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Carrying Water
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Gary Lewis
(scout99) - MLife
Carrying Water on 05/06/2011 16:01:35 MDT Print View

I am interested in how much water you carry and how. As a newbie, living in the desert, I am going on a hike with my son overnight. I planned it so that we are doing most of the hiking near a stream. This is test run to see how much he carries, how far he can go, and how long it takes. We are taking more water than we should need, but if you aren't near water, how do you usually carry a large amount. I have a platypus container, but I'm scared of carrying it in my pack, as it could leak while we are hiking.

Any advice would be great.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Carrying Water on 05/06/2011 16:10:46 MDT Print View

You might want to describe where you intend to go. There is the high desert, the low desert, the summer, and the winter. Note that some desert streams dry up during the summer season.

I've done trips where I had to carry all of my water for multiple days. I generally planned on having a minimum of one gallon of water per day. That gets very heavy in a hurry.

If you are scared of having your water container leak, then buy a different water container. I generally carry two different water containers so that even if one gets punctured, it will leak without causing damage, and I still have the other one.


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
water carry on 05/06/2011 16:16:45 MDT Print View

Here in Montana I usually carry a single, liter container in a side pocket. I refill often, as water is abundant.

In the SW, when you might need to carry a gallon or two, I'd use MSR dromedary bags in the depths of the pack, one with a hydration hose. The weight rides better that way.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
carrying water on 05/06/2011 17:11:10 MDT Print View

I typically carry water in 1 or 2 one-liter bladders or bottles in the side pockets on the outside of my pack.

If I need to carry more water, I use the standard 2+L platypus bladders. I take my chances and carry them in my pack, trying to keep them near by spine. The important stuff in my pack that I want to keep dry stays in a tied up trash compactor bag in my pack, that way if the bladder were to leak or pop (which hasn't happened to me yet), my quilt, warm clothes, etc. stay dry. The rest of the stuff in my pack can get wet without any problems/issues. I try to avoid packing sharp or pointy objects near the bladders.

Probably the most I've every had to carry at once is about 6 liters (2 1-liter bladders in the side pockets and 2 2-liter bladders inside the pack, side by side, standing upright).

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Carrying Water on 05/06/2011 17:19:31 MDT Print View

Multiple containers in case of leaks. With no water around, at least a gallon a day. Maybe more in summer.

Stephen B Elder Jr
(selder) - M

Locale: Front range CO
Carrying H2O hiking near stream on 05/06/2011 17:45:12 MDT Print View

Perhaps I miss your question...will you not be able to drink the stream water?

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Carrying Water on 05/06/2011 18:33:08 MDT Print View

If you're walking along a stream you don't have to carry any water, unless you have to wait for treatment

I rarely carry more than a pint. That will last me several hours if I start out hydrated.

Brad Fisher

Locale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Re: Re: Carrying Water on 05/06/2011 18:40:36 MDT Print View

Jerry +1


Mat Tallman
(wehtaM) - F

Locale: Midwest
water on 05/06/2011 20:28:21 MDT Print View

I carry my water in a 1L platy with a Sawyer in-line filter on the drinking tube. I keep the platy inside my pack, on top of everything else, with the tube snaked out through the port down my shoulder straps.

Where I hike, 1L is almost always more than enough water, so I rarely fill the thing completely, unless I know there won't be water for awhile, or I am unsure.

As for the thing leaking, all of the gear in my pack I don't want to get wet goes in a drybag. Everything else I expect to get at least somewhat wet if I get rained on, so if the platy leaks, I really don't care, provided the leak is not catastrophic enough to render the bladder useless. I do generally carry a second 1/2L platy as a backup and also to drink from during meals.

No desert experience here though, if you're in doubt about water availability, carry a lot. If you're walking along a reliable creek though, I wouldn't carry more than a liter (probably much less).

clay stewart
(Reluctantwaterhauler) - F
Another vote for the Dromeadary bag. on 05/06/2011 21:39:05 MDT Print View

I've been using the Domeadary bags for about fifteen years in the desert and still have the 10 liter one that was my original. They are pretty tough - never had a leak. Before that I tried the old wine box containers and you definately needed a spare with them. Before that it was the old blanket covered one gallon canteens and they were really awkward to carry :).

For two nights in the summer in the Sonoran Desert, I would fill up the 10 litre Dromeaday and use most of it, by myself, specially if I was doing some miles. That's around 20 pounds of water, so little kids might not enjoy backpacking in desert in the summer, if they have to carry their own water and everything else. If you have stream access, then no problem. Like Bob said, don't depend on summer water in the Sonoran desert, or even in the Canyon Lands, until you actually see it. Just because a map says water, doesn't mean it's there, in the summer.

Edited by Reluctantwaterhauler on 05/06/2011 21:47:23 MDT.

Gary Lewis
(scout99) - MLife
What I did on 05/09/2011 14:09:28 MDT Print View

@Bob - It was high desert - AZ Trail and although it showed a stream on the map, I didn't want to take a chance and not have enough water, especially with my son.

We each have Platypus Bladders in our packs and we also carried an extra liter in a bottle. I ended up buying a Platypus 2L water tank, just to be safe. I also brought my filter which we used to refill the bladders.

It sounds like most of you do the same when not sure or there isn't a water supply.

It was just a lot of extra weight that I didn't necessarily need to carry but I was too nervous to not bring it along.

@Nicholas - Funny thing is when I packed the 2L water tank in my pack I stood it up at first, and then put some other things in and it must have popped open because water started coming out the bottom of the pack. I then decided not to stand it up, but to keep it horizontal. I was nervous about that for a while.

@Clay - That's what I was afraid of, carrying 21 lbs of water in the heat. I wasn't sure how far I could go with all that weight.

Thanks everyone of the responses.


Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Carrying Water on 05/09/2011 20:39:59 MDT Print View

I've never had any trouble with a platypus container leaking inside my pack. As long as I screwed the cap on tightly, no trouble at all. I'm still using the same ones I used to hike the 2nd half of the PCT, too. I used a 2.5 liter and two 1 liter containers and a small plastic bottle for mixing drinks or scooping water. I had a little trouble figuring out how to carry the bigger one. My pack didn't really have a place to put it inside the pack. It had a drinking tube on it so I had to position it right so I could drink out of it. Somehow I figured it out. My pack had external mesh pockets and I'd store the other containers I wasn't drinking out of in the outer side pockets.