). Need a pick-me-up? Try the caffeinated chocolate cherry, tropical punch, or orange Clif Shot Bloks ($2;
How crucial are electrolytes? Your body needs them—sodium, chloride, potassium, and magnesium—to keep fluids balanced, muscle contractions smooth, nerve impulses firing properly, and energy levels high. Balanced meals usually deliver all the salts your body needs, but after four to five hours of hard, hot-weather hiking, sweat clears away more than meals put back—especially with not-always-balanced backpacking grub.
RDI Recommended daily intake WD What it does
BF Backcountry foods
OF Our favorites
RDI 1,500-2,300 mg
WD Maintains water balance in the cells, and regulates nerve and muscle function
BF Salami, bacon jerky, sundried tomatoes, pretzels, salted nuts, backpacking meals
Oh Boy, Oberto! All Natural Bacon Jerky ($5; 2.5 oz.; 1,675 mg sodium/2.5 oz.; oberto.com
RDI 1,800-2,300 mg
WD Aids in metabolism
BF Salt, Spam, summer sausage, seaweed, peanut butter (salted), sundried tomatoes
OF Happy coincidence: Many of your favorite salty trail snacks contain sodium chloride (salt); 1/4 tbsp of salt provides 750 mg of chloride.
RDI 4,700 mg
WD Helps regulate heart function
BF White beans, dried apricots, packaged salmon, bananas, dark chocolate, nuts
Apricot Clif Bar ($2; 2.4 oz.; 240 mg potassium/bar; clifbar.com
RDI 310-420 mg
WD Aids in heart and immune function, and keeps bones strong
BF Brown rice, black beans, pumpkin, sesame seeds, brazil nuts, almonds, cashews
DIY electrolyte mix recipe
Rise Crunchy Perfect Pumpkin Bar ($2; 1.4 oz.; 100 mg magnesium/bar; risebar.com
1 gallon water in jug with lid + 1 tsp. salt replacement with potassium + 1 tsp. sea salt + 1 tsp. baking soda + sugar, Kool-Aid, and/or honey to taste
Hikers who drink a lot of water but neglect to replace electrolytes can suffer from low blood sodium concentration (hyponatremia), which can cause cells to swell (including in the brain). If you suspect hyponatremia, move to the shade and eat salty snacks.