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water management
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Misha Berger
(aeropenguin) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
water management on 07/02/2012 02:38:10 MDT Print View

Sorry about the vague subject line but I have two noob questions for you guys.

1. I am totally in love with the UL philosophy and am an immediate convert, but I feel like a lot of people spend too much time thinking base weight instead of total weight. Example: people will take chemical water treatments and leave the filter at home. The thing is, let's say you're all out of water and you wish to fill up. Not even mentioning how much it sucks to wait another half hour to take a drink, but when filling up, you have to bring the amount you need to make it to the next stream, AND the amount you need to hydrate yourself. With a 3-4oz Sawyer squeeze/gravity setup, you can drink the amount you need to hydrate yourself on the spot, and then only carry what you need to get to the next stream. In doing so, you add 3-4oz to the base weight, but get to carry on the order of a pound less water. I suppose the objections are "take a 30 minute break" or "I'd rather carry an extra pound for 30 minutes, than an extra 4oz the entire trip." Any thoughts?

2. How the heck do you keep track of how much water you have remaining in your hydration sleeve, short of pulling it out then having to rearrange your things to stuff it back in there? On my training hikes I intentionally bring a lot more water than I need (just to add to the pack weight), but I am worried I will suck the thing dry unintentionally, with a high pass coming up between me and the next water source on the JMT/other hikes.

Thanks for your input! Just starting out and hope my hypotheticals aren't too off the wall.

Hobbes W
(Hobbesatronic) - F

Locale: SoCal
Water management on 07/02/2012 08:21:19 MDT Print View

1. The filter vs wait vs weight issue is interesting. Some people figure it's easier to carry at least 12-16oz of pre-treated water, rather than deal with an extra piece of equipment and associated bulk of a filter. Even though the water will be slightly heavier, it's a simpler set-up. As you drink water from one container, you get another one started with tablets.

2. The last point above the raises the issue of containers. I take two 20oz empty gatorade bottles that I've securely fastened to the front of my shoulder pads. I take an empty 40oz platypus stored away as reserve, but no longer use it as a primary. I think a lot of people have come to the conclusion that it's a big, massive hassle to have a single bladder.

For one, having a single container means too much waiting to treat, so then you need a filter. For two, dealing with taking it out and then re-packing is a drag. Three, bladders are hard to fill without a filter - maybe it's just me, but I can never get the things to fill up right away by simply submerging them.

I went with the two gatorade bottles because it's a piece of cake to release, kneel, fill, drink/treat & go.

Edited by Hobbesatronic on 07/02/2012 08:22:41 MDT.

Daniel Cox
(COHiker) - F

Locale: San Isabel NF
Re: Storage on 07/02/2012 09:28:18 MDT Print View

This system works fairly well for me:

Leave home with the desired quantity of water in 1L bottles.
I use one Smart Water as primary in the packs side pouch, and one Platypus soft bottle as secondary in the other side pouch if I need more than a liter
2L is usually enough water for a whole day of hiking without crossing water sources. It happens pretty often in the Rockies.
If I need more water for a dry camp, I have the 3L platypus bladder that makes the reservoir of my gravity filter setup (9.5oz total weight). I fill that at a source and carry it along.
On the trail, I fill the bladder, then drain through the filter into the 1L bottles. When those are full, I can fill the 3L bladder and stick it in my pack as a real reservoir. Since the filter is in-line on the drinking tube, if I somehow empty my two 1L bottles, I can drink straight from that, through the filter in a real pinch, or just take a quick break to refill the 1L bottles.
My map and pre-trip recon dictate how much water I carry from source to source.

It's not the lightest possible solution, but it's accurate, easy, and after I had had to make an unexpected dry camp and make it through the night with 10 oz of water, 2lbs of extra water weight is *well* worth carrying all day.

I can easily carry anywhere between 1 and 5 liters and know exactly how much I have, with a maximum 2.5 oz of weight in empty bottles.

Edited by COHiker on 07/02/2012 09:36:48 MDT.

Andrew McAlister
(mcalista) - F
Reserve tank on 07/02/2012 10:29:41 MDT Print View

On issue 2, I slightly underfill my hydration pouch, and carry 0.25-0.5 L in a soda bottle in a side pocket. I'm not carrying any extra water, just a built in warning system when I suck the pouch dry. I also tend to drink that to rehydrate at a water source, and then head off on my way - by the time I need to drink again, water is treated.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
water management on 07/02/2012 10:39:19 MDT Print View

1. If you use water treatment that takes time, like AM, you undoubtedly are carrying extra weight in water over something like the squeeze, no matter how you look at it.
2. I prefer to carry a bottle, not a bladder for my main daily water source, especially if I am in an area with a lot of streams.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: water management on 07/02/2012 15:12:06 MDT Print View


You're right that using chemical treatment, you carry the water for 20 minutes before drinking. In some areas, water is cascading over granite boulders and there aren't a lot of mosquitos. But in other areas, pumping water from a stream (being close to water and not moving) mean more bug bites. That pushes me to bring two water bottles and iodine tablets.

Two Aquafina bottles weigh very little and give me added volume for longer waterless stretches. I can have one in *treat* mode while the other is for drinking but rarely am I going through water that fast.

I think I benefit from being a "gulper" versus a "sipper" like my wife. I don't need or want a bladder because of its more difficult filling (and uncertain current contents) and I also suck down 1-2 liters at the trailhead and in camp thereby reducing my pack weight for the next few hours. Being a pointer (rather than a setter) makes eliminating bodily fluids quick and easy, admittedly, so there's less downside to over-watering oneself.

When I'm high in elevation and with low humidity (always true in winter) or in a desert climate, I like the visual feedback of a clear one-liter bottle. If I stop to drink, I drink a half liter or more. Too much, I'll pee it out. Too little and your comfort, performance and safety all suffer.

Edited by DavidinKenai on 07/02/2012 15:12:52 MDT.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: water management on 07/02/2012 16:03:12 MDT Print View

I agree, I'd rather carry the filter than the extra water. My trips are in the Sierra, and I rarely have to go more than an hour between water sources, so I rarely carry more than a 1/2 liter of water. Depending on the trip I may have just one bottle - a squeezy gatorade bottle is my favorite, holds 24 oz - or if I expect longer waterless stretches I would bring an additional bottle.

No hydration bladders for me. For those rare situations where I need to carry a larger quantity of water (pretty much the only time that occurs is when I want to camp on a peak or ridge where I know I won't find water or snow to melt), I bring a 4 liter Dromlite bag along with my bottles. Your point about not being able to see how much water you have left is one of several reasons why I don't care for bladders for hiking. With bottles, I always know how much I have left.

Misha Berger
(aeropenguin) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
water management on 07/02/2012 16:34:14 MDT Print View

@Daniel and others: Hmm... I'm liking the idea of drinking out of an Aquafina bottle or two for daily use, but keeping the Platypus in the pack with the Sawyer attached for use as a true reservoir for waterless stretches and camp duties away from a water source.

Another reason to carry water bottles stems from a problem I ran into on my last hike: when washing my hands after nature called (#2), I had to pinch the bite valve with my dirty hands!!! I could use another tissue for this purpose but it would be have to be disposable and therefore wasteful. With a water bottle, I can open it in advance and hold it far away from the opening when washing my hands.

@David, re. drinking at trailhead: Now there's something that doesn't work for everyone. If I drank a liter or two right at the trail head I would feel the water sloshing around in my stomach and immediately get cramps if hiking fast. I personally feel the most hydrated about an hour after drinking a liter or so of water, after it has permeated into my muscles and other organs where it is needed. At the trail head, I instead pee out the excess and feel more hydrated AND lighter. Same with eating. To each his own though!

Edited by aeropenguin on 07/02/2012 16:36:45 MDT.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Hand Washing with a Bite Valve on 07/02/2012 21:22:58 MDT Print View

I may be whacked on this, but to wash my hands using water from my Platy hydration system I grab the hose away from the valve and maneuver the valve to my mouth. I then get a mouthfull of water and spit it out on my hands to wash them. The process works like this:
- Get a mouthfull of water
- Put 2-3 drops of CampSuds in one hand
- Spit a little water in the other
- Vigorously scrub my hands together
- Spit about half of what's left in my mouth into my hands to rinse
- Shake them off
- Spit what's left in my mouth to rinse again

There have been a couple of times where I need to "reload" to have more rinse water, but only when I OD on the CampSuds.

I have learned that I need to do this away from any of my hiking buddies - they have this bizarre need to make me laugh as soon as I've filled my mouth with my rinse water.

Jen Churchward
(mahgnillig) - F
Hand washing on 07/02/2012 22:34:46 MDT Print View

I just take a 0.5oz bottle of hand sanitizer with me... no extra wiping, no touching the bite valve with your hands, and no spitting on yourself ;)

I'm one of those that likes to have a bladder... I much prefer sipping water as I'm hiking rather than gulping it all down. That said, I rarely fill my 2 litre bladder more than half full if I'm carrying a water filter, and most of my hiking is done where there are plenty of water sources.

James McIntosh

Locale: Near Bass Strait
Do you REALLY need to purify? on 07/03/2012 06:22:28 MDT Print View

Here's another thought. Do you really need to purify water in the wilderness?

Here's a little story. In the lead up to the year 2000 Olympics in Sydney Australia, the sensitivity of the testing of Sydney's water was improved. Much to everyone's horror, it was discovered that Sydney's (population 4 million) tap water was contaminated with giadia and cryptosporidium. In response to this terrible news, many people in Sydney began drinking bottled water. People questioned whether the Olympics would have to be shifted! (And many environmental consutltants like my brother in law made a lot of money.)

But the contamination wasn't new. There are many large towns which drain their sewage into the Sydney water catchment. Over the years, their sewage treatment has improved, as has the standard of treatment of Sydney's tap water. It's only reasonable to assume that the contamination had been even greater in the past. And there had been plenty opertunity for giadia etc to be carried around by the kangaroos and possums.

But nobody was getting sick. The reason is you need a significant amount of contamination to get sick from giadia etc.

Secor's guide to the High Sierra (2nd ed, p 26) tells us that USGS testing of water in the Sierras found concentrations of giadia cycsts as high as 14 cysts per hundred gallons. Now being from Australia, I'm not sure how much water is in a hundred gallons, but I think it's quite a lot.

On my one very brief visit to Yosemite, I used the Australian approach to water, and I didn't get sick. That approach is just avoid drinking water from downstream of places where many people are likely to have toileted. And we tend to avoid water from lakes or other stagnant sources in popular hiking areas. (I did filter Tenaya Ck.)

I wonder how many people have REALLY been sick from drinking mountain water, and how many have been sick from dodgy fast food on the way home from a trip and blamed it on the water.

Just a thought...

James Mc

Andrew Stow
(AndyS) - F - MLife

Locale: Midwest USA
Re: Do you REALLY need to purify? on 07/03/2012 11:33:53 MDT Print View

In SI units, 100 US gallons is about 378 541.2 W s / MPa, which is a lot.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Do you REALLY need to purify? on 07/03/2012 11:58:01 MDT Print View

James, In somewhat more disgestable units, 100 gallons is 378 liters - roughly 3 months of drinking water for a human.

(There are 3 + pi/4 liter per gallon.) That's a geek joke. And very nearly true.

Regarding the no-treat approach: We're a pretty sophisticated household with an MD (Internal Medicine) and a PE (Chemical and Environmental), and I've been reassessing my approach of the last few decades. Ray Jardine in his books describes a new paradigm of THINKING about what your water sources are (as you describe) more than treating everything.

I know people who've had giardia but from pretty extreme situations - going native in Egypt, gulping water while swimming in a stagent, dog-exercise pond, etc. I think a lot of other cases of intenstinal upset are simply a result of poor personal sanitation by the individual or the person cooking the food. Bluntly, bacteria in your p00p are NOT to be recycled and without convenient hand-washing facilities, many people get sloppy.

Modern 16-day rafting trips on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon go bonkers on the sanitation - you set up a handwashing station on the return path from the "groover" (you p00p in a ammo can which leaves grooves on your cheeks). The handwashing station has a hand-free foot pump from a 20-liter bucket to a faucet for soap and water and then you use an alcohol hand sanitizer. Veteran rafters bark corrections at newbies the first few days and pretty soon it is a habit to wash up after elimination and before any cooking or eating. 16 people, 16 days = 256 people-days with no issues which is good because evac is really hard, expensive and dangerous.

I've always used iodine which adds very little weight so I'll probably keep using it except for non-surface water (springs) which I also consider for their water source, likely transit-time in the subsurface, etc. But I'm less strict on iodine exposure time now and have gone to alcohol hand santizer before any food and after any elimination.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
water on 07/03/2012 13:26:32 MDT Print View

unless you are on very pristine surroundings and know pretty well that there arent other humans, animals, etc taking poops or other such into yr water ... IMO yr better off just throwing a tablet in the water just in case ... its kinda like seatbelts or helmets (climbing/biking), some people who have dont things for decades never needed one, but when you do need it, you better have it ...

as to tablets vs filter vs carrying ... thats a personal decision and calculation ... one thing ive learned from climbing is that it sucks to carry water, but it sucks even more to be dehydrated on a hot day ... if yr refilling often, a water filter is preferred IMO due to lower wait times and the filtration of that extra tasty stuff ... ill carry tablets anyways, the extra few grams wont kill me ...

Ole Saether
(osaether) - MLife

Locale: Norway
Re: Do you REALLY need to purify? on 07/03/2012 15:18:20 MDT Print View

David has a very good point here. It depends on where you are and what your water sources are.

For example here in Norway where I live the general rule is that you do not have to treat water in the backcountry. Exceptions are years with large population of Lemmings such as last year (Norway lemming). I have been backpacking for 20+ years and have only treated water once and that was because of the Lemmings on a trip last September.

Edited by osaether on 07/03/2012 15:34:07 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Iodine tabs... hmmm on 07/03/2012 22:42:35 MDT Print View

David, katadyn chlorine dioxide tabs are far more effective than iodine tabs - and don't have a bad taste.

For "instant" pure water I take my Steripen. I can wait 90 seconds for a clean liter of water. The Katadyn tabs are for my hydration bladder the previous night.

steven franchuk
Re: Do you REALLY need to purify? on 07/09/2012 00:59:04 MDT Print View

I was not familure with the Sydney contamination scare. So I used Google to look up an Australian goverment report. Prior to the discovery of contamination all Sydney water was filtered and then treated with chlorine. Furthermore the test used only told them if the contamination was present. It didn't tell them how much was present or even if it was alive. Since chlorine kills giadia and Cryptospridium in all likelihood all positive positive samples from the city only have dead Giadia and cryptosporidium. The test samples from the dams and streams that were not treated likely had living organisms.

No one got sick because the water was filtered and was treated with chlorine.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
water water anywhere? on 07/09/2012 06:50:23 MDT Print View

what i start out with it really depends on where i'm backpacking. i stopped using hydration bladders long ago because i couldn't track easily what was left and i hated cleaning them.

i carry two 1 liter platypus bladders and a 16.9 ounce water bottle. what is filled depends on the temps and the distances between water sources.

i carry katadyn tablets to kill the bad nasty stuff in the water. i typically wait 20 minutes before i will drink from the treated container.

Edited by asciibaron on 07/09/2012 06:51:27 MDT.

jeff currey

Locale: North Central Idaho
Re: water management- maps help on 07/10/2012 19:01:15 MDT Print View

I have been learning about my own water needs on the trail and have found out how to minimize the water i need. Caveat:i hike where water is fairly plentiful.
But some things i have learned by trail running may be useful no matter where you travel- as an aside from the suggestions offered by others here for water management:
1. Pre-hydration is a good start. A good check to see if you are properly hydrated- aside from thirst- before and along the way- is stretch your fingers, and if they are not wrinkly when you fully extend them, you are good to go.
2.Having enough sodium and potassium in your system the day before-and during- your trip is very helpful. Take supplements and/or Endurolytes caps with you (another topic indeed)to limit losses of vital minerals through sweat and breathing.
3.When venturing into new areas, your map and route will tell you a lot about water availability and fill-up opportunities.
4.Last but not least- avoid alcohol- beer- before your trip and during.

As to the actual system i use: When water is readily available, i take(2) 1-liter Aquafina bottles and Sawyer filter- 1 bottle with filtered water in it, 1 for unfiltered. I take tablets as emergency back-up.
hope this helps,