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Water Procurement

Surviving the Wilderness: The Importance of Water Procurement on Trekking Trips

Surviving the Wilderness: The Importance of Water Procurement on Trekking Trips


Trekking is a thrilling and challenging outdoor activity that requires physical fitness, mental toughness, and careful planning. Trekking is also a great way to enjoy nature, explore new places, and push yourself to your limits. However, trekking can also be dangerous, especially in remote wilderness areas that are far from civilization. One of the biggest challenges that trekkers face is finding safe drinking water, which is essential for survival. In this article, we will discuss the importance of water procurement on trekking trips, and provide some tips and tricks for finding and purifying water in the wilderness.

The Importance of Water

Water is the single most important element that humans need to survive. Without water, our bodies cannot function properly, and we can quickly become dehydrated, weak, and sick. When trekking in the wilderness, there are many factors that can affect your body’s water needs, such as altitude, temperature, physical exertion, and humidity. Therefore, it is important to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and maintain your energy levels.

In addition to drinking water, you may also need water for cooking, cleaning, and bathing. However, not all water sources in the wilderness are safe to drink, as they may contain harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses, or chemicals that can cause waterborne diseases. Therefore, it is important to be able to identify and treat water before drinking it.

Identifying Water Sources

Before you start your trekking trip, it is important to research the water sources in your area, and plan your route accordingly. You should look for natural water sources, such as springs, streams, lakes, and rivers, as well as man-made sources, such as wells, pumps, and cisterns. You should also consider the topography, geology, and climate of your area, as they can affect the availability and quality of water.

When you arrive at a potential water source, you should inspect it carefully to determine if it is safe to drink. You should look for the following signs of contamination:

  • Color – Water that is cloudy, murky, or discolored may be contaminated with sediment, algae, or chemicals.
  • Odor – Water that smells bad or has a strong chemical odor may be contaminated with bacteria, parasites, or chemicals.
  • Taste – Water that tastes bad or has a metallic, salty, or sour taste may be contaminated with minerals, salts, or chemicals.
  • Animals – Water that has animal tracks, droppings, or remains nearby may be contaminated with bacteria or parasites.
  • Human activities – Water that is near human settlements, farms, or factories may be contaminated with sewage, pesticides, or industrial waste.

Purifying Water

If you cannot find a safe drinking water source, or if you suspect that your water may be contaminated, you should treat it before drinking it. There are several methods of water purification that you can use in the wilderness, such as boiling, filtering, chemical treatment, and solar disinfection.

Boiling is a simple and effective method of water purification that can kill almost all bacteria, viruses, and parasites. To boil water, you should bring it to a rolling boil for at least one minute (or longer at high altitude), and then let it cool before drinking.

Filtering is another method of water purification that can remove most bacteria, parasites, and sediment from water. You should use a portable water filter that has a high-quality filter cartridge or membrane, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Chemical treatment involves using tablets, drops, or powders of chlorine or iodine to disinfect water. You should add the correct amount of chemical treatment to your water and wait for the recommended time before drinking.

Solar disinfection is a natural and eco-friendly method of water purification that uses sunlight to kill bacteria and viruses. To use solar disinfection, you should fill a clear plastic or glass bottle with water, and place it in direct sunlight for at least six hours (or longer in cloudy weather).


Water procurement is a critical skill that every trekker should master before embarking on a wilderness adventure. By knowing how to identify water sources, and how to treat water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning, you can enjoy a safe and healthy trekking trip, and avoid waterborne diseases. Remember to drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty, and to plan ahead for emergencies by carrying extra water and purification equipment. Stay safe, and happy trekking!

Surviving the Wilderness: The Importance of Water Procurement on Trekking Trips FAQ

Q: Why is water procurement important on trekking trips?

A: Water is essential for survival, and it is even more important when you are in the wilderness. When you are trekking, you lose water through sweat and exertion so it is important to replenish it. Without adequate water intake, you can become dehydrated which can lead to serious health problems such as heatstroke, headaches, and even organ failure.

Q: How much water should I drink while on a trekking trip?

A: The amount of water you need to drink on a trekking trip depends on your level of exertion, temperature, humidity, altitude, and individual body needs. As a general rule, you should aim to drink at least 3-4 liters of water per day. It is always better to carry more water than you think you need.

Q: What are the sources of water in the wilderness?

A: There are several sources of water in the wilderness, including natural springs, streams, lakes, and snow. However, not all sources are safe to drink from. You should always treat the water before drinking it.

Q: How do I treat the water in the wilderness?

A: The most common methods of treating water in the wilderness are boiling, filtration, and chemical treatment. Boiling water kills all the pathogens, but it is time-consuming. Filtration removes bacteria and protozoa, but may not remove viruses. Chemical treatment using iodine or chlorine kills pathogens, but has a strong taste and can take around 30 minutes to work.

Q: Should I rely on my water filtration system or chemical treatment?

A: It is always better to use a combination of water filtration and chemical treatment to ensure that the water is safe to drink. Water filtration removes larger impurities while chemical treatment kills pathogens, thus creating a double barrier of protection.

Q: Can I drink water from natural sources without treating it?

A: No, you should never drink water from natural sources without treating it. Even if the water looks clean, it may contain harmful bacteria, protozoa, and viruses that can cause serious illness. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Q: What should I do if I run out of water?

A: If you run out of water, the first thing you should do is look for natural sources of water. If you are unable to find any, you can try to collect water from plants through a process called transpiration. You can also try to melt snow or ice if it is available. However, always ensure that you treat the collected water before drinking it.

Q: What are the signs of dehydration?

A: The signs of dehydration include thirst, dry mouth, dark urine, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to rehydrate immediately.

Q: What should I do if I suspect I am dehydrated?

A: If you suspect that you are dehydrated, the first thing you should do is stop and rest in a shaded area. Drink plenty of water, and if possible, add electrolytes to your water. If you continue to feel unwell, seek medical attention immediately.

Q: How can I prevent dehydration on a trekking trip?

A: To prevent dehydration on a trekking trip, you should drink plenty of water throughout the day. You should also avoid alcohol, caffeine, and salty foods that can increase dehydration. Wear loose clothing that allows your skin to breathe and provides shade. Pre-hydrate your body before the trekking trip and carry enough water.

Related Products for Water Procurement on Trekking

  • Water Filters – Water filters are essential for trekkers to have access to clean drinking water. Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System is a great option for its light weight, high flow rate, and ability to filter out 99.9999% of bacteria and protozoa.
  • Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System is a small, efficient, and lightweight system that’s perfect for long treks. It can filter out bacteria, protozoa, and sediment. This filtration system is easy to use and doesn’t require any batteries or electricity. It’s also affordable and can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water.

  • Water Purification Tablets – Water purification tablets are a great emergency backup in case your water filter fails. Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets are a popular and effective choice for trekkers.
  • Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets are an inexpensive and effective alternative to water filters. This product is lightweight, compact and fits easily into your backpack. They dissolve quickly and kill germs within 30 minutes, making them a great option for quick water purification on the go.

  • Collapsible Water Bottles – Carrying a bulky bottle around can be a nuisance on long treks. Collapsible water bottles, such as the Platypus SoftBottle, are an excellent way to save space in your backpack without sacrificing hydration.
  • Platypus SoftBottle is a lightweight, flexible, and robust water bottle that can be collapsed or rolled up when empty, making it perfect for trekkers. It’s made of durable polyethylene and is BPA-free. Despite its lightweight and flexibility, it can hold up to a liter of water, which is great for longer treks.

  • Hydration Bladders – Hydration bladders are a great way to carry water while also keeping your hands free. The CamelBak Hydration Bladder is a reliable and popular option.
  • The CamelBak Hydration Bladder is a popular option for trekkers as it can store up to 3 liters of water while also being lightweight and durable. It has a leak-proof on/off valve that stops water from escaping, and its antimicrobial technology keeps the bladder clean and healthy. Its insulated tube also prevents water from freezing in cold environments.

  • Camp Shower – The camp shower can help trekkers wash off sweat and dirt while also staying hydrated. Sunrinse Portable Solar Shower is an excellent way to achieve that on long trekking expeditions.
  • Sunrinse Portable Solar Shower is an innovative camp showering solution for trekkers. It’s lightweight, portable, and easy to use. It’s made with durable and strong PVC material that can hold up to 5 gallons of water. The shower is solar-powered, taking advantage of the sun’s power to heat the water for a comfortable and refreshing shower experience.

  • Water Bottles with Built-in Filters – If you don’t like the idea of carrying extra equipment for water filtration, water bottles with built-in filters are an excellent option. GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier is an excellent example.
  • The GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier is a great option for trekkers who don’t want to bring extra filtration equipment. It’s a 16 oz purifying water bottle that can filter out bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. It only takes 15 seconds to purify the water in the GRAYL Ultralight, and it’s a reliable and effective way to stay hydrated on your trekking adventures.

  • Water Bladders with Filters – Water bladders with built-in filters are another option to stay hydrated and reduce the amount of equipment you need to carry. Platypus GravityWorks Filter System is a great example of a reliable water bladder with a filter system.
  • Platypus GravityWorks Filter System is a great option for trekkers who prefer water bladders over bottles. It’s a high-capacity filtration system that can treat up to four liters of water in a few minutes. It’s also lightweight and easy to use with a quick-fill opening. Its two-layer filter system can remove 99.99% of bacteria and protozoa from the water.

    In conclusion, having access to clean water is crucial while trekking, and the products mentioned above can help trekkers stay hydrated while also remaining lightweight and reducing the need to carry bulky water bottles. These items are designed to filter, purify, or store water while ensuring the water you drink is safe for consumption.

    Pros & Cons of Water Procurement on Trekking Trips

    • Pros:
      • Availability: With the correct knowledge and skills, various sources of water can be found in the wilderness, from natural springs and streams to rainwater and snowmelt. This provides hikers with an endless supply of water if they are able to purify it.
      • Hydration: Proper hydration is crucial while trekking. Water procurement ensures that hikers have access to clean water that will keep them hydrated and moving forward.
      • Cost-effective: Water procurement techniques, such as boiling or filtration, do not require expensive equipment, making it a cost-effective method of obtaining clean water while trekking.
      • Self-reliance: Learning how to procure water is an essential survival skill that will make hikers more self-reliant and confident in their ability to navigate the wilderness.
    • Cons:
      • Time-consuming: Hiking and water procurement often go hand in hand, but it can be time-consuming to locate and purify water sources. This can disrupt the flow of the trek and add to the length of the trip.
      • Weather-dependent: Some water procurement methods, such as rainwater harvesting, are entirely dependent on weather conditions. Lack of rain can make it difficult to obtain enough water to sustain the trip.
      • Physical effort: Depending on the water source, hikers may need to climb or hike a significant distance to obtain water. This requires additional physical effort and can be particularly challenging during multi-day treks.
      • Contamination: Even after procuring water, it is crucial to ensure it is safe for consumption. Contaminants such as bacteria and viruses can still be present, which can lead to illnesses and other health issues.

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