The Best Hydration Packs for Outdoor Exercise, According to Our Editors
It's the time of year for hiking, biking, swimming—and getting ridiculously sweaty in the great outdoors. "In hot environments, many people don't realize how much they're perspiring because it evaporates so quickly, especially if they're wearing sweat-wicking clothing," explains Melinda Manore, Ph.D., RD, CSSD, a researcher and professor emeritus in nutrition at Oregon State University. (And about one-third of American adults don't drink enough H2O to begin with.) Our bodies need water not only for workout performance but also to regulate body temperature and for proper metabolic and cognitive function, she adds.
To make sure you stay properly hydrated in summer's heat, Los Angeles-based sports dietitian Jessica Isaacs, RD, CSSD, suggests drinking 12 to 16 ounces of water about an hour before exercise, sipping 6 to 12 ounces every 20 minutes while you're working out and then having at least 24 ounces afterward to replenish lost fluids. If you're doing moderate to vigorous activity in particularly hot or dry weather for 45 minutes or more, Isaacs also recommends replacing lost electrolytes by sipping coconut water or a sports drink during exercise to help performance and prevent muscle cramps. (It can also prevent hyponatremia, a rare but dangerous condition that results from low levels of sodium after a very high intake of plain water.) Her DIY sports drink: 8 ounces of 100% fruit juice mixed with 8 ounces of water and 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt. Adding a little extra salt to your food can replenish electrolytes as well.
Because everyone's fluid needs vary, the most important thing is to listen to your body and honor your thirst, says Manore. A simple way to tell if you're getting enough water is to check your pee. If it's pale yellow—like the color of lemonade—you're good. Anything darker and you may need to up your H2O intake. To help you stay ahead of hydration in the warmer months, we pulled together some of our editors favorite hydration packs for outdoor exercise.
Best for Cyclists
A special mesh body-conforming back panel siphons sweat away and promotes air flow to keep you cool, while an integrated bike-tool roll keeps all your essentials, including CO2 cartridges and tire levers, handy.
Best for Any Outdoor Workout
Don't let the small size fool you—there's space for a 500-milliliter flask alongside your electronics, keys and other essentials. Strategically placed foam minimizes rubbing and the hip-hugging design stops sloshing and jostling.
Best for Hiking
Stow everything you need for a day on the trails in this roomy backpack's main compartment. It has a separate 2.5-liter water reservoir, plus a rain cover to keep belongings dry. A double-looped system allows you to attach trekking poles to the outside of the pack.