The Importance of Hydration
We all know the importance of staying hydrated in day to day life but when hiking, it can be easy to forget or ignore your thirst because of the inconvenience of finding a bathroom, or having to leave your tent in the middle of the night for a wee!
There's no magic solution to these issues but being dehydrated can affect your health and your enjoyment of being outside. If you're hiking, staying hydrated is extremely important for your ability to cover distance comfortably and, even more vitally, for staying healthy. You need to keep a clear head whilst hiking, as being unable to make safe decisions can be a side effect of dehydration as well as decreased energy levels.
When hiking at altitude or in warm climates, you need to drink around 2 litres per hour whilst in cooler weather or lower altitudes, around 1 litre per hour is sufficient. Along with drinking enough water, you also need to ensure you're taking on sufficient electrolytes; without electrolytes you're at risk of suffering from hyponatremia, which is a result of a lack sodium in the body. This can be dangerous, so consider packing salty snacks or adding electrolytes to your water.
On multi day hikes, you may not have access to mains water for drinking so you need to plan ahead and consider where you'll find a water source. If you're hiking in the UK, you'll nearly always be close to a natural water source, one of the advantages of the fairly consistent rain we have all year round! Whether that water source is drinkable is another question. Moving water sources are safer than stagnant water but it's difficult to see what's upstream and you never know when there could be something sinister, such as a dead sheep, just up the hill.
To be completely sure the water you're drinking is safe, then you need to be able to treat particulate matter (such as dirt) and bacteria (such as giardia) and there are several ways to do this.
1. Boil the Water
If you're on a multi-day hike you're probably carrying a cooking system, such as a Trangia which is perfect for boiling water in the morning. Ensure the water boils for at least five minutes before allowing it to cool. Vango offer a number of Trangia packages which include a small kettle, ideal for quick and safe boiling of water.
2. Chemical Based Treatments
An alternative to boiling water is to use a chemical based treatment such as iodine tablets. The downside to these, however, is that they can leave a strange after taste in your mouth. If required, you can buy neutralising tablets to remove the after taste.
Whether boiling water or using a chemical based treatment, you should also ensure you have an adequate filtration system to remove any sediment from the water. Something as simple as a coffee filter can work.
Of course, once you've treated your water you need to be able to carry it too! Vango offer a great range of hydration backpacks, such as the lightweight Sprint 3 which is perfect for running and short hikes. It has a 2 litre reservoir with an additional 1 litre of space for a rain jacket and some snacks. For longer hikes the Rapide 20 or Switchback 15 offer more storage space for your kit. For backpacking, all Vango rucksacks are hydration system compatible.
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