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.