5 Tips for Staying Hydrated in Winter

Photo: Christopher Mabey/ Tandemstock

Don’t let cold weather stop you from drinking enough water.

It can be harder to make yourself drink water in the winter, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important. You may not feel thirsty when the temperature drops, and you may not sweat as much in the winter as you do in the summer. But in the colder months, there are other factors that sap moisture from your body. 

For one, the air is drier in the winter. That means your skin and respiratory system dry out faster than in more humid conditions. There’s also the fact that winter activities can require more exertion. Moving through snow, especially if you’re Nordic skiing, skinning, or snowshoeing, and simply maintaining body heat in cold weather, can take a lot of energy. Staying hydrated keeps your muscles and joints lubricated and functioning at their optimal levels, helping you feel better and staving off fatigue. Plus, drinking fluids can actually help you keep warm: When you’re well-hydrated, you have better circulation, which is how your body regulates its temperature.  

And all that’s when you’re not sweating. High-output winter sports, like winter running and or Nordic skiing, can actually make you sweatier than you might expect. Replacing those fluids is imperative to keep you feeling good. Not staying hydrated in the winter can even weaken your immune system, which is one more reason to drink up. Here’s how.

A woman drinks water outside on a cloudy winter day Photo: Barselona Dreams

1. Drink all day.

Staying on top of your water intake is always better than trying to catch up once you’ve gotten dehydrated. Drink some water first thing in the morning and keep sipping all day. That way, when you head out for a run, hike, ride, or ski, your system is topped off and ready to go.

2. Flavor your beverages.

Most people find it easier to drink fluids that taste good, especially in the winter when your body has a diminished thirst response. If that sounds like you, consider adding an electrolyte powder or other flavoring to your water. Bonus: Adding a little sugar to your beverage can help keep you fueled if you find it hard to snack in cold temps, too. 

3. Heat it up.

When the mercury drops, warm beverages are often easier to drink than cold water. Fortunately, research has shown that even caffeinated drinks, like coffee and tea, provide net hydration benefits as long as the caffeine doesn’t exceed 500 mg (the point at which it becomes a diuretic). For chilly hikes, ski tours, or climbs, pack an insulated bottle with hot tea, coffee, apple cider, or hot cocoa. It’ll hydrate you—and warm you from the inside out. 

4. Use insulated hydration products.

In really cold temps, hydration hoses and even plastic water bottle tops can freeze, making them impossible to drink from. Bladders and hoses encased in neoprene and insulated bottles with rubber mouthpieces can prevent freezing.

5. Keep reservoirs and bottles close.

Even if you have insulated hydration gear, keep it close to your body to help prevent freezing. Consider storing a hydration pack under your jacket instead of over it, or keeping a softflask in a waistpack against your skin. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.