Drinking Beer in an Emergency?

Welcome to Ask an Outdoorsman. Every week, Wes will answer your questions about survival, outdoor skills, and life in the woods. Ask it on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. If you have no water, but have some other fluid, like coffee or beer, is it better to drink those or nothing? Their only source of hydration? Conventional wisdom has it that drinks containing alcohol and caffeine are diuretics: by making you have to pee, you lose more water than you’re consuming. If that’s true, then drinking beer or coffee in a survival scenario would be a bad idea, as it would only lead to worse dehydration. 72 test subjects in a state of normal hydration were asked to consume one liter of either water, milk, coffee, 4-percent beer, tea, orange juice, Coca-Cola, Powerade, or an oral hydration solution over the span of 30 minutes. So should you drink beer or coffee if you don’t have any water? That couple I found in Death Valley should have had, at minimum, a couple of gallons of water in their car.

Welcome to Ask an Outdoorsman. Every week, Wes will answer your questions about survival, outdoor skills, and life in the woods. Have a question? Ask it on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

If you have no water, but have some other fluid, like coffee or beer, is it better to drink those or nothing?

— Wifiler (@WiFiler) January 16, 2018

Q: If you have no water, but have some other fluid, like coffee or beer, is it better to drink those or nothing?

I once helped rescue a couple in Death Valley whose car broke down several days’ walk from pavement. Their only source of hydration? Half a case of warm PBR.

Conventional wisdom has it that drinks containing alcohol and caffeine are diuretics: by making you have to pee, you lose more water than you’re consuming. If that’s true, then drinking beer or coffee in a survival scenario would be a bad idea, as it would only lead to worse dehydration.

A 2013 study in the United Kingdom set out to discover if this was true. 72 test subjects in a state of normal hydration were asked to consume one liter of either water, milk, coffee, 4-percent beer, tea, orange juice, Coca-Cola, Powerade, or an oral hydration solution over the span of 30 minutes. The researches then measured their…

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