When planning your backpacking trip, it is essential to figure out how much water you should carry between water sources. You wouldn’t want to run out of water when you are not near a water source and risk getting dehydrated. It would help if you remembered that proper hydration is as important as good nutrition. Understandably, you may not want to carry a lot of water during your trip because it’s pretty heavy -almost 2 lbs per liter and can add a considerable amount of weight to your backpack.

It would be best to strike a balance and carry the correct amount of water during your next backpacking trip. As a general rule, many backpackers have resorted to carrying a liter of water for every two hours of hiking. However, you might need to adjust the rule depending on the conditions you are hiking in. Some factors that might affect your water intake during a hike include your body weight, the walk’s intensity, temperature, and altitude.

How Many Liters of Water Do You Need for Backpacking?

Preparing for your backpacking trip also entails coming up with a water plan. It would help if you located all the water sources on your hiking route and figure out the distance between each source that you may want to fill up at. Distance alone will not help you determine your water needs during the hike; you should also estimate how much time you will need to complete the mileage.

Measuring distance alone does not consider the ruggedness of a terrain. If your trail is very rugged, you will take a longer time to reach your next water source. A hiking water calculator will help you estimate how long it will take you to complete a certain distance.

Some factors that affect the calculation and help determine how much water for backpacking is enough include:

  • Backpack weight
  • Temperature
  • Elevation gain
  • Distance
  • Temperature
  • Time ( A weekend overnight or a day hike)
  • Personal abilities

Calculating How Much Water You Will Need During Your Trip

Distance alone will not help you determine how much water you will need for your trip. It would help if you also incorporated time in the equation rather than distance alone. Remember that the elevation changes and trail difficulties are not accounted for in time.

When calculating how much water you will need for a hike, you should remember that an average adult takes about 20 minutes to walk for a mile. Add one extra hour for every 1000 feet of elevation gain, and then add half an hour to an hour of margin time (this accounts for view intakes, water breaks, snack breaks, and injuries).


You will require the below amount of water if you are going for a 6-mile hike with an elevation gain of 500 feet:

6miles*20 minutes=120 minutes of hiking, i.e., 2 hours of hiking=1 liter of water

You will also need to account for the elevation gain as follows:

Plus: elevation gain (0.5 hours) + margin time (0.5 hours) =1 hour=1 extra liter of water

If you consider the above example, you should carry two liters of water for your hike. However, if your hike involves passing along a river or a lake, you can carry a one-liter receptacle and a simple tool to filter water.

You should note that no single system is perfect for all situations. Therefore, you should be familiar with the different backpacking water storage methods during a hike by practicing in less demanding scenarios. Find a combination of water purifying and carrying systems that are ideal for you.

Best Way to Carry Water When Hiking

Drinking water while hiking is essential, and it is best to test your water-carrying gear before hitting the trail. Ensure that your bottles are leakproof, durable and the filtering systems are functioning well. Replace any broken parts and have an emergency backup system. For example, in addition to the filtering system, you should consider packing water purification tablets.

Here are some of the ways you can carry water when hiking:

Hard-Sided Plastic Bottles

These water bottles are produced by a company called Nalgene. They are durable because they are made out of hard plastic, making them quite heavy during the hike.

If you are backpacking during winter, these bottles may be handy because you can fill them up with hot water and place them inside your sleeping bag to keep you warm at night.

Collapsible Water Bottles

Collapsible water bottles have become a favorite among backpackers. They are lightweight, and you can pack them even if you have limited space. They might be ideal when backpacking with no water source.  However, you have to be extremely careful when handling the bottles because a sharp object can puncture a hole easily in these bottles.

Soft Bottles

These bottles are lighter than the hard-sided bottles, and you can conveniently screw water filters on them and drink from the filter.

Hydration Reservoirs

Hydration reservoirs allow you easy access to your drinking water right on your shoulder during a hike. They allow you to hydrate while still hiking, which is commendable. On the other hand, it is challenging to refill them at a water source. Additionally, you are never sure how much water is left in them since they are always buried deep in your backpack. You may also encounter a challenge when cleaning them and drying them out for storage.

Check this too: Best Kids Hydration Backpack

How to Purify Natural Water When Backpacking

Water is heavy; hence, you may have to limit the amount of water you are carrying during a hike. You can limit the amount by filling your water reservoirs or bottles at natural water sources found on your route. You will need a water filter to remove contaminants such as bacteria and giardia from the water.

It would be best if you considered using these water filters during your next backpacking trip:

Platypus GravityWorks High-Capacity Water Filter System

Platypus GravityWorks High-Capacity Water Filter System

This water filter can help you get clean water anywhere. All you have to do is to fill up your hydration reservoir or water bottle and allow gravity to filter the water for you. Platypus GravityWorks filter offer clean water faster than most pump systems.

This filter makes it easier for you to transport, store, and dispense all the water you will need during your hike. The Platypus GravityWorks filters meet the NSF and EPA guidelines for removal of Protozoa and Bacteria.


  • Item weight: 0.33 Kilograms
  • Capacity: 4 Liters
  • Item Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.8 x 5.8 inches
  • A 4-liter dirty water reservoir
  • A 4-liter clean water reservoir
  • Hollow-fiber microfilter
  • Shutoff clamp


  • Produces 1.75L of clean water per minute
  • Meets all NSF/EPA guidelines for removal of 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa
  • No pumping required
  • BPA-free
  • Replaceable cartridge filters up to 1,500 gallons


  • It does not come with a long buckle strap

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Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Water Filter, Fast Flow, 0.1 Micron EZ Clean Membrane

Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Water Filter, Fast Flow, 0.1 Micron EZ Clean Membrane

This water filter is reliable and eliminates protozoa and bacteria from your water. With its strong 90 year reputation, you can be assured that you have a fantastic product that will keep you safe for a very long time.

The EZ Clean Membrane is easy to clean; you can swish the filter to clean any debris. You won’t require any extra tools or backflushing.

The water filter has a stay-clean nozzle, which helps in keeping the mouthpiece sanitary and clean.


  • Item weight: 0.14 pounds
  • Brand: Katadyn
  • Item Dimensions: 4.25 x 3 x 10 inches
  • Synthetic material


  • Easy to clean EZ Membrane. No extra tools or backflushing are required.
  • Can filter up to 1,000 liters of contaminated water without the use of chemicals or other devices.
  • Removes 99.9999% harmful bacterial and 99.9% protozoa


  • It is not recommended in an area with prolonged sub-freezing temperatures.  

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Sawyer Products SP131 Squeeze Water Filtration System with Three Pouches

Sawyer Products SP131 Squeeze Water Filtration System with Three Pouches

If you have planned a camping, fishing, hiking, or hunting trip, then the Sawyer water filter is ideal for you. In addition to removing 99.99999% of all bacteria and 99.9999% of all protozoa, it also filters out 100% of microplastics.

If you want to use the filter, you should simply fill-up the reusable pouch at any water source, screw the filter onto the pouch, and drink directly from the filter or squeeze water into a water bottle.


  • Color: Black/Blue
  • Material: Plastic
  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 4 x 3.5 inches
  • Item weight: 91 Grams
  • Power source: AC/DC
  • One 16-oz and two 32-oz reusable BPA-free collapsible pouches.


  • Removes 99.99999% of harmful bacteria and protozoa. Eliminates 100% of microplastics from your water.
  • It weighs just 2 ounces and can fit in the palm of your hand.
  • Built-in and removable flip-top sports cap allows you to spray water straight into your mouth or bottle from the included pouch.


  • Does not have any replacement filters

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A little bit of planning is necessary before your hiking trip. You need to figure out how much water you will need for the hike to avoid being dehydrated. You also need to understand your hiking terrain and determine whether there are any sources of water. Understanding this will help you choose appropriate methods for carrying water and a water filter where necessary. Being hydrated will add to your comfort and enjoyment of your backpacking trip.  

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