Reduce Sweat While Hiking: Sweat Less and Stay Hydrated

How much sweat does your body actually need to fulfill its sole function in life, keeping you cool? When hauling a 50 pound pack on my back I’m left sweating rivers by the end of the day.

Unfortunately none of us can control how much we sweat. Try telling that to all the middle school bullies in the world. Some of us are just inefficient sweaters. Most of the water just falls to the ground not doing us any good.

If every time you hike sweat spreads from your armpits all the way down to your back this articles for you. The following tips should help you prevent cramps and dehydration, while controlling the way you sweat.

How Do You Know if You’re Too Sweaty?

I’m not talking about the obvious symptoms. If you look look a drowned rat you’re bodies probably over sweating. You can keep tabs on a few other important bodily functions to know when your water tanks are approaching empty.

  • Signs of Dehydration: Most of our bodies make it very obvious when we need to take in fluid. You start to feel cramps, nausea, headaches, dizzy spells, loss of coordination and even irritability. Don’t ignore your crabby hiking companion, it’s time to stop and take a short break for some much needed snacks and water.
  • Thirst: Once you start to feel thirsty you’re likely already dehydrated. You start to see signs of thirst when your body is running on 1/3 of the water necessary to live.
  • Check Urine: Dark urine is one of the easiest ways to spot dehydration. If it’s pale yellow you’re probably okay. Any darker than that you should start taking in some water ASAP.
  • Urine Frequency: As you get more dehydrated you’ll start to pee less frequently. If you haven’t had to head for the bushes all day, dehydration is probably creeping up on you.

Make Sure You’re Carrying Enough Water

Before heading out on the trail you need to make sure you’re carrying enough water. That single water bottle thrown into your pack isn’t going to do you much good. You’d be surprised at just how much water you actually need on a long day hike.

If you don’t already have a hydration bladder it’s time to get one(this is what I use). Just go with the biggest bladder your pack will hold. Remember that waters extremely heavy, but you don’t have to fill it all the way up.

That being said knowing you have some reserves in your tank is always a good idea. On longer trips you’ll definitely need a backpacking water filter(check out a few of my favorite water filters in this breakdown).

How to Reduce Sweat Hiking

Remember that sweat is your friend on those excruciatingly hot days. You could probably live without it on date night, but there’s nothing you can do about that. If you prepare and respond to your dripping body you can make sweat work for you.

Wear Light and Breezy Clothing

Obviously you don’t want to wear a long sleeve shirt when it’s 90 degrees out. Bare skin is going to let sweat evaporate off your body faster keeping you cooler. Just don’t forgot to put on some sunscreen.

If you prefer to cover up your skin choose fabric that’s light colored, light and breezy. Synthetic materials(Under Armour Style) are also a great choice. They are designed to dry fast and wick sweat away from your skin cooling you off.

Carry Enough Water

On a typical day you should be drinking at least 2 liters of water. That doesn’t mean you only need 2 liters for a 10-mile day hike. Your bodies going to be going through a lot more water than you think.

As a general rule your body will need at least 1 liter of water every 2 hours you hike. On especially hot days or when traversing difficult terrain you’ll need much more.

Get in Shape

Most of us aren’t in shape all year round. Who can say they’ve never put on a little post holiday turkey weight. Start getting in shapes several months before your big trip.

If it’s too cold to get outside you better head to the gym. You need to get your cardiovascular fitness level up to prepare yourself for the heat. Carrying around a 50lb pack is going to require a decent level of physical fitness.

Exercise Outside in Hot Weather

Going to that air conditioned gym and running on the treadmill won’t get you ready for the trail. Yes you’ll be in great shape, but you’ll be sweating bullets the second you step outside.

At least 2 weeks before your big hike get outside and strap on your pack. Walk some trails to get ready for that hot weather. Begin a program focused on moderate exercise in the heat.

Some of us aren’t fortunate to have hot weather year round. Living in Ohio, like I do, means we have to get creative. Instead of braving the weather I put on a few extra layers and head to the gym. The first time I ran in a sweatshirt I thought I was going to die, but now it’s just another day at the office.

Drink Sports Drinks

Everybody has their own opinion on whether or not you should drink sports drinks while you exercise. Personally I think supplementing electrolytes really helps early in the day.

I will normally take a late lunch and rarely snack throughout the hike. Being clumsy doesn’t make me the best multi-tasker out on the trail.

Instead of drinking gatorade/powerade I put some powdered Pedialyte into my hydration bladder. It tastes great and completely eliminated my calf cramps.

Bring Salty Snacks and Full Meal

Not only will eating give you enough energy to continue down the trail, it’s going to help stimulate your thirst forcing your to drink more. On short hikes you should always bring along a small lunch and snacks to eat along the way.

Salty snacks are going to be your best friend. Salt forces your body to retain water, preventing cramps and other dehydration symptoms. Bring along nuts, jerky, trailmix etc..

Drink Regularly

To maintain your current fluid level, you need to take in 1/2 liter liquid every hour. If you drink all that water at once you’re just going to pee it out 20 minutes later.

Instead take small sips every couple minutes to maximize absorption. When carrying around all that extra water you don’t want any of it to go to waste.

Hydrate Before The Trip

Most people are slightly dehydrated throughout most of their lives. We take in enough coffee and booze each year to take down a small elephant.

Do yourself a favor and start taking in fluids a few days before your planned trip. This should give your body enough time to adjust to the new levels and you’ll hold on to a lot more water.

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