How Much Water to Bring Backpacking | Full Guide

red backpack with water bottle and mug

Water is necessary for daily survival. And, you will need water even more so when you go on backpacking trip. While backpacking, you will be using more energy than on a regular day. Therefore, more water will be needed.

Below we will be going over how much water to bring backpacking.

Simply put, you will need to bring roughly 1 litre of water for every 6 miles you plan on backpacking. You could also measure your water needs by using time. What i mean by this is that humans usually takes about 30 minutes to hike each mile. This would mean on average we would take 3 hours to hike 6 miles. With these averages in mind, you will need roughly 1 litre of water for every 3 miles you hike.

I have been hiking for some time now and my personal opinion is that I need 1 litre of water for every 8 miles I hike. This might be that I am not personally someone who likes water that much. And it could also mean that I am able to complete that distance with minimum water. But, as I get earlier, I will surely be a part of the current average.

When it comes to determining the amount of water you should bring backpacking, several factors must be taken into consideration. These factors include the duration of your trip, the intensity of your physical activities, the climate you will be hiking in, and your individual hydration needs. Let's break them down further

Trip Duration

The length of your backpacking trip is one of the primary factors that influence how much water you should carry. As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended to consume at least two liters of water per day while backpacking. However, this estimate can vary depending on other factors.For trips lasting less than 24 hours.

It is advisable to carry at least three liters of water to sustain yourself throughout the journey.For trips lasting more than one day: In addition to the initial three liters, plan to carry an extra liter of water per day. This extra water will account for cooking, cleaning, hydration during physical activities, and unforeseen circumstances like injuries or getting lost.

Intensity of Physical Activities

The intensity of your physical activities while backpacking can significantly affect your water needs. If you are embarking on a challenging hike or engaging in strenuous activities like rock climbing or mountaineering, your body will require extra hydration. To estimate the additional water to carry, consider the following suggestions:- For moderate activities: Add an extra 0.5 to 1 liter of water per day.- For intense activities: Add an extra 1 to 1.5 liters of water per day.


The climate you will experience during your backpacking trip is another crucial factor in determining your water requirements. Different climates have varying levels of humidity and temperature, affecting your body's water loss through sweat and breathing. Use the following table to estimate the additional amount of water to bring based on the temperature range you anticipate:

Temperature Range (Fahrenheit) Additional Water Needed (Liters)
Below 50°F 0.5 - 1 liter
50 - 75°F 1 - 2 liters
75 - 90°F 2 - 3 liters
Above 90°F 3 - 4 liters

Individual Hydration Needs

Each person has unique hydration requirements based on age, gender, weight, fitness level, and overall health. It is essential to listen to your body's signals and adjust your water intake accordingly. Factors like medication that causes increased urination may also impact your needs.

Consider the following general guidelines:

  • Drink water when you feel thirsty.
  • Pay attention to the color of your urine; it should be light yellow or clear.
  • If you sweat excessively or have a medical condition that affects fluid balance, consult a healthcare professional to determine your specific hydration needs.

Now that we have clarified how to estimate your water needs, let's discuss practical tips for carrying and purifying water while backpacking.

Carrying Water

One of the most common ways to transport water while backpacking is by using water bottles or hydration bladders. Each has its pros and cons. Water bottles are sturdy, easy to access, and can be used for a variety of purposes.

On the other hand, hydration bladders are convenient as they allow you to drink on the go without removing your backpack. They also have a larger capacity. It would be best to carry a combination of the two to suit your preferences.

Additionally, consider carrying a lightweight collapsible water container as a backup or for collecting water from natural sources.

Purifying Water

When backpacking, you may come across natural water sources like rivers, lakes, or streams. However, it is crucial to treat or filter this water before consuming it to avoid potential contaminants. The most common methods of water purification include:

  • Boiling: Boiling water is an effective method to kill bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Bring the water to a rolling boil for at least one minute (or three minutes at higher elevations) to ensure safety.
  • Water Filters: There are numerous portable water filters available that remove harmful bacteria and protozoa. Look for filters with a pore size of 0.2 microns or smaller to eliminate most pathogens.
  • Water Purification Tablets: These tablets contain chemicals like chlorine or iodine to disinfect the water. Follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding dosage and waiting time.

Benefits of water

Benefit of Drinking Water
Helps Airways
Boosts skin health and beauty
Cushions the brain, spinal cord, and other sensitive tissues
Delivers oxygen throughout the body
Digestive system depends on it
Flushes body waste
Helps maintain blood pressure
Forms saliva and mucus
Lubricates the joints
Makes minerals and nutrients accessible
Prevents kidney damage
Regulates body temperature
Reduces the chance of a hangover
Boosts performance during exercise
Weight loss

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Hi, I'm Kevin Pommells, a lover of camping and the great outdoors as everyone says nowadays. I'm also a passionate soccer fan and the proud owner of, a website dedicated to helping campers and outdoor enthusiasts make the most of their adventures. With years of experience exploring the wilderness and a deep love for the sport of soccer, I'm always looking for new ways to combine my two passions and share my knowledge with others. Follow me for tips, tricks, and insights on all things camping and outdoor recreation.

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