Fall Hike/Gear Review Part 5

Hydration Supplements

I have been a gatorade guy for many years. It was the first hydration supplement and it is very inexpensive. Gatorade powder while messy, is transportable. I learned as a young boy that i sweat a lot, and that i must take care to avoid dehydration. I had a few bad spells with this before i learned my lesson.

Newport 1984
Newport 1984

I aim for two quarts of electrolyte replacement per day when backpacking*. That can get bulky, heavy, and turn into a bit of a sticky mess when dealing with Gatorade powder. On my quest to lighten my pack and re-think old systems, i decided it was high time to investigate the modern world of electrolyte replacements. A little research brought these five products to the front. I read about each of them and created a chart to compare costs. Hydration Supplement Cost

With the results from the cost comparison in hand, i decided that i wanted to try the Nuun tablets. The tablet concept sounds great. No messing about with powder or figuring out how to get it from a ziplock into your water vessel. The Nuun tabs are also approved for use in hydration bladders. I have not tried this yet and am not sure if i will, but it is nice to know that is a viable option. The Camelbak tabs seem very similar to the Nuun on paper, and may even be marginally cheaper, but i operate by quarts or liters in the woods and wanted a supplement that would lend itself well to that system. Nuun formulated their product so that one tab dissolves in 16 oz of water, two tabs for one quart. Camelbak designed their system so that one tab dissolves in 24 oz of water. This does not work well for me. If you operate on more of a base 12 water system, that may be the product for you.

My local EMS had a tube of the Active Hydration lemon lime tabs and i tried them out. The taste was a little more like mineral water than i prefer, but the ease of use and the savings in weight made up for that. After that initial test, i ordered a variety pack of U Natural Hydration. Not only do these have fewer ingredients and additives, they are smaller and lighter. They taste better than the original Nuun lemon lime tabs i tried as well. Check out these comparisons to Gatorade powder:

3 Quarts Nuun U Natural Hydration = .7 oz
3 Quarts Nuun U Natural Hydration = .7 oz
3 Quarts Gatorade Powder = 7.55 oz
3 Quarts Gatorade Powder = 7.55 oz

Though Gatorade powder is still the reigning champ when it comes to cost, the savings in weight and bulk, and the added convenience of the Nuun tabs has made these my new electrolyte replacement solution.

Next time: Cooking systems

Rock On!

* I tend to both drink and sweat more than many folks. The amount of water i consume is one of the things other backpackers and fitness people tend to argue about with me. You hydrate your way. I’ll carry my own water. I drink 5 liters of water a day minimum – and that is just a normal day at home. Other folks argue with me that “you don’t need electrolyte replacements”. I say again, you hydrate your way. I have been near dehydration several times and it is no fun. I have seen other trained and fit athletes stopped in their tracks, and in serious pain and some danger, due to dehydration. The first aid techniques i have studied all agree that water alone is not the best way to fight dehydration. In addition to all that, it is really nice to have something besides water to drink 🙂

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