How to Ensure the Safety of Drinking Water When Hiking?

Well-hydrated also means well-explored expedition.

Embarking on a thrilling hike through picturesque landscapes is a dream for adventurers, but the journey comes with its share of challenges—chief among them staying hydrated. As the sun’s rays beat down and the trail winds on, the body sweats profusely, draining vital fluids needed to keep going.

Natural water sources in remote terrains are sparse, and lugging heavy gear intensifies the struggle. Yet, quenching our thirst becomes an art, a dance between preparation and perseverance. Armed with proper hydration gear and a vigilant spirit, we conquer the hurdles, ensuring that our bodies stay nourished and ready to conquer the wild’s awe-inspiring beauty.

In this blog post, we’ll provide tips on how to purify water from streams or rivers and what to do when there’s not much water with you. Stay safe and hydrated on your next hike!

How much water should you drink when hiking?

It will help if you drink plenty of water when hiking to stay hydrated. Drink at least 2 liters (68 ounces) of water daily, and more if it’s hot or you’re doing a strenuous hike.

But, the amount of water to intake largely depends on the individual’s activity level, environment, and body condition. Make sure to drink before you feel thirsty or weak, and take frequent breaks throughout your hike.

During summer, drinking enough water is essential, as dehydration can seriously impact your health. Remember that when hiking in hot climates, you may need up to 3 liters (101 ounces) of water per day.

But it doesn’t mean you don’t have to hydrate when walking in the winter. Dehydration in winter could be as dangerous s in summer. So, keeping an eye on your water intake and staying hydrated throughout the year is essential.

Dehydration can lead to a wide range of symptoms. These can include tiredness, light-headedness, feeling weak or dizzy, headaches, and nausea.

The severe impacts of drinking contaminated water during a hike

It’s essential to get your water from safe sources. If you drink contaminated water, you can suffer from stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea – all of which can be dangerous for hikers in remote areas. Thus you should avoid drinking potentially contaminated water.

It’s very typical to drink water from streams when it’s clear. Yet, it would help if you still took precautions when drinking water from streams or rivers. Even the most seemingly pure water may contain parasites, bacteria, or other contaminants.

Especially when hiking, your access to healthcare services is limited. So, it is critical to ensure you’re drinking clean water during your hike to avoid potential risks of sickness or infection. I you’re traveling alone, an illness can be hazardous and even life-threatening.

Bring your water bottle.

Of course, filling up your reusable water bottle is the easiest way to ensure your drinking water is safe and clean. It’s always best to bring along a bottle you can easily refill when necessary.

When choosing the water bottle for your next hike, you must consider a few essential facts.

The first is the weight, of course. Make sure to select a water bottle that’s light enough for the duration of your hike.

The second is durability – pick a bottle that won’t break easily during your walk. And lastly, make sure it has an airtight seal and doesn’t leak. You don’t want to ruin your experience because your water bottle surprised you with nothing in it.

Here are some suggestions,

Nalgene Sustain Tritan

$14.49

Made from 50% recycled plastic waste. Bestseller for 30+ years, suitable for hot/cold drinks, and BPA-free.

  • Eco-friendly
  • Trusted by users for decades
  • BPA free

The value-for-money option is the Nalgene 16 OZ, Wide Mouth. It costs only $13. You might think it’s not eco-friendly as it’s made of plastic. But actually, 50% of it comes from plastic waste. So, you’re doing a favor to the environment.

Nalgene wide-mouth bottles are lightweight, affordable, and long-lasting. Yet, they provide minimal insulation.

Hydro Flask Standard Mouth

$28.78

Keep your drinks icy cold for 24 hours or steaming hot for 12. Durable stainless steel with a leakproof design.

  • TempShield Insulation
  • Leakproof Flex Cap and Easy Transportation
  • 18/8 Pro-Grade Stainless Steel Construction

For the best insulation, you must choose the Hydroflask flex cap bottles. They are a bit more pricy than plastic ones. But the extra price is worth paying. The standard mouth is quite handy to carry and costs only US$ 25. But it’s a bit hard to clean them. The wide-mouth one costs around US$33 and is easy to clean.

On the other hand, these options are bulkier and harder to pack.

Platypus Platy 2-Liter Flexible

$18.95

Stay hydrated on the go with its portable design and premium materials

  • Collapsible and Ultralight
  • High-Quality and Safe Materials
  • Versatile and Compatible
Amazon

If you’re looking for a more foldable, lite-as-feather option, there are Platypus Platy Flexible Water Bottles. They are also the cheapest. The 2L bottle costs only US$ 11. The only drawback is that you need both hands to hold the bottle while drinking. If not, there’s a high chance that the flexible option would spill.

Hints that the water is maybe suitable for drinking.

If the water seems dirty, you won’t drink in it. But when the water source is clear, you are tempted to drink it. But that can still harm you dangerously. Here are some techniques to see if the water is drinkable.

  1. Check the water’s smell and taste: If it has an unusual smell or taste, avoid drinking it. Pure water is odorless and tasteless.
  2. Look at the color of the water: Even though it is clear, you can pour a few drops into a transparent container and carefully examine its color and any floating particles. If the water looks murky, don’t risk it!
  3. Bubbles in the water stream should disappear soon: If they linger, they may signify bacterial contaminants or pollutants.

These techniques by no means ensure 100% safety of the natural water. Thus it would help if you purified it before you drink.

How to purify water from natural sources for emergency

If you find yourself in an emergency and don’t have access to clean drinking water, there are methods of purifying the water.

Boil the water

Boiling is one of the best ways to purify water. Most bacteria in the water can’t survive high temperatures, so you can ensure your water is safe to drink by boiling it for several minutes.

It would be even more efficient to collect the vapor steam and drink it. It’s called water distillation. When done correctly, distillation can eliminate debris and other harmful particles, not just germs. But during a hike, it’s very difficult to do it.

But boiling may not be an option in many cases. If you’re on a day hike, you don’t have enough time to stay in one place, make a fire, and boil it. Also, if you can’t make a fire due to bad weather, you have problems.

Carry water purification tablets.

Thanks to technology, you no longer depend only on fire.

Katadyn Micropur MP1 Purification Tablets

$13.13

100% Synthetic tablet. Made in the USA, it ensures quality, durability, and fast results in all conditions.

  • Effective Water Purification
  • Quick and Versatile Usage

Purification Tablets, such as the Katadyn Micropur MP1, take up almost no space yet do a great favor of hydrating you when needed. They don’t break; they don’t fail like other techniques. It even kills viruses and makes the water safer than your regular cleaner in your kitchen.

The biggest plus for purification tablets is their size and weight. An entire card of 20 counts weighs only about 0.05 pounds. Also, they fit nicely in any pocket.

Also, they are very affordable, and the Katadyn Micropur MP1 Purification Tablets (20 counts) pack costs only around US$ 9.

The drawback, you need to wait four hours for the tablets to take effect. Further, the tablet doesn’t filter out debris. Tablets are not reusable. Thus it would help if you kept buying them whenever you go hiking.

Bring with you a purifier filter.

There are many instant filters you can find on the market. I feel comfortable with the Platypus GravityWorks Group Camping Water Filter System and the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System.

Platypus Water Filter System

$13.13

100% Synthetic tablet. Made in the USA, it ensures quality, durability, and fast results in all conditions.

  • High-Capacity Gravity-Fed System
  • Convenient and Quick Operation
  • Meets all EPA/NSF guidelines

The GravityWorks filter is a heavier option. As its name suggests, traveling in groups and camps is ideal. Also, it’s a bit costlier option than the other ones. The 6-liter one costs around US$101. But if you’re traveling with enough water and don’t anticipate many challenges, a 4-liter one should suffice. They cost around US$89.


Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System

$29.08

Comfortably clean water by just squeezing or letting gravity do its job.

  • Lightweight and Portable
  • 0.1 Micron Absolute Inline Filter 
  • Built-In And Removable Flip Top Sports Cap

The Sawyer filter is excellent when you’re traveling in small packs. They are lightweight, cheap solutions and don’t take much time to purify water. You can drink almost immediately.

What to do when there’s not much water with you?

There are times when there’s no water even to purify and drink. What would you do if stuck in a critical situation without water?

Here are some tips to prevent dehydration when you don’t have water.

First, try to travel in the shade. Avoid direct sunlight as much as possible. Wear appropriate clothes and hats to prevent your body from losing moisture.

Second, try to collect water from unusual places. You can collect water from leaves if you’re close to a tree. Some plants also store water in their stems and roots – so if you’re close to such plants, don’t forget to check them.

Third, try not to move around too much and conserve energy. If you’re on a multi-day backpacking trip, try sleeping as much as possible during the day when there is no sun. If you’re traveling with someone, take turns watching for any signs of water or help.

Finally, don’t forget to stay positive and hope for the best. Keeping your morale up is essential even if you feel down and dehydrated. Soon you’ll find some way out!

Final thought

It’s essential to stay hydrated and know some tips on purifying the water while on the trail. With these tips, you can feel more confident while out in nature!

Nevertheless, don’t forget to check with the local authorities before heading out, and never venture into the wild without any knowledge or experience of surviving alone in difficult situations. You’re not in a reality show!

Preparedness is key to a successful and safe trip. So be prepared! Good luck, and have fun!

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