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Water Management for Dry Camps
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David Barnes
Water Management for Dry Camps on 06/06/2014 09:43:52 MDT Print View

We will be launching a crew of 11 for trek 16 in July. Day 4 to Day 5 has us going from Upper Sawmill to Commanche Peak. Presumably we will be at full load out headed into a dry camp.

The "handbook" suggests a crew to have 2 or 3 10 liter (2.5 gal) collapsable containers. We had initially thought that the MSR Dromadary line would be the ticket. I then read about a crew having each member carry a 2l platy bottle specifically set aside for crew water needs neaded in a dry camp.

Clearly the 2 l platy solution spreads out the weight v the Dramadaries. Am I missing something?

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Bruce Tolley

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Water Management Dry Camps on 06/06/2014 11:28:20 MDT Print View

When you arrive at Philmont, you will see two or three Scouters hobbling around on crutches. I do not recommend that the Scouters in your crew take on the role of water mules.

2.5 gallons is 20 lbs. That is a lot of weight and requires large packs which add even more weight.

In your training hikes, you should be able to estimate what your crew needs in terms of water to prepare a Philmont style lunch and a Philmont style dinner. You can even order the Philmont food from Philmont to practice.

I asked each crew member in my crew of 12 to have the ability to carry 3 to 4 liters and then we had three or four 4 liter Platypus containers. So we had 52 liters of storage which was more than we needed.

The 4 liter zip lock Platypuses have a nasty habit of opening inside the packs if there is pressure on them so I would recommend the Nalgene soft sided bottles or the lighter weight dromedaries because both types of bottle have screw tight lids.

Philmont maintains a list of springs and streams that are "near" the dry camps called the water board. Note that the water board is not always accurate even when the posting looks up to date. Also some of the sources look a bit sketchy to the novice backpackers so you might practice pre filtering with bandanas and such.

On the day before our dry camp, we had one Scouter who had to be off loaded and two younger Scouts who were carrying just their sleeping bags and water. So I had the crew leader and navigator lead the crew in a discussion about how to manage and haul water for the dry camp given the fact that we had three people who were challenged just to carry their own gear. The crew decided to have dinner at lunch time to conserve water and lunch at dinner time and to not haul extra dinner water because our campsite was at the top of Mt Phillips. So we hauled enough water for lunch, then moved on to the evening campsite, made camp and attempted to fetch water from the source on the Water Board.

water on 06/07/2014 07:56:38 MDT Print View

When you go into dry camp, you need enough water for that day, and the next morning to get to the next source. The best way to handle this is to cook dinner for lunch, and eat lunch for dinner. There is no need for any "crew water". Have every person carry enough so that they will have 2L in the morning, and you will have plenty generally. It does depend on distance between sources. 4L per person will often suffice. If you want to cook and wash pots etc, then carry more and then each person contributes some to the cause. We required each person to have 6L capacity and that was plenty. We had 3 dry camps. Most just carried 6 1L smart water bottles. Some had 4 and a 2L platy. One had all 2L platys because he lost every water bottle he had, kept leaving them places and had to buy $45 worth of platys at a food pickup.

The one thing I would caution against, is boys will get to some camps, like tooth ridge for instance with interesting rock formations they can play in, and then go running around and playing the rest of the afternoon, getting hot and sweaty, forgetting that their water supplies are not limitless.

I wouldnt carry any large crew water containers ever. Simply not needed, and it encourages poor water management on the boys parts, they assume there will be a limitless supply for them.

At one camp, the water board had no information. We found water 3/4 mile away up a dry creekbed. Took a couple hrs to get water. At another the water board said "trickle" , it was BONE DRY, not water at all. Lesson, DONT trust the waterboard, unless it says ample, carry water like there may not be any, because there may not be.

Edited by livingontheroad on 06/07/2014 08:02:40 MDT.

Dan Lee
(scoutbuff) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
FINDING WATER... on 06/07/2014 11:00:52 MDT Print View

All excellent points mentioned... Thought I would also toss out one of our experiences with water. Came into a camp that indicated "ample water" on the board. Crew found the pipe coming off a hillside but it was almost completely dry. We needed water and traced the line up the hillside to where the pipe had been separated from another supply line. More than enough available... Have a great trip!

Bruce Tolley

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Water Management for Dry Camps on 06/07/2014 11:38:38 MDT Print View

Just to clarify, Philmont lunches are cold, no cook lunches and therefore do not require any re-hyrdation or cooking of food. Therefore by having dinner at lunch time, you are carrying the water less far, just to your mid day "dinner" stop. Or having dinner at an established campsite along the path where there is a water supply but is not your scheduled overnight camping spot. Philmont strictly prohibits any change in your overnight camping locations.

If each person in your crew of 11 carrying one 2 liter platypus and a 1 liter Nalgene, 3X 11 = 33 liters. That might be enough for your dinner and breakfast, as well as water for the first leg of your morning hike but it is probably on the light side. A lot depends on the water protocol you develop in your training hikes. I personally always carry two 1 liter water bottles and a two liter platypus for overnight water storage.

And as noted above, do not trust the water board. My crew could not find any water at the first source we had noted on the map and did not like the water at the second source (silt, bugs), and went all the way to the next camp to get water that they hauled back for dinner.

Edited by btolley on 06/07/2014 11:40:14 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Water Management for Dry Camps on 06/07/2014 17:29:51 MDT Print View

When we dry camp (like on a mountain top), my wife and I find 6 L between us is quite enough for the climb, dinner, breakfast and even morning tea. But we are used to doing this, so YMMV.


ed dzierzak
(dzierzak) - F

Locale: SE
Dry camps - water management on 06/09/2014 09:39:29 MDT Print View

As mentioned, dinner for lunch can minimize water needed at the dry camp. Have your meal at location with sufficient water. Then lunch at the dry camp.

We carried those 2.5 gallon water bags in the past. Unless you've got some burros in your crew, don't. Our past few treks we've carried 4 liter water bags, one per crew member. They weigh practically nothing and take little room. We also never fill them totally, three liters per crew member was usually sufficient. This is in addition to their usual waer carrying capacity.

Fortunately, this time around we seem to have no dry camps.

Edited by dzierzak on 06/09/2014 09:41:40 MDT.

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
Crew water on 06/16/2014 15:19:30 MDT Print View

I'm with the others who say don't take the big crew water containers. That just sucks the fun out of any hike for the people who have to lug those around.

We always have each boy take an extra 2 liter container (in addition to their personal water containers) for dry camps. We'll do that again this year and it's always worked for us.

That assumes of course that their personal water containers have enough for their needs until the next water supply.

william cheney
Water Management on 06/26/2014 04:53:04 MDT Print View

I saw very few of the 2.5 gallon bags this Philmont trek. Most crews, including ours had every crew member bring an extra 3L Platypus bladder. We had dry camps at Mt. Phillips and Tooth Ridge. I saw a number of the MSR dromedary bladders.

Michael Driscoll
(Hillhikerz) - F

Locale: Monterey Bay
Philmont and water filtration ? on 07/01/2014 07:42:16 MDT Print View

Thread has great advice on water management but what about getting the bugs out, my one son years ago plugged up his filter on the 3rd day, while my other used a liquid iodine... I am just curious what is recommended now...

water treatment on 07/01/2014 20:03:49 MDT Print View

philmont supplies micropur tablets (ClO2). Thats all that is necessary.

So idiot proof, even a 14yr old boy can do it.

ed dzierzak
(dzierzak) - F

Locale: SE
purification on 07/10/2014 08:31:52 MDT Print View

And even old, senile advisors.... :-P