It’s important to make sure that when you head out for a hike or backpacking trip you are taking proper care of your body. Hydration and nutrition on the trails are elements that may be overlooked when planning a trip. However, they truly require a great deal of attention to prevent anything from going downhill.
I learned the hard way how critical it is to drink and eat the right way both before and during a trip. Heat exhaustion, dehydration, fatigue,and other potentially severe health problems can be the result of ignoring your body’s most basic needs. Preventing dehydration starts by staying hydrated. It is far easier than reversing the damage done by dehydration. When heavily sweating, as hikers do during extensive exercising, it is difficult for the body to absorb the water being consumed. This is likely because the water is being lost at a faster rate than consumption. Hikers can actually lose anywhere from ½ to 1 quart of fluid every hour and can even exceed 3 quarts in certain conditions.
HERE A FEW TIPS TO REMEMBER WHEN YOU PLAN ON TAKING A HIKE:
- Bring 2 to 4 quarts of water with you to drink throughout the day.
- Choose salty snacks to have during your trip to help provide your body with electrolytes, which help fuel your body and keep you hydrated.
- If you don’t bring enough water with you, but instead plan on getting it from water sources along your route, don’t forget to purify and treat it first. This can be done with a filter or water purification tablets or by boiling it for at least one minute.
- If you are anyone else you are traveling with seems to be exhibiting symptoms of moderate dehydration, like irritability and lightheadedness or dry mouth, make sure to get them out of direct sunlight and remove any excess clothing. Provide them with water or some kind of sports drink to get them to start replacing fluids. Also, make sure they are no longer in circumstances that would cause any further fluid loss.
- Severe dehydration can be indicated by anxiousness, faintness or sleepiness, confusion, cold and clammy or hot and dry skin, or even loss of consciousness. These cases need to get emergency treatment immediately.
Trail mix wasn’t invented just as a delicious and healthy snack, but as a nutrition-dense food source for those literally on the trails. When you’re exercising as intensely as hiking and backpacking demands, you need to fuel your body right or else success in completing, or at least enjoying, your planned trip is not likely. It is crucial to consume a large amount of calories while on the trail in order to ensure you have the necessary energy to get you through. However, you must also get the most out of your calories in regards to nutrition. Additionally, you must make sure the physical weight of the food you pack does not end up weighing you down. This makes the task of planning your food out for a long trip some what of a game with many variables. It requires a great deal of attention, but for those just looking to go for a day hike or short backpacking trip, the following few general tips should help you. There will be a later blog post about specific brands of hiking foods that we recommend most as well as one with more detail about how meal planning works for those longer trips, so stay tuned!
GENERAL SNACK/FOOD ADVICE FOR DAY/ SHORT HIKES:
You can assume that since you will be burning more calories than normal, you can in turn eat more calories. This is technically true, but you want to make sure those calories are healthy, nutrient rich foods.
- Energy bars are lightweight and a great source of protein and carbohydrates, but make sure to check the label and keep an eye on the sugar.
- Dried fruits provide the sugar you may need for an extra energy boost in a natural way, but beware of sugar crashes- just don’t put all of your eggs in this basket.
- Avoid high-fat foods because fat is harder to digest and could lead to uncomfortable stomachaches that distract you from enjoying your hike.
- Everything is fine in moderation, however, because many high protein foods like nuts also have a lot of fat. Just keep it in check.
- Eat a hefty meal with all food groups at the end of your day to help fully replenish all of what you lost during the day. This will help your muscles rejuvenate themselves while you sleep so that you wake up feeling ready to go the next day.
By: Maddie Anderson