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Bottles, Bladders & Hiking Hydration – All You Need To Know

How much water do you need to drink every day?

It is said that the human body is made up of around 60% water. However, due to urinating and sweating this number is constantly fluctuating. Although it is a subject of much debate, a lot of health professionals teach that most people need to drink around 2 liters of water a day. That is eight 8 ounce glasses. Obviously, this is only a ballpark figure as the actual amount can fluctuate massively between individuals. You also take in an amount of water from the food you eat, especially healthy foods such as vegetables and fruit.

How much water do you need when hiking?

Bearing in mind that the average human needs around 2 liters of water a day, to remain hydrated, let us discuss what additional factors arise whilst hiking. Factors such as your fitness levels coupled with the climate and the difficulty of the hike, all play a role in determining how much water you need whilst hiking.

The amount of water recommended can fluctuate massively depending on temperature, altitude, and humidity. If you are planning to hike in a hot and humid environment then you could be in need of around 1 liter an hour! Quite a difference to the recommended 2 liters of water per day. If you are in a cooler environment that isn’t so harsh then it could be as low as half a liter per hour depending on your level of exertion.

Dehydration will start to set in quite quickly if you are hiking hard and not adequately rehydrating. The more you are exerting yourself the harder your body will have to work to keep you cool. This means you will sweat more profusely and lose more bodily fluids. This, in turn, means you will require more water than you would have to keep hydrated.

Your fitness levels are another factor when assessing your hydration needs while hiking. At the end of the day, no two hikers are the same. Everybody has individual needs which means they have individual hydration needs. Stay in touch with your own body, monitor your performance and always keep cautious about your hydration levels. When in doubt, drink.

Add a sugary drink or snack here and there to avoid hyponatremia. This is when you drink too much water without replenishing electrolytes and begin to dilute your body. This creates low blood sodium levels and can be dangerous during a hike. Or at any time, for that matter, if you are not careful.

Overall, be mindful of your hydration levels when hiking. As well as performance levels, they can also affect perception, decision making, and mental performance. Not only can staying well hydrated be the difference in an emergency situation, it could also help to avoid one altogether.

How many lbs is X amount of water?

With all this in mind, we need to remember that water is not light and carrying water can add to your exertion levels. One liter of water weighs about 2.2lbs, give or take, which equates to 1kg. If we compare this to the guidelines above then we can see that we are soon going to be carrying quite a weight.

If we don’t carry fresh water with us we need to look at natural sources of water. This presents us with a whole new set of problems. There are many devices aimed at combatting or accommodating issues around staying hydrated while hiking, the aim of this article is to assess and evaluate them.

What is the best way to carry water on a hike?

Undoubtedly, the most efficient and cheapest way for us to carry water on a hike is in the stomach. Drink a liter of water, in the hour leading up to your hike, to utilize what your body is providing. It is better to sip the water rather than chug it down as this helps us to stay hydrated for longer.

Our main aim is to be able to carry as much water as we can, or enough to stay hydrated the whole way, while remaining as comfortable as possible, with as little exertion as possible. We can’t always carry as much as we need and in these cases, we need to maximize what we can comfortably carry.

To help maximize the amount of water we can carry we need to make sure that our water containers are stable. You don’t want a substantial weight swinging whilst you’re hiking. This will make you waste energy resources unnecessarily.

We need to keep a good balance of weight in our pack and elsewhere. This rule applies to everything you might carry on a hike but it is especially so when carrying water which, as we mentioned earlier, is heavy. Make sure you have equal weight spread across the body so you don’t have to fight for balance and, again, waste energy. As an example, a good tip is to hook a couple of water bottles to the front straps of your pack when carrying a hydration bladder inside your backpack.

We also need our water vessel to be easy to use and access as we need to be able to drink quickly and often. Having to go through the ordeal of taking off our pack and searching for a water bottle, for instance, every time we drink is far from ideal.
We also need to be able to easily clean and maintain sanitation inside our water vessel. Water bottles and bladders, or whatever else you choose to use, can begin to smell if you do not keep them clean. It is essential that our water sources are clean enough for us to drink out of otherwise they could make us sick.

Why does my water bottle smell bad?

There are multiple reasons your water vessel can begin to smell. Taking water from a natural source, such as a well, for example, can mean it contains sulfur compounds which will build up over time and can begin to smell really bad.
We understand that the majority of people don’t use natural sources of water, as a rule.

Bacteria from our mouths is another reason why our water bottles can begin to smell. Everybody has bacteria in their mouth, some more than others. This bacteria begins to build over time and will begin to make your water bottle smell. Simply washing the bottle and keeping it clean can help to prevent this.

Be careful when cleaning your water bottle, or vessel, as leaving soap residue behind can be another cause of your bottle beginning to smell. Not only that but if you do not rinse the soap away properly then it will taint the taste of your water.
Lastly, a lot of plastic water bottles are not meant to be reused. Salts and minerals in the water can cause chemical reactions and begin to break down the plastic and will make it smell. Be careful when using plastic bottles as they are not all created equal.

Is it dangerous to reuse plastic water bottles?

When I set out to write this article one of the reasons was that I knew reusing plastic bottles was unsafe. They cause cancer, or so I had been told, and I don’t know about you but this is something that is always at the back of my mind. As I began to research, and gather evidence to prove the theory which I believed to be conclusive, I was shocked to find research that was quite the contrary. Not just one piece of research but lots of different articles and publications which aimed at telling us that it was safe to reuse plastic bottles.

It is thought that it is ok to reuse plastic bottles as, although there are chemicals present, the levels are simply so low that it does not have an effect on the human body. Some people believe that chemicals are chemicals, however, and if they’re not meant to be there then why put them into your body in the first place? We can’t help but agree somewhat with this statement. So although it may give us a little peace of mind we would still avoid the use of plastic where possible.

Another supposed myth is that heat and direct sunlight or leaving a bottle in your car, for example, can release harmful chemicals into the water. This is thought to be nothing but hearsay. It makes sense to us, however, because we are taught from an early age that heat can change the chemical balance of an element, so why should plastic be any different? According to some sources, the only thing sunlight will do is make your water warm and not taste very nice.

All this being said, plastic is still not a very nice product. If you are reusing a plastic bottle and it is damaged in any way then recycle it and buy a new one. Even better, buy something more robust that will last longer and won’t be so bad for the environment. But whatever you choose to use be sure to keep it clean!

One of the main causes of illness from reusing plastic bottles is people not cleaning them properly. Not only will they begin to smell, as discussed earlier in the article, but they will become unhygienic and can make you sick. So if you do not clean them then it is definitely dangerous, and unsanitary, to reuse plastic bottles.

So what we learned here is that it may not be as dangerous as we thought it was to reuse plastic water bottles. However, that doesn’t mean that it is completely ‘safe’.

Why is it bad to drink from plastic bottles?

The fact of the matter is that the USA alone uses the equivalent of 17 million barrels of oil, each year, in the production of plastic bottles. This does not include what is used during logistics and transportation of goods. Alongside this, the production of said bottles produces 2 and a half million tons of carbon dioxide. This, hopefully, is enough to make us at least stop and think before buying bottled water.

Representatives from the industry would have you believe that plastic bottles are fully recyclable. However, being ‘recyclable’ does not mean that something will always be recycled. The truth is that around 35% of plastic bottles are not recycled at all. They are out there in our seas, affecting our wildlife, polluting the world. We don’t even necessarily need bottled water.

Studies show that, in most cases, the filtered bottled water you buy from the shop is no purer than the water most people can get from a tap. Think twice when buying bottled water. Do you really need it? Is it necessary at the time? In some cases, you will find that the answer is yes, such as when you’re caught short on a hike. If this is the case then go ahead and buy it and reuse the plastic bottle where possible. But if you’re buying bottled water consistently, for inside the home for example, then consider alternatives such as Water Purifiers.

How long does water last in a plastic bottle?

Water in itself does not go bad. It can, however, be contaminated. Even an airtight, sealed, plastic bottle is slightly porous and will absorb contaminants from the outside world over time. It is said that when you purchase water in a plastic bottle it can last at least a couple of years if the seal is not broken. This time will fluctuate depending on storage conditions.
A reused water bottle, filled from the tap, will not last anywhere near this long and should be cleaned and refilled after only a day or two. Again, depending on storage. If the bottle is stored in a dark cool refrigerator, for example, it will last much longer than it would in a warm sunny area.

This does not mean that freezing water inside a reused plastic water bottle is the answer to prolonged shelf life. As discussed earlier in the article, heating plastic can affect its chemical make-up. Freezing plastic is no different, according to some. We advise to keep your reused water in a refrigerator where possible and to always clean the bottle and refresh the water after a day or so of none use.

This does not mean that we would be discarding two-day old water, in a hiking situation where there was no other source of drinking water. The boundaries are not set in stone and we believe the availability of water can make a big difference to the amount we would be drinking, the amount we would be saving and how long after acquiring the water we would be willing to drink. Always plan ahead and get as much water as you can, when the opportunity arises, as you never know when it may become crucial.

What is a hydration bladder?

A hydration bladder is a hydration system which is often contained in a bladder pack or backpack. They can be made with straps themselves and carried on their own or used from the inside of an existing backpack. They allow for ease of transportation of liquid and are usually insulated to keep it cool or to stop it from freezing. A pipe comes from the bladder which allows for hands-free drinking and also means you don’t need to keep stopping to access water. They are commonly made of rubber or plastic and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Check out the top hydration bladders on Amazon.

How do you fill a hydration bladder?

It is easier to fill the hydration bladder with it is removed from the hydration pack. It is possible to fill the bladder whilst inside the pack, in some cases, but it isn’t always easily accessible. Also, you don’t want to run the risk of getting your pack or backpack wet before a hike as this could create discomfort.

With the bladder cover removed, make sure to hold the hydration bladder flat. This can be achieved by cradling the bladder with your hands or simply laying it flat in the sink. This is the stage where a lot of people make the mistake of holding the hydration bladder upright. This is fine when the opening is at the top of the bladder but in most cases, where the cap is on the side, this means you will not be able to utilize the bladder to its full potential.

Filling in this way means water will only reach the opening and will leave an empty space. Remember, in most hiking situations, we are trying to carry as much water as comfortably possible. The bladder is probably the most comfortable way to carry water so not utilizing the space fully would be a waste.

With the bladder flat, fill until water reaches the top of the opening. Screw the cover back on the hydration bladder. Be certain not to cross thread the cap. A good tip here is to turn the cap anti-clockwise until you feel it click into place. At this point, it is at the beginning of the thread and should screw on properly and tightly with ease.

Replace the bladder into your pack and you’re ready to hike. Be careful when packing other items. You don’t want items that are sharp or abrasive up against your hydration bladder.

How do you clean a hydration bladder?

Without a doubt, the best way to clean your hydration bladder is to deal with it as soon as you return home from your hike. Give it a really good rinse out and then leave it to air dry. The key to airing out your hydration bladder is to make sure the sides are kept apart and aren’t left to touch and stick together. A great way to achieve this is by utilizing a wire coat hanger. If you make sure to take these steps after each use then your hydration bladder should be fresh and ready to use every time you go for a hike.

However, we understand that this ideal is not always reality. When we return from a long hike, it is often the case that we don’t feel like cleaning all our gear. This can mean that things like hydration bladders can be forgotten and the next time we come to use them they can be smelly and dirty. In cases like this, we need to take a little further action.

The first thing to do when you find your hydration bladder unclean, and with liquid possibly still in there, is to flush it out. Give it a really good rinse ensuring not to forget about the hose. However, do not use the hose to empty out anything that was left in there as this could lead to it becoming blocked or even more contaminated than it was.

Now you have any old residue out of the hydration bladder and have given it a rinse, you need to give it a good scrub. For this, something like a bottle brush is great for the job, you can also buy hydration bladder cleaning kits that will contain a brush. They will also contain cleaning solutions but for the purpose of this article, we are assuming you only have household products available.

To eliminate the smell and kill any germs, this will also help if you need to know how to get the plastic taste out of a new water bladder, we need to use some sort of cleaning product. This can be a few drops of a soap used for cleaning dishes, half a tablespoon of bleach, 2 cups of white vinegar or two tablespoons of baking soda, for example. Whichever we choose, only use one, we need to fill the rest of the hydration bladder with warm water. Leave the solution to work for about 30 minutes. Be sure to give it a good shake and let a little of the solution through the hose at about 5-minute intervals.

The next stage is to go back to rinsing and flushing the hydration bladder. Give it a really good rinse for a few minutes, making sure to rinse the hose thoroughly. We advise that once you feel you have rinsed the bladder enough, rinse it again.
As before, we now need to air out the hydration bladder ensuring the sides do not touch and stick together. Once dry, our hydration bladder should now be clean, odorless and ready for use.

Is glass better than plastic?

Not only is glass so much better for the environment than plastics, but it will also extend the freshness and flavor of your drink. Glass helps to repel odors and residual flavors which helps to maintain the contents. Plastic is much less stable than glass and has a greater chance of releasing toxins which affect the contents.

Plastic containers are not as robust as their glass counterparts and will become damaged much easier. Unlike plastic, glass will not break down over time. This means it can be washed at high temperatures time and time again and will maintain its original integrity.

With this in mind, although glass water bottles are often a little more expensive than plastic, they can potentially last a lifetime. This, in turn, could save you money. Just make sure to look after them correctly. Not being as durable as plastic is a drawback of using glass.

Is it better for the environment to use glass or plastic?

Glass is made from abundant materials such as sand and limestone. It can be safely washed at high temperatures and uses 40% less energy than plastic when being recycled. Up to 80% of recycled glass can be reclaimed whereas not all plastics can even be recycled.

Single-use plastics are a massive contributor to pollution in our seas and are having a major impact on our environment. In fact, there are big plans in place to reduce the use of plastics over the next couple of decades. If you do find the need to use plastics, whether as a drinking vessel or any other reason, then aim for reusable products.

This is why, although they use plastic, we would always recommend using Hydration Bladders over single-use, disposable plastic water bottles.

Is stainless steel or glass better?

Surprisingly, there are many studies that promote the non-use of metal water bottles. This is because of numerous reasons. Such as bottles leaching BPA, ‘stainless steel’ bottles containing aluminum which has been linked to Alzheimer’s and acidy drinks causing nickel chromium and iron to leach into them.

Not only that but the manufacturing process for stainless steel bottles is bad for the environment. The extraction of different ores involves energy-intensive heating and releases toxic materials into the air and the earth. The process of creating a stainless steel bottle uses seven times more fossil fuel and releases 14 times more greenhouse gasses than when creating a plastic bottle.

What is the best water bottle for hiking?

We conclude that the best vessel to use when hiking depends on the length and intensity of your hike and the water sources available. If you’re not going far or have an abundance of water sources then a reusable glass bottle is the way to go.
If you’re going a little further afield and don’t have so many water sources then a hydration bladder may better suit your needs.