Gearing up for some outdoor winter adventures? Whether you're going skiing, snowshoeing, or taking part in any other winter activity, proper hydration is crucial to keep your body physically and mentally well, especially this time of year when it's often forgotten about, but just as important. In fact, staying hydrated can be harder to do when the temperature drops.
In colder weather, sweat evaporates quickly, and the thirst response isn't the same as it is when it's hot out, so because you don't feel as sweaty or as thirsty, you don't drink as much water. Plus, cold air contains less moisture than warm air does. Your body has to moisturize the air you breathe to warm it up when it's cold, so you're constantly losing water just by breathing alone, especially at higher altitudes.
Your body is over 60% water, so when it loses its total water level by just a few percent, it can become dehydrated. Not only does dehydration affect your physical and cognitive performance, but it can also drastically accelerate the winter's most dangerous threats: hypothermia and frostbite. Stay hydrated on every outdoor adventure you take this winter with these five hydration tips.
Water is fuel for your body, so starting out with a full tank will go a long way to help maintain proper hydration levels, and make up for the water you're bound to lose by breathing and sweating. Aim to drink 16-20 ounces of water a couple of hours before your outdoor activity and fill up on water-rich foods like fruits, veggies, or even soup.
Make sure your water bottle or hydration pack is insulated otherwise the cap, hose, or mouthpiece could freeze and prevent you from drinking your water. Start out with hot water to help prevent freezing and carry your water bottle or bladder upside down; Water freezes from the top down, so even if it partly freezes, you can still get water out of the top to drink.
Wearing too many layers or bulky clothes will make you sweat more, causing your body to lose extra fluid. Start off with a good base layer that wicks away sweat and helps keep you dry. Sierra Trading Post's Layering Guide is an excellent resource to learn more about layering.
EXTRA TIP: Cover your face with a scarf or mask or to help warm and moisten the air before you breathe it.
Let technology help you remember to stay hydrated. There are several apps available to download for free that are specifically designed to remind you when to drink more water and keep track your daily water intake. Three such free apps are Waterlogged (for iPhones), Water Drink Reminder (for Android), and WaterLogger (for Windows).
Save the beers for after your cold-weather adventure. Not only is alcohol a diuretic that promotes dehydration, but it also increases your chances of getting hypothermia by lowering your body's core temperature and reducing your impulse and ability to shiver, which is a mechanism your body uses to help stay warm.
So, whether you’re hitting the slopes or spending an afternoon snowshoeing in the backcountry, use these tips to stay hydrated and be aware of how your feel. If you feel fatigued, have a dry mouth, are lightheaded or dizzy, or get a headache or muscle cramps, you're likely dehydrated. Drink frequently throughout the day and examine your urine output, it should be clear (or nearly clear).