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Hydration On The Trail With Kids

Updated on June 19, 2013

Hydration On The Trail With Kids

Body Hydration is so important when it comes to outdoor activities in the summer, especially when the activity may require some strenuous efforts.

I have talked about this a little before in my writing of hiking Mt. Agamenticus, but I wanted to get into a little more detail.

Becoming less hydrated on the way to dehydration can bring on symptoms of migraines, dizziness, and even nausea. If you are a parent, the demand to be prepared with water is even greater.

Migraines were a very common experience for myself in particular. At some point our family has all had headaches and nausea. On a number of large hikes (3+ hours) my daughter would skimp on the water because she didn't want to use the woods as her restroom. I had to put a stop to this. It was a non-negotiable to keep drinking throughout the hike. In an effort to not stop and drink frequently from bottles, we all wear hydration packs. I can honestly say that this was some of the best money ever spent! If you do decide to get packs for your kids, make sure they fit correctly!!

Water alone isn't always enough to ward off symptoms. Even though water is good for you, we preferred to have things added to it to help the kids want to hydrate. When it comes to this I need to emphasize "Read the Label!" We were using just regular old ice tea, lemonade, or fruit punch packets. Take a look at the nutrition facts. If you are sweating a lot, you are losing more than just water! Salt is being expended too! Salt is important to blood flow and how hard your body works to pump it through your body. Along with headaches, you can experience your fingers feeling tight and swollen. The packets mentioned above usually contain little to no sodium, carbs, potassium, and sugars. After switching to Gatorade which has 230 mg of sodium, 70mg of Potassium, 32g carbs, and 32g of sugar, the rest of my family has had little to no side effects from summer hiking.

Myself on the other hand has been a totally different story. While taking the above measures while hiking did make some improvements for me for example, headaches were more common than migraines, and the swelling in my fingers doesn't happen anymore, I couldn't ignore that there was still more to learn.

All of this led me to visit my doctor. I am not a small woman. I weigh about 220 lbs. With that being said there is a difference between and active woman at that weight and a sedentary one. I mentioned how I didn't want to be hindered by my headaches when I hiked. He check my blood pressure and it was high. During the hikes of the 4,000 footers in the White Mountains, my blood pressure would rise even higher - to unhealthy levels. After activity, blood pressure can actually drop to safe levels in people that have high blood pressure but my strenuous activity with high blood pressure to start was another cause of my headaches. I have since been put on meds to control the blood pressure and have had good luck so far while hiking.

Listen to your body. It will tell you what you need!

Just a few other tips I want to leave you with:

When I pack our lunches, I also try to include something that has protein and salt. For example, a turkey and cheese sandwich with pickles has always been a favorite. Put the pickles in between the meat and cheese to keep the bread from getting soggy. Beef jerky is another good snack to bring on long hikes.

We also leave water in the car so if we run out of water we know we have more when we get back to the car even if it is warm, at least it is wet!

You never know what could happen out there and if you are unfamiliar with the area and/or trail and you don't know if there are boundaries that you would recognize ie. roads, railroad tracks, ocean etc. always bring a little more water than you would have to begin with. If you still have extra water when you are done, well, you gave your body an extra workout and you are stronger for it!

Until next time, have fun out there!


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    • Outbound Dan profile image

      Dan Human 5 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY

      Dehydration and electrolyte depletion is a very serious issue and you did a great job detailing why it is important. Whenever I take people out on the trail, I have frank discussions that everyone needs to pee clear and take plenty of breaks for people to run into the bushes.