Preventing Winter Dehydration

Waterproof Gaiters
Have you ever experienced dehydration? Was it during the summer or, perhaps, another season? Many people seem to think that the most common time of year one can become dehydrated is during the summer when temperatures are hot. Sure, when you sweat, you need to rehydrate yourself, however, this is a common misconception. It is just as easy, if not easier, to become dehydrated in the winter. In some cases, becoming dehydrated in colder weather or in high elevations happens more easily than in warmer conditions, if you don’t hydrate before your outdoor activity.

Winter Dehydration

In colder weather, your body has to work harder to humidify the air that you breathe, to warm it up, so you need to drink and eat more if you are outdoors. If you are at an altitude of 10,000 feet or higher, you should plan on drinking eight quarts of water per day. The problem is, you are less likely to feel thirsty. Often times the thing that triggers thirst is warmer temperatures and wanting something refreshing to drink to cool you down. At greater elevations, the most important thing to do is to drink continuously throughout the day, even if you are not thirsty. In cold temperatures, dehydration can seriously accelerate the onset of hypothermia, frostbite or fatigue.

Drink at Regular Intervals

A good habit to get into is to set a clock to remind you to drink at certain intervals throughout the day. Water is the best liquid to drink, to avoid dehydration. If you’re participating in strenuous physical activity, like hiking or snowshoeing, avoid drinking soda or alcohol, as these can actually speed up the rate of dehydration. It is also not necessary that the water you drink be cold. It is actually more hydrating to drink warm or room-temperature water, or non-refrigerated water, as it is closer to your normal body temperature than ice cold water.

During the wintertime, it is also important to stay hydrated while you’re exercising. If you are dehydrated in the winter, you may wake up feeling tired, and you also may experience random aches and pains in your legs, headaches or extreme thirst. It can cause long-term lethargy and fatigue that can cause a lot of strain on your body.

Equipment to Avoid Dehydration

Waterproof GaitersThere are many pieces of outdoor equipment designed to help people avoid dehydration. Many backpacks contain a water bladder, which is a large pouch that sits in a specially designed sleeve in your backpack and has a hose that extends out to reach your mouth, for drinking as you go. Just bite down on the bite valve at the end of the hose to access water from the pouch. If you are going on a mountaineering backpack trip, this is an easy way to ration out your water throughout the day.

Some water bottles can hold up to 75 ounces of water, but you may find that splitting your water supply into a few smaller vessels will help you to distribute the weight, for a more comfortable carry. Whatever your plans, and whatever the season, it’s always wise to travel with a supply of water to prevent dehydration. With so many inexpensive options from which to choose, keeping a water bottle close at hand is a great habit to form and a great way to keep yourself healthy and hydrated.

Have you experienced dehydration? If so, how did you overcome it? Let us know your experiences in the comments below!

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