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#178497 - 07/17/13 05:44 PM The Water Problem
nate99 Offline

Registered: 07/17/13
Posts: 32
Loc: Denver Colorado
I am an experienced backpacker and i'm planning for the appalachian trail but water is weighing my pack down. I have a camelback and 2 nalgenes. Is that too much? What should I take out? Please provide tips and techniques. Thanks!!!

#178502 - 07/17/13 07:02 PM Re: The Water Problem [Re: nate99]
Pika Online   content

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1767
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
The best rule of thumb is to carry just enough water to make it to the next water without dehydrating yourself. I have only hiked a few pieces of the AT in Virginia and in North Carolina; I don't recall seeing any long dry stretches but my sample is small. From what I have seen of the AT, I wouldn't carry more than 1-2 liters most of the time. You need to look ahead on the map and plan your water to reach the next spring or creek.

You said you have a Camelback and 2, 1-liter Nalgenes. Is your Camelback one of the 3-liter ones? If so, and you start the day with all of your containers full you are planning on hauling ten pounds of water to start the day. That is 1-1/3 gallons: I seldom carry that much and I hike a lot in the desert.

If I were planning on hiking the AT, I would leave the Camelback at home; I don't think I would need it. A light 2-liter Platypus would serve for camp water and for the occasional dry stretch. And, Nalgene bottles are heavy and not too sturdy for the weight: get a couple of 1-liter soda bottles (1.3 oz ea) instead.
May I walk in beauty.

#178505 - 07/17/13 08:29 PM Re: The Water Problem [Re: nate99]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6561
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
+1 on ditching both the Camelback and Nalgenes. You don't need that much capacity and both containers, even when empty, are heavy.

Other possibilities--Smart Water bottles are durable and narrow enough that the 32-oz. size fits even the narrowest pack pocket. They last a long time. I get the 22-oz size for the convenient flip-top cap and the 32-oz size to hold the water.

Gatorade or other wider top bottles are good, too, if you want to mix drinks with powdered drink mixes. I now use the kind that Kroger "Simple Truth" organic juices come in, as they don't have the Gatorade smell (which I hate). They weigh a bit more than soda or water bottles but far less than a nalgene.

For either of the above, I'd take an extra cap. They do have a tendency to get away from you and roll down the hill to an undisclose location! It has happened to me half a dozen times.

For camp water or dry days, I'd get an Evernew (if you can find one) or Platypus 2-liter container, as Pika suggested.. You'll rarely need one on trail and when empty it will roll up and take hardly any room in your pack. Evernew containers have the cap attached, so no danger of losing it, and are compatible with the Sawyer Squeeze filter. (That and the aftereffects of the Japanese tsunami are why Evernew bottles are so hard to find.)

An important part of trip planning is to study maps and trail guides for the distance between water sources so you can determine how much to carry each day. Water is heavy! If water sources are frequent, I carry only a half-liter at a time. If available twice a day, one liter at a time. If it will be dry all day, two liters. It also helps to "camel up" by drinking your fill before leaving the water source.

Edited by OregonMouse (07/17/13 08:31 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#178508 - 07/18/13 07:48 AM Re: The Water Problem [Re: nate99]
JPete Offline

Registered: 05/28/09
Posts: 304
Loc: Eastern Ontario
I have done the AT twice. I carry four 12 oz soda bottles. One I am drinking from, and one that is waiting out the purification time. The other two are usually empty until it's time to make camp. One of them is marked for unpurified water that I will boil for dinner (sometimes I use the fourth one for unpurified breakfast water as well). I've never run out (though there are a few places where I'm cutting it pretty tight and twice (I think) I've been dry for a while while I purify. Remember also that if you are experienced, it's usually fairly easy to tell when you can probably safely use the water unpurified. I have done so fairly frequently with no ill effects. BrianLe may come on here as well and he always has good, sensible ideas. Have a good trip. best, jcp

#178529 - 07/18/13 01:45 PM Re: The Water Problem [Re: nate99]
finallyME Offline

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
The biggest weight reduction I have ever done, and it was the first and cheapest, was to carry less water. I went from a 3 liter camelbak with 2 X 1 liter bottles to just 1 X poweraid bottle. Now I carry a platypus type bag/bottle, and a nalgene canteen (also a bag/bottle). But, these are both empty when I hike. I use them with my filter to filter water. They are both "dirty" all the time. They also double as water containers if I ever do need to carry extra water for a dry camp.

So, my answer to your question....yes, I think you are carrying too much.
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

#178760 - 07/30/13 04:35 PM Re: The Water Problem [Re: nate99]
outdoormarc Offline

Registered: 07/23/13
Posts: 2
Loc: Columbiana ohio
I start every morning with a full 1ltr platypus. I also carry an empty 2ltr with me to fill once I make camp
. With the 1ltr I just treat with aqua mira as I go along.

#178788 - 07/31/13 01:27 PM Re: The Water Problem [Re: JPete]
BrianLe Offline

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
"BrianLe may come on here as well ..."

What's the mythical beast that if you say their name, they'll turn up? :-)

FWIW I'm not a fan of Nalgenes --- heavy, and you have to keep them clean. Like JPete I use soda bottles and/or gatorade bottles, replace them periodically along the way. I think that's pretty common for thru-hikers.

Everyone has a preference for their collection of water vessels. I like a 20 oz or 24 oz soda bottle, plus a 20 oz gatorade bottle, as well as some sort of bladder to make it easier to stay hydrated while walking (I use platypus, but whatever, and switch to bottles only when temps fall well below freezing at night).

I find it handy to use the gatorade bottle for putting drink flavor in (crystal lite or whatever); the wide mouth works easier. I just keep water only in the soda bottle, and use that when needed to help fill the water bladder. Having different bottle types makes it easy to keep them straight.

Water sources on the AT are sometimes a bit of a hump down and then back uphill from the shelter, so it can be handy to have a sizeable bladder or even some sort of water carrier that's comfortable to carry up a steep hill. You sometimes don't want to go down to haul water more than once at such a spot.

On the whole, water is more readily available along the AT than on other trails that I've hiked. That plus more frequent food resupply meant that average pack weight for the AT was relatively low for me, or at least once I got out of the snow (I started in late Feb). This is one area where the AT offers an advantage over the more western trails.

There are a lot of springs along the AT. My hiking partner and I treated water elsewhere, but just drank straight from the many, many springs. For whatever reason (and I really don't know the reason) I got Giardia or something like it in New York. My hiking partner, who treated or didn't treat exactly in the same way did not get it. So who knows. But overall the water sources seemed to me to be pretty frequent and good.

Treatment method: certainly everyone feels that their approach is best, whether chemicals, pump or gravity filter, steripen, or whatever. Aqua Mira drops continue to be my preference. If you're gram counting, then keep in mind that the dry weight of a filter isn't what you should be calculating, but rather the weight of the filter after the first time you've used it on trail and put it away "somewhat dry".

Have a great time! A friend from England is hoping to thru-hike the AT going NOBO with an early start next year, and if so, I hope to join him for the first snowy month or so. My slow motion yo-yo diet plan requires about a month straight of hiking to work off the winter fat! So who knows, it's possible that we'll cross paths.
Brian Lewis


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