How much water do you need for day hiking

Water is life!

Drinking enough water is very important for a good health. No matter if working in an office or hiking in summer.

Drinking enough water will help you think better, boost your brainpower, increase your mood, will help against headaches, regulates your body temperature, etc.

For a normal day in your life without any extreme exercise and no hot and humid weather doctors say an equivalent of eight 8-ounce (200ml) glasses of water should a nice amount of liquid. (This can vary from human to human though…)

While you are out and hiking, or doing other exercise, it is important to drink enough to replace the fluid you are losing while sweating  (and yes, this happens during winter hikes too) and keep you alert and your brain boosted…
Not drinking enough can get you in serious troubles if you are far away from any help..

One thing that’s always good to do is to drink enough before you go out to hike. That is a hack I learned from my marathon trainings. Drinking a little more than enough a day or two before you go is a great thing to fill up.

And get used to take small sips in between before you actually get thirsty, this will help you stay hydrated. So a bottle that can get attached to your backpack is making that easy for you (or a drinking bladder) because you can reach it easily while you go.

But now, how can you actually calculate how much water you should bring for a day hike?


refilling my water to go bottle while hiking
Refilling from a river at Algonquin National Park
Refill option at Paclenica Nationa Park in Croatia

How much water you need for day hiking:

1) How long will you be out there?

This can be hard to calculate if you haven’t done a lot of hiking yet. It varies how quick you walk, how the terrain and weather is.. After you have done a couple of hikes you will know how quick you walk and how long it will take you to walk 1 mile. Then it will be easier to calculate for you.

Normally I calculate with 5km/3miles in about 1 hour. This is for flat and easy terrain.
So if the terrain is harder  and goes uphill you will walk slower and should calculate  with double time, just to make sure…

If you go on a guded hike, the guide can estimate the lenght and time you will need so you can exactly plan how much you need to bring.

2) General cups per hour

One general rule says that adults need 2 cups/1/2L of water per hour of hiking.

So if you plan on being on a 4 hour hike you should bring at least 2L of water with you.

3) Individual thirst

Some people are more thirsty than others. I always carry a water bottle with me, even on short city strolls because I feel thirsty quicker. My mom on the other hand doesn’t need to bring any water on a 1 hour walk because she doesn’t feel thirsty at all.

So if you know you will get thirsty very quickly you should bring some extra water or some watery fruits.

4) Weather

While you shouldn’t underestimate how important it is to drink when it is cold, it is definitely important to bring extra water when it is hot. So I would recommend to bring the double amount of water when it is hot and humid in summer.
So calculate with 1L/4cups per hour if you hike in a very hot area.

You might not feel the urge to drink a lot of water in winter because you don’t sweat a lot, but it is still important to drink enough! 

5) Water refill options along the way?

I experienced this a couple of times: there were refill options marked on the map, but they were out of order because it has been out of season, or winter, etc.. So be aware that a marked refill option on the map could be out of order!

If you know there are streams, lakes, rivers in the area, that’s great! Bring your filter bottle and refill IF they are not dried out 😉 So this is another thing that could happen in hot summer seasons that smaller streams actually run dry. So check if you can ask and get a reliable answer on refill options along the way. 

This shows that you should carry a normal amount of water with you, to make sure to stay hydrated.

If there are any gas stations or restaurants close by, ask if you can refill from tap, or just refill from tap in the bathroom. If you are afraid of an contamination, the filter bottles will help you again. So if you are hiking or traveling a lot, I just can’t recommend a filter bottle enough to avoid huge amounts of single use plastic bottles and save a lot of money too.

My Water-To-Go filter bottle and I in Canada, refilling from a river

6) Hydration packs or bottles?

Whatever suits you best…

If you need to carry a lot of water, then a hydration pack is better because itself is very ligthweight. 

I always carry my stainless steel bottle and my travel filter bottle if I know I need to refill from unsafe taps or wild streams.

I hope this post will help you to stay hydrated during your next hike.
Now please tell me in the comments: how do you stay hydrated on hikes? And do you use a filter bottle already?

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