Hydration for Family Hiking

Suddenly, gigantic one-gallon water bottles are the thing all the mommy warriors are drinking from. Do I have to drink a gallon every day? All by myself? I don’t know about you, but I struggle enough to get the old eight glasses. And that’s counting a juice glass as one!

As I’ve scoured the internet for the healthiest options, I’ve heard many variations and opinions about how much water we each need daily. Eight glasses a day was the common standard for many years. Then I heard somewhere that you should drink half your weight in ounces. So if you weigh 150 lbs. you should drink 75 fluid ounces of water each day. 

Variations Matter

Most health advice sources acknowledge that people are different, and variations will impact how much water you need. Let’s look at how age, size, and activity level affect how much fluid you need to stay properly hydrated. 


According to healthychildren.org, kids’ hydration increases gradually with age and size. You can also count milk, water, and other beverages toward their total fluid intake. 

1-3 years old need 4 cups/day

4-8 years old need 5 cups/day

Kids over 8 need 7-8 cups/day


You’ve probably heard some of the same variations on hydration levels as I have. Any of these would be adequate standards to start. 

Eight glasses/day at eight ounces/glass = 64 fluid oz.

Half your weight in ounces will vary by individual

US National Academy of Medicine says 124 fluid oz for men and 92 fluid oz for women. 

Something Is Better Than Nothing

I  have to work at it to make myself drink a few glasses of water every day. My typical standard for a day spent at home is to take in at least slightly more water than coffee. 

If you are like me, you probably won’t benefit from the ominous gallon jug with a sipping straw in the lid. It is better to make small goals and work your way up to a reasonable amount. You can read some of my other hydration tips here.

Choose one of the water intake standards and be consistent. You’ll begin to see the health benefits of consistent water intake. 

Activity Level Ups the Ante

All of the sources that I looked at mentioned that their guidelines are a basic standard for hydration. You need those amount of water on a regular day at home or the office. When you increase your physical activity, you obviously need to increase your hydration to match it. 

If you are running, hiking, or otherwise moving a lot, take small sips at regular intervals rather than stopping to chug several ounces at a time. Your stomach will thank you.

Hot Weather Sees That Bet and Raises

Another variable in your hydration equation is the weather. Hiking in August is vastly different from hiking in March for most climates. 

How Much Do I Increase My Hydration for Hiking?

Adults hiking at a moderate pace should drink about 16 ounces of water each hour. Remember that this water does not replace your regular daily intake. It adds to it. 

Kids over eight should have a similar increase in intake. For younger kids, you can cut that by about a third. Plan about 10 ounces per hour for them. 

Planning a day hike requires that you become familiar with the pace your family can hike. Then you can estimate the water you need. See our Beginner’s Guide To Hiking for tips on starting small and working up to longer hikes.

Next week we’ll look at signs of dehydration and some excellent water carrying systems.

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