Using Water Bottles, Hydration Systems, Purification, and More

Drinking water is important for maintaining health and performance while hiking. Keep the following ideas in mind for staying hydrated before hitting the trail.

Different Ways to Stay Hydrated While Hiking

photo of man climbing mountain

There are two popular methods for carrying water while hiking. Water bottles are commonly used for storing water. Bottles are also convenient for carrying water with sports drinks. Make sure that the water bottles are free of BPA plastics.

Another popular method for carrying drinking water is using a hydration system. Hydration systems use a bladder connected with a drinking tube.

A hiker can carry the bladder in a pack, with the tube extending out of the pack and connected to the shoulder strap. This makes it easy for a hiker to quickly access water.

Consider using a bladder that can hold two quarts for the primary delivery of water, and carry a water bottle mixed with a drink mix. Before leaving home, make sure that the bottles or hydration system are clean and free of dirt or mildew. Always leave home with the bottles and bladder full.

Plan Ahead for Refilling Water While Hiking

Before hitting the trail, check the map and guidebook for available water sources that can be used to refill. Sometimes parks will have a purified water source, such as a water fountain, at the trailhead.

Check to see if the trail will pass by a spring or stream along the planned hiking route. If so, then these can also be used to refill water supplies. However, the water that comes from natural sources must be purified before drinking. When arriving at the trailhead, check the trailhead kiosk for updated information on water availability.

Different Ways to Purify Water While Hiking

There are different ways to purify water while on the trail. These include:

  • Water purification tablets: these are small, easy to carry, and work well. However, once the seal has been broken, the tablets have a limited shelf life.
  • Water filters: these devices can filter out different pathogens, including bacteria and viruses, depending on the filter. They can also filter out solid particulates such as dirt. Filters are heavier than tablets, and the filters need to be cleaned and eventually replaced, yet the filtered water does not have an aftertaste, which purification tablets can leave behind.
  • Ultraviolet light: There are some new products that have come onto the market that use ultraviolet light to kill harmful organisms in the water.

Keep in mind that iodine is often used in purification tablets and that some people can be allergic. Check the ingredients before using water purification tablets or filters that use chemicals as part of the purification process.

Also, practice using tablets or devices at home before using them in the field.

Encouraging Hydration While Hiking

When hiking with a group of people, especially children, encourage everyone to drink water often. Some ideas include:

  • Stopping frequently for quick water breaks.
  • Holding “toasts” to celebrate accomplishments, such as making it up a steep section of trail.
  • Use an athletic drink mix to add some taste to the water and to replace some electrolytes.

Staying healthy while hiking means drinking water frequently in order to maintain hydration. By using the above ideas, hikers can maintain proper hydration.