Don't Sweat the Summer Heat: A Guide to Hydration

HEY, YOU NEED WATER TO LIVE

It should go without saying, but drinking water is important.  Yet, there are plenty of people who show up to high-energy events like firearms training, long-distance hikes or even airsoft and paintball events without an adequate source of water. With all the various methods available for carrying water today, there’s no excuse not to have it.


DEHYDRATION DEBILITATES

Put simply, dehydration sucks. There’s a reason the term “heat casualty” exists. Dehydration can cancel your entire training or workout day, and if it gets to heat stroke, you can end up with a life-changing condition like kidney failure. If it gets severe enough, death could even be a distinct possibility. While water is probably readily available at your gym, field house, or other modern sports facility, that’s not the case when you get outdoors. Gun ranges, hunting grounds and other outdoor event areas most likely do not have fresh, clean water readily available. Even if they do, you may be busy enough where it’s easy to neglect drinking water regularly. Check out the Army’s hydration and rest table for a good guide on how frequently you should be taking in water.


DROWNING IN OPTIONS

There are dozens of options available for carrying water. Hydration bladders have become hugely popular because they enable you to carry upwards of several liters of water that is quickly accessible via a drinking straw. Virtually every rucksack, hiking pack, or assault bag produced these days can accommodate a hydration bladder. There are also standalone hydration bladder carriers if you need a more streamlined setup. The downside of a hydration bladder is that they can be difficult to refill, require some close attention to make sure bacteria isn’t forming (it’s good to avoid filling your hydration bladder with liquids other than water) and low quality options can burst, leaving you literally high and dry. I personally like Source-brand hydration bladders; I’ve found them to be durable, and Source provides a handy attachment that lets you refill using standard bottled water so you don’t have to remove your hydration bladder from whatever you’re carrying it with.


Stainless steel and nalgene-based plastic water bottles are also an option. They’re easy to use, widely available, relatively inexpensive and can be found in plenty of sizes. Some even have built-in filtering, which is a nice option when you don’t have potable water available. Certain stainless steel water bottles can be exposed to open flame safely, great as another water purification method, or as an impromptu campsite cooking pot. There are plenty of carry options too; MOLLE pouches, belt holders, or pack pockets can do the job. Failing that, expeditious use of paracord, carabiners, zip ties; or just shove it in a cargo pocket of your cool tactical pants of choice. One thing to consider when shopping for water bottles is to look for “BPA-free” materials, so you avoid any contamination hazards.


If you’re really looking for dirt cheap options, military surplus canteen pouches are always a decent option. It’s a low tech option, but they can do the job. Surplus issue carrying pouches, as well as aftermarket ones, also won’t break the bank.  


KEEP IT CLEAN

Lastly, make sure you have a water purification option if you know that finding clean drinking water sources isn’t going to happen. Also make sure you account for the time it’ll take to filter or purify the amount you’ll need.


Dehydration can ruin your day, and possibly your life, so keep the H20 flowing. And remember, beer isn’t water, even if it tastes like it.

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