Why It’s Important To Stay Hydrated In The Wilderness

Water is the very essence to our survival. The average adult body is made up of approximately 60% water, and drinking enough everyday is essential to our very existence. The only solid rule universally accepted about water is - if you don’t have it, you’re guaranteed to die.

As alarming as it may sound, it describes nothing but the truth from both a scientific perspective and the mindset of an experienced outdoorsman or woman.

Water carries essential nutrients to all cells in the body and oxygen to our brain.  It allows the body to absorb and assimilate minerals, vitamins, amino acids, glucose and other substances, flushes out toxins and waste, regulates body temperature and keeps us alive!

The human body cannot store water and it is constantly lost through breathing, perspiration, physical activity, urine and feces. 

Ensuring that lost fluids are replenished in a timely manner and that our bodies remain hydrated is critical to our survival.

Dehydration is a merciless killer! For example, a person may feel thirsty and fatigued on the first day without water to organ failure on the third. Scary? Absolutely!

Never be so arrogant or confident to think that it can’t happen to you. A fun adventure in the wilderness can become catastrophic if you find yourself lost and run out of water.

So before venturing off the beaten path, ask yourself, “Is that single bottle of water enough to get you by just in case?" Be prepared and make it home alive!

In this ProSurvivalStrategies.com Guide, you will learn:

  • Why is water important to your survival?
  • What does water do for you?
  • How much water should you drink a day?
  • And much more!

Always plan for this contingency before heading out in a rush. 

Why Is Water Important To Your Survival?

Just think about the very basics of what we need to survive - air, food, shelter and water. Water is the most important natural resource to our very existence because our biological structure is primarily composed of it. Basically, we depend on it to survive. 


According to H.H. Mitchell Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, vital organs are primarily composed of water. The brain and heart are 73%, the lungs are roughly 83%, skin is 64%, kidneys and muscles are 79% and even our skeleton is composed of 31% of water. 

A very basic lesson of the body’s biological composition of water gives you a quick understanding of how important it is. Now let’s move on to the numerous functions it serves to keep you alive. 

What Does Water Do For You?

Water serves numerous functions to keep you alive. These functions include:

  • Producing saliva that aids in digestion.
  • Keeps mucosal membranes moist.
  • Allows the body’s cells to grow and reproduce and survive.
  • Lubricates joints.
  • Needed by the brain to manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters.
  • Regulates body temperature (sweating and respiration).
  • Acts as a shock absorber for the brain, eyes and spinal cord.
  • Converts food to components needed for survival - digestion.
  • Helps deliver oxygen all over the body.
  • Flushes bodily waste mainly in urine.
  • Helps skin stay hydrated.

In any survival situation, any deficit in water intake quickly reduces the body’s ability to function. For example, research demonstrates that as little as 1% dehydration negatively affects our mood, attention, memory and motor coordination. 

How Much Water Do You Need To Drink a Day? 

Everyday, you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urination, bowel movements and physical activity. The U.S. Institute of Medicine and World Health Organization recommends between 2.0 and 2.7 liters (8 to 11 cups of water a day) for women and 2.5 to 3.7 liters (10 to 15 cups of water a day) for men. This includes all sources such as food and not just beverages.

FEMA states that having an ample supply of clean water is a top priority in any emergency situation. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts, (half a gallon) of water each day.

However, there is no exact science as to how much water a person needs to drink a day because there are so many variables that must be taken into consideration. Just to name a few: 

  • The size and gender of a person are two factors. For example, a man weighing 210 pounds requires more water than a woman weighing 116 pounds.
  • The environment also determines the need for water. For example, in a warm or hot climate, a person loses water quicker (through sweating) than in a cool or colder area.
  • The amount of physical exertion performed during the day. For example, hiking through rough terrain is more demanding than a casual stroll through the park.
  • A person's physical condition plays an important factor on water intake. For example, people with diabetes, the risk of dehydration is higher because higher than normal blood glucose depletes fluids. 

The above-mentioned variables do not operate independently. In fact, all of them can strike at once!

What Is Dehydration?

Never underestimate the importance of water because you will face a very uncomfortable situation until extra water is secured or at the very worst, the inevitable consequence of dying from dehydration.

Dehydration is a condition caused by the loss of too much fluid from the body. This occurs when you are losing more fluids than you are consuming, and your body does not have enough fluids to function properly. By the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

As a general rule of thumb, the average person can survive three days without water (or less in hotter climates). However, many other variables such as a person’s size and gender, the environment, chronic illnesses, clothing and physical exertion must be taken into consideration. So there is no reliable way to pinpoint how quickly a person will die from dehydration. 


Dehydration is commonly associated with the scorching summer days or overexertion in hot humid climates. However, it is also a threat in cold temperatures because: (1) Your body loses moisture all day regardless of the temperature outside; (2) You may feel less thirsty in the winter, but being less thirsty doesn’t mean your hydrated; (3) You sweat less in cold weather, and without a sweat indicator, it is less likely you will make a point to stay hydrated. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Dehydration In Adults?

The symptoms of dehydration in adults include the following:

  • Feeling very thirsty.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Urinating and sweating less than usual.
  • Dark-colored urine.
  • Dry skin.
  • Feeling tired.
  • Dizziness.
  • Headaches. 

Be watchful of your urine color. If your urine is dark and you already have a headache, chances are you are well on your way to dehydration.

The above-mentioned are the early signs of dehydration. At its most severe stage, you will develop hypovolemic shock and death follows quickly if re-hydration is not immediately started. 

How To Protect Yourself From Dehydration.

The various methods to protect yourself from dehydration is as follows:

  • Contingency planning / common sense - carry extra water just in case.
  • Pre-hydrate (at least 16 ounces of water) a couple of hours before engaging in physical activity.
  • Take frequent water breaks (10 minute break once every hour).
  • Avoid alcohol before your outdoor trip. (It contributes significantly to dehydration).
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages, they are diuretics causing you to urinate more often.
  • If you are planning a hike or outdoor activity in a hot climate, carry extra water and avoid your trek between 10 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (avoid hiking or exercising during the hottest part of the day).
  • Check your urine, if it is clear and copious, you are well hydrated.
  • Sweating profusely removes precious salts from your body required to regulate liquids. (Consuming a salty snack replenishes salts).
  • Check your bottle or hydration pack frequently.
  • Have the right supplies. 

The above-mentioned methods are by no means exhaustive. It is a quick learning tool you should be cognizant of before and during your outdoor expedition. 

Final Note.

Water is the life source of our very existence. Without it, our organs cannot function properly and having enough to drink makes all the difference. In any survival situation, any deficit in water intake reduces the body’s ability to function.

There is no exact science as to how much water intake you need a day. There are so many variables to consider from our size and gender to chronic illnesses.

Dehydration is a merciless killer. If you are not prepared you will face a very uncomfortable situation until water is procured or face the risk of dying. It only takes 3 days for someone to take their final breath as a result of water deprivation. It can happen in any climate and anywhere around the globe.

Initially, you may feel thirsty and fatigued on the first day without water to organ failure on the third. Never be so arrogant that it can’t happen to you.

Even if you are out on a day’s expedition into the wilderness, ask yourself, “Do you have enough water in your kit just in case?” 

Always be prepared and make it back home alive!

I welcome any comments and wish you the best on your next outdoor adventure. 

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