Whether it’s a morning hike up your local hill, or hiking up Mount Everest, having enough energy is crucial for hikers.
Okay, perhaps not everyone will get to experience Everest, but all hikers certainly do need plenty of energy.
You’ll need to prepare well physically and mentally which might mean that you need an extra energy boost to reach the summit.
Energy drinks are great for giving you an extra boost, but they aren’t always ideal to carry during a long hike.
Additionally, different energy drinks contain different ingredients. Understanding what’s important and what you should perhaps try to avoid can get a little confusing at times.
If you’re looking for answers about the best energy drinks for hiking with regard to ingredients and portability, you’re in the right place.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
What to look for in an energy drink
Caffeine is the most important energy-boosting ingredient in energy drinks, and caffeine can certainly improve your hiking endurance.
Caffeine is proven to increase your stamina, which is great news for hikers and other endurance athletes.
A study on the limits of human endurance in 2012 found that the endurance effects of caffeine seem to reside in the brain. The study also found that caffeine helped to reduce the symptoms of fatigue.
I suggest that you choose an energy drink that has the sensible amount of caffeine.
Just because an energy drink has more caffeine, that doesn’t make it a better choice for a hike.
In fact, the FDA recommends no more than 400mg of caffeine per day for a healthy adult. You should consider whether you’re also getting caffeine from any other sources during the day, such as tea, coffee, sodas or chocolate.
Personally, I prefer my caffeinated drinks to contain somewhere between 50mg and 100mg of caffeine.
That’s the sweet spot for me.
Any more than 100mg of caffeine at once and I can’t focus on anything and sometimes feel a bit of a hot flush.
If you have a lower tolerance to caffeine, energy drinks with higher caffeine could cause some side effects like headaches, increased heart rate and nausea.
Read the label on your energy drink to understand how much caffeine is included.
Sugar might provide some short term energy, but it’s likely to be followed by a sugar crash and isn’t good for you.
Lots of energy drinks are full of sugar, but there are also lots of great sugar-free options available that provide a good energy boost.
Just because an energy drink doesn’t contain sugar, that doesn’t mean that it wont give you a nice energy boost.
Whether or not you want to choose an energy drink that contains sugar or not is up to you, but I recommend considering choosing a sugar-free option to avoid a sugar-crash and some empty calories.
Why pay more than you need to, right?
The amount you pay for an energy drink often depends on how much they spend on marketing. Spending more money doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll end up with something that’s better quality.
Similarly, just because an energy drink is very affordable, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s also not a great product.
You can read my other article where I talk about best energy drinks for the money.
Some of my recommendations (below in this article) are very affordable, but of course, it’s possible to spend a small fortune on energy drinks if you’re not careful.
Caffeine and hiking
If you’re a caffeine lover, there’s a good chance that you may already be using caffeine before or during a hike.
When most people think about using caffeine to help with a hike, they usually think that it’s best to have some caffeine before setting out so they don’t need to carry an energy drink around with them all day.
Other people use gels, despite the fact that I’m yet to meet someone who thinks they taste nice.
The good news is that there is a better alternative to both of these options, more on that in a moment…
Caffeine and high altitudes
This study, published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that caffeine can have a positive impact on sporting performance at low altitude, but an even bigger impact on sporting performance at high altitude.
That’s a positive impact on performance after caffeine consumption, versus a placebo.
The scientific evidence supports the case for using a moderate amount of caffeine to improve sporting performance at any altitude, but caffeine can be especially helpful at higher altitudes, which is particularly relevant to hikers.
Preparing for a hike
As an endurance sport, hiking requires stamina.
Depending on the length of your hike, you may also need a good amount of training and preparation for it to go smoothly.
If you’re just going for a Saturday morning stroll up the neighborhood hill, you probably won’t need to prepare much. However, if you’re planning a trip somewhere to tackle a serious peak, that’s going to take a lot more effort, planning and training.
Drinks for hiking
Make sure you’re properly hydrated before setting out.
Caffeine is most effective around 45 minutes after consumption, but the effects can last for hours as things slowly wear off.
If you plan on drinking an energy drink, or other caffeinated beverage at some point before or during your hike, you should give some thought to when you expect to need an extra energy boost and plan accordingly.
For a short hike, having an energy drink before you begin is probably fine.
For a longer hike, you may want to save that extra energy boost for some later, more strategic point in time.
Also, for extended hikes where you might consider having multiple energy drinks, be careful to avoid exceeding the FDA guidance of no more than 400mg in total per day.
You should also read the label of whatever you’re drinking to check for any other warnings or guidance on how many you should drink in a day.
In order to stay hydrated while hiking, try to drink 32 ounces of water per hour.
However, the actual amount that you should drink will depend on the topography, the temperature, your fitness and several other factors.
The important thing is to make sure that you’re drinking enough to avoid dehydration, but also not drinking too much.
In addition to water for hydration, you may want to consider some caffeine during your hike, depending on how long your hike is and any strategic considerations.
You could also drink sports drinks during your hike.
Sports drink are designed to help with rehydration by suppling electrolytes that you’ve lost through sweat.
If you feel dehydrated, it’s best to go for some water or sports drinks to rehydrate.
However, if you are well hydrated and in need of an energy boost, maybe an energy drink to provide a bit of extra energy is fine too.
Is Red Bull good for hiking?
Red Bull can be a good option for hiking.
Firstly, it has a nicee amount of caffeine, 80mg isn’t too much.
However, Red Bull does contain 27g of sugar and 110 calories. Normally, I would be worried about that amount, but if I’m planning to burn a bunch of calories while hiking it’s not such a big concern for me.
Still, I prefer the sugar-free version to avoid the sugar and calories.
The main problem with Red Bull for hikers is the fact that, unless you drink the entire can before you begin your hike, you need to carry it with you.
That adds extra weight, something you should be looking to avoid.
If you want to know exactly what the difference is between Red Bull and Monster, check out my article where I cover everything you need to know about the two brands.
Check the current Red Bull price on Amazon here. #ad
Carrying energy drinks on a hike
When you’re on a hike, you’ll want to pack light.
Who has the extra energy to lug around a few cans of energy drinks? It kind of defeats the purpose of taking them with you, doesn’t it?
Thankfully, an alternative to this is powdered or sachet-forms of energy drinks.
Lightweight, compact and easy to mix – you’ll get your energy drink fix fresh when you need it.
The great thing about powder energy drinks for hikers is that carrying a couple of these sachets of powder with you adds almost no weight.
REIZE, for example, weighs just 4 grams and packs all of the same sorts of ingredients as you would find in a regular energy drink.
Just add the powder to some water and you’re good to go.
In addition to adding unnecessary weight, if you’re hiking at altitude, the possibility for your energy drink cans to “explode” is there.
That’s just one more reason to leave the cans behind and take a lightweight powder instead.
Best energy drinks for hiking
Ready-to-drink Energy Drinks
Bang is a very strong energy drink that might not be right for everyone because of its caffeine content.
Bang Energy Drink has a staggering 300mg of caffeine. It might help you fly right to the peak, but I don’t think it’s a smart idea to have that much caffeine all at once, especially not before or during a hike.
Bang is sugar free and contains no calories, which is good. It also tastes great.
I’m a fan of Bang, but I think people should open their eyes about some of the ingredients and health claims that Bang has made. Do your own research on Bang to decide whether it’s the right choice for you.
You can check out my Bang energy review here.
Check the current Bang price on Amazon. #ad
Here’s an option with about half the caffeine content as Bang.
Xyience Energy Drink is sugar-fee and contains zero calories, with 176mg of caffeine.
That’s still a bit too much caffeine for my liking, but it might work for you.
In addition to being in a heavy, bulky can, the other obvious drawback of Xyience is the price tag. It’s certainly not the most affordable option, but hey, if you’re a baller, maybe it’s within your budget.
You can check the latest Xyience price on Amazon here. #ad
Powdered Energy Drinks
As previously mentioned, you might want to carry energy drinks in sachets instead of cans.
Here are some good options for you to consider…
Advocare Spark Energy Drink has 120mg of caffeine and is also sugar-free.
Advocare Spark is available in tubs and sachets, but obviously, when it comes to hiking, the sachets make a lot more sense.
To be honest, it’s packaging didn’t impress me, but the product is solid and it does the job of delivering some extra energy.
I previously reviewed Advocare Spark, and I give it a 7/10. If you’re considering grabbing some for yourself, you should check out that review first because I cover things in a lot more detail.
Pick up some Advocare Spark Energy Drink from Amazon here. #ad
Descending the caffeine trail, ZipFizz Energy Drink has 100mg of caffeine per serve, which I like.
Zipfizz is available in a variety of flavors, so there’s a good chance that you’ll find at least one that you like. To check out my review of most of the Zipfizz flavors, check out my Zipfizz review article.
My main concerns with Zipfizz are the price, which although isn’t crazy, is still about double the price of REIZE.
Also, I don’t like the way they try to market the insane amount of vitamin B12 as though it’s something good. It’s not.
Overall, ZipFizz is a decent energy drink for hiking and you might want to give it a try yourself.
Check the latest ZipFizz Energy Drink prices on Amazon. #ad
REIZE Energy Drink (10 out of 10)
For my money, REIZE is the best energy drink for hiking and it’s not even close.
With a sensible 50mg of caffeine, a good amount of taurine, B group vitamins and ginseng, REIZE gives you a perfect energy boost, with no crash.
It’s also sugar-free, tastes great and contains just 11 calories per serve.
Best of all, REIZE energy drink ships right to your door for around $1 per drink (including shipping).
That’s amazing value for money.
Give REIZE a try today and you might just find that it’s the perfect hiking partner for your next adventure.
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