Thursday, April 20, 2017

Let's talk about carrying water!

Packs with hydration bladders have been the standard for several years now. Hikers, backpackers, bikers, walkers, trail workers, even warfighters wear them on their packs to hydrate while engaged in some activity. Many people still carry bottles of water or a canteen, but by far, I see hydration bladders being used nowadays.

Hydration bladders are a great and useful hiking tool. They allow you to sip water while moving and not have to remove your pack to access a canteen or water bottle. But, there is a downside. They can be punctured. You could slide off the side of a trail or trip and take a mechanical fall, rupture your hydration bladder, and lose some or all of your drinking water.

But I am going to argue that I believe that having an old fashioned hard canteen is a good idea to carry a reserve of water in a container; one that is not likely to rupture in a fall, such as a stainless steel bottle or canteen.

As well, a metal canteen [single walled] can be used to achieve a boil and disinfect water you gather from questionable sources, such as streams. You can chemically treat your water in a canteen and then transfer it to the bladder, and then gather more water and add tablets to treat it as you hike.
Nalgene [plastic] bottles are fine, but you can't easily do a boil in one, although I have seen people boil water in plastic bottles. A sunlight U.V. disinfectant treatment is a possibility with a clear bottle I suppose.

Carrying a small bottle that you can add flavored drink mixes too is handy and doesn't contaminate your entire drinking water supply, if you want plain water later, such as for cooking. I like the military Pilot's Flask, a 1-pint plastic kidney shaped bottle. It easily fits into a pants back pocket or cargo leg pocket. HAWAIIAN PUNCH low sugar mixes are handy for making crappy tasting water more palatable.

It's not a bad idea to carry a GAW [Give Away] bottle, in case you come across someone on the trail who has run out of water and is desperate for water [which I have encountered]. It also gives you yet another backup source of water, just in case you burn through yours faster than anticipated.  We never know on a particular day, how weather may change and our body's need for water may change as well.

Finally, assuming you have told someone where you are going and have given them a time to expect you back, you will likely be found within 48-72 hours, IF you have stuck to your hiking plan and searchers have a good idea where to start a search.  In that instance, hydration becomes critical, and if you have no means to treat water and are forced to drink raw water from a stream, it's likely you'll be recovered before any illness onset. As it is, most waterborne illness is temporary and uncomfortable, but not likely fatal.

Just a few thoughts...

Happy Hiking!

[Bushcraft Woods Devil]

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