How to stay Hydrated While Hiking

This topic has been on my mind a lot over the course of this extra hot and smoky summer in the Sierra Nevada. The best way to hydrate yourself during physical activity isn’t likely the way you’ve been previously taught (Hint: It isn’t pure water, nor is it Gatorade). I’ll give you one simple ingredient that can make a world of difference to hydration.

UNREFINED SALT!! – That’s it- really!!

Unrefined sea salt contains an abundance of trace minerals. The cells of our body are filled with water and minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium[i]. Drinking water with salt and its added trace minerals creates a mixture most similar to what our body wants in its cells. This encourages absorption and hydration, leaving you feeling more satiated with less intake. It also helps prevent electrolyte depletion during heavy exertion. Our sweat is filled with electrolytes and minerals, and when we are active we sweat a lot! [ii]Helping to replace what we are losing, both the water and the electrolytes, is a winning combination.[iii]

Say goodbye to a big sloshing belly full of water and say hello to a great hydration drink.

And while we’re on the topic of hydration drinks, consider those name-brand ones bought over the counter as too much of a good thing. Many of these hydration drinks have loads of added high fructose corn syrup or synthetic sugars. If you prefer those sugary sweet store bought drinks, dilute them down to 2/3rd water and 1/3rd pre-made electrolyte drink.


How much salt should I add to my water? Well, that really depends, and your own taste buds should be your guide.  Adding salt to your water shouldn’t necessarily taste salty and should never be offensive.

If you’re doing it right, it should taste slightly different than pure water and slightly more appealing.

The word “soft” comes to mind when describing the flavor. Play around with it at home! Try adding a slice of lemon (if it tastes good) for extra potassium.

You can even get really fancy and create your own nutrient-dense water. Check the recipe out here.

This video gives a quick overview:

[i] Check out the mineral composition of Redmonds realsalt_analysis here

[ii] The Effect of Exercise and Heat on Mineral Metabolism and Requirements

[iii] Ch 12, Your Body’s Many Cries for Water by F. Batmanghelidj, M.D.


About the Author:

Natalie Brechtel loves food, mountains, rock climbing, and the Lord of the Rings. She owns her own Nutritional Therapy practice where she helps other outdoor lovers prepare for the trail or recover from digestive challenges. She teaches around the country as a lead instructor for Wilderness Medical Associates. She also works as a professional Mountain Guide in California’s Sierra Nevada, Washington Cascades and abroad. She’s spent over a year in Antarctica, climbed big walls in Chile and carried many heavy backpacks for long distances. At only 5 feet tall she knows what it takes to push your physical limits. Natalie likes to share her passions and knowledge for wild places, empowering others to get outside with all the skills and fuel to have an amazing time, safely. Learn more at


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