ESSENTIAL #4: Water
After a big day on the trail, there is nothing better than returning to camp and taking that first gulp of cold water. Well, a beer might trump that! But water has to factor into the equation somewhere. Hydration is key to a long weekend of adventure not to mention the countless other uses that water has in camp. Consider how to effectively organize and store water in camp so that you can get to exactly what you need when you need it.
- Gallon jugs. It’s simple and easy for campers that grab water on the way out.
- 2 gallon container with spout. More volume and a useful spout make these store bought containers useful in camp for filling cups, bottles, and hydration bladders.
- Collapsible water carriers. There are a variety of options here ranging from a 2 gallon container to a 20 liter water bucket.
- Igloo style water cooler. These 5 gallon coolers are a fixture at nearly every Little League baseball park and very useful for camping.
- Water bottles. Available in a variety of forms including squeeze bottles, travel mugs, and insulated stainless steel models.
- Hydration bladders. This is the most versatile option for campers that plan to be on the trail during the day and in camp at night. Pressurized bladders also serve other purposes too.
- Water bags. There are a ton of options for water bags, but the base design is the same for most. They can fit into a pack, be left on a picnic table, or hung from a tree branch. Water bags are not that expensive and are designed to withstand the elements.
Filtration, Treatment & Purification
- Handheld pump filters. The longtime standard for camping and backpacking users, handheld pump filters are generally easy to use but do contain moving parts that can wear or break.
- Gravity flow filters. Our filter of choice, gravity flow filters are dead simple to use and have no moving parts. These filters tend to be more expensive and can be tricky to use with small water sources.
- Squeeze filters. The new kid on the block, squeeze filters are very mobile and contain no moving parts. These are best for individual use and not for groups.
- Ultraviolet sterilizers. SteriPen made this method of sterilization famous. They’re easy to use but are battery powered. UV-C light rays are used to destroy 99.99% of protozoa, bacteria, and viruses.
- Drops. Water treatment drops are literally a lifesaver in developing countries. They’re also useful for group camping because they are lightweight, easy to use, and can be used to treat large volumes of water.
Camping tips for managing water and hydration:
- Create several watering stations. It’s good practice to have tap water in a central location for washing up and it should be close to the cooking station. Another station for refilling drinking water is good idea.
- A stream or river next to your campsite is a luxury. Use a mesh laundry bag with a drawstring to hold drinks in the water by staking it to the bank and letting the bag drift as it will. The drinks will match the temperature of the running water.
- Chip away at the block ice in your cooler as your trip winds down. It can be used to cool drinks in bottles or your hydration bladder.
- Always pack water enhancers. These electrolyte heavy tablets and powders can help to rehydrate you and also add flavor to your water.
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