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My medical kit already has some MRE style clean water bags, purification tablets, as well as OTC anti-diarrheal pills at the ready. However, now, I am researching what options there are for hydration in a life-threatening scenario (severe dehydration, possibly including prolonged diarrhea or vomiting). I want to include such a product in my medical kit in case I or someone I encounter while hiking has life-threatening dehydration. While I must concede that much of the bio-chemistry is way over my head, I would still like to think I have compiled a reasonably well-informed list of products. I tried to find not only the hi-tech premium products but also products more on the thrifty-side. Here are the products I researched in order of most expensive per unit gram:

Ceralyte

DripDrop

  • Site: https://dripdrop.com
  • Market: military, firefighters and athletes
  • Price: 84g for $9.99 (4x 21g sticks)
  • Price per unit gram: $0.12

Pedialyte Powder

  • Site: https://pedialyte.com

  • Market: pediatrics, health enthusiasts?

  • Price: 272g for $27.00 (24x 8.5g sticks)

  • Price per unit gram: $0.10

Gatorade Powder

Pedialyte and Gatorade are not marketed as emergency hydration products; Pedialyte has a disclaimer on their website that their hydration powder is only suitable for mild to moderate diarrhea. That being said, the low-end products are quite a bit cheaper.

Question:

Perhaps this is just a classic case of "you get what you pay for," but I'm wondering if it's considered over-kill to buy military/pharmaceutical grade hydration powders for a hiking kit (72 hour bag). I'd like to hear from anyone with experience using any of these products. Are the high-end products like Ceralyte and DripDrop really heads and shoulders above cheaper products like Pedialyte Powder and Gatorade Powder? Better enough to warrant the price premium as shown above?

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    Have you considered to store some salt and some sugar, and the recipe? That should be enough for the rare case you need it and will have a much lower price to 'buy'. The little packages that you can get in restaurants (free) are usually enough for a single unit, or even a few. – Willeke Jul 22 '18 at 9:35
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    Here in the UK you can get oral rehydration solution powder quite cheaply next to the anti diarrhoea tablets. It's sold in boxes of individual sachets so keeps well. As you shouldn't be getting through it in quantity, this sort of first aid grade rehydration product should be just right – Chris H Jul 22 '18 at 10:50
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    Do each of those products list how many grams of sugar they contain? I know Gatorade and Pedialyte will because of food labeling laws but what about the others? You could then see which one matches the more expensive stuff. I strongly suspect Pedialyte is your better option as Gatorade also markets itself as an “energy” drink, is meant for American soft drink tastes, and is much sweeter than the orginal recipe created by an athletic trainer for his athletes. – mmcc Jul 22 '18 at 12:58
  • History of Gatorade: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Cade – mmcc Jul 22 '18 at 13:00
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    Dioralyte is all you need, "military grade" is just marketing in 99% of cases (real "military grade" is "made by the cheapest supplier") – gaius Jul 22 '18 at 15:01
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I can't say I have any experience on these specific products, but I do have quite a bit of experience of diarrhea in an environment where you need to manage it yourself. I was fortunate enough to travel with some very knowledgeable people in that respect - they are studied pharmacists with lots of experience. Where it mattered, they had all the tools and pharmaceutics with them - there was definitely no bias towards low-tech solutions.

When it comes to hydration they simply carried pre-mixed "WHO-powder" with them. This is a mixture of salts that you can get from any halfway decently equipped pharmacy.

In grams per liter (common name in brackets added by me):

  • Sodium chloride (salt): 2.6
  • Glucose, anhydrous (sugar): 13.5
  • Potassium chloride: 1.5
  • Trisodium citrate, dihydrate: 2.9

For early stages of dehydrated a imprecise solution of just salt and sugar is fine according to WHO, but in case of prolonged diarrhea this formula should be used.

Extensive research has been done on this formula and it is widely used. Any commercial products may have additional benefits, but in terms of rehydration this is the solution.

http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/documents/fch_cah_06_1/en/

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