Water Management/Hiking-packing

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Water Management/Hiking-packing

#1

Post by gmcpcs » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:00 am

What are some best ways to manage carrying your water when on a thru hike? How do you deal with running out with limited options to re stock your water on the trail?

I recently went on a trail hike to see if I could do a 30 mile thru hike with the pack. My pack weight was around 13-15 lbs, not counting food and water. (Not a gram checker, but definitely doing the ounces turn to pounds and pounds to pain method) I carried my water in the 1.5 liter smart water bottles, (2) and (2) 1 liter water bottles. I also had a sawyer mini squeeze filter system, that I have used before. So, starting out it was about a gallon and a half, or one day's worth?

My maps showed some streams that I hoped to get water from, but no success. On my second day about lunch time I realized that if I didn't get more water along the trail, it was going to be dry that night for supper. I was out of water by noon, and I ended up bugging out to the highway, and walking back to the car at the trail start. So I did only 1/3 of the trail, or half counting the walk back without the pack to get the car. (Hitchhiking is not a great method to "return to start")

So, hindsight works like 20/20 vision for me, and reflection says I should have cached water along the trail, and/or got more detailed information from the ranger on water availability. I also should have carried the maximum amount I could, as I had a flat gallon bag for collection and filtering. It seems that the sacrifice of water availability to having a lighter pack weight is a skill I have yet to master :shock: So, always carry the maximum you can, and cache water, but what about hiking further out in the boonies? I've done the Pecos Wilderness with my two sons, and I had success following a stream most of the way, and also there was a spring at the top of the mountain we used to stock back all our water for the second day.

FYI, this trail I attempted is the Sacramento Rim Trail, 30 miles that roughly parallels the Sunspot Observatory Highway, south of Cloudcroft, NM. I purposefully planned to have the option to get off the trail at most points that crossed roads, which was a good plan. I may go back another time, and will cache water at access points on the trail to be safe.

This trail is actually a two day fast hike, but I was enjoying the backpack/hammocking slower walking adventure of it all. I had planned 3 nights and 4 days for it. I also could have just soldiered on, but not having water restocking options for the future really freaked me out.

Thoughts?

Take it easy,

GMCPCS


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Re: Water Management/Hiking-packing

#2

Post by Flynguy521 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:13 am

I have not been on any dry hikes where I have had to rely on my sawyer mini, but I have noticed it clogs so easily and it has become such a pain to clean in the field. I just got a MSR Trailshot and first day was able to filter water out of an almost dry creek bed. There was about a 3/4" x 3/4" trickle of flowing water and I was able to filter out of it, something I never could have done with the sawyer mini.

Honestly though, caching water would be my vote. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. Plus that way you KNOW you don't have to haul so much extra weight. You still could if you chose to, but it would not be a necessity.
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Re: Water Management/Hiking-packing

#3

Post by Flynguy521 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:17 am

On a side note, one day I hope to get out to Cloudcroft and explore. Passed through a few years ago and it was beautiful!
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Re: Water Management/Hiking-packing

#4

Post by GregD » Fri Jul 14, 2017 2:00 pm

The last time I packed a bunch of water my legs were hurting by mile 12 and killing me by mile 15 (Lone Star Hiking Trail; flat terrain). My base weight has come down a bit since then, and I was packing more water than I needed, but still, water is HEAVY. The next outing I carried only about 2 quarts max and even after 17 miles my legs were just fine.

If there aren't sufficient RELIABLE water sources on the day(s) of your hike, the only choices are carry, cache, or don't go.

Along the LSHT there are, depending upon time of year and recent weather, a smattering of water sources of varying quantity and quality. The system that makes most sense to me is a Sawyer Sqeeze, a 1/2 L clean water bottle, one to several 1 to 2 L dirty water bottles, and a backflow adapter. Filtering seems to be the way to go - the stuff most likely to make you sick is the stuff easiest to filter and not so easy to treat chemically. My impression is the Squeeze is significantly more capable than the Mini with a minimal weight penalty. Plastic soda bottles are cheap, durable, easier to use than water bags, and easy to replace. On the trail the challenge is deciding, at each water source, whether to get water or not. While it takes time to filter water it takes no time at all to top off a bottle of dirty water. And if the next source turns out to be better quality, when you get there dump the crappy stuff and fill up with the better stuff. So you can make use of every water source to minimize the maximum volume of water to carry while also minimizing the chances of running dry. And you don't spend more time than necessary filtering. The clean water bottle is for sipping while walking and, with the back flow adapter, for back flushing the filter.

I don't yet have a solution for gathering water at very low volume sources.

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Re: Water Management/Hiking-packing

#5

Post by Mophead » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:22 pm

Trails that cross roads are a good opportunity to drive to the crossings and drop off a gallon jug before hand if you're in the mood for a nice lazy hike its a good option.

This is coming from an east coaster, we've got it pretty easy so I don't know how much will apply to your region but here it goes...

For long dry stretches I'll try to stop at a water source around noon or hottest part of the day. Take a "long" break and sip water the whole time. If I need to bathe I'll do it then and do everything I would want to do at camp requiring water. If I need water for dinner I'll prepare it then. Just cover with water and store safely for later. Before leaving I'll fill my belly with water, filter some water, and fill a larger bag with dirty water. Hike on, drinking the water supply as conditions require. Take another late afternoon break and heat/eat dinner. Since its been hydrated its quick and very little fuel. After recharging over dinner, continue hiking on in the cooler evening then make camp.

If I cross the water source earlier in the morning I'll do pretty much the same. I'll instead fill my belly and water containers in the a.m. Hike till noonish and break then continuing as described before.

It sucks having to carry water, but the way I figure this allows me to take ample breaks when the pack is heavier with most the water, and more miles are put in during the cooler mornings and evenings after I've consumed most of it. If you're drinking moderatly all day (which is better than gulping all at once) your pack gets 1-2lbs lighter per hour.

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Re: Water Management/Hiking-packing

#6

Post by G_Man » Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:34 pm

I never leave the trailhead without, at least, 3L of water. Oftentimes I carry 2L in bottles, platy bottles lately, along with my 3L bladder. Water sources can be plentiful, then spread out much further than is convenient so I've become accustomed to caring plenty.Caching is the only other alternative in the areas I hike most often, and fairly easy given the frequency of road crossings on these trails.

When I do hike in areas with frequent water sources, I still for the bladder but will roll up and pack the platy bottles until close to camp. Then they get filled and used to cook and clean, saving the bladder for the trail the next day.

I do plan to try just bottles, a couple of the popular smart water along with my platy bottles, leaving the bladder at home. We'll see how that goes when I get more woods time.....
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Re: Water Management/Hiking-packing

#7

Post by Flynguy521 » Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:31 pm

On a side note, the Arnold Palmer tea jugs make excellent caching containers.
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Re: Water Management/Hiking-packing

#8

Post by gmcpcs » Sun Jul 23, 2017 8:21 am

Flynguy521 wrote:
Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:17 am
On a side note, one day I hope to get out to Cloudcroft and explore. Passed through a few years ago and it was beautiful!
Holler at me if you're passing through. It is starting to be a weekend location for me here in Midland. And, it is mostly National Forest, so pretty cheap and accessible!

Take it easy,
GMCPCS
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Re: RE: Re: Water Management/Hiking-packing

#9

Post by Flynguy521 » Sun Jul 23, 2017 9:17 am

gmcpcs wrote:
Flynguy521 wrote:
Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:17 am
On a side note, one day I hope to get out to Cloudcroft and explore. Passed through a few years ago and it was beautiful!
Holler at me if you're passing through. It is starting to be a weekend location for me here in Midland. And, it is mostly National Forest, so pretty cheap and accessible!

Take it easy,
GMCPCS
Definitely will!

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