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How should I carry water?
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Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
How should I carry water? on 09/28/2012 14:26:29 MDT Print View

I have spent the past year paring down and paring down...and having a blast doing it. So now I'm down to the details that at this point are costing me a great many pounds.

What is the best way to carry water?

Currently I use a very, very heavy reinforced 3L Osprey water bladder that fits into my osprey pack (as one cannot put, nor take out, water bottles from the side pockets of an Exos 46). I have gone ahead and bought a GG Gorilla to try out next weekend, and it looks like I might actually have side pockets I can use!!

So...teach me, oh wise ones, how I can best manage water on various hiking situations. For this trip coming up I will have only minimal access to a water source (probably one opportunity to refill between Friday night and Sunday afternoon). I have a sawyer squeeze as my filter.

The following weekend we will actually be walking along a river the whole way...

But then what about 7 day affairs with occasional water stops?

I know that's a lot of different situations, but I'm ready to toss my brick of a water bladder and graduate to something else. The question is...what's my next step??

Thanks in guys rock.

Brandon Vidrine
Re: How should I carry water? on 09/28/2012 14:58:52 MDT Print View

I prefer the Evernew or Platypus plastic collapsible water bottles; if you need to carry more water due to lack of sources, use the larger bags ie. 2 liters etc. You are definitely doing well with the Sawyer squeeze.

Also some might argue that a gatorade or smart water bottle may be adequate, but I like the collapsible feature for the evernew and platy; if you aren't carrying water, the bag weighs less than 2 oz. and can be stored rolled up.

FYI the evernew bottles are much more durable than the sawyer bottles, and they work with the squeeze filter.

Mike D.
(mpd1690) - F
Re: How should I carry water? on 09/28/2012 15:00:11 MDT Print View

When I am following a river, I typically just use the sawyer filter only. No bottle, and I just carry the water I need when I need it. You may want to upgrade the filter bag though. I have busted everyone that came with mine I think.

I use gatorade bottles if I know I'll need to carry extra water. A platy in the pack is nice extra storage if you need more water over long periods.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: How should I carry water? on 09/28/2012 15:07:16 MDT Print View

When I go solo, I carry at least one Gatorade bottle to mix sports drinks in. If it is a hot hike, then I need more capacity. I normally use a gravity-fed water filter, so there is one 2-liter Platypus above for raw water, and one 2-liter Platypus below for clean water. Additionally I have some 2-liter and 1-liter Platypus containers for extra storage, but I seldom go 24 hours without another water source.

I had to do a four-day trip with just the water I carried, and that was 4 gallons, so I had a 3-gallon jug plus some others.

Promise me that you will never try to carry 4 gallons of water.


Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: How should I carry water? on 09/28/2012 15:20:54 MDT Print View

I carry 2x 1L smartwater or powerade bottles in the side pockets of my Exos 58 and Exos 34 with no problem. For my "main" bottle i use the right hand pocket using the forward facing opening. the left side i keep vertical, but i can still get it in and out with a bit more finesse through the forward facing opening.

not sure of what is causing your trouble, the bottle fitting or your arm flexibility?

I found that only stuffing my sleeping bag/quilt inside the pack liner bag (trash compactor bag) and not using a stuff sack makes it squishier at the bottom so there is more 'give' to let the bottles slide in.

definitely don't try to fit nalgenes.. they are wide. too heavy anyway.

edit: i do the same as Nick below, 1.5L Evernew for my Squeeze and use it for extra storage, especially nice at camp. i throw the 16oz Sawyer bag in for a backup.

Edited by JakeDatc on 09/28/2012 15:31:28 MDT.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Carrying water on 09/28/2012 15:25:55 MDT Print View

My typical set-up is to carry 1 or 2 1L gatorade (or similar) bottles (depending upon water frequency and weather) and 1 2L Evernew bladder.

The Evernew bladder mostly stays empty and is used just to filter raw water through the sawyer squeeze but if I know I've got a dry section coming up, I can fill it with raw water, toss it in my pack and filter into my bottle(s) as needed.

If I know I'm going to be doing a dry camp for a day or more and will need more water, I carry and fill up additional 1-2L bladders. That way, once they're empty, they pack up small and weigh very little. I find it easier to pack and balance several smaller bladders rather than 1 large one.

water water everywhere on 09/28/2012 16:13:36 MDT Print View

lightwt water bottles, and 2.5 l platy for extra.

In the side pockets of my packs, I can fit 4x1L or 1.5 L water bottles

Plus a platy in back pocket makes it easy to carry up to 6.5 - 8.5 L without issue, except for wt.

Most I have carried so far is 4.5L though. And that was a breeze.

I would never consider a pack that didnt have side pockets that provided for carrying water bottles, and that I couldnt reach and take out myself while walking.

Edited by livingontheroad on 09/28/2012 16:16:27 MDT.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Hmmm...4 gallons.... on 09/28/2012 16:23:52 MDT Print View

Wow does that sound like fun!!! Who wouldn't want to carry 4 gallons of liquid into the backcountry!? I did carry a box of wine once...

And Jake, I'm impressed you could reach the side pockets on your Exos. I guess my arms just don't bend that way (and I do stuff my bag pretty tightly at the bottom...)

Anyone have a good source for the evernew bladders? I looked for them when I bought the Sawyer but couldn't find any. Seems like that would be a good thing to have to work as a dirty and a clean reservoir.

I also like the smartwater bottle idea, too. Do you keep it in the side pockets or hang it from the shoulder harness? I've seen the shoulder harness thing and it just looks awkward.....

gallons? on 09/28/2012 18:06:13 MDT Print View

Wow, 4 gallons would be a bit to haul. Only like 34lbs.

Edited by livingontheroad on 09/28/2012 18:07:20 MDT.

Brandon Vidrine
Re: Hmmm...4 gallons.... on 09/28/2012 18:08:52 MDT Print View

You can get evernew bottles from:

or more info here:

They are definitely the way to go; the smart water and gatoraide bottles are adequate, but the evernew bottles are so much easier to store, and you can blow them up, stuff them into a stuff sack and use them as a pillow; hard to beat that!

Accessibility is important but not the only factor; obviously it is also important to consider size, ability to store the unused gear, and dual use.

Edited by bvidrine82 on 09/28/2012 18:23:15 MDT.

mik matra
(mikmik) - M

Locale: Allways on the move
Re: How should I carry water? on 09/28/2012 18:20:42 MDT Print View

The lightest thing I have found is the standard old plastic water bottle from any supermarket or service station. A 1.5L one is 35g (whatever that is in ounces). My ULA circuit is great for the accessible side pockets

mik matra
(mikmik) - M

Locale: Allways on the move
Re: Re: How should I carry water? on 09/28/2012 19:04:53 MDT Print View

Regarding you not being near water source for a couple days; We headed up a mountain peak and was away from water as soon as the ground tilted up. Working hard going up and only having dry food that takes water to prepare into a meal plus dry nut mix for snacks (that take moisture from your body to digest) and I quickly learned that I underestimated my water needs. For me (and everybody is different with their water consuption needs) I need 3L per day. That was a hard and scarily learned lesson!! Hence my consequent search of survivalis websites since tgat trip just in case I/we got stuck without no obvious water source. I am keen to test these newfound skills on the next few trips so as I can pass down these skills to my son when he will be old enough to come join me on these trips.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: How should I carry water? on 09/28/2012 20:43:37 MDT Print View

Jen, they both go in the side pockets. right one "horizontal" and the left vertical. I guess if you've tried and tried then it won't work and you already got a new pack so it doesn't much matter haha. I do love my Exos packs and that the mechanics are the same so i've been "practicing" for 500mi this year.

i got my Evernew from Gossomer gear but only use that for filtering and extra storage.

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
bottles on 09/28/2012 22:41:13 MDT Print View

1 gatorade, 1 nalgene (for hot water bottle at night). carry empty platypus in pack for camp use or long stretches b/t fill ups. i like carrying bottles better b/c i can A: regulate how much i'm drinking better and B: fill up a the creek and down the whole liter right there (steripen treatment) if i know there's reliable water ahead, which is often here in PA (allowing me to carry no water at all :D)

Edited by StainlessSteel on 09/28/2012 22:42:00 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: How should I carry water? on 09/29/2012 02:21:14 MDT Print View

Every gear vendor will tell you the only way to carry water is in one of their commercial bladders (eg Platypus) or plastic bottles (eg Nalgene) or aluminium bottles (eg SIGG), which they will sell to you for a mere pittance ...

Smart UL walkers use something much lighter and zero cost: empty PET rocket-base bottles (1.25 L or 1.5 L) previously used for fizzy drinks or fizzy mineral water. Weight is about 35 g (1 oz), cost is $0 after you have drunk the contents, and reliability is equal to all the others. Yes, I have drop-tested these from a height. I replace mine about once every couple of years.

Don't use the PET bottles which held 'still' (non-fizzy) mineral water: they are NOT as strong.


Guy Laden
(GL) - MLife
Aarn balance pockets on 09/29/2012 05:20:53 MDT Print View

I use PET bottles in the Aarn Sports Balance Pockets for carrying large amounts of water. The pockets can swallow up a gallon with no trouble at all. I often need to carry large amounts of water and this is by far the best approach I've tried.
The packs and pockets aren't light but I think the approach of carrying the water on the front of your body works nicely and it should be possible to make front pockets specifically for this purpose that can attach to any pack.
I've not tried this with the lighter Aarn packs - I'm weary the hip-belt is not up to the task.

Edited by GL on 09/29/2012 05:24:11 MDT.

bottles on 09/29/2012 06:59:51 MDT Print View

I like the very light "eco" water bottles that are .75 oz for 1L.

Like Roger says, they are not nearly as strong as the heavier. But honestly, they are durable enough. Ever try to destroy one?

Just check the bottoms good, thats where leaks usually occur, at mold points. I replace them every trip , just buy a couple of new water bottles on the way and put in the pockets on my pack.

I carry 2, so I have a spare if one fails, so it doesnt worry me. I know I can make 10 miles on 1L if need to, but usually start out with 1L per 5 miles or so planned.

If I was going somewhere with NO water for days, it would be different.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Durability/Convenience/Size on 09/29/2012 09:22:56 MDT Print View

For durability it is hard to beat the PET Gator Aid Bottles. I use them in my garden as well as for backpacking. I have about 100 of them in the garden, filled with water and they stay out there 365 days a year. They are exposed to rain, freezing, snow, sun, dropping and throwing, etc. 24 hours a day. Some are 15+ years old. I can''t recall any that have failed. The caps do fail and need to be replaced every few years. PET pop bottles are lighter but don't last as long (but still last for years).

I love the size of the Gator Aid Bottle opening. Perfect for drinking and easier to clean the bottle than with the smaller pop bottle size openings.

Keep in mind that larger bottles usually weigh less per ounce carried than smaller bottles. So carrying a 1 gallon bottle would (other things being equal) usually weigh less per ounce carried than four 1 quart bottles.

mik matra
(mikmik) - M

Locale: Allways on the move
what about..... on 09/29/2012 22:24:38 MDT Print View

I just thought that the bladder from casked wines, you know the silvery material that has a valve on it to let the wine out seems to weigh in at next to nothing. I am not sure what it would weigh but I bought a 10L water pouch that has the same bladder in it with the same press-valve. I bet to carry large amount of water you'd be hard pressed to beat that materials weight!!