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Hiking and Dehydration


I went on my first hike this weekend and got dehydrated. So, I didn't bring enough water and the group was moving fast and I didn't have time for a break to eat the snacks that I brought with me. Do you suggest drinking electrolytes before, during, and after a hike to help with hydration? 



13 Replies

@smariej sorry to hear about your dehydration on your last hike and thanks for reaching out to us for advice! One of the ways I've worked to avoid dehydration while hiking is by using a water bladder in my pack, which means I can drink water at any point I'm thirsty without having to stop. I ensure I take lots of water (often more than I need), as one risk with a bladder is that you can't see how much you've drank/how much you have left. I also try to keep my snacks super handy - side pockets of my pants, waist belt pocket of my pack - again to ensure quick and easy access in the case I don't have much time to stop. Hope this helps!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thanks for your help. I just ordered a water bladder. Do you take electrolytes?


@smariej I don't personally, but lots of folks do! I imagine you'll get some advice from others who recommend them...

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@smariej Great question and congrats on your first hike!

@REI-JenK got you covered around the benefits of carrying a bladder, I'm going to speak to the electrolyte question. Typically I'll carry some sort of electrolyte product while I'm out just in case. Most are small enough that they can disappear in my pack and are not inconvenient to carry. I also take a couple extra in case someone I am with is exhibiting symptoms of dehydration. It really depends on the exertion level and distance I'm covering as to whether I personally use it or not. Additionally there are a lot of different options on the market; I recommend trying a couple out to see which one has a flavor you enjoy. I find that if I am in need of electrolytes it can be really challenging to drink the correct amount of liquid if it doesn't taste appealing to me. For me, I enjoy NUUN tablets as they don't rely on a lot of sugar to replenish your electrolytes.

I hope this helps, thanks!


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thanks for your advice. I purchased a few NUUN tablets today. So, far I like the taste of wild berry. I will remember to take the tablets with me next time. Thx



Hello @smariej,

If I'm going for a longer hike I try to have a banana for breakfast before I head out and one at the end of the day to prevent electrolyte imbalance beforehand and to aid in recovery afterwards.  This is especially true when the weather is warmer or dryer and I know I'm going to sweat more.  If it's really warm/dry I will do the electrolyte tabs and prefer the Nuun ones the best myself. 

As a reminder, make sure you take sips of water even as you're just getting going and not wait until you're feeling thirsty.  If you're starting to get thirsty you've already waited too long. 

Happy Adventuring!

Heather K.

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.

So true. Once, you get thirsty it was too for me as I was already dehydrated. It really snuck up on me, because I was feeling great once we reached or destination. This is definitely a lesson learned.


Thanks for your help! 


congrats on your first hike!  Hiking (hopefully leading to backpacking) is a lifetime of joy!

A coupla things; A bladder system, although very handy for sipping as you walk, alas, is heavier than carrying a water bottle (but only by a few ounces).  The trend these days, (which you will undoubtedly see as you hike more ofter) is to use "smart water" bottles, which only weight about an ounce.  These bottles also fit the sawyer line of water purifiers screw on filters, if you decide to go that route. A very easy way to starting cutting pack/day pack weight.

Also, dried apricots are an excellent choice for preventing cramps associated with a need for electrolytes, as they are rich in potassium.  Electrolytes are exclusively potassium AND sodium.

Hope you continue to enjoy your hiking!

REI member since 1979

REI Member Since 1979

Hi @smariej .  I'm not an REI employee, and it seems they've already nailed the advice on keeping hydrated.  I never used to use a bladder, but once I tried, I've become a convert.  I put my water in the bladder, and carry a bottle with a sports drink in a side pocket.  I also, like @REI-HeatherK , eat a banana before a hike (and sometimes an oatmeal bar too).

I wanted to address your comment about the group moving too fast to allow you to take a break.  I think it's important that you communicate your needs and limitations to the group.  Most all hikers and groups I've encountered are friendly and helpful people and will make the necessary adjustments to best suit everyone in the group.  If they are not willing to do that, perhaps you should find a new group to hike with.

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