Winter Hiking and Hydration

(This guest post is authored by Melissa Daruna of Get Outdoors Colorado)

Whether it is a quick walk with the family, a long hike with the dog, or skinning up some backcountry slopes, winter hiking in Colorado offers some incredible views and peaceful surroundings. We often load up with warm layers, hats and gloves, sturdy boots and maybe even snowshoes. One thing we may not always remember, however, is to drink enough water. Winter hydration is critical!
Last month we discussed how to keep your muscles safe during outdoor activities and cold weather. One key element is hydration. But hydration goes beyond keeping your quads from screaming when you’re hitting the slopes hard. Hydration is key to staying healthy in all outdoor activities. One activity we may tend to forget this in is hiking and specifically in the winter. Here are a couple reasons why: 
  1. It doesn’t feel as strenuous. Think about a nice leisurely stroll on a snow packed path in your local open space. Doesn’t sound strenuous, right? Well think again! That cold weather and those extra layers you’re wearing mean your body is working harder than you may realize to stay warm and transport you.
  2. You don’t feel hot. This can be one of the perks of winter hiking, the weather is mild and you do not tend to get as hot and sweaty on those inclines. While your layers may keep you warm, your body may not feel hot and therefore, you may not realize you need water. 

What these two boil down to is not feeling thirsty. If you don’t feel your body working as hard, you are not likely to feel like you need a cool drink. But, just because your body isn’t craving it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t need it! Our bodies can become dehydrated even quicker during winter hikes because the air is dryer. This is especially true if we hike at higher altitudes.
Sometimes keeping your water flowing is hard in winter too. Some hydration packs or water bottles freeze on long hikes in cold temperatures. There are plenty of insulated options on the marketto help with that. So, be sure you pack plenty to drink next time you head out to enjoy a hike on your favorite snow covered trail.