Water (the Source of Life) – Back Country Hiking – July 2019 – Part 23

On the trail, the one thing you need to sustain you more than almost anything else is drinkable water. You can carry water with you, but at 1kilogram (2.2 pounds)/liter, you can never carry enough.

I started off with 2 liters in my Platypus water bladder. These can be carried in your pack and come with a long drinking tube that you can use without having to stop hiking. You can see it below sitting on top of the right side of my son’s pack.

On a strenuous three day hike, you will likely go through 2 liters a day, just to stay hydrated. I took an additional 750 ml in a water bottle which I hooked to my pack with a caribiner.

OK, so you have your drinking water secured for a day and a bit to spare. Now, you have to deal with water to rehydrate your packaged meals. This must be sourced during your hike and it must be treated to prevent the effects from drinking non-potable water. I know what you are thinking, you are in the mountains, the water should be fresh. Do not count on it. After all, bears do go poop in the woods and animals die and contaminate the water sources. Giardia is not your friend when you are hiking.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we met a couple of hikers who took their water straight from the lakes and drank it without treating it. They are in the minority and they are living on the edge.

Treating water properly can be done in a variety of ways.

  • bringing to a rolling boil for three minutes
  • treating with drops
  • treating with household bleach – does not enhance the taste
  • treating with tablets
  • treating with a water filtration bag
  • treating with a UV steri pen

All of these methods work well, if you properly follow the instructions.

My son had a UV pen , so we were set. Water should be taken from a running water source (stream) rather than a lake if possible. Dip the water out with an empty plastic bottle (do not use for drinking) and pour through a pre-filter to remove sediments into a clean one liter bottle. Power up your steri-pen, dip into the bottle and stir until the indicator light tells you it is ready (about a minute).

We topped up our water and prepared water for cooking a couple of times a day, as we passed good water sources. There was one part of the trail where there was no water access for about 9 k. You do not want to run out of water in such an area, so advance planning is key.

Breakfast at Og (including trailer park Mochas). Add 3 minutes to your time to coffee, if you do not have treated water ready.
L collects water from the lake, while M & M add drops to their water.
L using UV steri pen to treat water.

6 thoughts on “Water (the Source of Life) – Back Country Hiking – July 2019 – Part 23

    1. My son has the Steri Pen (cheapest model). It operates on 2 AA batteries and he has had no problems with it. Cost was $85 CAD in our local Canadian Tire store. It has been used on mountain hikes and also in Peru and even after it was dropped accidentally, it still works without problems. Good luck and thanks for reading. Allan


  1. In Tanzania I used a Life Straw water bottle. Just fill it up and drink!
    I’m really interested in the steri pen though, for actual hiking. Those things are so cool! It’s amazing how many options there are to us now. Those people drinking untreated water are nuts! I caught a bug in Peru – all the while being safe – and that was just awful. Like, life altering awful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My son bought the Steri Pen basic at Canadian Tire for $85 and has had no trouble with it. It uses 2 AA batteries and he always brings a spare pair just to be safe. Yes, drinking untreated water is a gamble anywhere. You even have to think if the tap water in the country you are visiting is safe. Thanks for reading, Lael. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

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