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Food and Hydration Tips for Cold-Weather Hiking

Your body’s metabolism is its best heat source, so you need to keep it fueled up with food and water.

Remember to eat and drink: When it’s cold outside, you might be less inclined to stop for food and water. Make it simple by keeping snacks and water within reach so you can eat and sip regularly throughout the day.

Keep food from freezing: Nobody enjoys chomping on a rock-hard energy bar. Foods like candy bars, chocolate, nuts and cheese tend to stay softer than some other items in cold weather. You may have to experiment to figure out the foods you enjoy that will stay edible in cold weather. Whatever you choose to bring, stowing food close to your body will help keep it thawed.

Don’t let your drink tube freeze: If you use a hydration reservoir, you need to keep the drink tube from freezing or else you’ll be left with no way to access your water. To solve for this, many reservoir manufacturers make specific items to insulate the tube and bite valve. Some handy hikers have made their own insulation system with some inexpensive foam from a hardware store. Also, try these tips to keep your tube from freezing:

Sip often to prevent water from freezing solid.After drinking, blow back into the reservoir to keep the tube empty.

Use water bottles: In very cold temperatures, you may need to give up the hydration reservoir and use water bottles because the chance of your drink tube freezing is too high. But, bottles can freeze, too, and it usually happens from the top down, which means the bottle tops are prone to getting stuck shut. Flipping your bottles upside down will solve that problem (just be sure your bottles don’t leak and that the tops are screwed shut securely). Putting the bottles in your pack rather than in exterior pockets will help insulate them from the cold.

Another option is to buy insulated sleeves for your water bottles.

Pack warm drinks: Fill up a vacuum-insulated bottle with hot tea or hot chocolate to sip on when you take a break. The warmth goes a long way toward keeping you comfortable.

Learn more about staying properly hydrated in our Hydration Basics article. 


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