Hiking 101: Top Hydration Tips When Hiking

Hydration Tips for Hiking

Do you know the do's and don'ts of staying hydrated while hiking?

No matter the weather, it's always a great time to discuss hydration. Even if it's cold outside, you can still face the dangers of dehydration.

First and foremost, please do not go out on the trails without water.

I recently spoke to a Search and Rescue (SAR) ranger who said the number one cause of rescues is dehydration.

Dehydration can cause confusion, which can be quite dangerous when you're out in the wilderness. When you become disoriented, you are more likely to get lost. And without water, you risk bodily harm.

In this blog, we'll talk about how to stay hydrated on the trail:

  • Hydration tips
  • Hydration gear
  • How much water to bring
  • And more

How Much Water to Bring on Your Hike

The amount of water needed per hike will depend on a few factors:

  • Hike mileage
  • Weather*
  • Personal hydration needs

*You will need to carry more water depending on the elements, such as hiking in the heat or in windy conditions.

On average, a person should consume 2 liters of water per day, and that's not including more for physical activities like hiking.

I recently heard someone say, bring one liter for every 3 miles, and I believe that is a safe and reasonable amount of water to carry.

Hiking Hydration

How to Store Your Water While Hiking

Personally, I use a reusable water bottle or hydration reservoir, and sometimes both. Water bottles are good for hikes under 3 miles. However, once you start hiking 3+ miles, you may want to invest in a bladder. A bladder will typically hold 2 to 3 liters, while a water bottle typically holds 1 liter.

Here are a few options for carrying your water:

1. Reusable water bottles


2. Collapsible lightweight water bottles

Hydrapak Collapsible Water Bottle - Shop at REI

3. Hydration system / bladder (reservoir with hose)

Hydration Reservoir for Hiking


Here are 5 Tips for Hydrating Before, During and After Your Hikes:

1. Plan ahead and note how much water is needed for your specific hike. You can also consider filing up water if there is a water source on your hike, but don't forget your water filter!

2. Pre-hydrate before your hike. Start a few days before if you're climbing a notable mountain or peak. When I first started hiking, I was not drinking enough water and would end up with headaches. Once I started hydrating prior to my hikes, I was golden - and those headaches, they disappeared!

3. Drink every 30-minutes while on the hike, even if you're not thirsty. This will ensure you stay hydrated and replenish the water you lose when you sweat!

4. Hydrate after the hike.

5. Consider taking an electrolyte supplement or recovery drink. If you had a long day, this can help replenish your sodium and potassium lost. Personally, I like Nuun and Vitalyte. If I'm out on a long hike, I tend to bring a bottle of electrolytes and have some throughout the hike. Doing so has made a huge difference in how I feel while on the hike! 

Pro Tip: Carry a Water Filtration System

If you're going deep into the backcountry or on a long hike, we highly recommend bringing a way to filter water in case you run out. We have been using the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System for years, and we love it for its durability, practicality and sustainability. Shop at REI for yours.

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System for Hiking

How do you stay hydrated while hiking?

Feel free to add your own tips with the community in the comments below. 

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5 tips for hydrating on hikes | before, during, and after your hikes


  • When on longer hikes, I will bring fruit such as apples, oranges, peaches, or even cut up watermelon. These can help with hydration and electrolytes. Fruit along with nuts make a great hike snack to keep you strong during a hike.

    Heather Carpentier
  • That’s a great practice, @Gordon!

    52 Hike Challenge
  • I always carry a water filter/purifier when I am hiking to a lake or near streams to keep my bottles full.


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