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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hydration: Diminishing the Weight from Water that You Carry

The more weight that you can eliminate from your backpack, the more comfortable you will be while you are hiking the trails.

So, where do you cut? From your food? From your clothes? From your water? From all of these categories and more. And yes, even from your water, hopefully.

But, this doesn’t mean to skimp on water. Water ranks right up at the top of the list of important things to bring on your backpacking trip. Water is essential for hydration; and proper hydration is essential to keep your body functioning efficiently and to keep you healthy.


So, when you are considering cutting down the weight that water adds to your backpack, do some careful calculations.

You will need a minimum of 3 quarts of water for each day on the trail. This calculation assumes that you will find water to replenish your supply along the way. So this is a minimum under all conditions.

Plan on taking or finding a little more than 1 quart for every two hours of hiking.

Here are some further considerations to take into account in your calculations:

1. In what season are you planning to hike? At the end of the summer after the snows have melted completely, your chances of finding water along the way are diminished.

2. How hot is it likely to be during the day? Of course, the hotter you expect it to be, the more water you will need to add to your supply.

3. In what climate are you planning to hike? If you are hiking in a desert climate, your chances of finding water along the way are much less than in other climates.

4. How strenuous will your hike be? Will you be gaining a lot of altitude in a short amount of time? Are there other factors that will make your hike more strenuous than normal? The answers to these questions must be factored into your calculations. You will need more water if your hike will likely be more strenuous than usual.

5. How far do you plan to go during the day? Make sure you calculate the miles, your average hiking speed and the number of hours that you will be on the trail before you turn in for the night. Remember that you will need around 1 quart of water for every 2 hours of hiking.


So, how do you know where you will find water?

Consult your topo map before you start your hike and mark all river and stream crossings. Then, give a call to the ranger station or other authority to ask about water availability along your route. If you have been on the trail for a while, ask other hikers that you pass along the way about the availability of water up ahead of you.

Make sure you have with you a good water filter and/or water treatment chemicals.

by Richard Davidian, Ph.D.


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