Living in Southern California, I get to do my fair share of hiking in extreme heat. Most summer hikes reach 90+ degrees, which can feel even hotter at high elevation with no cloud cover. Add the dry air and elevation with the brutal summer heat, and you can have a nightmare combination of factors leading to dehydration and heat stroke. For me, the hike that ‘takes the cake’ in regards to heat is Cactus to Clouds. Cactus to Clouds starts at the art museum in Palm Springs, and climbs more than 10,500 ft over 14 miles to the summit of San Jacinto Peak at 10,800 ft. During the hotter months of the year, it’s normal for triple digit heat over the first 6 miles of the hike. Even when starting in the dark, things can be very warm. Carrying enough water on hikes like this is of paramount importance, with 3-5 liters recommended. To help bolster the effects of hydration and offset the massive amounts of water your body is using to cool itself, supplemental tablets can play a critical role. I’ve found Nuun tablets to be the very best for my tastes. I’ve used Nuun tablets on hikes in 100+ degree heat, and hikes below freezing. They help me get hydrated and stay that way, regardless of the conditions I’m facing. Having done Cactus to Clouds with and without Nuun tablets, I can give anecdotal testimony attesting to their benefit. I also have many other anecdotal points of reference that are strong enough for me to give Nuun tablets my highest recommendation.
Another huge bonus of flavored hydration tabs, is that they can mask some of the bad taste associated with filtered or chemically treated water. On longer backpacking trips, filtered and chemically treated water is all you’re going to get in regards to hydration. It’s nice to flavor things up with a Nuun tab for me, as it encourages me to consume more fluids.
Nuun Active Hydration tablets contain electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals without sugar or carbohydrates. This is great as you don’t have to worry about the added calories, processed sugar, and frightening color dyes found in other beverages like Gatorade and Powerade. It’s also a huge benefit in keeping your hydration systems clean and working properly. Having tried Gatorade in my Platypus hydration sleeve before, I can tell you what a sticky mess it is to clean up afterwards. The dye in Gatorade also leaves a nasty looking film the marries itself to the plastic sleeve. With, Nuun tablets, you can kiss these problems goodbye, and still get all of the benefits of a practical hydration tablet.
Each tube of Nuun tablets contains 12 tabs. Prices range from about $5-6.50 a tube depending on how many you buy. I get mine on Amazon in bulk, and am able to save quite a bit of money this way. Each tab is meant to dissolve in 16 oz of water, but you can add more or less depending on your preferences. I drop 3-4 tablets into my 3 L hydration bladder before most hikes. It’s a bit watered down, but that’s my preference when covering long distances. When I return to the car after a hike, I’ll drop two tabs into 1 liter and drink that to re-hydrate myself.
Nuun offers a multitude of flavors, and almost all that I have tried are incredible. I regularly buy the Nuun multipacks that contain four tubes each. One pack contains Lemon+Lime, Tri-Berry, Orange, Citrus Fruit. I’m a fan of all but the Citrus Fruit, which I find lacking in any real flavor. The second pack that I buy contains Strawberry Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Grape, Tropical Fruit. In my opinion, this flavor pack is the best. The pink lemonade is perfect for long days on the trail. It’s like sipping a cool glass of lemonade at a park even when you’re trudging through bolder fields 14 miles deep into a hike. Nuun also offers tabs that contain caffeine. I’ve tried a few tubes of these and really like them as well.
The final point I’d like to cover on Nuun tabs is how well they dissolve. The tabs dissolve fully and quickly without leaving an abundance of foam or residue to stick to the sides of your water receptacle. In the recommended 16 oz., the tab dissolves in less than two minutes and is ready to drink. The same can be said of multiple tabs in a larger hydration bladder. One word of caution, make sure to leave you bottle or bladder uncovered while the tabs dissolve, or pressure will build in your container and cause leakage issues.