View Full Version : water-weight

09-25-2008, 23:51

09-26-2008, 02:30
It obviously depends on what the temperature is and where you're hiking, and how far apart the water sources are, but you shouldn't really need to carry much more than a litre between any given water source, on average. Just drink a full litre at the water source, and then carry a litre to carry you through to the next source. I don't ever like to carry more than two litres, and on the AT you should never have to carry more than that. Save that for desert hiking.

So, a pint of water is one pound. A quart is two pounds. A litre is 2.2 pounds (1 kg). A gallon is 8 lbs. The most water I ever carried was 8 litres (over 16 lbs!) but that was for a 30-mile stretch in the 100-degree desert. Believe me, that water weight dwindled rapidly.


09-26-2008, 07:32

09-26-2008, 09:49

It depends upon:

1) Your own weight and pack weight.

2) Your willingness to drink a lot of water at a water source.

3) The temperature.

4) The elevation you will be traversing (that is, the amount of work you will be doing-- going uphill takes a lot more than going downhill).

5) A few other miscellaneous variables.

I will sometimes carry as much as three liters, but I am large and like to drink a lot of water while I am hiking, rather than cameling up at the source. If you are drinking it steadily, you won't be carrying that weight for long.

The short answer is that usually you can make do on 32 ounces, but for certain situations, you should make sure you have the capacity to carry twice that, at least, especially if you might make a dry camp at night, and need to get to a water source the next morning.

max patch
09-26-2008, 09:55
I started out with one (32 oz) water bottle; it wasn't enough so I added a second one in Damascus.

I would start out with two water bottles; in a drought year you may find yourself carrying extra gatorade bottles. You'll figure that out on the trail.

09-26-2008, 09:59
I am a big guy, on average I drink about 48 oz per ten miles. But for most people that's way too much, really depends on your personal consumption while physically active.

I thought a gallon weighed 5 lbs?

09-26-2008, 10:00
I was wrong.

Short answer: A US gallon of fresh water at 4 degrees C weighs 8.34 pounds. An imperial gallon at 62deg F (old UK system) weighs 10 pounds.

Thanks Wikipedia

09-26-2008, 10:02
U.S. gallon is 8 pounds. British gallon is 10 pounds. They have heavier water over there.

09-26-2008, 10:14
I like two water bottles, one on each side, but I agree that only 1 litre between stops is neccessary most of the time. So sometimes I use the other to hold a few berries I pick along the way. Trail mix is another idea, but I don't really eat as I walk and I like to fill up both now and then, like before stop for a meal or for the night. Also, I like to carry them in front rather than reach around, which is always too dang awkward, but I haven't found a lasting system for carrying them in front. Two smaller bottles is another idea, with some larger container or two for making camp, but that starts to get complicated. I have also tried to find a way to use the same container for carrying water that I do for boiling it and carrying it while boiling hot, which means metal, but wide mouthed enough for oatmeal and soup and melting snow and cleaning while still being leak proof enough for hot water bottles. This too gets complicated. Wineskins are nice in winter for wearing under your sweater, but again I am iffy about the plastic liners and hot water so forth. Long story short haven't found the perfect system yet.

I think the answer is to hike more often and let your system evolve more naturally.

09-26-2008, 13:37
I took a 3 liter platy which sufficed for my needs. And a Coke bottle to mix drinks which is nice as water gets real boring, esp at camp.

09-26-2008, 15:11
U.S. gallon is 8 pounds. British gallon is 10 pounds. They have heavier water over there.

I think the difference is in the exchange rate. They have EuroWater

09-26-2008, 22:11
I took a 3 liter platy which sufficed for my needs. And a Coke bottle to mix drinks which is nice as water gets real boring, esp at camp.

Well, you'd best buy a spare 'cause they don't make 3L Platys anymore. It is a shame 'cause they fit perfectly behind a GG Vapor Trails framesheet.

09-27-2008, 13:20
I average about a liter every 2.5 hours, or about 7 miles, over moderate terrain under a forest canopy carrying less than 30 pounds at temperatures between 55 and 65 degrees. I'm a fit, 51 yo, 5' 9" male weighing 175 pounds.

Change any of these variables significantly and you'll alter your desire for water. "Cameling up" at the water source can delay reaching this rate of consumption for an hour or two.

You may find that you need more water over tougher terrain, if you're carrying more weight, if the temperature and humidity are higher, if you're in direct sunlight, or if you're just a bigger person.

You may find you need less water on a smoother trail, on a cool overcast day, and if you're less fit (surprisingly).

I tend to treat 2 liters of water at the source, but I don't typically camel-up as much as I could. I hate to stop and find water all the time, plus I ran out of water on a hot, humid summer day many years ago and do not want to repeat that experience.

In a drought, ask hikers going in the other direction for info on water sources. I'm going to try to cover the Damascus to Erwin section in late October and am prepared to carry enough water to cover 20 miles as many sources are dry in a drought year (and October is historically the driest month of the year). That's one of the few drawbacks of hiking in Autumn.