Carrying Water

How to carry water

Pure water is the
world’s first and foremost medicine. Proverb

Staying well hydrated is paramount on a bushwalk, and in turn, looking after water supplies.

There are many ways to carry water, ranging from small to big, no cost to expensive. The most important aspect is reliability – the container must not break.

Careless packing of water bottles not only makes for harder walking but also can damage them, leading to leaks. Take the time to pack carefully and protect precious water supplies before heading out on a bushwalk.

There are three main types of bottles used by bushwalkers.

  • Soft drink bottles
  • Hard shell bottles
  • Hydration bladders

plastic water bottleSoft drink bottles are easy to drink from and readily available, but can get crushed more easily than a purpose built water bottle. They’re cheap and a great option for getting started bushwalking.

hard purpose water bottleA hard shell bottle is more durable and reusable, and generally easy to fill than a soft drink bottle because the mouth is slightly wider. However, some people find the wider mouth can actually make it harder to drink from. Priced around $15 per bottle, they’re a pricey but reliable option in the bush.

bladderHydration bladders are becoming increasingly popular. They’re easy to drink from on the move and can be packed in the backpack so that the weight distribution is optimally set-up. The downside is that it can be hard to gauge how much has been drunk, so there’s a risk of running out of water. They’re also pricey (~$60), and the user should carry a
white for bladderrepair kit in case they spring a leak. But while it takes time to get comfortable with it, but it’s a great way to stay well hydrated in the bush.

Packing effectively Best way to pack water containers into a backpack

The spine, hips and legs are best adapted for carrying significant weight. Packing weight into a backpack so that heavy items are distributed along the spine is the most efficient way of carrying weight and the best place to store water supplies. Most modern backpacks have a sleeve for water bladders that lies close to the back.

Water bottles and hydration bladders do occasionally puncture when treated roughly: take care to handle backpacks carefully. For this reason, carrying several small water bottles is generally better than one large one because there are backups. Importantly, if fuel and water are stored in the same sort of container, then it’s critical that the fuel container is suitably labelled.

Several small water bottles also give more flexibility in packing. Keep a small bottle handy near the top of the backpack for easy access: this makes it easier to remember to drink regularly. Alternatively, secure a bottle in an open side pocket with straps.

Practical tips:

  1. Pack heavy items close to spine
  2. Keep a small water bottle handy to reach
  3. Secure any bottles on pack exterior