The Difficulities of Water

Getting a consensus with your hiking partner.

My hiking partner is also my husband of 43 years. That being said, have you ever heard the term opposites attract? Well, we attracted. Larry prides himself as being a regular Jeremiah Johnson. Just strike out, no preparation it’ll be fine. He says he’s drank out of mud holes, creeks, and water run offs all over the woods he grew up in, “never hurt him”. One time he drank from water running down from a bluff then found a hog pen above the bluff. His explanation was, “just so water runs over seven rocks it will be ok. Can you say: “Don’t be that guy”? I drink lots of good clean water and I will admit really too much water. Water is heavy. It is the heaviest necessity we will deal with on the trail. Larry on the other hand, drinks hardly any water. I don’t think that’s good for him even worse if it comes from none treated sources. I’ll have to keep an eye on him. How do we come to an agreement that keeps us both healthy and happy?

Talladega National Forest Water source

Talladega National Forest
Water source


Facts can’t be argued with. We need water for cooking our evening meal and water to drink with it. Water is also a main ingredient to cook our morning breakfast and let’s not forget the coffee or hot chocolate. We need water to wash dishes, wash down our sweaty bodies to sleep more comfortably, and other unforeseen necessities. Lastly, we need ENOUGH water to carry during the next day’s hike. That’s where our discussion (argument) comes in.

Water in the evening….

Our evening meals on the trail in camp will usually consist of Knorr Sides or Ramen noodle meals maybe even Mountain House. Each require 2 cups of water. To wash this 5 star dinner down will require 20 ounces of water for each of us to mix our Hawaiian Punch, lemonade, or Gatorade powders. After dinner is the clean up by washing all food off dishes and utensils. I might could get by with 20 ounces for that. Wouldn’t want germs accumulating, those little buggers can cause all kinds of problems. Add another 20 ounces to wash up at the end of the day. Total water: 96 ounces or almost 3 liters.

Water in the morning….

In the morning a breakfast of oatmeal, grits or other hot cereals will take water. Most will need at least 2/3 cup for each packet. Two packets (1 1/3 cups) for each person (they’re small) or supplement one packet with nuts and granola. We wouldn’t bother with this except… c o f f e e. Two cups of coffee one for each person 16 ounces. Why not boil enough water for both at the same time. Once again clean up 20 ounces (could use dish water from previous night). Total water: 56 ounces. This may not be every day. Pop tarts or other delicacies to go are no water and no cooking options.

Water when hitting the trail…..

At this point we have used a total of 152 ounces of water. Now it’s time to hit the trail. I think I need two 23.7 ounce smart water bottles full and one 20 ounce Powerade full for powder mix. That is a total 67.4 ounces or a smige over 4 pounds added to my pack! Maybe I should drink one before getting on the trail. Larry will carry one 23.7 ounce smart water bottle full and one 20 ounce Powerade bottle full for powder mix. That is total 43.7 ounces or adding 2.7 pounds to his pack! At this point our water total is 263.1 ounces or 7.8 liters of water.

Terrapin Creek

Terrapin Creek

That’s a LOT of water….

Now that we have an idea of how much water, what is the most efficient means of transporting it from source to camp? Water source distances from camp areas varies and can be quite a hike in of its self.  Instead of dragging every bottle we have to the source we decided to get a container to bring water to camp for filtering. Needing, according to my calculations, 7.8 liters of water we chose to get a Sea to Summit folding 10 liter bucket. That should do it! It weighs just 2.8 ounces and holds more than we need. It folds away and has a small pouch that can be clipped onto a belt loop. It pays for its weight in value!


Water problem solved? I hope so!
Any input will be appreciated.
Calculations are subject to change.
Argument settled? It never will be.
That’s just the way it is.

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Comments 4

  • Jeanne Church : Sep 9th

    Hi Brenda–Here’s what worked for us: We each carried two of those tall Smart Water bottles (one liter each) and had one large Sawyer squeeze bag filtering system (plus one smaller bag as a back up if the bigger one failed). We usually filtered our water right at the stream so we wouldn’t have to carry water back up to the shelter. If we needed a lot of water and the stream was a long ways from the shelter, we would filter at the stream and then carry more water up in the Sawyer bag to filter later. We kept things simple and light by only cooking once a day and not carrying any powdered drinks–not even coffee or tea. We also ate our Ramen/Knorr meals out of a ZipLoc bag which eliminated the need for washing any dishes. The only thing we needed to wash off was the one spoon that we shared! The Ziploc bag of food would sit inside a small plastic container that we had wrapped with a small piece of lightweight insulating material to hold in the heat. After we poured the hot water over the noodles, we would seal the bag and then put the lid on the container for it to ‘cook’. We both ate out of the one container. It worked really, really well.

    • Brenda Whaley : Sep 9th

      Hi Jeanne,
      Thanks for the information! Like I said calculations are subject to change. Larry said to tell you that you two are really pros! Amazing! Hope you don’t mind I’m putting your info in my notes.

  • BunnyHikes : May 3rd

    washing dishes requires a lot of extra energy!
    you have to haul the water (carry more weight), filter the water (more of your energy/time), probably heat the water (using more fuel and time), carry dish soap of some sort (extra weight), and then you have to find a way to dispose of the dish water that will not attract animals (more time and carrying). :-/

    I find a way to add nearly boiling water to food in a baggie, wrap a shirt around it for insulation, and eat it 10 min later. Granted this slightly limits your meals. You need to choose foods that don’t actually “cook” but more or less rehydrate. So instead of boiling (and draining???) spaghetti or noodles, experiment with cous cous and instant noodles or rice. For those occasions you do cook in a pot, once it’s empty, add water and heat slightly, scraping scraping scraping down the sides and bottom into the water …… then drink it. No lie. One last rinse/drink and the pot is as clean as it needs to be until you get to town.

    Looking forward to following you 2!

    • Brenda Whaley : May 3rd

      Hi Bunny,
      We are on the trail now and are doing exactly what you talked about. We found out that water is just not that much of a problem but it is heavy when we have to carry it for a long distance in the case of low water at a piticular area.
      Glad for you to follow!


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