How To Carry Water And How Much To Take Camping
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.
What's the best way to cover all your water needs?
The answer differs for different people. It depends on your circumstances and needs:
- 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)
- You 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)
Working out what you'll need to take is easier when you break it down into these four steps:
1. Water Storage
- Are better suited to shorter trips as they'll take up more space than a full water bladder.
- Can be made from:
- Plastic - which is lightweight and durable so doesn't break or dent easily.
- Steel - which insulates your water so it stays cool on hot days (but is less durable).
- Can be worn on an easy-access belt on easy routes but on tricky terrain may get in the way.
A Water Bladder
- Is also known as a hydration pack and sits nice and flat in a pocket inside your backpack.
- Is lightweight, rolls up flat when empty, and takes up less space in your pack than bottles.
- Usually holds more water than a water bottle, so you can carry more water with you.
- Has 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!
You'll need enough purified water to:
- Drink and stay hydrated every day.
- Brush your teeth twice a day.
- Make a nice cup of tea, coffee, hot chocolate or cuppa soup.
- Cook food on a stove, or add to pre-packaged dehydrated meals.
When it comes to how much water you need to take:
- You want to make sure you've got enough but not too much (it's heavy!)
- 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).
- Don't drink too much water as overhydrating can lead to medical issues.
For Short Day Hikes
- To carry enough clean water to last the journey.
- About 3 litres per person, per day (or about 250ml-500ml an hour).
- Take more if it's hot or you'll work up a serious sweat.
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.
- Collect extra water from taps, streams and rivers on the way.
- Purify the water to remove bacteria and debris (or it can make you really sick).
For Hydration Packs
Choose a pack with a water bladder size based on your activity, which will be about:
- 2-3 Litres for day hikers, backpackers and climbers.
- 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.
- Small pack (or traditional water bottle) for road cyclists wanting speed.
- 2 Litres for skiers and snowboarders with insulation sip tubes to avoid freezing.
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 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.
3. Purifying Water
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
- Is a simple and effective way to kill almost all microorganisms in the water.
- Requires equipment-a stove, gas, ignition and a pot-which is a lot if it's just to purify.
- 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).
- 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 purity the water as you drink.
Water filter bottles:
- Work like a regular water bottle but have in-built filters to purify water and remove debris.
- 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 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:
- Work like a straw and filter 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
- Can't use it for cooking or washing your hands or (so take another way to purify too).
These personal filters:
- Are a simple and convenient way to drink water, and they save you time.
- Can't be used for brushing teeth or washing dishes (so take another way to purify too).
Tablets & Liquids
Purification tablets and liquids:
- Use silver ions and chlorine to purify the water and kill harmful bacteria.
- 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).
- You may notice the slight taste of chlorine when you drink the water.
- Don't remove sediment so you have to filter leaves and dirt out separately.
- You can use:
- Tablets (in light packs) - just pop one in your bottle and it purifies the water for you.
- Liquid (in a small bottle) - all you do is add a tiny amount for each Litre of water.
UV light sticks:
- Use ultraviolet lights to kill bacteria and pathogens in the water.
- Are lightweight and easy to carry but slow to work, especially with a lot of water.
- Can only be used with a water bottle (not a water bladder).
- Need batteries to work so take spare batteries (or some backup tablets or liquid).
Always check the signs at camp sites and on trails to see if the water is safe to drink.
4. Convenience & Cost
- Are you happy to wait for water to purify or do you want to be able to drink straight away?
- How much water do you want to be able to purify at once to save time?
- Consider getting two options like tablets and a filter so you get the benefits of both.
- If you'll be heading out a lot it's worth investing in good quality gear that will last.
When you go to the Anaconda website, select Camping & Hiking from the menu along the top, then Hydration. You'll then see tick box filters down the left hand side of the page which make working out what to buy easier and faster because you can choose to filter what you see by:
- Category - so you can just see water bottles, hydration packs or water purification
- Size - so you just see water bottles, bladders and jerry cans that hold the Litres you want.
- Deal - so you only see water gear that's on sale or at clearance prices.
- Brand - so you can find a specific brand you like.
- Colour - so you only see options in the colours you prefer.
How much are water bottles, bladders and purifiers?
Anaconda has water:
- Bottles from $5-$80
- Bladders and hydration packs from $10-$150
- Purifiers from $15-$140
- Jerry cans and drums from $20-$30
For more help choosing a way to store and purify your water, drop into an Anaconda store. We'll help you get all your water sorted.