Our family does a lot of hiking! We have to, as we live in the beautiful and amazing state of Utah. We have mountains all around us. As soon as the snow starts to melt, we get our hiking boots on and get ourselves into the mountains, or the canyons. In fact, we do it so often, that we decided to paint the state of Utah on our wall and push pins in for every place we hike.
As our kids get older, our hikes have progressively gotten longer and harder. This summer we hiked to the top of the closest mountain (Timpanogos Mountain) which was 14 miles! The kids (and our dog) did awesome. So, as the hikes get more intense, our hydration and fueling becomes more and more important. It’s obvious when we don’t get enough water, sugar, and salt into the kids because they start to get really grumpy! It’s happened more times than I care to admit. They begin dragging their feet and complaining. But when they are well fueled, well hydrated, and some quick glucose coursing through their veins, our hikes are super fun and amazing! But we have to plan ahead if we want the experience to be good like that!
Of course water is the first and best choice for hydrating! My kids have had their own hydration packs since they were super small. They LOVE having their own, and we love that they carry it themselves. Water during exercise is vital for performance. Exercise, especially for long periods of time, and in hot weather, causes water loss through sweat. Replacing with water can assist nutrients being transported around the body to prevent dizziness and lethargy.
We carry water in a few different ways. The hydration packs we almost always carry. My husband carries one with an extra large bladder just in case someone runs out. We also put water bottles in the pockets of our packs. On short hikes, we literally just carry water bottles in our hands. Then, most importantly, we keep a cooler in the car with very cold water for after the hike. It’s so refreshing to come back to your car to cold water! Especially if you’ve been out for a long time and all the water you bring is warm! Nothing worse!
We also filter or sterilize water when we are in a canyon or on a mountain that we know has water.
When the weather is hot, or the activity is strenuous, electrolytes get out of balance from salt lost during perspiration. Continuing to drink water actually dilutes the sodium in the blood, causing sodium levels to drop. When sodium levels drop, you can experience fatigue, headache, nausea, confusion, etc. So, one way to counterbalance this is to eat foods with salt, or drinks that contain salt.
We often take trail mix, made with salted nuts, pretzels, or granola bars. My husband packs his backpack pretty full with these foods for the kids, and they each have a little bit in their packs.
You can make your own hydration drink to restore electrolytes. We have a recipe here for one. We’ve made this and poured it into a regular water bottle. It’s great to take on these long excursions.
Another option for electrolyte balance is drinks you can purchase. It’s not easy to find all natural, organic hydration drinks like this. (mostly they have colored dyes and artificial ingredients!) A super brand new product on the market however is two new coconut water electrolyte* drinks from Ella’s Kitchen® . These drinks are made with water, coconut water, pureed fruit, a touch of agave, and salt. These drinks:
- Made for ages 1 and up
- Contain Electrolytes :170 mg Chloride, 110 mg Potassium and 120 mg of Sodium per serving
- Certified USDA organic ingredients
- Real ingredients that are naturally hydrating
- Have NO preservatives or thickeners
- Have NO artificial flavors or colors
- Do NOT contain genetically modified ingredients
- And are Kosher Certified
- and gluten free
For peak performance kids also need glucose! Our trail mix ALWAYS includes dried fruit. We like that it is easy and light to pack and contains adequate amounts of carbohydrates that can fuel our activity. After about 90 minutes stored glycogen gets depleted and fueling during the activity is necessary. Ella’s Kitchen Coconut Water Electrolyte Drink contains 6 grams of carbohydrate per 1/2 cup per serving from pureed fruit and organic agave.
The full ingredient list reads:
Water, Organic Pear Puree, Organic Coconut Water, Organic Agave Syrup, Organic Raspberry Puree, Organic Blueberry Puree, and Sea Salt.
Take it from me! Hiking with your family can be one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences you can have with your kids. If you pay special attention to making sure your kids are adequately fueled and hydrating, it will be a better experience for everyone!
To learn more about Ella’s Kitchen new drinks, connect wtih them on