Staying Hydrated in the Backcountry

Surviving in the backcountry is essential. Regardless if you are planning an overnight trip or a thru hike, every outdoorsman or outdoorswoman needs have to have a certain understanding of basic survival skills. Hydration is among the most important of basic needs while in the backcountry, and there are many potential dangers associated with dehydration. Dehydration may lead to headaches, dizziness, confusion, and fatigue, and if dehydrated is not treated, it can eventually lead to death.

Below are 5 things you will need to know in order to stay hydrated in the wild. In most cases, water is readily available in the wild, but in case it isn’t, you might need to resort to some creative thinking!

1. Avoid Unnecessary Water Loss Through Sweating
One of the main ways that active humans loose water is through sweating. The human body is designed to cool itself by the action of sweating, and this means that we lose more water as our body temperatures increase. Under normal conditions, a typical human loses between 2 and 4 liters of water a day, and in hot conditions, a human can lose up to 6 liters of water a day. We can still become dehydrated in cold or a dry weather, as often times we forget to hydrate or don’t find it necessary. If severe dehydration is becoming an issue, you should stop exercise immediately. You should find shade by sitting under a tree, or setting up your tarp or tent. Doing this will reduce your body temperature, lower your heart rate, and stop your from sweating as profusely. While hiking you can also keep your body temperatures down by wearing light layers that cover your skin.

2. Purifying Your Water
Some of the wild places contain water that is not fit for consumption. Water from rivers, pools, swamps, and oases may contain microorganisms. These may bring diseases. Becoming sick in the wilderness is one of the worst things that can happen to you. Here are some of the most common methods of water purification:

-Boiling Water
-SteriPEN
-Aquamira

-Gravity Filters
-Water Filter

Each have their own benefits and drawbacks, and if you want to learn more about each, give this article from backpacker.com a read!
           

3. Food and Drinks
Numerous foods contain considerable amounts of water. Fruits for instance, have a lot of water. When you find yourself in a backcountry setting where there is a lack of water, you can make use of some wild fruits and greens. Keep in mind that this requires a solid understanding of edible fruits and plants, and that you should not feed on any random fruits you come across.

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4. Get Water From Snow and Ice
Another idea for staying hydrated in the backcountry is to obtain water from snow and ice. In order to change snow from a solid into a liquid, all you need to do is apply a little heat. Most backcountry travelers carry a stove, but if not, you can also start a fire if your surroundings have trees. You can use these to melt snow and obtain water for drinking. Remember to collect clean snow for melting. Yellow snow is certainly dirty, and freshly melted snow is usually regarded to be safe for drinking. Make sure to purify the water attained from snow, as microorganisms can become active after the ice is melted. On warmer days, you can also find trickling water from melting ice. You can collect this water for use.

5. Think Creatively About a Water Source
Simply put, drinking water is the easiest way to stay hydrated. However, depending on where you are traveling, water can sometimes be difficult to find. If you are dehydrated and water is readily available, you should gather it, purify it, and drink it. If water is not readily available, you will need to become innovative. Your creativity will save you from dehydration! Here are some creative ways to gather water:

-Tie a plastic bag around a clump of leaves on a tree. The leaves will transpire all day long, and when the temperature drop in the evening, you can collect the transpired water in bottles for use.

-In the early morning, tie a couple t-shirts or other absorbent clothes to your ankles and walk through some dewy undergrowth. The clothes will get wet, and you can squeeze the water out into a container to drink.

-Another way you can acquire water for drinking is by squeezing water from mud. Muddy areas in the wild always suggest availability of water, and you can use a piece of cloth to do this. While not an appealing option, it is better than dying of dehydration.

There are many other tips and tricks to staying hydrated in the backcountry. Feel free to let us know your thoughts!


Bio: Daryl Landry is the Boss at Authorized Boots.com. He and his team of ABers examine the best ways to push the envelope on outdoor survival, provide in-depth gear reviews and test the limits of human capability, all while documenting experiences on the blog. To follow along, feel free to give AuthorizedBoots.com a visit and engage with other audience members.