New To Ski

My Advice To Stay Hydrated While Skiing (& Why You Should Never Eat Snow!)

by Megan Coles | Published: November 8th, 2022
Skier with Bag

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It’s mid-afternoon on a big ski day out on the mountain, your legs feel ready to snap off, and you can’t seem to focus on the snow below your feet. Sound familiar? It may be that you’re not keeping yourself well-hydrated. 

Keeping hydrated while skiing is often neglected but is essential to get the most out of your ski day. Dehydration can lead to reduced performance and, at worst, altitude sickness. To avoid this, always carry water, dress appropriately to prevent excess sweating, and encourage others to keep drinking. 

Hydration isn’t optional when skiing so figuring out the way to get your water in that’s convenient for you may take some trial and error. A range of things can affect hydration that you may not have even considered, this article will outline what to consider to keep hydrated when heading out on your ski day. 

Hydration is Key

water

Important: It’s a no-brainer, appropriate hydration will allow you to ski better and for longer. 

Let’s start with how much water we should be drinking. It will differ slightly depending on the individual and the climate, but generally, per day, men require 3.5l, women 2.7l and kids need 1.7l.

Lack of hydration is said to be the number one nutritional reason for weakness in sporting performance. Keeping hydrated lubricates your muscles, allowing for a full range of movement, but it also helps improve focus and eye function.

It can be easy to forget that skiing is exercise, and even if you’re surrounded by snow and not getting hot and sweaty, your body is still working hard to keep your muscles moving all day. It also requires a lot of effort to keep your body warm in these conditions.

Mountain Ski

One of the main causes of altitude sickness is dehydration. Altitude sickness is an illness that occurs when the body is exposed to low levels of oxygen after traveling rapidly to high altitudes. It’s characterized by dizziness and nausea and can be prevented by remaining hydrated throughout your time at altitude.  

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Advice: Give your body the recognition for how hard it’s working to keep you warm and moving, by adequately hydrating it. 

Dehydration can be highly impactful when skiing, it can lead to muscle cramping which is a painful experience and could also cut your day on the mountain short. Additionally, without hydration, your body may struggle to regulate its temperature, leading to feeling even colder. 

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Do’s

Do Carry Water

bag for skiing

Some people don’t like wearing a backpack or carrying excess gear while skiing but at least one person in the group should be carrying water at all times. There are plenty of options on the market, whether you prefer a bottle or a hydration pack with a hose.

Do Remember That Skiing is Exercise

Even though your enjoyment of skiing may make you forget that you’re exercising, your body is working hard to keep you going. Exercise requires more fluids than normal so account for this increased demand and drink more.  

Do Encourage Each Other

Back view of friends enjoying in beautiful natural landscape

When skiing in groups, a great way to keep everyone hydrated is to encourage and remind each other. It can be easy for time to drop away when you’re on the slopes so we could all use a gentle push. 

Do Remind Kids to Drink

If you’re with children make sure to encourage them as it can be difficult for them to remember or recognize the feeling of thirst. If they don’t love the taste of water then adding some fruit squash, syrup or flavored hydration mix could help them drink the required amount.

Do Dress for the Weather

Canyon Ski

It may seem slightly unrelated but over-dressing can lead to sweating and loss of fluids. This will increase the number of fluids that you need to intake and could lead to dehydration. 

Do Drink Before, During, and After Skiing

It’s no use only drinking whilst you’re out skiing, being suitably hydrated before stepping out of the door is essential.

Do Enjoy the Icy Water

A wonderful thing about being up in the mountains is that you’re guaranteed crisp cold water at all times. Make the most of this perk and drink up. 

Do Factor in Alcohol Consumption

The more alcohol you drink, the more water you need to drink. Aim to keep a 1:1 ratio between glasses of alcohol and glasses of water during après-ski. You’ll thank me later!

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Baker County Oregon

Hydration Pack vs Water Bottle

Wondering what the best way to carry your water is? Either a water bottle or a hydration pack with a hose tends to be the top option, and here are some pros and cons of each.

Hydration packs are the more convenient option as the drinking hose tends to fall at the users’ shoulders, making for hands-free hydration. When faced with sub-zero temperatures, having an option that doesn’t require dexterity can encourage increased water intake.

There’s also no need to stop off for too long with this piece of kit. Hydration packs are, however, the more expensive option, prone to breaking and leaking due to overuse, and the water in the drinking hose can easily freeze when exposed to below-freezing conditions. 

Water bottles are overall the more reliable option as they’re unlikely to freeze given that they are a greater mass of water in one vessel. They are considerably cheaper, easier to fill up, and less prone to leaks.

Water bottles certainly lose points for convenience as you’re required to stop to drink from them, and unscrewing a bottle lid on a cold mountain isn’t an enjoyable task. 

Overall, individuals will have their preferences, and whichever method will encourage you to drink the most water is the best one for you. 

Don’t Eat Snow

Spring skiing in Colorado

Tempting right? Wrong. No matter how thirsty you are, do not by any means eat snow. Eating snow is as dangerous as drinking unpurified water. A snowflake acts as a tiny net for the pollutants, dust, and bacteria in the area. In ski resorts, the snow is likely to have extra harmful nasties in it like wax from skis and dirt carried by snow cats. 

It’s not just yellow snow you should avoid! stay away from the lot of it. 

Final Thoughts

Humans require water to survive, and when doing a high intensity activity like skiing – it is even more important to be optimally hydrated. The better hydrated you are, the longer you’ll be able to spend on the slopes and the better your skiing will be. 

Whether you prefer a classic water bottle or a more techy hydration pack, make sure you find a way to get enough water in that works for you.

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NewToSki.com is where over 1 million people a year come to learn more about skiing. I share everything I wish someone had told me when I was learning to ski. My name is Simon & I've been skiing since 2005. This winter, our family is taking a 3-month camper ski trip across the Alps. If you enjoy our articles, please join the free email club. We'd love to have you.
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