If you’re out on a long hike on a hot summer’s day you’ll know how vital it is to drink enough water, ensuring that you stay both well hydrated and healthy. It’s estimated that while resting we should aim to drink approximately a liter and a half of water a day, which, of course, increases when undertaking exercise such as hiking.
Unfortunately, sometimes plain water can become a bit boring and it’s at this point that the motivation to drink can sharply decrease. This leaves us at risk of dehydration.
Luckily, there are now water enhancers which you can add to plain water in order to help add flavor as well as potential beneficial substances.
Here, we’re going to take a look at the best water enhancers available today.
What are Water Enhancers?
The demand for water enhancers is certainly large, with it being estimated that in the US alone the market is valued at $400 million. Traditionally in the US, flavour enhancers for water have been powder-based so it’s refreshing to see a new and exciting alternative. Liquid based additives for water have been available in Europe for quite some time, and the way they are used is very similar to powders. You can also see our article on how to choose the top electrolyte supplement for more information.
If you haven’t yet embraced the trend of water enhancers, they are basically a super concentrated liquid packaged in a very small bottle (usually around 50 ml) with a dropper mechanism whereby you squeeze the desired amount into your water bottle. A 50ml pack contains roughly 25 servings, depending if you prefer a weak or strong taste. Each serving is estimated to be around a teaspoon or less, so a little of these water enhancers does go a long way.
Many water enhancers are now available from a variety of different manufacturers. You can choose from a basic flavored water enhancer with no added calories or sugar, one with a blend of B-vitamins, one enhanced with electrolytes, and even ones you can make iced coffee with!
There’s a dazzling array of flavors out there so you’re bound to find one that you enjoy. Of course, there’s also nothing stopping you from experimenting by combining a few different flavors to create your own unique blend!
How can I use Water Enhancers when Hiking or Camping?
The great thing about water enhancers is their small size. They are perfect to pop into a pocket of your backpack and when you fancy a change from plain water, you can easily dispense the correct amount into your water bottle.
The tiny bottles are usually finished with a double-click lid and dropper so you don’t need to worry about them leaking into your backpack either. With approximately 15 – 25 servings per bottle, you should be able to complete quite a few hikes before the time comes to buy a new bottle of your favorite flavor or even try a completely new one!
If you’re on a long thru-hike and need to replenish your water supplies from natural sources such as streams and rivers along the way, you’ll probably be familiar with the need to treat any water you collect. Whilst boiling water in order to sterilize it is a very popular method, many people also rely on treating water with chemicals including iodine and chlorine dioxide.
Using these in combination with filtration ensures that the water is safe to drink, but these chemicals can leave the water with a distinctive taste which many people do find unpleasant.
If you’re not enjoying the taste of the water that you’re drinking then unfortunately you’re much less likely to drink as much as you should. One easy way around this is to add a few drops of water enhancers to any water after it has been treated to make sure it’s safe to drink.
You definitely don’t want to risk not properly treating any water you collect along your hike, so adding a water enhancer to mask the taste of any disinfectant used is a smart idea.
You can now also get water enhancers which are coffee flavoured, as well as containing caffeine. So if you’re camping overnight and struggle to get going without your morning caffeine fix, these can be added to hot or cold water to wake you up! Don’t be tempted to overuse these whilst hiking though. Read on for more information on why it’s important to limit caffeinated drinks when hiking.
I Love Coffee! Why should I Limit my Caffeine Intake when Hiking?
Whilst caffeinated water enhancers might sound like a great idea, and they certainly make a wonderful iced coffee, it’s best not to use these whilst hiking. This is because any drink containing caffeine can actually cause you to become more dehydrated. Caffeine acts as a diuretic, which means it makes you need to go to the bathroom more frequently. The result is that even if you’re drinking plenty of fluid, the majority will pass straight through your digestive system without being absorbed into your bloodstream.
So, in the same way that it’s not recommended to drink too much tea, coffee or cola before or during your hikes, the same applies to caffeinated water enhancers. It’s probably best to save these for times when you don’t anticipate carrying out any exercise which will be raising your heart beat. See our article on the best backpacking coffee to learn more.
Water Enhancers with Added Extras
As well as basic water enhancers which simply add flavor to your water, there’s a wide range of water enhancers out there with a few added extras as well. Some water enhancers also contain added guarana or ginseng to give you a bit of an extra energy kick without relying on caffeine.
Others include B-vitamins, most commonly B3, B6 and B12. The reason B-vitamins are sometimes added to water enhancers is that, whilst they’re considered an essential part of your diet, our bodies can’t make or store B-vitamins so we need to gain them from our diet every day.
If you’re on a long hike and relying on quick and easy foods you might not be getting enough B-vitamins so these water enhancers could be a good way of reaching your recommended daily intake.
Our bodies need B-vitamins for a wide variety of different reasons including energy production in cells, formation of new red blood cells and for your nervous system to function properly. Important stuff!
Another optional extra in water enhancers is the addition of electrolytes. These are minerals including sodium, potassium, chlorine and magnesium. Electrolytes are essential for both our cells and organs to function at peak performance, but can be lost through sweat when we exercise.
Many of us are familiar with sports drinks which contain electrolytes, designed to be drunk during and after exercise. Adding a water enhancers containing electrolytes is another great way to ensure that your body is performing at its peak when you’re out on those trails.
Whilst the majority of water enhancers use only natural flavors and colors, do keep an eye on the list of ingredients before you buy. Some water enhancers as some can contain additives which you might not be expecting, such as Stevia, preservatives and thickening agents.
A Brief Overview of some Popular Water Enhancers
Let’s take a quick look at some of the bestselling water enhancers on the market today.
MiO water enhancers are made by Kraft and come in a wide range of different varieties and flavors. MiO original comes in no less than ten different flavour options with no calories or sugar. MiO also provides a caffeinated product in their Energy range, which comes packed with 60mg of caffeine per serve, as well as additional B-vitamins, taurine, guarana and ginseng. This comes in eight flavors, with two of them made with real coffee. These contain 15 calories peer serve.
MiO Vitamins provides three different B-vitamins, from B3 and B6 to B12. This option comes in five different flavors, two of which are sweetened with natural Stevia extract. MiO Electrolytes contains sodium and potassium which are essential elements our bodies need to perform, but can be lost when sweating. This version is available in four flavors all of which come with electrolytes and B-vitamins as standard.
Dasani Drops are another popular water enhancer, with natural fruit flavors and zero calories. This water enhancer comes in six fruit flavors including strawberry kiwi and pineapple coconut.
These tiny bottles contain 32 servings.
Stur contains all-natural flavors provided by fruit extracts, and Stevia extract to add sweetness without any calories. Stevia is a natural, plant-based sweetener. There are a number of different varieties to choose from, including Skinny, Energy and Coconut Waters. Each small bottle provides 20 servings. Stur comes in many different flavors including Pomegranate Cranberry, Grape Acai and Black Cherry.
Stur Fruit is the original sugar and calorie free version, with the other varieties having added extras. Stur Coconut Water contains antioxidants and comes in two different flavors. Stur Energy contains 45mg of organic caffeine per serving, designed to help give you a natural energy boost. Stur Skinny is designed to help control hunger pangs and in addition to being sugar and calorie free, contains an extract of natural saffron along with 1g of fiber per serve.
Created as an independent brand, Stur was the brainchild of a father who wanted to create a healthier choice for his family.
These water enhancers are available in five flavors: white cherry, blueberry acai, pineapple coconut, tangerine pink grapefruit and Fuji apple.
Skinnygirl uses a blend of natural stevia leaf extract and cane sugar to add sweetness, with each serving containing only five calories. Each bottle contains 48ml which equates to 24 servings.
Crystal Light Liquid
This water enhancer comes in six different flavors including blueberry raspberry, iced tea, peach Bellini and mango passionfruit.
Whilst the flavors are all natural, Crystal Light Liquid uses the artificial sweeteners sucralose and acesulfame potassium to add sweetness. This is a calorie-free product containing approximately 20 serves per bottle.
H2wOw Water Enhancer
This water enhancer contains just three calories per serving and comes in four original flavors including mandarin grapefruit, ginger lime; cucumber lemongrass and lemon mint. This brand uses organic agave and stevia as natural sweeteners.
Taking a Sip
So now you know a little bit more about what water enhancers are, and a range of the different options out there, why not consider treating yourself to some to take with you on your next hike? With so many to choose from you’re bound to find one to suit your tastes.
You’ll also want to think about whether or not you want a water enhancer that simply adds flavor, r one with an added extra such as caffeine, vitamins or electrolytes. Once you’ve decided that, you just need to take a look at the huge variety of flavors and choose one you like the sound of!
If we’ve missed your favorite water enhancer off the list, be sure to let us know in the comments section.