Airsoft is a year-round pursuit, and the hotter months of the year need to be contended with every bit as much as the cooler ones. To stay switched on and in the game you need to keep a close eye on hydration!
Summer 2022 is lining up to be a real scorcher and while a little sunny, hot weather often brings out the best in us (especially the BBQ lovers and meat fiends!), hoofing temperatures aren’t so great for playing airsoft unless you’re completely prepared to not only deal with the conditions, but totally thrive in them!
Knowing that dehydration and overheating can be a (major) problem should at the very least forewarn us that as with all things we need to prepare properly. How much should we be drinking? There are no exact rules for how much water to drink while exercising, because everyone is different. You need to consider factors including your sweat rate, the heat and humidity in your environment, and how long and how hard you are pushing yourself. Looking at numerous sources a general consensus though seems to be:
• Drink .5 to 1.0L of water 2 to 3 hours before you start “exercising”.
• Drink .25 to .50L of water every 10 to 20 minutes during “exercise”.
• Drink .25L of water no more than 30 minutes after you “exercise”, and top this up at regular intervals as needed.
We’d stress that we are NOT doctors, but you need to take notice of your own body, and this seems largely in line with what we ourselves drink over the course of a days play, but of course in extreme conditions you may need to notch these levels up higher. Buy a bottle or hydration system with volume markings on it if possible to keep track of your intake (Nalgene and Camelbak both make excellent models).
For most people, water is all that you need to stay hydrated. However, if you’re pushing along at a high intensity for longer a sports drink may be helpful. The calories, potassium, and other nutrients in sports drinks can provide energy and electrolytes to help you perform for extended periods.
Choose a sports drink wisely though! They are often high in calories from added sugar and may contain adverse levels of sodium. Some sports drinks contain caffeine; if you consume a drink that contains caffeine, be careful as it may cause a diuretic effect on your body. This means that you may have to take a leak more often, and that you don’t fully benefit from what you’re taking on board.
A good sports drink or supplement to your “on-board” water supply that is easily metabolised will help with hydration, but electrolytes are the key. For optimal hydration choose a drink/supplement that is easily tolerated and digested, but most importantly, one that has a well-balanced electrolyte profile. Electrolytes are tiny particles that carry electrical charges, and they serve many roles to help the body maintain proper function. When you sweat, electrolytes play key roles in keeping water balanced both inside and outside your cells so that your muscles and organs can continue to serve you properly.
Replenishing electrolytes via your drink helps to replenish your mineral losses; electrolytes also help make the most of your water, which is the key to proper hydration. Drinks with the correct balance of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium can help retain fluids, and proper fluid balance contributes to optimal performance. Our advice here is to speak to an expert on this if you want to know more, and many high end running, cycling, and outdoor pursuits stores should be able to help you with this.
So, yes, dehydration and overheating can be really dangerous, but with the correct preparation they don’t have to be. Be prepared and look to your own personal admin; don’t be “that guy” that your mates or potentially the medic have to look after when you crash through lack of preparedness. As the saying goes “Hydrate or Die”, but for us it’s a case of “Hydrate to Thrive” to make the very best of your precious airsoft gametime even on even the very hottest days!