Friday, December 30, 2011

Staying Hydrated

Hydration has been an issue I have had on several hiking trips. When you hike any distance with a 30 lb pack on your back, you are going to sweat and you are going to go through a lot of water. The problem is the more water you pack, the more weight you will have to carry. The solution is to take a water filter with you so when you get to a water source, you could filter water and resupply as you go. Filtering water is important because of micro organisms and bacteria in the water. Nothing tastes better than fresh mountain water, but you don't want to suffer for it.

I have carried an MSR Miniworks pump filter, which you pump water from the water source into a Nalgene bottle or a water bladder. It has been a great filter, but has one major limitation- you have to have a water source big enough to pump water out of. My last overnight hiking trip is a perfect example. I knew I would need to fill up my bladder and water bottle to get me through a 7 mile hike down off the mountain I was on. When I got to the water source, it was simply an old pipe coming out of a mountain, allowing a thin stream of water to come out. There was no way to pump any into the filter. I had to go another 6 miles until I found a water source large enough to pump filter and I believe I stayed there about an hour just drinking water, filtering, drinking, and repeating.

As I have been researching into what others who have hiked the Appalachian Trail use to filter water, most of them will say they just use Aqua Mira drops which are little chemical drops you put in your unfiltered water. They don't weigh anything, but take up to 30 minutes to purify your water. Others say they just drink the water straight. Looking at what would be a good lightweight solution for me, I decided to piece some different things together.

I now have a Nalgene collapsible canteen which I can dip into a creek or fill from the water source. The lid has a small hose connected to it running into a Sawyer 3-way inline filter. Another hose runs directly into the water bladder. My water bladder is 2 liters and the canteen is almost 4, so I would be able to use the extra water for cooking, making a drink, dishes, etc. I believe with this new setup, I won't have any issue staying hydrated and won't have to worry about water sources deep enough to pump since there won't be any pumping required.

Now, I can't talk about all my hydration options without mentioning the need for clean water around the world. It is the reason I am hiking. Too many people are dying every day from preventable causes because they do not have access to clean water. If you would like to help by sponsoring part of my hike, you can click the link at the top of the page. 100% of what you give helps provide water to a community in Zambia, Africa, so they could have a better way of life.


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