It seemed fitting, given the high temperatures experienced here and those that many of you deal with in the summer anyhow, to share with you some tips about keeping hydrated while walking in hot weather.
On one particular section of my own personal Camino journey the temperatures were unseasonably high and even doing all that we could, like starting before sunup so we could finish early or have a good long siesta, wearing a hat, drinking plenty etc, walking after about 2.00 in the afternoon felt like walking in a furnace. And it was so hot at night too that no-one was sleeping well. It was a challenging time.
By far the most important thing for you to focus on is staying hydrated. Drinking enough fluid while hot-weather hiking or similar physical activity is essential to avoid issues of dehydration. We can go without many things, but water is not one of those. It is key not only to our health but also our enjoyment of the path when we are out there.
1. Aim to drink before you start, especially in hot weather. Drink to satisfy your thirst about half an hour before you plan to walk.
“Ingested water has to be emptied from the stomach and absorbed from the intestine before it enters the circulation, so alleviating your thirst immediately before starting doesn’t mean that water levels have been restored; it may take up to 20 minutes for that water to appear in the circulation.”
2. Plan your walk for hot weather considering access to water. This helps you plan stops and know how much to bring with you. In very hot conditions you may not be able to keep pace with your fluid losses, so you may need to call it a day, and better not to take yourself into that situation in the first place. The maximum rate of water absorption during exercise is 800ml/hour whereas your sweat rate may be as high as 2000ml/hour.
3. Carry enough water for your walk – how much is enough you may ask? An ideal intake is approximately 1 litre (1 quart) of water per 30-minutes hiking – although this will differ with the altitude, humidity, dryness and temperature of your hike. I know I drink a lot more going up than down or on the flat. It will also depend
on your pace, so out on a shorter gentle way you will likely need less than on a hilly fast-paced hike.
Carry more water than you feel you will need and carry an extra bottle with you in case you need to refill again.
When I am on the Camino, I aim to carry three litres of water and I also refill regularly from the many taps etc that are on route. Pubs, cafes and restaurants are very good at refilling bottles too. Check out https://www.refill.org.uk/ which is a fast growing campaign. I use their app a lot. Not much help when out on the hills but in built up areas comes into its own.
The rule is not to pass any refill opportunity without filling up.
If you are out on the hills or a remote place do carry water purification tablets too so that you can make use of natural water sources. Do not take chances though, as even if it looks clear and clean, it may still need filtering and/or purifying. Make sure you only fill up at a source of running, oxygenated water as it’s far less likely to harbour anything nasty.
Being equipped with this resource is extremely important for any times of emergency, which we hope do not happen, but better to be prepared.
4. Make sure that you have easy access to your bottle – wearing a hydration pack can be a great help here as you have an easy, accessible straw. I don’t use this, but I have a belt with a water pouch at my waist and that too makes regular drinking very easy. If you have to stop to get your bottle out every time you want a drink this will hamper you and you won’t drink enough.
5. Sipping small amounts of water regularly is much more effective at keeping you hydrated than stopping every hour and drinking a large amount. Get into the habit of taking water in regularly which is much better than large gulps after a bigger time gap. This is because generally your body is only able to efficiently absorb around half a litre of water every 60 minutes. So, if you drink lots of water in one go, you run the risk of causing an imbalance of minerals in your blood and diluting the blood, which, in turn, decreases mineral concentrations.
If you are not keen on plain water try some of the flavoured ones but do be aware that some can contain a lot of sugar. You can though use one with a set-in place for fruit so that you naturally flavour your own.
Don’t wait until you feel thirsty – by that point you’re already becoming dehydrated.
6. Freeze your water. Freeze a half-full water bottle, then top it off as you head out. Take sips regularly while you’re walking. Six to eight ounces of water every 15 minutes should be enough. As an extra precaution against dehydration, weigh yourself before your walk and again afterwards. If you’ve dropped a pound or two, drink up. You’ve lost fluid that is important to your body’s cooling system.
7. It’s not just about the water – as you sweat your body is losing vital salts and minerals, so take a few hydration and electrolyte tablets or sachets with you to add to your water. This will keep your energy up and you feeling clear and fresh.
Sports drinks can help here as they tend to taste pretty decent and have less than half the calories of fruit juices. Plus, they’re absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, so you can walk further and avoid post-exercise fatigue.
8. Check your urine – both for colour and volume. If you are only passing small amounts of deep yellow pee then you need to drink more.
I see so many women who will not drink in case they have to go to the loo. If you do this, especially in hot weather, you are really putting your body and health at risk.
There are places to stop in towns and cities and out in the wilder areas boulders, hedges, trees and bushes provide cover for a quick pee. And walking buddies are always happy to form a barrier to preserve your modesty.
Your body actually helps you manage this potential problem anyhow by decreasing your urge to pee while you’re out in the heat. If you’re sweating a lot, the body limits urine excretion by stimulating an antidiuretic hormone which retains water at the kidneys, so the more you sweat, the less you pee, and that’s normal.
9. Signs of dehydration
Unable to think clearly
Tiredness and fatigue
You need to drink as you need to keep your sweat glands working well. This is what helps to cool you down and this is what helps you avoid heat-related illnesses.
Drinking water helps your heart pump efficiently, keeps your muscles from cramping and better regulates your body temperature.
I want you to be enjoying your summer walking wherever in the world you are and all these tips are relevant no matter where you live.
Take note and get out and enjoy your walks.
And if you would like one or more of our very light fold up drinks bottles, ideal to carry as a spare, then just email with your address and I will get them out to you.