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Water Stops and Water Strategy
#57925 08/17/20 12:02 PM
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Hello Fellow Hikers,
My team has been discussing the best approach for water on the hike. Two questions we wanted to discuss 1) how much water do you carry in your pack, 2L 3L etc.? 2) whats the best strategy with hydration since the last water stop leaves you with no other water options for ~ 8 hours of the hike.

Thanks for your tips and experience!

Re: Water Stops and Water Strategy
Mr. #57927 08/17/20 06:59 PM
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I assume the question is about MWMT. Unless your group is VERY slow, you should't be carrying more than a liter of water per person until the last source (switchbacks 23-25). There is no point of carrying extra weight when you can always stop, hydrate and refill - there are plenty of streams along the way. At the last source, hydrate well and fill up as much as you need, depending on the rate of consumption and pace. That being said, even for a slow party 3 liters per person is a bit too much. As a frame of reference, I am 190 lbs and I usually bring 2 liters for the whole night when I sleep on the summit.

Edit to add: The best hydration system that virtually everyone uses on long distance hikes is comprised of a SMART water bottle and Sawyer filter (I personally like the regular version but mini also works). Get two bottles and alternate the filter - it fits perfectly with enclosed ring. You don't need a squeeze bag. The system is simple, durable and easy to use.

Re: Water Stops and Water Strategy
Anton #57928 08/17/20 07:36 PM
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Only two liters for a night on the summit? That's cutting it pretty short! Most people need at least a liter and maybe two just to get from Trail Camp to the summit. Then one for the trip down.

I agree on the idea of carrying no more than one liter until Trail Camp. I'd always drink as much as possible at a water stop -- half a liter, and then carry another half along.

Re: Water Stops and Water Strategy
Steve C #57929 08/17/20 08:55 PM
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Steve: thats why I said depending on the pace and rate of consumption - should be easy to estimate after ~8 miles uphill. My 2L breakdown is: 1 on the way up from Iceberg lake or SB22, 0.5 to cook dinner and brew some tea, another 0.25 for breakfast coffee and the rest for a quick descent to the first water source. Done it 3 times, twice on the way to the Valley carrying the full pack w/o resupplies. I realize that most people may want to be more conservative, but most people also tend to carry more than they need. 3L of water is 6.6 LB. The "experts" on Whitney FB pages even preach that everyone should also carry 10 essentials on their TC to TC day trip. Never heard of anyone ever needing extra supplies or repair kit on that hike, not to mention maps, compass, matches and lighters.

Re: Water Stops and Water Strategy
Mr. #57930 08/17/20 09:05 PM
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What has worked for me is to fill 4L at Trailside Meadows and that will last to the summit and back down to Trail Camp.

Re: Water Stops and Water Strategy
eje67 #57932 08/18/20 04:54 AM
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Please note that the spring on the switchbacks will likely be frozen early in the morning even if it is 100 degrees down in Lone Pine. To be safe, we always drew water from the Trail Camp pond. 3 liters per person is a reasonable amount of water to have once you start up the switchbacks.

Re: Water Stops and Water Strategy
Anton #57945 08/20/20 07:20 AM
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Anton, what do you mean by SMART water bottle? My current set up is an inline filter with my reservoir which works ok, but is slow. Prior to this I always used a Sawyer with the fill bags and found it tiresome. I don't think the Sawyer filter (regular size) would screw onto my Nalgene bottle.

This is my current inline filter if anyone is interested: https://www.rei.com/product/167006/rapidpure-scout-inline-hydration-pack-purifier

I've been using it for a few weeks without too much trouble but I always bring a back up lifewater bottle.

Re: Water Stops and Water Strategy
kkdavis #57946 08/20/20 08:50 AM
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pretty sure he means smart water brand water bottles - the sawyer will screw onto them.

I tend to use them too as they're so much lighter than nalgenes laugh

Re: Water Stops and Water Strategy
kkdavis #57948 08/20/20 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by kkdavis
Anton, what do you mean by SMART water bottle? My current set up is an inline filter with my reservoir which works ok, but is slow. Prior to this I always used a Sawyer with the fill bags and found it tiresome. I don't think the Sawyer filter (regular size) would screw onto my Nalgene bottle.

This is my current inline filter if anyone is interested: https://www.rei.com/product/167006/rapidpure-scout-inline-hydration-pack-purifier

I've been using it for a few weeks without too much trouble but I always bring a back up lifewater bottle.

Yes, that’s exactly what I meant - see above. There is no point of using Nalgene bottles, unless you are climbing class 5 multi pitch technical routes. Smart water bottles are cheap, light, and compatible with Sawyer filters. They are not as durable as Nalgenes but work perfectly fine when there is no constant abrasion due to bumping into rock

Last edited by Anton; 08/20/20 03:13 PM.
Re: Water Stops and Water Strategy
Anton #57949 08/21/20 07:35 AM
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I carry 3 liters from the start. 2 liters in my hydration vest and 2 16oz bottles. All with tailwind. I never need more than that for the dayhike and I hate stopping to refill, but if I do need to, it would be way on the way down where there is plenty of running water, and I would just dip a bottle into a flowing creek. Carry no food either, the tailwind is enough.

Re: Water Stops and Water Strategy
Anton #57965 08/24/20 10:23 AM
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wonderful, thank you! you've convinced me to return this inline filter and get a new Sawyer (mine is cracked)--realized it could be used inline on a reservoir too, as well as your suggested Smart water bottles.

Re: Water Stops and Water Strategy
Mr. #58081 09/18/20 04:01 PM
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So, since I had trouble with my Sayer filter on my JMT trek and tossed it out, I've started to look into a gravity filter setup instead.

Looking at some of the gravity filters out there they claim 2 liters can be filtered in under a minute which is quick enough to consider.

Anyone have any recommendations for what gravity filters I should look at?


Might still just buy a new Sawyer, but I just want to do some research before next year.

Re: Water Stops and Water Strategy
WanderingJim #58082 09/18/20 04:48 PM
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I bought a gravity filter a year or two ago. I paid good money, and it supposedly filtered two liters a minute. It would barely do half a liter a minute, even if I squeezed it. Not to mention that gravity doesn’t work very well if you’re camped above tree line and there is no place to hang it. It was also awkward to use if you didn’t want to get unfiltered water where it didn’t belong. I took it back to REI and told them it was crap. Sorry, I forgot what brand it was. I bought another Katadyn Hiker. It’s heavy, but it bleepin’ works.

Re: Water Stops and Water Strategy
WanderingJim #58083 09/18/20 06:46 PM
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A hiker I met on the Shepard Pass trailhead had one of those gravity powered filters.
We stopped at the next creek location after the 4 creek crossings going up.
He was almost empty.
It took about 15 minutes to fill up his bladder... not the rate of 2 liters per minute.
We rested in the meanwhile.
I'm thinking the filtering rate is irrelevant if it does the job.
However, he had issues on how he would get that bladder back into his packing configuration... thinking it was too complicated.

Last edited by futbol; 09/18/20 06:48 PM.
Re: Water Stops and Water Strategy
futbol #58084 09/18/20 09:27 PM
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For my dog and me (2X water requirements) I have a pump MSR Guardian Purifier. Realistic 2 liters a minute (rated 2.5l/m) (THE main selling point for me). Self-Cleaning (has an intake hose and a parallel backflush hose). Filters Viruses. Got sick of pumping the MSR MiniWorks EX, took forever and made my wimpy arms tired. Maybe I should have joined a gym with water filter pump exercise machine?

Water capacity 6L MSR Dromedary Bag, 2 - 1L Nalgenes, 0.6L Hydrapak UltraFlask on shoulder strap for on the go drinking (8.6L total)

Re: Water Stops and Water Strategy
WanderingJim #58088 09/21/20 05:04 AM
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I use a Sawyer as a gravity and inline filter; one Sawyer mini was fine for 4 of us for a 25 day JMT hike and is still in occasional use. It's plumbed into my drinking bladder hose; "dirty" water goes into the bladder and I drink through the filter as an inline (a bit more effort than normal, but not too awkward). When we stopped for breaks, lunch, camp I'd refill by bladder with dirty water, put it on top of a rock, or hang it from a tree, connect it onto a 2.5L platypus and fill the 2.5L platy with clean water that the family could then refill their bottles from.

I have no precise idea how fast it filtered, a) because when it's happening in the background while I do other stuff (make lunch, snooze, set up the tent etc.) it's irrelevant, and b) because my 10 yr old took care of water filtering. It definitely wasn't 1L/minute, at a guess it was 3-500ml/min. The key thing with gravity filters (I've used a few) is to ensure that there are no bubble at all in the system, from source to sink, in order to maximise the hydrostatic pressure in the system. That usually means lifting the sink above the source at some point to let the bubbles float out of the system.


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