Water - Simple and Essential

At most camping locations you can find a water spigot not too far off. However, in the event that you cannot there are still some options available which I’ll discuss here as that is currently my situation. A couple things to consider. First, if you’re a weekend warrior or just hitting the crag for an afternoon / day trip then it’s not difficult to pack all the water you’re willing to carry. For longer term situations it’s a different story. Secondly, I’m not talking surrvivor-man-style here. Although I’m an official dirtbag now, I’d like to make this life as comfortable as I can. Basically, you can’t practice survival skills and climb at optimal performance at the same time, they’re inherently contradictory. I’m also not talking about big wall trip either as that is a whole different animal.


How muh water do you use on a daily basis? Remember to inclue cooking and cleaning (though these can be kept pretty minimal). I began this test process with 8 gallons of bottled water (gallon jugs) that cost me $6.90 so even for a dirtbag, that’s worthy researh investment.

The Day: 80 - 85 `F, moderate humidity, mostly sunny, 1.5 hours of hiking, 2 - 3 hours of climbing.

Water Consumption: I drink a lot of water. So for me modest cooking, skimpy cleaning and drinking totalled about 3 gallons on the test day.

Notes: The weather conditions were pretty modest for summer in the south, so 4 gallons might be a liberal estimate for any given day, or perhaps requisite on a particularly hot and steamy day. On the other hand a conservative “make it stretch” mindset might work with 2 gallons with good weather. One should also be awawre of observer biases. I wasn’t being particularly conservative with my consumption as I wanted the estimate to be both accurate and indicative of a comfortable and well hydrated day (as I said above not trying to skimp by on the bare minimum).


There are a few options available. I have a 7 gallon BPA free jug (< $15) which is optimal if there is a spigot, in my current location there is not (NOTE: I don’t know if it fits the refill station mentioned below).

Option 1: Individual Gallon Jugs

Cost < $1 / gallon (~$0.86 in my test)

Pros: You can get as much as you need at onece (i.e. several days’ worth)

Cons: Storage space and waste could be an issue.

Option 2: Large Office-Style Jug

$12.00 for the first gallon, $0.37 / gallon on refills

Pros: Refillable

Cons: Limited amount per fill


I’ll spare you the maths and just say that the individual gallons are cheaper at the 10 gallon mark, but by the 20 gallon mark the office-jug is cheaper. However, there are some practical things to consider. The jugs will be reusable and for many different functions. Also, the office-jug is meant for one thing; meaning it wont be very convenient to hoist overhead when yo uonly want a few swigs or to wrestle around (since it doesn’t have a spout like the camping one I mentioned earlier) to fill other containers and cookware. For me the individual gallons win on logistics. Cheers!

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