Experimental music, photography, and adventures

The hydration problem

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

I drink a lot of water — on and off the bike. But especially when I’m hiking or biking, I make a point of staying well-hydrated. The downside of this is that I have to carry a lot of water.

On the Trucker, I have three water bottle cages. I can fit two 24-ounce bottles and one 20-ounce bottle, for a total of 68 ounces of water. When hiking or mountain biking, I bring my Camelbak, which holds up to 100 ounces — but this is very heavy and unwieldy. If I fill the Camelbak completely, I’m carrying 6.5 pounds of water alone. This is quite uncomfortable and on very long rides in hot weather, I can still run out of water.

Even when road riding, I find that there are very few places to refill my water bottles around here. There are a lot of “towns” on the map, but they often turn out to be nothing more than a few houses at an intersection. I sometimes ride for hours without seeing a convenience store. I have a feeling that if I rode on busier roads, I’d encounter more convenience stores, but that wouldn’t be much fun.

Does anyone else have trouble carrying enough water? How do you handle it?

As for me, I think I’ve found a solution: I bought a water filter. It’s a Katadyn Hiker Pro. On my hikes and road and mountain bike rides, I frequently pass rivers, creeks, lakes, and ponds. Now, I can carry less water and safely fill up whenever I need to, using any body of water. The “Pro” edition of this filter even includes connectors to allow you to fill a hydration pack through the drinking hose, without removing the bladder from the pack. And it only weighs 11 ounces — less than an extra water bottle.

I haven’t tried my new water filter yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing how well it works. I’ll post some thoughts here once I’ve put it through its paces.

4 Responses to “The hydration problem”

  1. Doug Says:

    I do have this issue at times since I live in an area that is not densely populated. For a day ride I’ve never carried a filter. I’ll fill my waterbottles and carry an extra 32 oz Nalgene or two in my rack trunk bag.

    However, on one of my 3 day bike camping trips last August I carried my backpacking water filter, a MSR MiniWorks. On that ride I clocked just over 100 miles between stores or businesses of any type. Being in the Land of 10,000 Lakes provided me with plentiful water.

    I’ll caution you about the Hiker Pro. It does clog. In these parts, where the waterways have very high particle counts, a Hiker Pro clogs and is unusable after one weekend of camping. A filter like the MSR MiniWorks has a ceramic cartridge that can be easily cleaned in the field hundreds of times.

    Another word of caution, when we backpacked through Pennsylvania on the AT we only filtered water out of mountaintop streams. Far too many contaminates and runoff from farms and industrial sites when taking water out of valley rivers and lakes. We wouldn’t take water out of a source unless we were pretty certain it didn’t flow through a lot of lowlands before it got to where we were.

  2. John Says:

    I have had water issues on tour, but my general riding offers no proplems at all getting water. Stores and parks everywhere.

  3. furiousBall Says:

    how does it handle vodka?

  4. Marty Says:

    Like Doug said, you have to make sure that the filter you are using will clean the type of water you are going to encounter. In the Rockies, it was pretty safe – mostly giardia and a few other bacterial things, so filtration was pretty easy. As you get closer to sea level and farming, the filter has to get much more advanced to create potable water.

    Thanks for the information on the Camelbak. I’m thinking of getting one for our trip to Arizona (so we’ll have a reservoir of water on hikes, but 6.5 lbs. of water is considerable – I’ll have to keep that in mind on top of the 15-20# of camera equipment.

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