Sunday, September 20, 2020

How to carry water while hiking?

April 24, 2010 by  
Filed under How To Articles

Carrying water on a hike.

Carrying water on a hike.

Hydration is one of the most important, yet often overlooked, elements of a successful outdoor adventure.  Whether it is an easy hike or a strenuous activity, staying hydrated can be the difference between having a fun vs. miserable experience.

Who needs to hydrate?  This is simple; everyone needs to hydrate when participating in outdoor activities.    Most everyone remembers to bring along water on a hot day, but you need to hydrate even on very cold days.  Whether your activity is low intensity or high intensity, short or long, you need to drink water and stay hydrated.

How much should I drink?   There are many suggestions and recommendations on water intake, one being 1 liter per hour of activity.    But it is really not that simple.  Keep in mind the altitude, temperature and your level of activity, any or all of these factors may require more water intake than normal.  Listen to your body and drink before you are thirsty.

How to stay hydrated?   Basically there are two ways to stay hydrated, either with a water bottle or a hydration pack.   Which system you choose is really up to you and your needs, often coming down to personal preference.  Bottle systems can be more cumbersome and less convenient.  Hydration packs are easy to use, flexible and convenient.

I use both systems, depending on what I am doing.

Hydration packs make getting water easier and I find I drink more water when using my hydration pack versus when I carry water bottles.   A great reason to choose a hydration pack!

Hydration packs can be used for many outdoor activities including trail running, cycling, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, climbing, snowboarding and skiing.   They come in a variety of sizes and offer an easy and convenient way to carry water and gear.  When considering a hydration pack for day hikes or backpacking trips you have a choice of backpacks with hydration systems included or packs that have a pouch for your hydration reservoir.   The biggest pro to the hydration pack is the ease of getting water, did I mention you will drink more water with a hydration pack over carrying water bottles.

Hydration packs are great but I find  they have a few drawbacks.  For me, they are hot.  I tend to perspire a lot during exercise and having something on my back just makes it worse.  I have chosen to use a waist belt hydration pack.  This works great for activities lasting between 1-2 hrs at moderate to high intensity where I do not need to carry much, if any, gear.   Hydration packs are a bit more cumbersome to clean than traditional water bottles.  Cost can also be a factor.   I also find I have freezing issues when using my hydration pack in cold weather.  There are some accessories out there that can help with this but I live in Alaska, temperatures can get very cold, and I haven’t found a great fix for this issue.  I often look to traditional water bottles to stay hydrated during winter activities.

I still like traditional water bottles when riding my bike, whether on the street or mountain biking.  I use bottles simply because I do not like having a pack on my back while biking, it’s too hot.  I generally do not need to carry much gear when biking; I have a small pouch on my bike that holds keys, phone and snacks.   If you need to bring much gear with you a hydration pack may be a better option.  I also like to use bottles when kayaking.   Bottles are still my choice when on a backpacking trip; they are easy to fill when you have to filter your water.

Both systems will keep you hydrated.  Choice often comes down to individual needs and preferences.

Drink up!

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One Response to “How to carry water while hiking?”
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