HYDRATION 101|What do you need to know?

Cycling / Gear / Ideas & Advice

You hear about hydration and sports all the time. “You need to drink more water!” “You need to stay hydrated!”

What does it all mean, and how can you apply it to your time in the outdoors? I am going to help you figure it out.

First and foremost, we need to talk about what hydration means. Hydration means keeping the right amount of water in your body. Most people know that our bodies are made up mostly of water. Less are aware of how many bodily operations depend on proper hydration. Our bodies use a lot of water, but are not great at storing it for long periods of time. We aren’t built like camels and don’t have a way to store extra water for later. If there is too much water in our bodies, we pee it out. What does that mean? We have to keep putting water in our bodies, especially during outdoor activities in the summer time.

Me on one of my favorite trails.

Me on one of my favorite trails.

Most of the time we talk about hydration and its relation to sweating.  Exercise also uses water in a couple of other ways that most people don‘t think about. Our lungs use water to help oxygen pass into our blood. The more you breath, the more water you need. Refueling (eating) diverts water to our intestines to help absorb nutrients. The more you eat, the more you need to drink. Last but not least is the water that transports the waste from muscle cells out of our bodies in the form of urine. If you don’t have enough water, your body starts to conserve it by shutting down.

What about something other than water?
If you are going to be exercising at a high intensity for more than an hour or so, it’s time to start thinking about adding an electrolyte/energy mix to your water. Electrolytes help replace the minerals you lose in heavy sweating, and carbohydrates in the mix will help replace some of the calories you’ve burned after an hour or so of heavy activity. Your muscles have about an hour’s worth of high intensity energy available in the form of glycogen. If you are going longer than that, you will need to “top off the tank”.

How are you going to carry the water you need?
Bottles are a time-honored choice for bringing water with you into the outdoors. There are literally hundreds of different options available to you–squeeze bottles, wide-mouth bottles, metal bottles, and BPA-free plastic bottles to name just a few. One of the most popular brands of bottles among my fellow EMS staff these days is HYDRO FLASK which can keep your beverage of choice hot for 12 hours or ice cold for 24 hours. Seriously!

The HYDRO FLASK standard water bottle has earned the love of many EMS employees for its ability to keep cold beverages cold for a full 24 hours.

The HYDRO FLASK standard water bottle has earned the love of many EMS employees for its ability to keep cold beverages cold for a full 24 hours.


Another great option is a hydration pack. The greatest benefit of a hydration pack is hands free operation, which is especially helpful for mountain biking and fast and light hiking. When you don’t have to stop, it’s easier for you to drink the water you need. Camelback has become the brand associated with hydration packs, but there are many great companies with a wide range of packs that can suit anyone’s needs. Osprey, Platypus, and EMS all have great hydration packs available. I have a few hydration packs in my quiver these days, but the one you will find on my back right now is the Osprey Raptor 14. It is a medium size pack that is super versatile and works great for both long days on the mountain bike and trail hiking/running. CLICK HERE to check out my full review of the Osprey Raptor 14.

No matter what your favorite outdoor sport is, I wish you many happy and well-hydrated summer days ahead!
Jeff Juneau

Jeff is an avid cyclist who started his retail bicycle career 20 years ago after falling in love with trail riding. Racing mountain bikes soon followed along with countless miles on road bikes for training. Jeff is the Bicycle Technician at the Eastern Mountain Sports in Concord NH and is training for his first Ironman 70.3.


  1. July 21, 2013, 1:21 am

    The construction is great and seems very sturdy even though i did mention the shoulder straps being a bit thin. They are purposely made this way to breathe and keep you from sweating. Being a day pack, this will typically not be packed very heavy anyway. However I have packed it full of heavy groceries and it still carries very well and stays well centered on my back. I decided to purchase this pack after owning an Osprey Aether 70 and trying on many smaller packs in the store. (Was primarily looking for a mountain biking pack) Osprey makes good quality packs with well thought out designs. I have been mainly using for mountain biking and snowboarding (w/o the hydration bladder obviously on the snow). I like the water bottle holders and compression straps. Best part is that it fits close to the body and stays centered so that i don’t even know its there while on the trails. Large enough for small tools, extra water bottles, snacks, spare tubes/parts etc, even an extra layer. Bike helmet holder is a nice extra feature too! In response to the one other review below me, the water bladder hose can be turned to an “off” position to prevent leaks. Another important point to mention is the bladder hose snaps to a magnet on the shoulder strap to provide easy usage while on the go. This magnet warned not to wear the pack if you have a pacemaker/defibralator, as this magnet is very strong and could set it off. Even though it can be removed, the bladder hose still contains the other half of the magnet and therefore i would look into another option that does not contain the magnet feature. I usually don’t bother to post reviews but this product deserves it! Bottom line, this pack rules.

  2. July 20, 2013, 6:50 am

    There is something pretty neat about the new Osprey Raptor hydration packs: they use hydraulic pressure to bring water through the tube. No more sucking. It just flows. There is also a hiking/running line called Mantra. The Raptor is available in 4 sizes, (6, 10, 14 and 18), and uses a customized integrated Nalgene hydration bladder that has a solid back, which locks into the pack easily, even when it’s full. There is a system that puts pressure on the bottle, which in turn spouts the water. That is a great idea. They also have a bungee helmet button system to hold your helmet. They will range form $80 to $120.

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