Staying hydrated is one of the most important parts of any physical activity. It’s essential to follow smart hydration practices. Our body uses water to help us regulate body temperature, aid in our digestion, deliver oxygen all over the body, protect and cushion joints, and flush out unwanted toxins from the body. Water intake varies widely by individual, so you need to know your own hydration needs.
Sometimes we might encounter problems while hiking and one of them is dehydration. Avoiding dehydration is crucial, especially when backpacking the back country and other dry areas without access to any water. Dehydration causes blood vessels in the skin to constrict and limit sweat production slowing down self-cooling of the body.
On the trail, having enough food and water is necessary. Water supply is among the most important things you want to know about a region you’ll be hiking in. How much water you need per day varies from person to person. It also depends on the weather conditions, the amount of energy you expend, and the type of food you carry. Some might carry a full water bottle and it can be enough where drinking water is available. However, on some occasions, you may have to carry much more water with you during a long hike. And not every clear water source should be trusted. Most hikers have certainly survived drinking untreated water, but that doesn’t mean dangerous impurities do not exist in these sources, potentially creating an unpleasant, if not unsafe. So avoid the risk and carry the right measures to protect yourself. On a backpacking trip you will need to fill up your water bottles from streams, rivers, and sometimes from murky puddle-like sources in the desert. The key to hydrating yourself safely in the backcountry is filtering and purifying.
Boiling water is an option for your drinking water and it’s one of the most reliable ways to purify drinking water. The basic rule is to make sure you bring the water to a boil for 1 minute at lower altitudes and 3 minutes at elevation of 6,500 feet or higher. Boiling will eliminate bacteria, protozoa, and even viruses. The downside is you'll use up your cooking fuel and will need to wait for the water to cool down. It’s not convenient, it has no effect on taste and it leaves you with HOT water which is not usually what you want while hiking.
Using Chlorine tablets or Iodine tablets specifically formulated for purifying water for drinking are other ways to purify the water by eliminating microbial contaminants. But, these leave an unpleasant taste in the water.
The new Clear2O® Personal Water Dual Filtration System is a great alternative to bulky purifiers and tablets. It transforms open water sources by removing bacteria and parasites, preventing waterborne disease. Aside from filtering out parasites and bacteria, it can also remove chemicals from the water. The first stage filtration will reduce bacteria at the 0.1 micron level and Stage 2 eliminates unpleasant taste and odors. The micron size (micrometers) tells how good a water filter is at filtering out small particles. For instance, bacteria range in size from 0.2 to 10 microns. Designed with dual threads and fits the treads on most plastic water bottles. A durable collapsible, 1 liter water bottle is included and easily clip to your backpack with attached carabiner. Silicone caps make it easy to keep clean spout while moving around during your hike.
- Is the water flowing? Even a small trickle is better than completely stagnant. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for bacteria and parasites.
- Appearance of water? Avoid water that has an oily film at the edges, algae growth, lots of bugs, haziness, or bad color.
- Location Is Everything? Springs flowing high up near ridgelines or the tops of mountains have less chance of contamination. When possible, collect from as far upstream as you can find, preferably where it bubbles out of the ground or rocks. You definitely don’t want to collect water downstream of a large farm or industrial area.
Many people blame water sources when they get sick in the backcountry, but improper hygiene can often be the real culprit. A small bottle of hand sanitizer should be considered essential for any backcountry trip. Use it after bathroom breaks and before eating.
Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water this usually means you are already dehydrated. Thirst always underestimates your body’s fluid needs, drink more than you think is necessary. Be smart by knowing the importance of consuming enough water and taking all the necessary gear to keep you hydrated.
Always be prepared with enough water and carry a supplemental system, like our CLEAR2O® Personal Dual Water Filtration System [PWF850] to protect you if you need to access more water than planned while hiking. You’ll be glad you did.