How much water do I need on a hike?

This is the question that plagues all those new to hiking, How much water will I need? The answer varies, depending on an individual’s level of fitness, physical build, weather on the day and the duration of the hike. This makes generalising and answer to this difficult. It goes without saying water is heavy, taking to much water means too much excess weight, too little and then you’re in trouble. On average, on a warm day(26-32 degrees-ish) a general good rule to follow is 700-800ml’s of water for every hour of hiking, keep in mind this figure is very approximate and can var depending on your circumstances.

Long hikes means a lot of water, so how do you get around the weight issue let along the room it takes up in your pack? Well filling up your bottle at a fresh water source you find out in the bush is not a good idea, even if the eater is running and looks clean there can still be harmful bacteria in there. For instance there maybe an dead animal just up stream from where you’re drinking.

So what do you do?

There are two options here, you can fill you bottle up from the water source and then use either water purification tablets or iodine, both of these solutions will kill any bacteria in your water but it will give the water a funny taste that some will find unpleasant.

The other solution, which I personally prefer is the use of a filter straw, the concept is simple, you use your straw to drink straight from the water source and the straw filters out the bacteria as you drink. on the market the main two competing products are the life straw and the sawyer mini, of the two I much prefer the sawyer as it has the option of screwing onto a bottle so you can fill up at the stream and drink from the bottle with your straw. Otherwise you can fill up your bottles with both by pushing the water through the straw at the stream.

Start off with a few small hikes taking more water than you’ll need and work out from there how much you are usually drinking, however its good safe practice to always take more water than you’ll need to allow for emergencies.

How much water do I need on a hike?
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