Hydration made easyBy Cynthia Oi
Outdoor enthusiasts know to drink and to drink heartily.
Not beer, not wine, but water.
If you don't drink enough water while you're cycling, hiking, walking or running, you're headed for trouble -- heat exhaustion or heat stroke -- especially in Hawaii in the summer.
To keep cool, the body needs to sweat. To sweat, there must be liquid in the body, says Dr. Gerard Dericks Jr. of the Honolulu Medical Group.
"The hotter it is, the more humid it is, the more you're exerting yourself, the more water you should be drinking," advises Dericks, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports injuries.
If you don't keep hydrated, "you'll get headaches, muscle fatigue and you're more likely to get sunstroke," he says.
Dericks recommends drinking 6 to 8 ounces every 15 to 30 minutes when you're out there.
Up until now, water bottles have been the vessels of choice for outdoors types. Now hydration systems primarily developed for bicyclists are finding their way into gear bags of runners, hikers and others.
Hydration systems, consisting of some kind of bladder and a tube, provide quick, hands-free drinking. The tube extends from the bladder to be clipped near the mouth. To drink, you just press tongue or teeth against the release valve and suck.
A number of outdoor outfitters -- Camelbak, Gregory, Platypus and Blackburn -- offer hydration systems. Choosing one depends on your needs and your pocketbook.
Capacities range from a mere 32 ounces to drunken 3 gallons. Costs run from $30 to $150.
Some systems are simple: a bladder and a tube to place in a backpack. Others are packs themselves, hydration units with pockets and slots to hold other hiking or biking gear.
Some ride on the back with shoulder straps and hip belts. Others rest on the lower back like lumbar packs.
Simple systems have more versatility; they can ride in whatever pack you're using. Dedicated systems may be your choice if your hiking or biking trips do not require carrying much gear.
Hydration systems require some care. They need to be drained and dried well to keep bacteria and mold from developing inside the bladders. Some systems come with plastic frames that are inserted into the bladder for drying.
The best thing about hydration systems is you'll tend to drink more often because there's no twisting to reach a bottle from the side pocket of your pack or wrestling it from a holder on the bike frame.
Dr. Cedric Akau, a sports medicine specialist with Straub Clinic & Hospital, likes that accessibility.
"It's right there by your mouth and you can just suck the water in," says Akau, who saw cross-country skiers using the systems on the mainland last year.
And drink you must, Akau says.
"Lot of people will drink when they're thirsty, but ... oftentimes, thirst is a later symptom of dehydration. So if you wait until you're thirsty, it may be too late.
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