11 Sep 2011

Hydration for Tramping

It never ceases to amaze me how myopic some trampers are when it come to water purification in the backcountry.

Whilst researching for my John Muir Trail hike I was constantly reminded of the need to filter drinking water. I think this stems from the litigious American culture of the "powers to be" protecting themselves from litigation in case one gets sick.

Anyhow, I set about searching the web for some more scientific info about the High Sierra water supply, and there were plenty of papers available. I was also a surprise when I picked up my permit and told the ranger I was not purifying and he informed me that he had been drinking the Sierra water for 8 years and got "slightly" ill once. I did not purify any water.

But, be sensible. Only drink water that is source above people, farm animals and the trail. Giardia is a bigger problem with personal hygiene. You would have to drink 100s of  liters of water to get sick. In fact one source informed me that water out of a tap in San Francisco was a greater risk that drinking from a High Sierra river.

Their is a great short article about hiking hydration and purifying water at www.lightandmatter.com/article/hiking_water.html


  1. I always carry a Super Delios water filter with me. It only weighs a few grams.
    I filter most water, not because it's a necessity but because when out in the wilds it just cuts down the odds of a stomach upset. Simple as that. Prevention is better than cure and this simple filter mens that you don't have to boil water or add tablets etc. to drink it.
    Many animals die in the winter and the carcass usually ends up in the stream, therefore for me it just isn't worth the risk.

  2. Must be UK product - never heard or seen it here or in the US? Alan, I just Googled it, looks great. Given its weight and filtering ability, I agree with your comments. But, not for me - Oh the joys of tramping in "pure" NZ!!


Hey, thanks for you contribution - I monitor my blog weekly. I will reply with comments, ideas and suggestions ASAP - In the meantime, remember, hiking is an outdoors experience to enjoy, not an army boot camp training exercise!!