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Best Hydration Drink: The Art of Proper Hydration!

Bradley Page
Written by Bradley Page

Whether you are facing your first Ironman Triathlon, canoe trip down the New England Northern Forest water trail or trying to get on top of a sudden bout of illness, we’ve compiled a list of the best hydration drinks to keep your body fully watered and in top notch working condition.

Our top picks

ProductFlavorsWeightSodium ContentPrice
GU Hydration DrinkBlueberry/pomegranate, lemon lime, orange, watermelon, lemon tea1 pound500 mgCheck price on Amazon
Xendurance Extreme Hydro-X EnergyLemon-citrus0.3 pounds400 mgCheck price on Amazon
CLIF ElectrolyteCranberry-razz, lemon lime-ade1 pound250 mgCheck price on Amazon
Skratch Labs ExerciseApples and cinnamon, lemons and limes, matcha and lemons, oranges, pineapples, raspberries1 pound360 mgCheck price on Amazon
Nuun All Day Electrolyte TabletsRaspberry, cherry/pomegranate, grape, lemonade, orange0.7 pounds134 mgCheck price on Amazon
VFuel Endurance Drink MixBlack cherry cola, tangerine cream, cool lime, ginger twist1.6 pounds235 mgCheck price on Amazon
Ultima Hydrating Electrolyte PowderGrapefruit/orange, blueberry/pomegranate, grape/raspberry, tangerine/lime0.7 pounds60 mgCheck price on Amazon

Everything You Really Need to Know

So why make this list? I mean you could just as easily walk into your local retailer or sports store and head down to those large glass fridge doors and whip a drink off the shelf. Ah, but those pretty colored fluids are not all the same.

In fact, if you look closely (and we did) you’ll discover a kaleidoscope of ingredients. There’s a phone directory printed on those glossy labels and we’re wondering if you ever read them. We believe you should and so we did it for you.

Best Hydration Drink

Rehydration capacity

What follows is a description of the best hydration drinks to make you feel healthy and get you through the endurance challenges of your choice. In particular, we looked at claims of ‘rehydration capacity’ (how good is it at getting fluid into your body) and here the electrolytes (the flagships of water balance in your body) are important.

Nutritional value

In addition, we looked at the nutritional value (sugar remains the key) and just plain ol’ deliciousness of these products. We also understand that the distinction of a ‘great product’ means squat if you are paying through your proverbial teeth.

We know you’re into exercise; the whole world is into exercise. There’s no question anymore about its benefits. But most exercise programs mean little if you don’t do the nutrition right.

Hydration Drink Nutrition Facts

The pros – they actually put it like this: nutrition is 80% of your success when it comes to exercise. And guess what folks?

What you drink (nutrition), if optimized, can be that missing piece to an outstandingly great physique. We want to provide you with the facts and save you the frustration and let’s be honest about it, catastrophic disappointment after weeks of slogging it out at the gym (or wherever) the scale doesn’t budge.

Look out for unhealthy ingredients

Reality is, many hydration drinks are loaded with unhealthy ingredients, sugar included. So let’s demystify the nutritional value of these suckers so you can still whip drinks off fridge shelves, but the ones that really work.

Sugar

No matter if you’re looking for an endurance drink that actually helps you endure or anything else, we have you covered. Endurance athletes know all too well that when the mileage is high, the sun is fiery and there is more water on your clothes than in your body, all they (you) want is to glug down a valuable (and sometimes even lifesaving) hydration drink.

Our Reviews

Looking for a good hydration drink to keep you going? Look no further because we’ve got some great products with excellent flavors to boot. Some of these developers really care about the cells (your body’s building blocks), and their mission is to get that precious cargo (H2O) in. To the cells that is.

GU Hydration Drink Mix

Weight: 1 poundGU Hydration Drink Mix

Dimensions: 4.8 x 4.8 x 4.8 inches

Specific features: Low calorie, low carb, caffeine free

Best use: Short term hydration with a slight energy boost

If you are looking to stay hydrated while receiving a slight energy boost then GU Hydration Drink Mix is perfect for you. The folks at GU labs promise an effective hydration product with electrolytes and light carbohydrates.

This drink is in powder form and also comes in separate sachets of 19 g, which are easily opened and can be mixed just before your activity. This is a really convenient product with zero fat, 500 mg Sodium, 30 mg Potassium and a great, low carbohydrate count of only 17 g of which only 8 g are purported to be sugars.

Don’t use this if you are looking for a protein rich drink as this drink contains zero protein. Since pharmaceutical grade rehydration products have similar specifications, and for the great price, we think you can serve up gallons of this stuff for your ailing family and friends with peace of mind.

The blueberry pomegranate is delicious and given the low caloric value there is, you can consume it guilt free with any weight loss exercise program.

With zero caffeine you don’t need to worry about increased anxiety or heart rates. We not sure exactly what blueberry and pomegranate will taste like, but it sure sounds delicious. Right?!

If you are looking for a convenient way of consuming these energy boosters on the go, you may be interested in this hydration drink. These nifty sachets contain a delicious gel of identical specifications that can easily be slurped back during strenuous exercise.

PROS:

  • Low carb/low calorie
  • Tasty
  • Cramp free
 CONS:

  • Small container
  • Hard to dissolve

Check the price on Amazon

Xendurance Extreme Hydro-X Energy

Weight: 0.3 poundsXendurance Extreme Hydro-X Energy

Dimensions: 3.5 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches

Specific features: 1500 mg of lactate, premier blend of electrolytes, patented hydration technology – sustamine, energy, cramping protection & recovery

Best use: High performance endurance athletes

Ok, so we’ve found ourselves a superior product here. If you are on, or thinking about embarking on, a really intense exercise regimen, like the iron man triathlon, we suggest you consider Xendurance Extreme HYDRO-X Energy.

With their patented hydration technology and high performance tissue support ingredients , it might be worth your while to spend a little extra and save on recovery time, muscle injury and soreness while maintaining muscle energy stores.

This superior product enhances the process of water absorption in your gut and gets the body to produce glycogen as well as promoting muscle protein development.

One would think that’s as good as it gets, but the manufacturers of this hydration drink claim that a single scoop (approximately 6 g) with only 16 ounces of regular tap water, can be taken before, during or after vigorous exercise. It’s really versatile that way and packs a punch with its enormous list of ingredients.

We were particularly impressed with the array of vitamins, the anti cramp guru ‘lactate’ and bone strengthening magnesium. As a supplement to a fat loss exercise and diet program this is an excellent product.

PROS:

  • No jitters
  • Cramp free
  • Not too sweet
 CONS:

  • Small container

Related: Xendurance also offers the Xendurance Creatine-JB with Creapure Creatine formula for athletes looking for an even larger boost of fuel for training.

Check the price on Amazon

CLIF Electrolyte Hydration Drink

Weight: 1 poundCLIF Hydration Electrolyte Drink

Dimensions: 2 x 5.9 x 9 inches

Specific features: Light, crisp taste, 90 percent organic

Best use: Only for hydration and boosts of energy during high performance endurance training and competitions

They use the word ‘crafted’ in their product features and we couldn’t agree more. These are some space age shenanigans to say the least. If you are looking for a ultra cool ergonomically superior way of nourishing your aching body during high performance endurance racing then the Clif Electrolyte Hydration Drink is the product line to support.

With flavors like cranberry razz and lemon lime ade (makes your mouth water, right?) it’s clear these guys are all about pushing the proverbial envelope in efficient and smart energy delivery for the hardcore athlete. Included in their artillery of awesomeness are products that go by the names of ‘shot energy gel’, and ‘blocks energy chews.

Adorning the pages of the industry website are images of skinny, ultra toned, and dead serious athletes armed like rambo with bandoliers of nifty easy to open packets of pure power around their waists. We are thinking about doing an ironman triathlon just so we can wear these hydration products.

PROS:

  • Tasty
  • Easy to take
 CONS:

  • Small container
  • Pricey

Related: CLIF doesn’t just make products for hydration during training. They also offer the CLIF Recovery Protein Drink Mix. This will give you the protein you need to recover from extensive strenuous workouts.

Check the price on Amazon

Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration

Weight: 1 poundSkratch Labs Exercise Hydration

Dimensions: 4 x 5 x 3 inches

Specific features: Non GMO, gluten free, vegan

Best use: Post workout hydration after moderate to heavy exercise

We just love the name of this product. It’s edgy, contemporary and simply makes you wanna exercise (yes…some folks exercise only to drink Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration, their favorite hydration drink). Who isn’t drawn to a scientifically formulated drink that claims to contain “oranges”.

We are assuming they mean real oranges and we’ll take the flack for being daft. Skratch Labs appear to be the real deal that have the inclusion of genuine fruit and other medicinal herbs like “matcha green tea” as their unique calling card.

We feel these guys should get a well deserved pat on the back for having the vision to include important ingredients like antioxidants in their products.

Unique to this product range is the inclusion of a hot beverage alternative. If a hot dose of post workout (perhaps on a chilly day) apples and cinnamon flavored hydration drink is your style then we recommend you give these guys a go.

They are a health conscious company with a definitive inroad in the sports hydration drink. By combining health promoting ingredients like green tea and cinnamon with your essential hydrating agents, Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration has created a formidable product.

PROS:

  • Several flavor options
  • Vegan
  • Healthy
  • Cramp free
 CONS:

  • Not very sweet

Related: A great option for athletes who want to try several flavors before committing to a large container of hydration mix is to purchase individual flavor packets. Skratch Labs also makes Rescue Hydration Mix to quickly and effectively rehydrate people who find themselves dehydrated.

Check the price on Amazon

Nuun All Day Electrolyte Tablets

Weight: 0.7 poundsNuun All Day

Dimensions: 2.8 x 2.8 x 4 inches

Specific features: Nifty packaging, tablet form, low carb, low calorie, vitamins A,B, C and D, sodium, Potassium, zinc, selenium

Best use: If you struggle to meet your daily water intake needs then we highly recommend you add an excellent list of much needed vitamins and minerals with a zap of refreshing flavours with

The Nuun All Day Electrolyte Tablets claim ‘all day hydration’ but we are not so sure. Here’s Skratch Labs drink mix comprising four tubes, 15 tablets per tube packed with a list that looks more like the ingredients of a multivitamin than a sports rehydration drink.

So what’s the deal? Well, the makers have a pretty long description of what their product does, which, in a nutshell amounts to making the act of drinking the necessary volume of water more enjoyable and therefore more likely you will.

It’s a much cheaper alternative. Each effervescent tablet just needs 16 oz.of tap water to work their magic. The product line has a tri factor approach:

1. Water replacement ‘nuun active’
2. Boosting your energy reserves ‘nuun energy’
3. Maintaining daily water balance ‘nuun all day’.

We love the compact design elements and wide variety of flavors i.e. tangerine lime, grapefruit orange, blueberry pomegranate, and grape raspberry. Give this a try if you looking for a way to increase your general health and water intake per day.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Nutritious
  • Multiple tasty flavors
 CONS:

  • Low sodium level
  • Tablets can break in tube

Check the price on Amazon

VFuel Endurance Drink Mix

Weight: 1.6 poundsVFuel Endurance Drink Mix

Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.9 x 2.6 inches

Specific features: 12 individual pouches, easily digestible, no fructose

Best use: High performance endurance activities

Claiming to be the world’s first TRUE endurance drink, VFuel Endurance Drink Mix caught our attention for its different yet definitely awesome flavor selections. “Maple bacon” and “fudge brownie” are some of the other flavors for similar endurance products.

“Black cherry cola” just screams, “thirst quenching powerhouse!” which is no surprise since this product captures the take no nonsense attitude synonymous to Australia. These guys have put together something really innovative and we see a collection of really unique ingredients.

In addition to the vitamins and minerals the electrolytes and low sugar content are their unique blend of Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil which is your fractionated and ever so popular coconut oil.

Being the only product in this class to have some fat, we were skeptical but it turns out if you are serious about endurance sports, fat is not only helpful to maintaining energy levels but downright essential. So we give these guys a resounding…round…of applause for meeting the needs of their clients and then some.

PROS:

  • Tasty
  • Easy to use
  • Includes fuel providing fats
 CONS:

  • Unconventional flavors

Related: Check out VFuel’s Endurance Gel for an added boost of energy and hydration constructed with natural ingredients. Some athletes prefer the consistency of gel over conventional drink mix.

Check the price on Amazon

Ultima Hydrating Electrolyte Powder

Weight: 0.7 poundsUltima Hydrating Electrolyte Powder

Dimensions: 5.9 x 3.7 x 3.7 inches

Specific features: Electrolytes with zero sugar, vegan friendly, gluten free, includes selenium, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, chloride, sodium, & magnesium

Best use: Post workout hydration with moderate to heavy exercise

We liked the look of the Ultima Hydrating Electrolyte Powder. It has that classic 90s sporty vibe perfectly down and we think it may appeal to the ladies more. Equally useful to the guys, this product sports an impressive 8 essential ingredients with no surprises there.

The flavor seems a little outdated but then again, it’s a welcome break from the endless procession of citrus-y flavored sports drinks. The makers pitched this perfectly as a post workout body water replenisher.

Unlike a whole of bunch of similar products, this product states clearly that getting water into the cells (muscle cells) is quicker when you use their product and who can complain about that?

Drinking this, you will also provide your body with stevia leaf extract, the potent antioxidant found in grape skin extract and our personal favorite the use of all natural flavors!

PROS:

  • Clean ingredients
  • Vegan
  • Gluten free
  • Includes 8 electrolytes
 CONS:

  • New formula is more bitter tasting
  • Hard to dissolve in water

Check the price on Amazon

In Conclusion

If it’s simple rehydration you are after we recommend a cheaper less complex product like GU Hydration Drink Mix, Blueberry Pomegranate, or Ultima Replenisher, Raspberry, 90-Serving Canister. Studies have shown that if you’re human, then you’re gonna love, LOVE citrus lemon flavor.

There you have it ladies and gentlemen. Go grab your gear and have no fear for now you certainly have an idea. Let us know, what’s your favorite hydration drink when you’re working out or doing any outdoor activities?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bradley Page
Bradley Page

With several decades of experience as a backpacker and outdoor adventurer, Bradley is an open encyclopedia when it comes to gear, clothes, and other items that matter on the trail. He tested hundreds of shoes, pants, jackets, and backpacks in his long career and is always up to date with the new appearances in the niche. His experience makes him one of the authority figures in backpacking and he can help anyone to get prepared for a great adventure!

  • Jane Cohen

    I’ve been riding a bicycle for five years. I usually pass about 80 miles every week. Sometimes I am very tired and I drink two bottles of water on a trip. Is there some trick to not feel so thirsty? I find it hard to take with me so much water.

  • Bradley Page

    Dehydration is dangerous so make sure you drink adequate amounts of water. Depending on the weather, the duration of your biking trip and your weight, you need to consume water or any hydration drinks accordingly. There are hydration tablets that are so easy to carry, you just have to pop it in your water – you can also try that.

  • John Robinson

    I am preparing for my first marathon. I train every day because I want to run a great distance. A few days ago, I bought the Clif Shot Electrolyte Hydration Drink Mix for that reason. I really hope that it will help me to run longer and get less tired.

  • Bradley Page

    It’s an excellent hydration drink mix that comes in compact and slim sachets. That way, you won’t be lugging your water and hydration mix when you run. Traveling or running light should be everyone’s goal. The flavors are also quite unique, but tasty.

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