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Cycling Hydration: A guide to staying hydrated and the gear you need to do it

Published August 26, 2021

We have all been there. 50km out of town, the sun beating down on you and you take the last sip of water from your bottle. Dang. Being hydrated is one of the most essential human needs. We need water. We need more when we are out there pounding the tarmac or singletrack. As they say, if you’re thirsty you’re too late. You should have been drinking more fluids ages ago.

Dehydration can be serious for athletes and can be recognized by dizziness, headaches, dark colored urine, or even heart rate spikes. When we don’t drink enough water, our blood thickens and puts strain on the heart to send oxygen to our muscles.

How Much Fluid Is Enough to Keep Hydrated?

A good general rule to follow is to drink one bottle (12-16 oz.) of water an hour. However, your body is a finely tuned instrument and will tell you when and how much fluids it needs. It’s up to us as cyclists to pay attention - which can be hard in the moment

5 Tips for Staying Hydrated

  1. 1. Before a ride: Drink 12 to 16 oz. of water 4 to 6 hours before hopping on the bike.
  2. 2. Consider your schedule: Choosing to ride early in the morning or later in the afternoon could bring cooler temperatures and allow your body to stay hydrated easier.
  3. 3. Reach while riding: Every 10-15 minutes reach for that bottle and give yourself a splash. This will replace water that you have sweated out and keep you more focused on what’s happening.
  4. 4. After a ride: Slug a glass of orange juice when you get back. OJ is rich in potassium and perfect for muscles and cramping.
  5. 5. More than water: For any ride three hours or more, you also need to be replacing carbohydrates and electrolytes. You may want to consider bringing electrolyte tabs and/or your favorite gels.

Types of Hydration Gear

Water Bottles

The bottle we all know so well - also known as the bidon. There are many different bidon options out there. Some are insulated, non-insulated, while others have storage for tools and nutrition.

Water Filters

Access to clean water is crucial to the health of all riders. Thankfully nowadays, there are so many lightweight and portable options for cyclists.

Hydration Backpacks

Packs come in all shapes and sizes and can help you carry more than just water.

Product List

Click each list item to learn more about that product. Some products in this list have been fully reviewed by us and labeled with an asterisk (*).

Barry Lachapelle
Barry Lachapelle

Barry has been cycling and creating digital products around the world for 20+ years. He was a design leader at IDEO, IDEO.org and Nike’s Innovation Lab.