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Essential Gear: WATER!

Alan Bergman – One may question whether water actually qualifies as “gear” for paddle sports, but it’s at least as necessary as anything else you bring with you.

Staying hydrated while out on the water is oh-soooooooo hugely important! The simple truth is that this doesn’t just apply to the hot and humid days of summer. Drinking water may not sound particularly appealing on a cold fall or winter day, but it’s equally important to stay well-hydrated during these seasons, too.

Here are some useful tips for staying properly hydrated:

  • Consider using a water backpack or rucksack– this will allow you to drink without having to drop your paddle or oar each time you want to hydrate. These are typically fairly lightweight, and allow you to drink through an attached tube. Rather than wear the backpack, some paddlers stow it behind their seat or under their bungee cords; and, attach the drinking tube to their life vest. Just remember to check out plenty of review websites before purchasing a rucksack to ensure that you are making the best choice for your needs. Not sure where to begin? Why not take a look at the rucksack reviews on this site for some inspiration.
  • Invest in a stainless steel, vacuum-insulated water bottle– though more costly and heavier than a regular thermos or plastic water bottle, these can keep water cold up to 24 hours.
  • Drink proactively– essentially, this means that the surest way to beat dehydration is to stay ahead of the thirst. Drink a few cups before hitting the water, and try to drink one-two cups every hour that you’re out there.
  • Pace your drinking– it is advisable to take smaller, regular-interval sips, rather than outright, intense chugging.
  • Consider other sources– in addition to drinking water, water-rich fruits and vegetables will help keep you hydrated. It is also important to replace electrolytes, often lost through sweating. Among the more popular electrolyte replacement sports drinks are Gatorade and Powerade. If you’re not a fan of those, you might prefer the electrolyte powder from Magnak. You could use that to make your own electrolyte replacement sports drink.
  • But not all sources– fruit juices, sugary drinks and soda are not a replacement for water. They can be hard on your stomach if you are dehydrated. Drinks containing caffeine can act as a diuretic and actually cause you to lose more fluids.
  • Be prepared– we sometimes find ourselves out on the water for a longer period of time than originally planned. Be sure to have plenty of water with you, in the event that this does occur.

Always be aware of these signs of possible dehydrationheadache, dizziness, dry mouth, dark urine and/or low volume of urine, muscle fatigue and general exhaustion.

Last, but not least, once finished paddling for the day, be sure to continue drinking water to bring your fluid levels back to normal.