- Jul 30, 2020 at 11:09 pm #3667686Christopher RBPL Member
I drink almost .5 liters of water every 20 minutes while climbing elevation dayhiking in 70s temperature. I once did a 3 hour hike in Joshua Tree, no elevation gain, in the summer (temp high 80s-low90s) and drank 5 liters of water. Is this normal? How much water do you drink? Obviously, I have to drink what my body needs, but Im curious what others drink. I keep reading a liter every two hours is average. is this true in your experience?
Any suggestions for needing less water on hikes? I’m always bummed i have to carry so much weight while hiking. I never leave without 3 liters of water for a 5 mile hike, which feels like a lot of weight. Maybe im too obsessed with being light weight.Jul 31, 2020 at 12:07 am #3667687Rex SandersBPL Member
@rexLocale: Central California Coast
“Drink when you are thirsty” is the best current advice.
Everyone’s different, everyone changes, and every trip is different.
I currently drink about 3 liters per day while backpacking 15-20 miles per day in moderate weather. Several years ago, I usually drank twice that much. When I lived and played in the Mojave desert decades ago, I drank even more.
“If you listen to your body, it’ll tell you when it’s thirsty,” says Courtney Kipps, consultant sports physician and principal clinical teaching fellow of Sports Medicine, Exercise and Health and UCL, and medical director of Blenheim and London Triathlons.
“The myth that it’s too late when you’re thirsty is based on the supposition that thirst is an imperfect marker of a fluid deficit, but why should everything else in the body be perfect and thirst be imperfect? It’s worked very well for thousands of years of human evolution.”
— RexJul 31, 2020 at 12:45 am #3667688Roger CaffinModerator
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
My own personal feeling is that you are risking your health drinking that much. You would be hovering on hypeonatremia, with your body fluids (blood and lymph) seriously deficient of salts and sugar. Athletes have died from this.
Check publications by Dr Noakes from South Africa on this.
CheersJul 31, 2020 at 2:40 am #3667690
When did you last pee?
More than once an hour? You could cut back.
In the last hour or two – You’re probably doing fine.
Hours ago? Or it was at any time dark? You need to drink more.Jul 31, 2020 at 2:43 am #3667691
My max intake has been 2-3 liters per hour, but that was climbing up out of the Grand Canyon, at 110F / 43C in full sun, or one time I was working in trenches in a desert at 118F/48CJul 31, 2020 at 7:46 am #3667711matthew kModerator
Roger’s point about hyponatremia is worth consideration. If you are going to drink that much water it makes sense to ensure you are in taking adequate sodium and electrolytes.
I once did a day hike with a brutal climb out of a valley in very hot weather where I decided to bring unsalted blanched almonds and dried, unsweetened cranberries as my only snacks to supplement water. I became quite weak and felt like I was unable to get my muscles to contract. At one point, my hiking companions and I would hike a few hundred yards and then rest in the shade for a while again and again. What should have been a two hour hike out took five hours. I was 45 at the time. My 30 year old friend felt almost the same. My 14 year old son felt pretty much fine. We all shared the snacks I brought.
I saw my doctor a couple days later for an annual checkup. He suspected hyponatremia.
I now bring something with sodium or some electrolytes on all hot hikes. I now carry a couple electrolyte pills in my FAK.Jul 31, 2020 at 12:30 pm #3667736Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I determined my water needs by weighing myself + water I carried, engaged in activities and drank when thirsty, and then weighing myself and remaining water at the end. My typical water consumption backpacking at moderate level (1k ft/hour, 3mph) is 1L for every three hours when it’s 30-60F, around 1L for every 1.5-2 hours 60-80F, and 1L every hour when it’s more than 80F. When engaging in vigorous activities such as running I use around 3x my normal rate.Jul 31, 2020 at 12:41 pm #3667737jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
Electrolytes are lost through sweat in addition to urine. I think for most people not drinking enough water is far more likely than the reverse. It takes a lot of water–a lot!–to go into hyponatremia. That said, electrolyte replenishment is a great idea.
Potassium is important for heart and muscle functioning and is depleted (and used up) in sports activities. Its also highly regulated due to concerns about people taking in too much, which can be dangerous. As a result, most supplements have trivial amounts of potassium–meaningless amounts really.
Through a loophole of sorts, No-Salt has very high amounts of potassium.
So does low salt V-8 juice, which uses potassium instead of salt. It
s easy and light to carry some No-Salt on a trip and use measured amounts of that as a replacement fuel.Jul 31, 2020 at 2:20 pm #3667756
Agreed, it takes A LOT of water to seriously deplete the average American of electrolytes, particularly sodium, since our diet and most of our trail food is packed with it.
Still, combine a few risks like Matthew’s brutally hot uphill climb with a (unintentionally but effectively) no-salt diet and you could get there.
In 2007, A woman died during a Sacramento radio station contest (drinking increasing amounts of water every 15 minutes without going to the bathroom to win a gaming console “Hold Your Wee for a Wii”). She died at her home later that day, due to low sodium. She had drunk almost 2 gallons of water over 3+ hours. One of the few instances in which Doritos would have been health food.
Her family was awarded $16.5M, the jury being struck by how multiple callers including a nurse warned the station of the dangers during the contest and were ignored and mocked.Jul 31, 2020 at 2:27 pm #3667757PedestrianBPL Member
In addition to the excellent advice above I’d suggest overall fitness and heat conditioning as key factors to consider. I’ve hiked/run with people of a range of fitness levels and I notice that the least fit tend to drink more (also possible they haven’t calibrated their water needs through experience). Also earlier in the summer/late spring I tend to drink more water on a suddenly hot day; as the weather warms and I get better heat conditioned, my water needs tend to normalize.Jul 31, 2020 at 8:19 pm #3667827Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
There are lots of factors to consider in this discussion, but Dave’ suggestion about the frequency of urination is probably your best true indicator. As both a cyclist and a hiker, and as someone who tends to sweat a lot, I drink about a liter every two-three hours in most scenarios. But on a bike I don’t generally ride more than that, so two-three hours, 35-50 miles, and I can rehydrate at home if I need to. On the trail there isn’t quite the same option…but if I am not urinating at least three or four times a day, I am dehydrated.
But we are just back from a trip the Ruby Mountains in Nevada. One day the humidity in nearby Wells was 12%. You read that correctly. We hiked for about three hours, drank three liters of water between the two of us, and were seriously dehydrated.
And yes, eating to replace electrolytes at the point becomes necessary.Aug 1, 2020 at 12:06 am #3667844Christopher RBPL Member
Thanks for the replies all. Much appreciated. I think i peed twice on the 3 hour hike, so i tend to think I just drink a lot of water. I am also overweight and not particularly fit so, maybe that is why i drink so much as well. Again, thanks all.
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