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PCT - Southern CA Desert - Water Capacity
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Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
PCT - Southern CA Desert - Water Capacity on 04/10/2013 17:20:50 MDT Print View

What is the most amount of water I should expect to carry at any one time between sources?

I'm trying to figure out how much capacity/weight I should plan for at any one time. It will make a difference in the pack I choose and how many containers I bring.


Edited by veganaloha on 04/10/2013 17:21:55 MDT.

Angus A.
(mangus7175) - F

Re: PCT - Southern CA Desert - Water Capacity on 04/10/2013 17:28:30 MDT Print View

I would get in touch with Hippie Longstockings and NoBadDaze. They're currently doing the PCT and they post updates on their FB page here -

They should be able to help out.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: PCT - Southern CA Desert - Water Capacity on 04/10/2013 17:42:07 MDT Print View


This is complicated. It really depends upon how much your pack weighs and how many miles you are hiking per day. If someone hikes 20 miles per day, and another 40 miles per day the second person is not going to need twice as much water.

Best bet (as mentioned) is to check the distances between water sources that are often posted, then consider your daily mileage. Also take into consideration how much water you normally consume, and then lastly look at the average temperatures for these stretches. If it is hotter than normal, you will need more water.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
water capacity on 04/10/2013 17:57:35 MDT Print View

I came to the PCT from the humid east coast, so I was pretty clueless about desert hiking and how much water I'd need. I guesstimated that I would drink 1 L per 4 miles (+ more if dry-camping or cooking). I had 6 L capacity and used it all several times in southern CA. In retrospect, I probably used about 1 L per 5-6 miles, so I could've gotten away with 5 L capacity.

But there are a couple of big caveats. First, people vary in how much water they need. A lot of folks also used Nuun tablets and the like to bolster their electrolytes and reduce water usage. I don't know if these work or not. Second, I was able to get water from all the major caches, but I started early and was ahead of the pack for most of southern CA. From the rumors I hear, there are going to be a TON of people on the trail this year (thank you, Cheryl Strayed), and one has to wonder how the water caches will hold up. In 2009, I heard from hikers behind me that some caches were empty. So, maybe be prepared for empty caches.

One tip: always cook at a water source! This makes it a lot easier to dry camp.