Backpacking Water


While backpacking water is key! Having drinking water, and knowing where to get more, is one of the most important items on any hiking or backpacking trip. Our bodies need water for survival and to perform at peak levels. This is amplified when we are exerting ourselves.  For this reason, these three items are are critical:

  • Bring water with you
  • Know the source or sources where you will get additional water
  • Have a reliable water filter capable of filtering out bacteria (you will need a virus filter in certain parts of the world)


In general, the average person is supposed to drink between half an ounce to an ounce of water per pound of body weight, per day….minimum! So if you weigh 150 pounds, you need between 75 and 150 ounces daily. When spending time outdoors in a hot climate or at elevation, it will be closer to the higher end of that spectrum. So that means a 150 pound person needs up to 150 ounces of water a day….or more!

So, I think we can agree we are not going to carry any more water than we need to get us to the next water source. And from experience the guideline information above is inline with what I have experienced backpacking between 6,500 feet and 14,300 feet. I weigh 160 pounds and expect to need at least a gallon (128 oz) of backpacking water per day. The best rule of thumb while you are out backpacking is to drink enough water so that you pee regularly. What does regularly mean? Some have described it as once per hour which maybe a little high in my opinion. However, the test if you getting enough backpacking water is always color. If urine is anything other than clear, drink more water. And if you begin to experience even a small headache, it’s often means you need to drink more water.

At Outdoors Geek, we provide both Katadyn Water filtration system rentals and Sawyer Point One system rentals. Or, you can also purchase water filtration devices from Outdoors Geek. If you have access to running water (i.e. a stream), we love the Sawyer system.