general physiology and hiking style or their water intake requirements. You’ll need to listen to your body and let it guide you to determine this.

Is “The More, the Merrier” Just a Myth?

Athletes occasionally may drink too much water to prevent dehydration during long and intense workouts. This can also be the case with hikers. A common misconception is that people believe drinking access amounts of water is beneficial for your health and that it has no disadvantages.

Contrary to popular belief, you could develop a condition known as hyponatremia if you drink a lot of water and your kidneys can’t get rid of the excess. This suggests your blood minerals have been diluted or watered down, and as a result, sodium levels in the blood decrease.

Moreover, water levels in your body rise, and your cells swell. It has the potential to cause severe or even life-threatening issues. So, you may be urged to gulp loads of water to stay hydrated, but that probably won’t be the wisest option.

5 Useful Hydration Tips

Here are some tips to keep yourself healthily hydrated throughout the trail:

1. Pre-Hydrate

In most cases, it isn’t entirely necessary. However, it is recommended for sustained high-exertion activity such as hiking.

2. Drink Often

Taking smaller sips at smaller intervals of time could be more effective in keeping you hydrated instead of chugging water infrequently.

3. Pack Electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals that direct water to the portions of our bodies that need it the most and are lost through sweat when we exercise. It is, therefore, a good idea to carry a few electrolyte gels or tablets, or simply a sachet or two of salt, to aid with dehydration recovery.

4. Drink More at Higher Altitude

Performing activities at higher altitudes can lead to dehydration. You’re less likely to seek water at higher elevations and feel thirsty, so drinking at regular intervals is crucial.

5. Plan Your Water Sources

Water weighs a lot, so you should avoid carrying extra weight as that will result in more exertion and, as a result, more water loss. To overcome this, plan a route that will take you by a water fountain or another wild water source where you can refill your bottle.

What Happens When Your Body Dehydrates?

Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluid than it consumes. It can be caused by excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.

In some cases, even diabetic patients experience dehydration as high blood sugar levels cause increased urination and fluid loss. This can cause several complications in one’s body; these include:

1. Low Blood Volume

This causes a drop in blood pressure and reduces the oxygen supply to the tissues.

2. Seizures

This occurs due to an imbalance of electrolytes.

3. Kidney Problems

Dehydration can induce kidney problems – kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and eventually kidney failure.

4. Heat Injury

Heat injuries can range from mild cramps to heat exhaustion and heatstroke in more extreme cases.

How Do You Treat Dehydration?

The fluid level in the body can be replenished by consuming clear fluids–like water, clear broths, frozen water or ice pops, energy drinks such as Gatorade, etc. Nonetheless, in extreme cases, patients may require intravenous fluids to rehydrate. In addition, dehydrated people should steer clear of caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and sodas.

In some instances, dehydration can be caused due to underlying conditions–such as diarrhea, vomiting, and fever–which must be treated with the appropriate medication, most of which are available to buy over the counter.

Conclusion: How Much Water Should I Drink While Hiking

One needs to tread carefully when practicing rigorous activities such as hiking. Regardless of the numerous health benefits it offers, if your water consumption isn’t accounted for, it could lead to significant health issues.

However, don’t let that demotivate you; proceed with all precautions.

Last Update: 24. April 2022
About the Author

My name is Thomas, and I love the outdoors. I'm currently living in Germany and I would like to encourage my readers to go outside with this blog. Here you can read more about me.