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Hydration in Winter

Frozen water all around and none to drink
By Kaj Bune - July 9th, 2004

One of the most neglected yet important aspects of winter sports body maintenance is hydration. On a hot summer day hike it's much easier to keep up with your body's loss of water because the heat of the day is a constant reminder of your thirst. But in winter the cold conditions make it harder to respond to thirst. Not only is it unappealing to take a long drink of cold water when it's below freezing weather, it seems our brains just don't make hydration a priority as much as in summer.

When you head for the frozen hills this winter take this advice with you:

  • Make your liquid refreshment more appealing by warming it up. When you fill your water bottle in the morning and again in the afternoon, fill it with warm water. You will drink more and feel warmer if your water is well above freezing.
  • Carry a half-liter vacuum bottle in your daypack on the coldest days. This will keep soup or sports drinks hot all day and make a windblown lift ride much warmer. Tomato soup is a cold weather favorite.
  • Use one of the tube-fed hydration systems. Many small sips are much better than a few big gulps and hydration systems are the right tool for the job but in very cold weather you run the risk of freezing the drink tube. Make sure you have warm water in the reservoir, an insulating sleeve for the tube and valve, and remember to blow the liquid back into the reservoir to clear the tube after each sip.
  • In addition to carrying water, make sure to drink an additional quantity at lunch. Hold off on the caffeine and alcohol -- they are diuretics and will flush water out of your system.
  • Tank up on liquid the day before a big snowriding outing. Starting with the tank full is a must.
  • Monitor the quantity and color of your urine. If you don't need to empty your bladder for several hours it's a sure sign you are running low on liquid. When you do "go" make sure that it's gin clear; a strong yellow color is one of the best indicators of a need for better hydration.

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