Hydration for Lightweight Backpackers
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Maia
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Hydration for Lightweight Backpackers on 07/23/2013 14:19:15 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Hydration for Lightweight Backpackers

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Hydration for Lightweight Backpackers on 07/23/2013 18:09:14 MDT Print View

Kevin, A great summary of hydration. Thanks!

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: Hydration for Lightweight Backpackers on 07/23/2013 18:48:42 MDT Print View

Thanks for the overview.

A few more tips:

– Your hydration and salt needs will change over time. What you need (or didn't need) in your 20s is not the same as in your 50s. What worked last year, might not work this year. Pay attention to your body! Ask me how I know :-)

Thermotabs salt pills have 180 mg Sodium, and are relatively cheap and widely available.

– Remember: Everybody is different.

-- Rex

Edited by Rex on 07/23/2013 18:50:26 MDT.

Johan Engberg
(luffarjohan) - M

Locale: Wrong place at the right rime
Intrestning on 07/24/2013 01:39:48 MDT Print View

Thanks for the article, the subject is quite intresting. I've had a lot of emphasis on dealing with cold temperatures but not so much with hot weather.

I've made my own poor mans sports drink using salt-packets from McDonalds and other lunch restaurants. Can't remember the weight of each packet though but I thnk it was something like 2g.

/J

Edit: Spelling

Edited by luffarjohan on 07/24/2013 01:43:37 MDT.

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Hydration for Lightweight Backpackers on 07/24/2013 07:56:34 MDT Print View

NUUN brand electrolyte tablets are pretty good as well and come in some great flavors. They now offer different types of tablets according to activity.

Sara Marchetti
(smarchet) - MLife
Re: Re: Hydration for Lightweight Backpackers on 07/24/2013 08:56:57 MDT Print View

This year, company under the sun has come out with an electrolyte supplement like Nuun. When I went into REI a few weeks ago, I was blow away by the choices. As a trail runner, I get into the habit of religiously taking salt supplements every hour. I prefer Nuun while my wife prefers SCaps. I highly recommend salt supplementation to backpackers as well. Many people have told me that they get an extra zip in their step after such supplementation. The truth is most likely that they aren't dehydrating and thus feel more energized than normal. We live in a dessert/high altitude climate so we don't have much of a choice. I'm not a big fan of other forms of electrolyte replacement because they tend to be too heavy. If you want your best bang for weight, I'd go with the capsules like SCaps. The weight is negligible.

Edited by smarchet on 07/24/2013 08:57:28 MDT.

Sara Marchetti
(smarchet) - MLife
I spy on 07/24/2013 09:00:21 MDT Print View

I spy Hoka Mafate shoes in that picture with the young boy! Great shoes for rocky conditions! I have a pair myself. Do you backpack in them?

Rod Braithwaite
(OddRod)

Locale: Salish Seashore
Re: Re: Hydration for Lightweight Backpackers on 07/24/2013 09:31:08 MDT Print View

Two of the NUUN tablet flavors also contain 40mg of caffeine: Kona Cola and, IIRC, Lemon Tea.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Hydration for Lightweight Backpackers on 07/24/2013 09:51:35 MDT Print View

From Kevin's article -

"How about electrolytes? By far the main electrolyte we lose in sweat is sodium. In high exertion activities such as running athletes can lose up to 0.07 oz (2 g) of sodium per hour.

"Backpackers are unlikely to lose anywhere near that much unless environmental conditions and their duration and level of exertion are well beyond the norm.

"Additionally most backpacking foods contain high concentrations of salt/sodium. However if you’re drinking 0.5 to 1 L of water per hour, you may need to consider salt supplementation."


Just for reference -

SaltCaps2


The typical replacement target is one gram of sodium per liter of water.
---Edit: IF event duration and conditions suggest the need....Go back and read the article!
MYO Caps: '00' gelatine caps filled with table salt.
Costs are "typical", no "digging for deals".
Edit: "Active Nunn" sodium content corrected.

Edited by greg23 on 07/24/2013 14:58:42 MDT.

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Re: Hydration for Lightweight Backpackers on 07/24/2013 11:23:32 MDT Print View

1. My comment about most running events lasting only 10-14 minutes referred to an example I removed about the 1500m-3000m races the kids I coach race. Obviously most adults race 5-10K and beyond: the longer the race time the greater the risk for dehydration. Sorry about this miss in editing.

2. Agree with Rex--it's unclear how age affects sweating/salt BUT clearly if you're not acclimated to heat you could get very different results using the same hydration strategy.

3. Johan: I often make my own recovery beverage by adding ~1/8tsp of table salt per quart of whatever I'm drinking. Cheaper than anything else you can buy! paper packets would be prone to moisture unless protected.

4. Donna/Sara: Yes, I love Nuun. If I'm really thirsty little else tastes as good. For lightweight backpacking there are lighter ways to replace your sodium--each tablet has ~350mg. (There are three varieties of Nuun with different sodium content--this refers to Nuun Active: Each tube of Nuun contains 12 tablets. Each tablet makes 16 oz. of Nuun, and delivers 360 mg Sodium / 100 mg Potassium / 25 mg Magnesium / 13 mg Calcium)

5. Sara: Yes, Carson backpacks in Hokas. He had a heel problem from running (now resolved). I've used them for backpacking a couple of times when I had an old pair laying around but use them mostly for steep trail running.

6. Greg: See #4-The "Active" Nuun has 360mg sodium per capsule: "U Natural" and "All Day" produces have less/no sodium. Thanks for the comparison table!

I'll be in King's Canyon for the next few days and unable to respond to comments until I return.

Edited by ksawchuk on 07/24/2013 12:29:09 MDT.

Mick Connolly
(mickconnolly7)

Locale: Sierra Nevada's
Sea Salt on 07/24/2013 13:07:16 MDT Print View

Why wouldn't you use sea salt that has up to 50 trace minerals rather than table salt?

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Re: Sea Salt on 07/24/2013 13:17:26 MDT Print View

No specific reason except it's cheaper and what I have. I figure I get my trace minerals from my healthy and varied diet and a multiple vitamin per day. Absolutely agree that avoiding processed foods is a good thing though.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Sea Salt on 07/24/2013 13:17:37 MDT Print View

Mike,
Works for me. If you've got sea salt, use it. Just depends on personal preferences.

Others elsewhere here (search electrolytes) use a mix of regular and "lite" salt to take advantage of the potassium.

Edit: A recent thread on electrolytes.

Edited by greg23 on 07/24/2013 13:53:33 MDT.

Lisa Wilkins
(wilkinld) - M
Hydration on 07/24/2013 14:15:35 MDT Print View

I've tried a liquid product called Elete with good success. It has everything you need: potassium, chloride, magnesium, & sodium with no sugar, flavors or junk. Although the formula may be overkill for the average hiker/backpacker it's dummy proof. Since it's liquid you can just decant what's needed for your trip length into a small plastic bottle. It's cheap, light and doesn't have much taste. I just add it to my water bladder with each refill. Found on website: basegear.com but I'm sure it can be found elsewhere.

Curtis B.
(rutilate) - MLife

Locale: New England
Timely write-up on 07/24/2013 14:16:59 MDT Print View

This write-up was timely, and I appreciate Greg's summary table. I ordered s!caps right away.

I would've liked to have seen a bit more of the medical background in the writeup. There is an awful lot of hype out there--how do you tell what is marketing vs. reality?

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Re: Timely write-up on 07/24/2013 14:21:43 MDT Print View

What were you hoping to know that wasn't covered? It's not clear from the article but I am a physician and can add additional information. I tried to strike a balance between the practical and technical--but can be more technical if you have a specific question!

Curtis B.
(rutilate) - MLife

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Timely write-up on 07/24/2013 14:43:58 MDT Print View

Kevin wrote:
"What were you hoping to know that wasn't covered? It's not clear from the article but I am a physician and can add additional information. I tried to strike a balance between the practical and technical--but can be more technical if you have a specific question"

I had no idea you were a physician. While I applaud your understatement, it might be valuable to include your credentials (at least an M.D. behind your name).

Here are some further questions that I'll let you be the judge of whether or not they belong in the article.

How much variability in the quantities of water/sodium for people who sweat profusely? My teen son doesn't sweat at all. Not even in sweat tests at the doctor. Me? I sweat profusely. I can be drenched head to toe in a humid environment within an hour, and consume 5 liters of water in ~6 hours of hill hiking and still be dehydrated with dark yellow urine. Should I be consuming more

I like your guideline of adding 300-600mg sodium per liter. Is there a guideline for total sodium I should be consuming that I can look at my meals and beef jerky to balance? Should I be worried about ensuring I don't overload?

You talk of sodium. What of all the other electrolytes that other companies are adamant that we'll keel over without? My understanding is that Magnesium is important, but a quote I just found onthe Succeed website: “Magnesium is another intracellular ion that, like potassium, is lost in sweat and urine during exercise. But the losses are trivial. There is no published evidence showing that magnesium deficiency is either common amongst the physically active, or that magnesium supplementation can either increase the intracellular magnesium stores, or enhance performance.” Dr. Timothy Noakes Sports Nutrition: Fluid, Electrolytes, and Minerals (Report from the World Forum on Physical Activity and Sport, Quebec City, Canada, 1995.)

The symptoms of hyponatremia sound very similar to dehydration: poor performance, cramps, lightheadedness, low blood pressure. Are there better differentiators? Are there field tests that can be performed for both (ie.I had forgotten about the pinch test for dehydration)?

Thanks!

Michael Simms
(Mtnmanmike)
Water Bottles vs. Hydration Packs on 07/24/2013 16:21:00 MDT Print View

One aspect of hydration is the storage container used. Over the last couple of decades, most people have switched over to using water bladders in their packs as they appear to be convenient. Having used them for years, I know that they are awesome for mountain biking or motorcycling, but I prefer using plain ol' disposable bottles for the hiking trail. Why? One reason is that I don't need to take up valuable "real-estate" in my backpack for water. Another is that I have no risk of leakage on my gear. Lastly, I always know how much water is left. I usually only carry two liters at a time, but occasionally carry three (two 1.5 liter bottles). With my Sawyer filter bag, I can expand my capacity to five liters (Ugh!) The disposable bottles weigh very little as well. I like the smartwater bottles, but find myself looking for new styles when I go to whole foods or other high end outlets. If a bottle gets trashed, guess what? Another one is as close as the nearest liquor store!

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: Re: Timely write-up on 07/24/2013 16:58:00 MDT Print View

1. "How much variability in the quantities of water/sodium for people who sweat profusely?"
A. A lot! I almost didn't want to give specific advice about how much to drink and how much salt to take but you've got to start somewhere. People can lose up to 2g of sodium per hour and ~2 liters per hour. I'd advise that you replace to thirst, to relatively clear urine and to take ~600mg of sodium for every liter of water they drink. You're not likely to get into problems within these parameters because we have a lot of excess salt in our diets and our kidneys can regulate fluid and sodium pretty well (unless you have a problem with your kidneys of course!)

2. "What of all the other electrolytes that other companies are adamant that we'll keel over without?"
A. You actually quoted the author (Timothy Noakes) I used partially as my source for this article. Evidence is that sweat losses of Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium are very small and Zinc pretty small. They probably don't hurt (unless they upset your stomach) but you probably don't need them under most circumstances.

3. "Should I be worried about ensuring I don't overload?"
A. See last sentence of #1 above--you can regulate pretty well. It is more likely that you'd overload with water than salt. Studies at Western States have found a correlation between salt craving and hyponatremia (low sodium). If you crave salt you probably need it, if you don't you probably don't. (Excepting that if you're REALLY far gone and have nausea you may crave nothing!)

4. "Are there field tests that can be performed for both (ie.I had forgotten about the pinch test for dehydration)?"
A. That's a tough question. If your skin is "tenting" on the pinch test you're probably REALLY deyhdrated: it's not a sensitive indicator. Whether you crave salt (or not)may be a potential indicator of enough sodium (see #3 above). Your thirst is certainly an indicator of dehydration and Dr. Noakes (see Waterlogged: http://www.amazon.com/Waterlogged-Serious-Problem-Overhydration-Endurance/dp/145042497X ) feels that it is an adequate enough guide of hydration even for athletes. Finally a potentially embarrassing answer that I'll rely on the mature and sophisticated members of this forum not to "Ewww!" about. We all come with a built in sodium sensor (our tongues). I've tried to taste a drop of my urine during Western States and other high intensity trips to see whether it tasted salty or not. If it does my body is wasting salt and probably has enough, if not, I'm unlikely to do harm by taking a little more.

Have fun with that one!! (Urine is generally sterile and anything living there is not likely to be too happy in your stomach.)

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Re: Timely write-up on 07/24/2013 17:05:30 MDT Print View

Wilderness and Environmental Medicine journal has an article in press about hyponatremia. A chart gives signs and symptoms of exercise-associated hyponatremia vs heat illness vs altitude illness. The only differentiating signs/symptoms in some situations were temperature, respiratory distress and diuresis. It goes on to say "...the only reliable method of diagnosing EAH at present is through measurement of serum sodium concentration."

Odd that they didn't mention skin turgor.

Edited by jshann on 07/24/2013 20:20:25 MDT.