I live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and been hiking in them for many years. Now in the summer you have to be careful because of heat. In many of the canyons, it can exceed 100 degrees. Every year people have problems because they do not carry enough water and become dehydrated. To prevent dehydration, we carry Camelbaks or one of their knockoffs.
Now dehydration occurs when the body loses water faster than it takes it in. The human body loses water for many reasons.
- You lose moisture every time you take a breath
- Sweating from exercise, you can sweat 2 quarts of water per hour.
- Urination or bowel movements
To protect yourself against dehydration in a hot environment, when hiking you should drink 1 gallon of water for every 20 miles you hike at night and 2 gallons per 20 miles during the day. This is a minimum. Never underestimate the amount of water your body requires.
For day hikes, I like the Camelbaks that are actually small backpacks. The one I am currently using is at least 10 years old and has enough pockets that I can carry addition gear. I usually, carry snacks, water purification pills, fire starter, space blankets, a small first aid kit with moleskin and maybe an extra long sleeve sweater.
My Camelbak holds 2 liters of water and I carry water purification pills because I have had to refill my pack from the river on extremely hot days. Fortunately, many of the areas in which I hike have good running water.
Now if you are hiking in winter, don’t make the mistake of assuming that dehydration is not a danger. You still want to carry plenty of water. Every year we hear of people being lost in the mountains and when found most of them are dehydrated even in the winter, with snow on the ground.
If you are going to carry a Camelbak in the winter here are a couple of tricks that will help you. In the winter be sure and use insulators on the drinking tubes of the Camelbaks. This is the part that always freezes up the quickest. Once you have taken your drink, blow the water back out of the tube and back into the reservoir. Carry your Camelbak close to your body for heat transfer. Between your body heat and movement it will keep it from freezing until the temperature drops into the teens. Then you will need an outside source of heat every few hours to keep them from freezing. At night always put the water in your sleeping bag with you.
If you are going to be in cold weather for long periods of time there are other canteens that may work better. We will discuss them in another post.