Well, we are off to Lake Tahoe tomorrow. It will be a long driving day with an interesting drive between the desert floor and the 11 mountain passes to traverse along the way. Needless to say, I think we will drive separately. We have been at Great Basin NP for the last 3 days. What a different environment and scenery than where we came from in Colorado. The Great Basin stretches from the California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, through most of Nevada, to Utah’s Wasatch mountains. It is HUGE! The G...
Disclosure: Opinions, camping practices, and experiences expressed with articles posted here or otherwise via user-generated content posted elsewhere on this site are solely the authors’ and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs, camping practices, or experiences of this website or Simple Social Platforms, Inc.
Fun in the sun can quickly become dangerous if you get dehydrated. When you're camping, you're continually exposed to the elements. You likely don't have a water fountain or tap nearby.
So, dehydration can happen faster than you may think. It leads to discomfort, headaches, fatigue, and potentially serious health effects.
The solution? Drink up! Here's what to know about summer hydration and how to make sure you get enough water.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
The general guideline for daily water consumption according to the Mayo Clinic is:
- About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men
- About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
However, when you're outdoors, though, you likely need to drink even more.
Sweating causes you to lose fluids, so you'll need to replenish those. If you're doing strenuous activities such as hiking or rock climbing, your muscles will need even more water to work properly.
Aim to drink about half a liter (16 ounces) for every half hour of moderate activity in moderate temperatures. Double that in high temperatures or for intense exercise.
However, if you're out in the elements for a long time, be wary of overhydration. Yes, it is possible! Continually drinking water for hours on end can lead to hyponatremia (dangerously low sodium levels). To avoid this:
- Sip water regularly, but not too much at a time.
- Don't consume more than 10 ounces every 20 minutes.
- Switch to electrolyte drinks (i.e. sports drinks with sodium) to replenish your levels.
Salty snacks, e.g. pretzels and mixed nuts, can help as well — plus, they're a great source of fuel.
What's the Best Way to Stay Hydrated?
Sugary sodas, teas, and lemonades may feel refreshing, but they're not ideal for proper hydration.
First, anything with caffeine is a diuretic. That will make you urinate and lose body fluids faster.
Also, your body metabolizes sugar quickly, then runs out of energy. This "sugar crash" is the last thing you want on your camping adventures!
So, stick with the basics: plain water is your best choice. If you find it unpalatable, try the following:
- Filtration. Trace minerals or metals can make water taste bad. Use a pitcher or bottle with a carbon filter for fresher-tasting water. If you have an RV, invest in an inline filter or countertop system.
- Flavor boosters. You can purchase fizzing tabs or powder packets to add some flavor. Often, these add electrolytes or vitamins as well. Better yet, go old-school and infuse your water with fresh berries or citrus fruit.
- Alkaline water. Some people prefer the taste of alkaline water. It may also reduce gastrointestinal issues that may get worse while camping. Try this option if standard campground or bottled water doesn't suit you.
Whatever your choice, start hydrating before you head outdoors.
Why Prioritize Staying Hydrated?
Water is vital to our health. We can survive weeks without food but mere days without water. However, thirst can be easy to ignore, especially if your adrenaline is high. You may not even notice you're thirsty if it's cool or overcast.
That's why dehydration can sneak up on you. If left unresolved, you'll start experiencing the following:
- Muscle cramps as their fluid and electrolyte levels drop
- Headaches as blood vessels shrink in your brain
- Nausea, constipation, or other GI issues
- Clumsiness or fatigue
- Trouble thinking or speaking
Don't ignore these symptoms. The more dehydrated you become, the higher your risk of serious organ damage. As soon as you start feeling thirsty — ideally, before — drink some water ASAP!
Make it a habit to sip water whenever you think about it. If you're struggling to remember, set a reminder on your phone or watch. Pick a "hydration buddy" to monitor each other's hydration levels.
Conclusion: Drink Water, and Often!
When planning your camping excursion, plan for your hydration needs. Take note of the nearest outpost or campground tap. Take your water to-go with filters and insulated containers. It's better to pack too much water than too little! Bring electrolyte drinks and trail snacks as well.
The best way to stay hydrated is to make it a habit to drink water. Choose the best options for your needs, then create an accountability plan to ensure your body remains healthy and happy this summer!