Snagging water from a high country stream. All photo credits: Brady Miller
Hydration is essential to being successful on your hunt. Most of the time we can get by with being dehydrated because we are not facing adverse or strenuous conditions. In fact, most individuals live in a constant state of dehydration, which is why during hunting season — no matter the time of year — additional fluids are necessary.
In order to know how much you should be increasing your fluid intake, you need to get a basis for what you should be drinking daily. Here are a couple simple ways to see how much fluid you should be consuming per day.
Men or Women: 30 mL for every kg of body weight.
How to find that number? Example: 180 lbs of body weight divided by 2.2 = 81.8 kg
81.8 kg x 30 mL = 2,454 mL or ~ 2.45 liters/day which is about 82.9 ounces of water per day for a 180 pound person.
Men or Women: Drink half body weight in ounces
Example: 180 lbs divided by 2 = 90 ounces of water
This is just a basis for the intake you should be getting each day; most of us aren’t even consuming this much fluid. In fact, you should increase your fluid intake even more while hunting as the conditions call for better hydration. If you’re hiking all day during an early season hunt, it can be sweltering outside, causing you to sweat more. And late-season hunts in frigid temperatures cause you to breathe out much more moisture than usual, which requires a higher intake of liquids. Elevation can also affect our need for liquid. At higher altitudes, no matter how acclimated you are, your body needs to breathe more as the air is thinner. This increase in breathing requires an increase in fluid intake. Most hunts also require an increased physical strain, whether that be hiking or riding horses/mules, which can all lead to muscle soreness from lactic acid buildup and increased sweat loss — both of which can be remedied by increasing your fluid intake. Caffeine is a diuretic, which can cause you to lose fluids seeing as you’ll need to urinate more frequently. This one is not a huge concern because typically, the highest ingredient in caffeinated drinks is still water, so as long as you aren’t drinking strictly energy drinks or coffee, this will not have a significant effect. I, for one, love to start my morning with a hot cup of something, so if that is coffee for you, then at least you are ingesting fluids.
A combination of these factors is typical of any hunt and can lead to dehydration quickly. There are not many of us who are consistent in maintaining hydration status on a hunt, especially if it is a backpack hunt where carrying the amount of liquid you need just isn’t plausible.
Not staying properly hydrated can lead to severe consequences that include fatigue, dizziness, increased heart rate, and decreased physical capabilities — all things that we don’t want to deal with during hunting season in the middle of nowhere or on our once-in-a-lifetime hunt.
What are some other ways you’ve found to stay hydrated while hunting?
Carry a bladder in your pack while hiking. A great Platypus water bladder option is found here.
Consume drinks that are full of electrolytes. Check out a solid MTN OPS option here.
Keep your water bottle within reach while hiking or glassing for easy access.
Hydrate the week leading up to your hunt.
Every time you stop to glass or pull something out of your pack, take a drink.