Hydration Buying Guide
Being at one with nature and loved ones is calm and peaceful, relaxing and invigorating. Whether you're heading out for a day or a week, you'll need enough water to stay hydrated, well and happy. Here we talk you through all things water for hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and camping trips. How much you'll need, how to carry it and how to purify water you collect along the way as well.
- Outdoor Hydration: What To Consider
- The Best Ways To Carry Your Water
- How Much Water To Take Camping
- How Do You Purify More Water Along The Way?
- Convenience & Cost
Outdoor Hydration: What To Consider
The answer differs for different people. It depends on your circumstances and needs such as:
- How long you'll be out in nature for (a day, weekend, week or more than a week?)
- How much weight you can carry based on your build and strength (gear, food and water)
- How far you'll be carrying all your water (long distances daily, or will water be kept at camp?)
- Whether you'll be in remote locations (and whether you can buy or collect water on the way)
- What kind of conditions you'll face (in hot weather you'll sweat more and need more water)
- Your activity intensity (high-intensity activity makes you sweat more so you need more water)
- Whether you're taking the kids (and if you'll have to carry extra water for them as well)
The Best Ways To Carry Your Water
When you're active you'll sweat a lot, especially in the heat, so it's important to stay hydrated. Your water needs to be within easy reach when you're hiking, biking or kayaking, so when it comes to hiking or camping water storage, here are the most important items to take with you:
Hiking water bottles are very easy to use and are better suited to shorter trips as they'll take up more space than a full hydration pack. Water bottles can be made from BPA-free plastic, which is lightweight and durable so they don't break or dent easily, or stainless steel, which insulates your water so it stays cool on hot days (but is less durable). Hiking water bottles are dishwasher safe and can be attached to backpacks or worn on an easy-access belt on easy routes but on tricky terrain may get in the way.
A water bladder for camping, also known as a hydration pack, sits nice and flat in a pocket inside your backpack and is suited for outdoor activities such as cycling, hiking, cross-training, trail running and marathon running. They are lightweight, have features such as anti-microbial material and radiocarbon and leakproof sealing, roll up flat when empty and take up less space in your backpack than bottles. Hydration packs usually hold more water than a water bottle, so you can carry more water with you and have a convenient over-the-shoulder straw so you can drink quickly and without stopping. If you're going camping or four-wheel-driving, you can take a big water-filled jerry can, drum or cube with you. It'll be heavy when it's full so get help carrying it to the car!
How Much Water To Take Camping
You'll need enough purified water to drink and stay hydrated every day while also being able to do activities such as brushing your teeth twice a day, making a cup of tea, coffee, hot chocolate or cuppa soup, cooking food on a stove or adding to pre-packaged dehydrated meals. When it comes to how much water you need to take, you basically want to make sure you've got enough but not too much - you don't want to be lugging around way more water than you need, it can't be too heavy for you to carry (along with all your other gear).
For Short Day Hikes
For short day hikes, you will need to carry enough clean water to last the journey. This is roughly about three litres per person, per day (or about 250ml-500ml an hour). Take more if it is hot or you will work up a serious sweat (and dehydrate).
For Long Or Multi-Day Hikes
For long or multi-day hikes, you won't be able to fit all the water you'll need in your pack, so you'll also need to take a way to purify more water as you go as well. This can include collecting extra water from taps, streams and rivers on the way. You can then purify the collected water with water purification tablets or liquids to remove bacteria and debris (or the water will make you really sick).
For Hydration Packs
Choose a hydration pack with a water bladder size based on your activity, which will be about 2-3 litres for day hikers, backpackers and climbers (6+ litres for longer hikes), 1 Litre for trail runners, racers and fitness walkers, 2-3 Litres for mountain bikers, 1-2 Litre aerodynamic pack for recreational cyclists, 2-3 Litre for touring cyclists and 2 litres for skiers and snowboarders (with insulation sip tubes to avoid freezing). When it comes to features, pockets on hydration packs are essential because they offer convenient storage space for items like keys, snacks and maps, allowing users to keep necessities within easy reach during outdoor activities.
Research your route and campsites before you go to see if there'll be any water sources and if the water will be safe to drink. This will help you to work out how much you need to take. Look for information at the campsites to see if the water there is safe to drink. If you're unsure: purify it, don't risk it. It's better to be safe than very sickly and sorry! It's also a good idea to have a way to purify water on any hike so you'll have enough to drink if you ever get lost, injured or stuck in bad weather.
How To Use A Hydration Pack
A hydration pack is worn like a backpack, featuring a built-in water reservoir with a tube for easy sipping while on the move. To use a hydration pack, fill the reservoir with water, secure it in the pack and adjust the straps for a snug fit. The tube is positioned for convenient access, allowing you to hydrate without stopping during activities like hiking, biking or running. Make sure you regularly clean your hydration pack to maintain proper hygiene. You can stay hydrated by simply grabbing the tube and sipping as needed, ensuring continuous water intake during your outdoor adventures.
How To Clean A Hydration Pack
To clean a hydration pack, start by emptying and then disassembling it. Remove the reservoir from the pack and take apart any detachable components. Rinse the reservoir with warm water, using a brush for any stubborn residue. For a thorough clean, add a mixture of mild soap and water, shaking and scrubbing the reservoir. Rinse thoroughly to remove soap residue. Use a cleaning brush to reach inside the tube. Ensure all parts are completely dry before reassembling. Periodically, use specialised cleaning tablets to eliminate bacteria. Proper maintenance ensures a clean and functional hydration pack, promoting safe and enjoyable outdoor activities.
How To Use A Hydration Pack Bite Valve
A hydration pack bite valve is a simple yet crucial component for convenient water access. Positioned at the end of the tube, it features a valve that opens when bitten or pressed with the mouth, allowing water to flow through. To use, position the bite valve near your mouth, gently bite down to open the valve and sip as needed. Release the bite pressure to close the valve, preventing water leakage. The bite valve's design enables effortless hydration during activities like hiking or cycling, offering a hands-free and efficient way to stay hydrated when on the go.
How Do You Purify More Water Along The Way?
If you're going for a long hike you won't want to (or be able to) carry all the water you'll need. You'll need to purify water you collect along the way so it's safe to drink. Even clear water can contain a virus or bacteria and make you sick. There are a few ways you can choose to purify water:
Boil The Water
Boiling water is a simple and effective way to kill almost all microorganisms in the water. This process requires equipment such as a stove, gas, ignition and a pot, which can be a lot if it's just to purify. Boiled water can be used for multi-day hikes if you're taking a stove and fuel for cooking anyway (but you'll need to take extra fuel so you have enough for cooking and purifying). Having boiled water is good for camping but not long hiking trips when you want to carry less and travel light.
Bottles & Straws With Filters
Some water bottles and straws have built-in filters that purify the water as you drink.
Water Filter Bottles
Water filter bottles work like a regular water bottle but have in-built filters to purify water and remove debris. They are effective systems for filtering water as you carry it and as you drink it. You'll only be able to purify as much water as one filter bottle can carry so carry another water container to pour the purified water into or get a couple of filter bottles so you can carry a few litres for the day.
Water Filter Sticks
This works just like a straw and filters water as you drink. You can use a straw with a built-in filter to drink water straight from a river or stream or fill up a water bottle and drink from the filtered straw while you walk. You can start drinking straight away and don't have to wait, but you can't purify a large amount of water, use it for cooking or washing your hands. Water filter straws effectively remove contaminants, bacteria and parasites, providing clean and safe drinking water. They are portable, easy to use and meet high-quality filtration standards, ensuring access to potable water in various outdoor and emergency situations.
Water Purification Tablets & Liquids
Purification tablets and liquids use silver ions and chlorine to purify the water and kill harmful bacteria. They are lightweight and easy to use, but can take up to 30 minutes to work. You have to wait half an hour to drink the water (to be sure the bacteria is all gone). Water purification tablets are typically designed for single-use per water treatment, so the cost per use is low, making them a cost-effective solution for portable and emergency water purification needs. You may notice the slight taste of chlorine when you drink the water. You can use water purification tablets in light packs, just pop one in your water bottle and it purifies the water for you. You can also use water purification liquids in a small bottle, all you do is add a tiny amount for each litre of water you are drinking from.
How Do Water Purification Tablets Work?
Water purification tablets contain chemicals, commonly chlorine or iodine, that act as disinfectants. When added to contaminated water, these tablets release the disinfecting agent, which combats harmful microorganisms like bacteria, viruses and parasites. The disinfectant disrupts the microorganisms' cell functions, rendering them incapable of causing illness. Over a specified contact time, usually 30 minutes, the tablets effectively kill or neutralise pathogens, making the water safe to drink. This method provides a portable and convenient solution for outdoor enthusiasts, travellers or emergencies where access to clean water is limited, ensuring a reliable means of water purification.
Why Is Water Purification Important?
Water purification is vital when camping and hiking to mitigate the risk of waterborne illnesses. Natural water sources in outdoor environments may contain harmful bacteria, parasites and contaminants. Purification methods such as filters, tablets or UV treatment ensure that water from streams or lakes is safe for consumption. Clean water is essential for hydration, cooking and maintaining overall well-being during outdoor activities. Carrying purification tools reduces dependence on pre-packaged water, making camping and hiking more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Ensuring access to safe water enhances the overall safety and enjoyment of outdoor adventures, promoting a healthier and responsible outdoor experience.
UV light sticks use ultraviolet lights to kill bacteria and pathogens in the water. They are lightweight and easy to carry but are slow to work, especially with a lot of water. They can only be used with a water bottle and not with a hydration pack. They also need batteries to work, so take spare batteries with you (or some backup tablets or liquid). UV lights for water filtration require minimal maintenance, but periodic checks for bulb integrity and cleanliness are crucial. Replacing UV bulbs annually ensures optimal performance. Regularly cleaning the quartz sleeve surrounding the bulb prevents reduced UV transmittance, and always remember to follow manufacturer guidelines for specific maintenance instructions to ensure effectiveness.
Convenience & Cost
When you're weighing up ways to purify and store water, think about convenience and cost, including these important factors:
- Portability: Choose lightweight and compact options for easy transport.
- Ease of Use: Opt for user-friendly systems to simplify water treatment.
- Filtration Speed: Evaluate how quickly each method purifies water.
- Maintenance: Assess the level of upkeep required for each system.
- Cost: Consider initial purchase costs and ongoing expenses, such as filter replacements.
- Availability of Replacement Parts: Ensure that replacement parts are easily obtainable.
- Filter Lifespan: Evaluate how long each filter lasts before replacement.
- Treatment Capacity: Check the volume of water each system can purify.
- Compatibility with Water Sources: Ensure the method works with diverse water sources.
By weighing these factors, you can choose a water filtration solution that aligns with your preferences, needs and budget for hiking and camping trips.
Find The Best Hydration Gear At Anaconda Today
When it comes to the best hiking hydration packs, water bottles, water purification equipment and more for your next outdoor adventure, Anaconda has all of your hydration needs covered. Before you head out though, make sure you check out our Adventure Centre for more helpful tips and exciting destinations that you can visit with your friends, family and loved ones. If you liked our Hydration Buying Guide, then you might also like some of our other articles for tips and fun destinations such as:
- Essential Gear Every Hiker Should Have in Their Survival Kit
- The Ultimate Camping Essentials Checklist
- The Ultimate Checklist For Hiking Essentials
- Outdoor Exploration - Gadgets & Hiking Essentials