Water, Water – Where, exactly?

Look, we all need water. To drink, to cook, to clean (if you’re into that sort of thing) – with it we quite literally die. 

So, how do we carry it? Where to do get more when we run out?

When traveling, my primary water supply is a 3l hydration set up in my backpack. I like to have sometime to sip on while riding so I don’t fall behind on hydration while riding (which leads to fatigue and poor decisions), but understand many people don’t like riding with something on their back. Still, most hydration packs are durable enough to be stuffed in luggage, if you want to use one to carry water.


We should back up a little. How much water should you be carrying? Most people have heard of the 8 glasses rule. It’s not completely accurate, since it really means eight 8oz glasses, which is less than a can of soda. Also, that is total liquid intake. So, if you have a can of soda that is more than one of the glasses you are supposed to be drinking. So, while you might think the 3l I usually carry isn’t that much, since I do have other things to drink during the day it usually works out.

Of course, most of us will still want more than a day’s worth of water. Since my luggage is usually only 2/3 full, buying extra water in bottles or those cool bags they use in South America and storing them isn’t hard. I can usually end up with 3-4 days worth total, which works out to how long I can be away from civilization at a stretch.

It’s possible to go longer, if you have more water storage and can clean water you find in the wild then needing water becomes less of a need to find other people. 

For storage, there are all kinds of soft and rigid containers on the market. Rigid ones are, in general, more durable, soft ones easier to pack and (of course) get smaller as you use up the water they’re holding. Obviously, I like the soft ones, since they only take up space when you are carrying extra water. 

My favorite soft water container comes with wine – boxed wine. Inside those cardboard boxes are bladders holding the wine, and once the wine is gone (however you manage that), the remaining bladder will hold water just was easily (rinse well first). Since it comes with the wine, it’s technically “free.” Of course, this means you might buy nicer box wine than you usually would (if there is such a thing as nice boxed wine. I’m told there is but I am unconvinced), so emptying the bladder is less of a chore, but if you have over enough friends it will take care of itself.

I don’t have a favorite water purifier. If you are shopping for one, look for one that has a cleanable filter, rather than one you have to purchase. While the ones with replaceable filters are usually less expensive, if you are on a longer enough trip you will run out of filters and being able to replace then while on the road could pose problems. There is a range of newer filters (from a company called Sawyer), which claim to be good for thousands of liters of water, whic might be long enough to make bringing them along on overland trave practical, but I don’t know anyone who’s tried one long enough to report how well they hold up to years of constant use.

So, there are plenty of ways to carry water, and choices on cleaning it – but what if (like me) you just want to buy some bottles of water when you need it? Well, don’t worry about it too much. Most towns will have clean drinking water available to buy, just make sure the bottles are still sealed (since the locals might just refill a bottle from the tap), or in one of the heat-sealed bags. Oh, and as cool as those bags are make sure you have a plan on where that water is going to go when you open it. They don’t really reseal.

No, go somewhere.


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