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  1. #1
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    Default How to carry water

    In another thread (UL Road Blocks), there was some discussion about the difference between carrying water in your stomoch (i.e. cameling-up) and carrying water in a bottle (presumably in your pack). It has been claimed that one advantage of a filter (which allows you to drink water immediately) is that you can camel-up at a water source and thus not have to carry as much water. Those who use chemical treatments will have to carry their water for the time it takes for the chemicals to work before they can drink the water. It was suggested that carrying water in your stomach is still carrying water and this does not represent an advantage that filters have over chemical treatments.

    I would suggest that the way in which things are carried has a great deal to do with the energy exerted and is a topic that is under appreciated by those wishing to lighten their load, where the discussion mostly focuses on counting weight. There is no doubt that carrying more weight up hill takes more work (Work = mass x acceleration of gravity x vertical distance). But walking is a very complicated process. Much of the energy consumed is not just to lift mass against the force of gravity but also to move forward, and how you carry loads does make a difference.

    Biometric studies have found that African women can carry loads of water equal to 20% of their body weight on their heads across level ground without burning any more calories than walking walking with no load. This was not true for people carrying the same load on their backs or by hand (in buckets). The secret is that having the load centered over your spine does not disrupt the walking mechanics. In fact, it even improves the efficiency so the energy saved through increased efficiency offsets the extra energy needed to carry the load (up to the 20% point).

    http://discovermagazine.com/1995/aug/noskycapsneeded554

    Extrapolating from this study, it would be reasonable to expect that carrying a kilogram (liter) of water in your stomach would be easier than carrying a kg of water in your pack, as it will be centered over you center of mass. On the other hand, one might also find that carrying a kg of water in front of you (say on a shoulder strap holster) might act as a counter balance for your pack on your back and make you pack easier to carry (fewer calories burned). So carrying more weight may actually "lighten your load". I don't have any data to prove that last suggestion, but it is something to think about. Maybe I will ask some of my friends in our University's Movement Science Department to look into it. They have the tools.

  2. #2

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    The other advantage is that if you stretch it and your next water source turns out to be further than you thought or it was hotter than you anticipated and you need water NOW. AM you need to wait regardless of the situation. with a filter you get water immediately. you don't use your tent for more than 8hrs either but that is still worth the weight. i'll keep my 4-6oz filter.

    when you "camel up" ( and i don't just mean chug a whole liter.. it could be a few swigs then top off your bottle) your body is using that water. your blood needs water to move efficiently, your kidneys need water to filter waste properly(both of these are why you get a Saline IV when you are dehydrated), you need water to sweat and cool your body, etc. Failure to keep your body functioning correctly will have a reduction in performance. It seems pretty silly to have a light pack but be moving slow and feeling like crap because you are dehydrated.

  3. #3

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    I have the ability to carry 2 quarts of water. I usually carry only one. I think I actually treated water (household bleach) half a dozen times in 5 1/2 months. I alway camel up when refilling my water. You will piss out what your body doesn't need.

  4. #4

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    with my usual set up i have the 'ability' to carry 4L (2x 1L smart water, 1.5L evernew, .5L sawyer bag) but will usually carry 1-1.5 max but having storage is nice at camp to only take one trip to the water source, especially if it is a bit further away.

  5. #5
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    There comes a time in every thru hikers journey where they either try, or at least seriously think about carrying their entire pack on their head.
    The trouble I have with campfires are the folks that carry a bottle in one hand and a Bible in the other.
    You never know which one is talking.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by WingedMonkey View Post
    There comes a time in every thru hikers journey where they either try, or at least seriously think about carrying their entire pack on their head.
    Not "everyone".

    And I say that with 100% certainty.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post

    Extrapolating from this study, it would be reasonable to expect that carrying a kilogram (liter) of water in your stomach would be easier than carrying a kg of water in your pack, as it will be centered over you center of mass.
    Absolutely. Don't need a study to tell me that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post

    So carrying more weight may actually "lighten your load".
    Thats also true. A properly fitted external can carry 30 pounds more efficently than a frameless internal. The challenge is to not take advantage of this efficency and carry 40 pounds instead.

  8. #8
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    You can also make yourself quite ill drinking too much. Liquifying yourself, causing salts to be depleted can add strain to the heart and mess up the electrolyte balance.







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  9. #9

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    Which would take a lot of water to do in a hiking environment with the usual hiker diet. Drinking 1L of water over 5+ miles is not going to get into that range, if you drink a bit at the source or not. i also add gatorade or other mix to my bottles for electrolytes and flavoring.

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    Say you're climbing 200 M/hour. 1 Kg water would cost 200 Joules in energy. What would the energy savings be having that Kg in your gut, rather than in your pack? I would guess that the difference in energy for different carrying methods would be trivial in comparison. Somebody have actual data out there?
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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    I don't have the precise formula handy, but basically it proves that it is possible to overthink some things.

  12. #12
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    Default Water management

    I find water and food management is a great skill to be learnt on the AT, to state the obvious they are both heavy. I look avidly at the maps for water sources up ahead. If possible I now carry half a litre on a shoulder strap bottle and half a litre in the pack for emergencies. Often I drink my shoulder strap bottle at the next water source and then refill it. For me no great need for lots of water. I treat 2 or 3 litres in camp to evening meal and breakfast. I also drink half a litre of water before I set off in a morning.

  13. #13
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    While most of us "camel UP" at times, my understanding is that this is a very inefficient way to hydrate yourself. The body will only absorb and utilize a given amount of water in a given time frame. Something like 8 oz per 20 minutes. Any excess is just passed on through urine. This is beneficial to make sure your urinary system stays flushed out, but is of limited value in hydrating your body. This is why most experts subscribe to the theory (proven fact?) that hydration systems that allow you to sip water more frequently do the best job at maintaining optimal hydration.

    All that said, I do tend to "camel up" when good water is readily available, especially if hiking through a relatively dry area. This is probably more psychological than physically beneficial.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post
    In another thread (UL Road Blocks), there was some discussion about the difference between carrying water in your stomoch (i.e. cameling-up) and carrying water in a bottle (presumably in your pack). It has been claimed that one advantage of a filter (which allows you to drink water immediately) is that you can camel-up at a water source and thus not have to carry as much water. Those who use chemical treatments will have to carry their water for the time it takes for the chemicals to work before they can drink the water. It was suggested that carrying water in your stomach is still carrying water and this does not represent an advantage that filters have over chemical treatments.

    I would suggest that the way in which things are carried has a great deal to do with the energy exerted and is a topic that is under appreciated by those wishing to lighten their load, where the discussion mostly focuses on counting weight. There is no doubt that carrying more weight up hill takes more work (Work = mass x acceleration of gravity x vertical distance). But walking is a very complicated process. Much of the energy consumed is not just to lift mass against the force of gravity but also to move forward, and how you carry loads does make a difference.

    Biometric studies have found that African women can carry loads of water equal to 20% of their body weight on their heads across level ground without burning any more calories than walking walking with no load. This was not true for people carrying the same load on their backs or by hand (in buckets). The secret is that having the load centered over your spine does not disrupt the walking mechanics. In fact, it even improves the efficiency so the energy saved through increased efficiency offsets the extra energy needed to carry the load (up to the 20% point).

    http://discovermagazine.com/1995/aug/noskycapsneeded554

    Extrapolating from this study, it would be reasonable to expect that carrying a kilogram (liter) of water in your stomach would be easier than carrying a kg of water in your pack, as it will be centered over you center of mass. On the other hand, one might also find that carrying a kg of water in front of you (say on a shoulder strap holster) might act as a counter balance for your pack on your back and make you pack easier to carry (fewer calories burned). So carrying more weight may actually "lighten your load". I don't have any data to prove that last suggestion, but it is something to think about. Maybe I will ask some of my friends in our University's Movement Science Department to look into it. They have the tools.
    sounds like a buncha mumbo jumbo B S to me. don't need no stinkin' study on carryin' water for crissakes

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyle View Post
    While most of us "camel UP" at times, my understanding is that this is a very inefficient way to hydrate yourself. The body will only absorb and utilize a given amount of water in a given time frame. Something like 8 oz per 20 minutes. Any excess is just passed on through urine. This is beneficial to make sure your urinary system stays flushed out, but is of limited value in hydrating your body. This is why most experts subscribe to the theory (proven fact?) that hydration systems that allow you to sip water more frequently do the best job at maintaining optimal hydration.

    All that said, I do tend to "camel up" when good water is readily available, especially if hiking through a relatively dry area. This is probably more psychological than physically beneficial.
    i guess i should find a different term for my version of "cameling up" I mostly just take care of any thirst and hydration needs I have for then and for the next bit down the trail.. i never just blast a whole liter or something like that. I mostly just aim to show up at the next source with empty bottles to be filled up enough to make it to the next one.

  16. #16
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    I carry water in plastic Gatoraide or Poweraide bottles........

  17. #17
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket Jones View Post
    I don't have the precise formula handy, but basically it proves that it is possible to overthink some things.
    I was working on that one, too! However, the possiblity of importing African women as porters is intriguing, though I note the study was done on level ground... not much of that on the AT.

  18. #18

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    I wonder if OSHA would make 'em wear tops?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by WingedMonkey View Post
    There comes a time in every thru hikers journey where they either try, or at least seriously think about carrying their entire pack on their head.
    In the old Boy Scout manual published back in the 1950's, that was taught as a way to relieve weight off the shoulders. The pack stayed on the back but a line running from under the pack to the forehead was used. If I remember correctly, it was called a tumpline.


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  20. #20

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    They do that in Nepal (and other places). I'm sure it takes a bit of training to get your neck to be accustomed to that type of loading though.
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