How Do I Backpack Without Water? | Hikers University

Water scarcity does not only exist in the desert. Due to dryness or evaporation, several fantastic hiking spots may also become dry.

Water sources can be found on trial maps and even Google maps. You can also contact local park rangers to inquire about whether or not there is still water in the region. They will provide details on the water source, including how well it is still flowing. You can also find out where the next drinking fountain is by asking other hikers. People are usually friendly and willing to assist on the trails.

Hiking and camping near water is always a good idea, but this isn't always doable, especially if the area is experiencing a drought. When dry camping, the best advice is to stock up on water, drink it, and replace your containers as soon as possible.

Generally, one gallon per individual every day is a good rule of thumb. Plan out your next water source and be aware of the dangers of hiking dry for lengthy periods of time. A half gallon of water is the recommended quantity of water each day, especially during regular activity. However, since you'll be backpacking, this number will rise owing to the intense activities.

After conducting our research, we have come up with this guide to help you learn everything you need to know about dry backpacking and how to backpack without a water supply.  

Table of contents


Tips for Backpacking without Water

During a dry hike, make the most of each water supply source. Fill your containers with enough water to keep you nourished until you arrive at the next day's source, and then guzzle a quart or two at your last watering point.

Make sure that you cook wherever there is water. Cook an extra meal at your last source of drinking water, or eat your hot meals for lunch and preserve your cold lunches for dry camp in the evening.

Plan your meals carefully if you wish to cook at a dry camp. Avoid sticky sauces and tuna to reduce dishwashing. To clean pots, use bread or tortillas. Soups and pastas should be avoided because they require a lot of water to cook. Use quinoa, couscous, or rice instead, and measure out the amount of liquid you'll need before exiting your last source of drinkable water.

How Do I backpack Without Water?

Make a route plan

Stocking up on water when it's accessible is crucial, but planning when you'll need water is just as critical. Did you know that caching water is a tip that involves hiding or placing water along the route before starting out on foot?

However, be sure to check the regulations for the area where you'll be hiking. Some jurisdictions prohibit it, while others permit it only for a limited period of time. You can only cache food and water for up to 14 days in some parks.

Keep a large amount of water in your vehicle. This is so you may rest assured that help is on the way. Hiking in a loop back to the car is also a strategy. It should go without saying, that having a good water filter and a way to boil water is always a good idea.

Factors to Consider While Packing Water for a Trek

Season and temperature

As the weather gets hotter, the amount of water you need to drink will rise.

Higher Altitudes

You naturally feel the urge to consume more water at higher altitudes. The irony is that it is easy to become dehydrated since you may not crave water and hence forget to drink. It's critical to remember this and to drink even if you don't feel thirsty. Before putting on your backpack and hitting the trail, make sure that you drink plenty of water and pre-hydrate.

Sun and Shade

Even in chilly weather, a sunblock and a hat are essential. The water will evaporate off your skin and the sun will make you sweat.


Hike strenuously in the mornings to slow down your pace during the day. You won't lose much ground by trying harder when it's cool if you plan properly. Rest in the shade and protect yourself with a hat and an umbrella.

Staying Hydrated While Hiking

Drink water as soon as you feel thirsty. Ideally, you must consume at least a sip of water after every 20 minutes. If necessary, set a timer on your watch. If everything goes according to plan, you'll finish your final drink of water 10 minutes before reaching your next water source.

The last ten minutes will be the most difficult and nerve-wracking, which is why it's crucial to schedule your stops. When water is available, fill up and drink a lot of it, and camp near a source of water for the night.

A few days before your hike, stay away from alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes the body to pass on more fluid. If you drink heavily over a night, you’ll be losing more fluids than you will be consuming, resulting in dehydration. So unless you want to sabotage your own backpacking experience, we recommend that you steer clear of alcohol a day before the dry hike.

Prevent Dehydration before Hiking

While you should avoid alcohol the day before a dry trek, you should also hydrate the day before. Drink plenty of water and eat a couple of nutritious meals the day before. Although we completely understand if you enjoy coffee just like everyone else, we regret to inform you that caffeine is also a diuretic.

Don't wait till you're thirsty to drink water. Drink plenty of water before starting your trek and on the way up into the mountains or desert. This is a critical step in ensuring a safe journey and putting yourself in a position to succeed before you ever set foot on the route.

How much water should you bring?

Water is heavy, and you're going to have to carry a lot more than you're used to. Water weighs 8.3 pounds per gallon. You will have to alter the size of your backpack to accommodate the additional water you'll require.

During dry trekking, we recommend bringing 11.023 pounds or 5 liters of water. Hiking on a dry ridge at a rate of half a liter per hour will provide you with ten and a half hours of hiking. You must then proceed to your next water source.

You'll use more water at night for cooking and cleaning. Breakfast necessitates more water in the morning. With enough water, ten and a half hours will be a significant portion of your day. Combining this with a strenuous morning hike should keep you safe and hydrated.


Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

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