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How much water

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How much water

Postby balzaccom » Fri Feb 20, 2015 9:00 am

How much water do you need to drink on the trail?

On our trip to Death Valley, we took what we hoped would be enough water for the two of us for an overnight backpacking trip: Slightly more than a gallon per person for 24 hours. In terms of water bottles, it was 14 quarts, and that turned out to be about right. We drank three quarts during our hike to the campsite (this was, after all, Death Valley) and then used another three quarts for dinner. And then used another two quarts for breakfast the next day…and drank two more on the way out. So we drank ten quarts (five quarts per person) over the 24 hours of the hike. We were a little under-hydrated on the first day, as we were hiking in the afternoon sun. And we had some water left over (which is not a bad thing in the desert). If we were to do it again, we’d probably take about the same.

In the Sierra, of course, you can fill your water bottles along the way. We generally only take four quart bottles for the two of us on those hikes. We always camp near water, so we don’t need to worry about carrying the water for dinner or breakfast. And we start the day with four full bottles---enough to get us through lunch and into dinner. Some people prefer to carry less weight, and may only carry one bottle per person---or even hike from stream to lake and drink what’s available. But we don’t like to take the time to pump and filter while we are on the trail—we prefer to hike. So we carry a little extra weight, and stop less often to pull out our water filter.

Either way works, as long as you keep drinking enough water.

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Re: How much water

Postby RoguePhotonic » Fri Feb 20, 2015 5:49 pm

It all depends on what your doing really. I hiked into Panamint City last weekend and I only took 2 liters in and it wasn't enough. I climbed Sentinel Peak with 3 liters and I did ok although more probably would have been better. If your not climbing as much then it would change.

In the Sierra I tend to only carry two liters most of the time. Sometimes one. It all just depends on what I expect from water sources. I can understand wanting to carry more to not have to filter which is one of the things I like about not filtering. Just dip and go.

I don't do allot of dry camping. Normally only a day or two when I do a survey hike of Section G on the PCT. I normally have a couple dry camping nights i'll leave a water source with two liter bottles filled and a gallon in my pack and it gets me by.
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Re: How much water

Postby SweetSierra » Sat Feb 21, 2015 7:51 am

When I backpacked for three or four days at a time in the southern California deserts (from the Mexican border to north of Death Valley) with the hiking/conservation group Desert Survivors, their advice was to bring a gallon of water per person per day, less if we were going to camp with a spring nearby.

We always backpacked in the spring and fall, though some days were pretty warm (high 70s, low 80s). I found that a gallon per day worked well. For a three day trip, I sometimes brought two and a half gallons. This was for a couple of cups of water at dinner and at breakfast. Also for water needed at night. We didn't lay over but hiked each day of the trip. There were people who brought less and on one trip from the Mexican border north (all these trips were off trail, except for short stretches on dirt roads), several people ran out of water with several hot miles left to hike. My ex-husband and I gave them some of our extra water.

In the desert I always erred on the side of carrying a little too much because I didn't want to run out of water. But carrying three gallons or a little more per day I never ran out and usually carried out a liter or maybe two. I'm a camel when it comes to water, but even so, it was a scary thought to me to run out of water with 8 miles or so left to hike.

In the Sierra, I always hydrate before starting out on a backpack, before climbs or when there is an opportunity with good water. I don't treat Sierra water at sources I feel are good ones. If I hydrate, I find I hardly take a sip of water for many miles. I usually carry a liter.
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