Hydration while hiking is essential and cannot be underestimated.

Dehydration can quickly take effect when the water intake isn’t enough and results in a variety of health complaints. Early symptoms include cramps, nausea, fatigue, headache, and dizziness.

The preferred treatment for issues of dehydration can vary and include cooling using a soak shirt, bandana, hat, etc., water (rehydrating powder, a pinch of salt, or electrolytes), rest, and shade.

Hiking Hydration Tips

If hiking on the more remote trails in the backcountry it might be necessary to adapt to a particular situation. For instance, at some point you might be in an unfortunate situation and come across a dry water source.

This means alternative action needs to be taken without much delay. Existing water will need to be carefully rationed while the hiking activity may need to be altered, such as to avoid walking midday when the sun is at its strongest.

Here are six tips to help find an alternative source of water:

Dig a hole

If searching a dry creek bed and notice a damp spot or other areas with a patch of greenery, this might an indication that water isn’t far below. Start digging a hole and if it starts to fill with water use a water bottle, cooking utensil or similar to fill with water.

Other methods to get the water include using a T-shirt or similar item to soak up the water before squeezing it out.

Get a vantage point

Look for spots that give a favorable vantage point. Hike to the closest high point and search for potential water sources, such as valleys, depressions, or gullies with vegetation growth or other signs of life.

Moisture traps

A variety of condensation traps can be used to help capture enough water to have a drink. But most of the condensation methods are slow, require a lot of patience, and can take up to 24 hours to provide at least 500-ml of water if successful.

Try to use this method when all other options have been tried and tested.

Remain calm

Avoid panic and think calmly about the situation. Make objective decisions and be positive in taking the most effective course of action.

Rivers or Streams

Even though a river or stream might appear dry at the easiest point near the trail path, it does not mean the river bed is entirely dry further down. Walk towards the main source of the stream to see if it is possible to find the flowing water.

Plus, it is possible to walk further downstream to see if pools of water have been left behind and shaded by vegetation or rocks.


Search for a sign of wildlife which is often a great indication of a water source in the close vicinity.

Any animals that graze aren’t like to move that far from a preferred supply of water.

If water is sourced from one of these watering holes it is essential to treat it with a filtration system before using.

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