How much water to take on a day hike?

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nonot
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How much water to take on a day hike?

Post by nonot » Nov 14 2006 10:06 pm

How much water would you recommend someone take with them for a 6-10 hour hike?

I've been lugging about two gallons with me whenever I head out for the day.

Would you consider this overkill? About right? Not enough?

I know it will probably depend on the terrain and heat. Keep in mind I'm not an Arizona native and still adjusting to the weather here and the desert conditions.

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Re: How much water to take on a day hike?

Post by big_load » Nov 14 2006 10:16 pm

In response to nonot's reply:

Two gallons sounds like a lot for this time of year. How much do you normally have left? Are you hiking in lightly-travelled areas?

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Post by nonot » Nov 14 2006 10:45 pm

My last trip I had 3 liters left when I finished, so I'm not using it all. On 3 of my 4 hikes I'm pretty sure that I was the only one on the trail that day.

I guess I'm being a little careful on the off chance I break a leg or something and get stuck overnight.

I'm wondering how much I'll have to plan to bring if I try it during the summer :?

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Re: How much water to take on a day hike?

Post by Al_HikesAZ » Nov 14 2006 11:18 pm

nonot wrote:How much water would you recommend someone take with them for a 6-10 hour hike?

I know it will probably depend on the terrain and heat.
It definitely depends on terrain & heat. Fritzski has a great article on Hydration at http://hikearizona.com/article.php?ID=7&O=0 He is right on the mark with with the discussion of "time, difficulty and distance. " :!:

I figure it a little differently from Fritzski. This is how I look at it for myself, only experience will give you the benchmarks that you need for yourself.

At this time of year with cooler temperatures, I figure 1/2 liter/quart per hour. Then I look at the terrain to figure out my "moving" hours. If there is a lot of Accumulated Elevation Gain, I personally might average 1.5 to 2 mph. If it is a flat hike, I might average 2.5 to 3.5 mph. So a 6 mile hike could be anywhere from 2 to 4 hours and I would carry anywhere from 2 to 3 liters/quarts. This gives me the water I need and a safety factor. A 10 mile hike could be anywhere from 3 to 6 hours and I would carry 2 to 5 liters/quarts. Again, the math doesn't quite work because this is the water I need and a safety factor. I will sometimes cache water on a hike. I rarely carry a water filter on a dayhike.

In the summer, I figure 1 liter/quart per hour and I carry 1 liter/quart of Electrolytes for every 3 liters/quarts of water. I also figure that I will/should hike anywhere from 1/10th to 1/3rd slower to conserve energy. So a 6 mile hike could be anywhere from 3 to 7 liters/quarts. A 10 mile hike could be anywhere from 5 to 8 liters/quarts. The math doesn't quite work because I find that I really can't hike much more than 5-6 hours in the summer above 100degrees - I simply can't replace the electrolytes/salts as quickly as I lose them. So summer hikes for me need to start early and end before the heat. Starting at dusk and going into the night is not my cup of tea. Too many crawling critters out and about.

In the summer, I might add ice cubes to my hydration bladder, but I learned not to freeze it. It did not thaw out as quickly as I needed the fluid. In the summer I will also use tricks with wet bandanas - under my hat and over my mouth - to reduce evaporation and reduce the need for water.

Just my 2cents. Hope it helps. Hope you get input from others. Ultimately you just have to find benchmarks that work for you. At 2lbs per liter/quart you want to carry what you need but not carry more than you need unless you are carrying extra weight for training purposes.
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Post by azbackpackr » Nov 15 2006 5:29 am

That was an excellent "2 cents worth!"

I live in the mountains, and I cross country ski in the winter and also I do some pretty cold hikes. I have to remind myself to drink the water I bring, usually only a large camelbak bladder for a dayhike in winter. I also had to learn to keep the tube down inside my pack, or it will freeze, even with the neoprene covering!

Anyway, I am one of those people who doesn't often feel thirsty. So I used to get dehydrated easily. Experience has taught me to drink more whether I feel thirsty or not. The camelbak has been pretty good for me because I keep sipping, if I remember to, that is!

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Re: How much water to take on a day hike?

Post by PaleoRob » Jan 04 2011 6:49 pm

Love the Camelbak - sip sip sip all the time. Most times I'll have at least 3 liters with me. If I don't need it, then oh well. Summer I'll bring more, but generally 3L is my minimum load-out.
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Re: How much water to take on a day hike?

Post by kevinweitzel75 » Jan 04 2011 9:04 pm

I can't get used to the weird taste from any bladders. So I quit using them. I usually bring up about 2 - 3 liters on a day hike. I usualy dont drink that much, but its nice to have it. Sometimes I sneak an Ale in my pack. :D
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Re: How much water to take on a day hike?

Post by Tough_Boots » Jan 05 2011 1:56 am

If I'm doing a full day, I usually pack a lot of water. I have a 3 liter bladder and usually also have a bottle of gatorade. That's usually plenty. I have, though, gotten into the habit of carrying an extra 1.5 liter bottle of water just in case. A couple months ago, I took a snack break and didn't realize until it was too late that I had forgotten to flip off the mouth piece of my bladder and set my pack right on top of it. I lost every drop of water I had and was 8 miles from the TH :o . Luckily, my hiking partner had just enough to get us both back.
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Re: How much water to take on a day hike?

Post by azbackpackr » Jan 05 2011 5:13 am

That is the problem with those bladders, they can leak in numerous ways. I use them anyway.
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Re: How much water to take on a day hike?

Post by big_load » Jan 05 2011 10:11 am

My most common amount is 3L, but I'll take as much as 5 in hot weather. I keep 2-3 gallons in the car, too.

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Re: How much water to take on a day hike?

Post by PLC92084 » Jan 05 2011 10:21 am

Ditto big_load... When it's hot, I'll easily power through 5L over the course of a day. I'll either use a 2L or 4L bladder (filling the 4L according to anticipated need) and then carry a 1L bottle (as reserve or in case there's a malfunction with the bladder...). I always have water waiting in the vehicle too.

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Re: How much water to take on a day hike?

Post by imike » Jan 05 2011 10:36 am

5 liters in hot weather... and if I'm out where there is a danger of not getting back or to an additional water source, 2 gallons. Winter hiking: 3 liters and if it's a longer day, a couple of 16oz energy drinks. After a big effort I'll also drink well over a gallon over the two hours after the hike...
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Re: How much water to take on a day hike?

Post by paulhubbard » Jan 05 2011 10:48 am

It depends on the length of the hike. For a 5 miler this time of year I'm fine with 1-2 liters. Summertime or longer hikes of course require more.
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Re: How much water to take on a day hike?

Post by CannondaleKid » Jan 05 2011 11:51 am

I seem to be like a camel... drinking way less than most people hiking with me. Of course using a CamelBak that should make some sense, huh? :-s

But seriously, I think these factors help me go farther:
1. I stay fully hydrated every day whether hiking or not
2. I eat more the night before and very lightly in the morning... (digesting a heavy breakfast uses up a lot of fluid)
3. I stay away from alcohol/coffee/diuretics the night before and the day of a hike (my natural internal alarm clock beats coffee)
4. I drink fluid the normal amount of fluids (see #1 above) before leaving home, then drink maybe 6-8 oz just before hitting the trail
5. Simple sugars or not Gatorade is my staple, thinned ~10% with ice cubes in the CamelBak in hot weather, tap water in cool.
6. I always have plenty of fluids and food in the car
X. I have numerous caches in strategic locations so if I end up in dire straights I have an emergency supply.
(So far I haven't needed any and so far nothing/nobody has touched them... yes, I check often enough)

With that in mind, no matter how much I take I seem to return with plenty of cushion left over. As often as not, I end up with more than half left so I've been gradually cutting back on what I begin with. Even then I don't find myself needing to drink excessively upon returning from a hike.

By consistently following the steps above, it's been over 6 years since I ran out more than a mile from the car. Although a warm day in the Supes topping out at 96° I logged 20 miles in 9 hours on 190 oz of Gatorade, running out 2 miles from Peralta TH on the Dutchman. I wasn't too concerned as that stretch was easy enough and I had plenty to drink in a cooler in the car.

In the end, it's use your own experience, beginners erring on the high side until you find your happy medium.
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Re: How much water to take on a day hike?

Post by azbackpackr » Jan 05 2011 1:00 pm

I hiked the entire Dutchman Trail, around 18 miles give or take, this past Sunday. It was quite a cool day. I took over 100 oz's of water, and did not drink it all. On a warmer day I would have brought more water than that, though.

I like caffeine and won't be giving it up any time soon.
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Re: How much water to take on a day hike?

Post by PatrickL » Jan 06 2011 10:12 pm

3 liters of fluids is generally my minimum, though I seldom drink it all. Longer distances and warmer temps typically call for about a gallon.

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Re: How much water to take on a day hike?

Post by hikerdw » Jan 07 2011 11:38 am

4-5L in the summer and 2.5-3L in the winter seems to work for me. I also carry extra in the car for the drive home.

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