by Roger

September 9, 2021

How Much Water to Carry While Backpacking

Backpacking is one of the leading ways to travel. Not only does it stimulate your physical abilities, but studies state that it reduces stress and improves self-esteem.

While it may not be as fancy as touring the extravagant streets of different cities, backpacking gives a different experience to those willing to try it.

Before losing yourself in this new adventure, some things should be considered to ensure that you safely dominate your trail. One such aspect of preparing for is how much water to carry while backpacking.

How Much Water per Day Do I Need While Backpacking

How Much Water per Day Do I Need While Backpacking
For every two hours on the trail, 1 liter of water should be carried.

Humans generally need to consume 2 liters of water per day. The body’s essential water intake varies according to different factors such as the weather, activity, temperature, and the environment you’re currently moving in.

How much water per day do I need while backpacking?

Generally, expert backpackers follow a common rule when determining the amount of water they will carry while backpacking. For every two hours on the trail, 1 liter of water should be carried. However, water consumption differs for every individual, and you should prepare for your own specific needs.

To determine how much water to carry while backpacking, here are some of the things to consider:

  • Traveling distance;
  • Trail difficulty level;
  • Weight of the backpack load;
  • Personal health status;
  • Team dynamics;
  • The positions of possible water sources.

How Often Do I Need to Drink Water While Backpacking? 

How Often Do I Need to Drink Water while Backpacking
Often take sips and do not wait until your body triggers thirst.

Before backpacking, drinking plenty of water is essential to store the vital liquids you will lose during the hike. Drinking a liter before starting and continuing on your trail is one of the habits you should incorporate in your travel like a backpacker.

Take note that you should often take a sip of water over the day. Do not wait until your body triggers your sensation of thirst, as this is already a sign of dehydration. 

Generally, drinking half or one quart of fluid per hour of your hiking journey is recommended. In scorching weather, drinking a liter every hour is suggested to fully compensate for the extreme liquid loss.

When it’s time to rest at camp, you should drink another liter of water to replenish the fluid and electrolytes you have expended during the active day. 

Hydration Practices to Help You Maximize Water Consumption While Backpacking

It is important to optimize your water intake to ensure you remain in tip-top shape while hiking and following the trail. Such habits to consider include:

Avoid chugging

The most proven method to hydrate yourself during backpacking is every ten to fifteen minutes of your climb.

When you rapidly consume your fluid, your body won’t be able to process it. This is because our system functions to break down one liter of water per hour.

How to Carry Water While Backpacking
Drink more often in smaller sips, instead of chugging your water.

Check your urine

One clearest sign to check your body’s water status is through the urine. When your urine is a light, odorless yellow, then your body is at its optimal hydration level.

When you’re too hydrated, you often feel the urge to pass water every quarter-hour. Your body is dehydrated if your urine is dark with a strong smell.

How to Pack Water for Backpacking

There are indeed natural water sources you can find during your trail. However, it is still vital to pack water while hiking to ensure that you will be safe from unforeseen circumstances, such as drying a particular water line.

There are different ways on how to pack water for backpacking. Some of these methods include:

Hard-sided plastic bottles

These are made from durable plastic that won’t break even if you drop them from a certain height. However, in exchange for their durability is their heaviness.

Collapsible water bottles

One of the favorite ways to carry fluid during backpacking due to its lightweight properties and ability to be stored in tight spaces. Take note, though, as sharp items can easily destroy them.

Water bladder

This jug can hold one to three liters of water easily. Usually, hikers attach a hose for more convenient use of this container. One downside is they are more on the expensive side and difficult to dry.

Attach Climbing Helmet to Backpack
Water bladders are easy to carry and put inside your backpack.

Disposable bottles

This is a regular-sized bottle you can find in your everyday life. It can come from energy drinks to sodas and is one of the most convenient portable water containers during the hike.

Take note that you should carry a water bottle that can accommodate your hydration needs. They need to be the right size so you can be free of worry until you reach your potential water source or refill station.

How to Carry Water While Backpacking

One of the efficient ways on how to carry water while backpacking is by analyzing your baggage content. When the weight of your backpack is leaning towards the backward pull, then an additional weight on the front part can help balance the weight you are carrying.

Your water container packed with dense water is an excellent item to minimize the unnecessary weight burdens on your back.

When you put them on the front straps of your pack, the weight is naturally balanced. Aside from this, hydrating yourself will be no challenging feat since the water source is right in front of you.

What Is the Best Water Purification System for Backpacking

What Is the Best Water Purification System for Backpacking
For long backpacking trips, carry a water purifying system.

When you’re near a water source, it is vital to check your water supply and prepare for a refill. If you’re still accumulating experience as a backpacker, you may wonder what the best water purification system for backpacking is?

Here are some ways to filter your water to ensure safe consumption:

  • Boil water – the traditional way of sanitizing your water, and maybe inconvenient for some.
  • Potable tablets – more convenient; however, it takes time for the pills to dissolve and the chemicals to work.
  • UV pens – generally purify water for about a minute and a half; however, they are powered by batteries.
  • Gravity filters – can filter large amounts of water and are ideal for groups. It takes time for gravity to work.

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About the author 


Roger was born into a family of climbers. As the youngest of his siblings, he was also the most ardent climber of them. Small and agile, he practiced climbing all day. Today, Roger teaches children how to climb the large rock walls safely.

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