People are often surprised by how much water is needed in order to keep a hiker properly hydrated during day hikes. Hiking takes a lot of water from the body through sweating and being out in the sun. The last thing that you want to happen on a hike is getting dehydrated or getting heat stroke.

Therefore, the most crucial part of a hike is in its preparation. Never begin a hike that is longer than a mile or two without bringing water along. It is important to have at least one to two quarts of water on a hike and to drink one half to one cup of water every 30 to 45 minutes. Realize that even if you do not feel thirsty, you are losing liquids from your body and it is very important to replenish that loss.

As a rule of thumb, a two-hour hike should have you drinking one quart of water, a four-hour hike should have you drinking two quarts, and so on. At this point, you should feel the urge to urinate—if not, this means that all of the water you have consumed has been sweat out through perspiration and you need to drink more water in order to stay hydrated. As you are enjoying your hike, it is still important to keep an eye on your body and if you need additional fluids—you lose it quicker than you think.

At a leisurely pace in cool to slightly warm weather, you can walk four miles in an hour, so you should bring between one and two cups of water for a hike of this length—bring extra water in hot and humid climates. Double that length and say you will take an eight-mile hike—that will take you around two hours, where you can be safe bringing a one-liter water/hydration bladder.

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A water (or hydration) bladder is a durable water reservoir that typically uses anti-microbial-lined casing (either soft or more rigid) and looks somewhat like a “bag” of water—hence the name bladder. Bladders are thicker than bags, however, and utilize a variety of different mouths for easy refills, and use hoses that are lead-free and easy to open for on-the-go drinking. These bladders are a favorite of hikers and hunters because they come in different sizes and are a much better alternative to hauling a bunch of water bottles in your pack.

Bladders are softer and because they come in various sizes (typically one to two liters for hikers) they hold more water in one easy to drink from reservoir than bottled water. They are highly recommended for hikers and hunters, and you can find high-quality, leak-free, military grade water hydration reservoirs online for excellent prices. It is well worth the purchase since water is the most important aspect of any hike.

Unless you exceed 10 miles in your hike, you should not need more than two liters of water in your pack unless you are hiking in exceptionally humid or hot climates or a rocky location with a lot of climbing involved.

Equally important to on-the-go hydration is post-hiking water. Many hikers come home, take a shower, and go on with their day without thinking about the effects of the hike on their body. You still have to replenish the fluids lost on the hike after your hike is over. The rule of thumb here is to listen to your body—if you do not need to use the toilet after the hike, then your bladder is not full—this means you need additional water.

One simple trick many experienced hikers do is to drink up and hydrate before their hike so that they need to carry less with them. This pre-hydrating is ideal for those setting out for a longer trek, because drinking a liter of water before a hike is easier to carry with you than an additional liter of water in your pack. With a lightweight hiking daypack and a one-, two-, or three-liter water bladder (depending on how far your hike will be), you can easily pack your water with you in a lightweight pack that will not weigh you down.

It is worth mentioning that if you are hiking in a location with streams, waterfalls, or other sources of water, that there is an alternative to water bottles and water/hydration bladders. For example, LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is a number one best seller and insanely popular piece of gear that is lightweight, affordable, and ideal for campers, hunters, hikers, and all outdoorsmen.

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This water filter is compact and weighs less than 0.18 pounds. At 8.86 inches x 0.98 inches x 8.86 inches, this straw is self-contained and requires no work on the part of the user. This award winning filter has been used by millions of people around the world and has a guaranteed and long-running reputation. Rather than using a bladder or bottle of water, if you know you will be passing sources of water on your hike from an existing stream, this is the perfect lightweight alternative.

This water filter is used like a straw, hence the name, and you place one end in the source of water and you drink the water through the filter—it’s as simple as that! It removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria (such as protozoan parasites) and surpasses the EPA’s standard for water filters as it filters to an incredible 0.2 microns.

You can filter up to 1000 liters of contaminated water without using chemicals such as chlorine or iodine to purify it. This LifeStraw comes in a sealed bag and is perfect for use when hiking, to use as a secondary, emergency filter, and excellent to have on-the-go as well as in your home. It only costs $17.98 on Amazon, and is not only the highest regarded filter, but is the most portable, compact, simple, efficient, and high-quality water filter on the market. Simply place it in your pack and you’re good to go!

While tools such as this are definitely recommended, it is important to always bring fresh water with you on your hikes to be absolutely certain that you will not encounter any problems. For such an inexpensive price, you should definitely consider purchasing a personal water filter such as the LifeStraw along with a hydration/water bladder for your hiking trips.

Before you go on your next hike, do a little research on your specific location and how the climate in your hiking area effects hydration in the body. Then you can make an informed decision on how much water is appropriate to bring with you. As a rule of thumb, one to two liters is more than enough for hikes up to 10 miles in length.