How Much Water to Bring While Hiking? 1 liter per hour

hiking water

It’s perhaps the most important question on the minds of many new and experienced hikers – exactly how much water should I bring on my next hike?

On an average hike in 20°C (68°F) weather, you should expect to drink 0.5-1 liters (2-4 cups) per hour. However the exact amount of water you’ll need depends on how efficient your kidneys are, how hot and humid the climate is and how many water sources are available along your route.

In warmer weather or if you’re sweating heavily you’ll want to drink more to replace the lost fluid.

Table of Contents

What color is your pee?

Every hiker is different and over time you’ll get to know how much water you’ll need in different conditions. The best way to check if your drinking enough water is to look at the color of your pee.

A clear sign that you’re drinking enough water is your urine should be straw color or pale yellow. If it’s darker then you will likely benefit from drinking more water and if it is clear then you’re drinking plenty.

Planning how much water to bring

Water is usually ones of the heaviest items in our backpack (- along with tents, sleeping bags, and stoves.) and with many hikers preferring to pack light and have less weight on their shoulders – choosing how much water to bring can be a real challenge.

No one wants to bring so much excess water that their packs are weighed down and yet on the other end it can be dangerous and even a fatal mistake to not pack enough water with you.

The key is to plan your route and be aware of any water sources that may be en route. For most hikers, there will be a stream, a creek or a water source that can be used to fill up water filters – for others hiking in the desert or in dry conditions there may be no water sources – and so you will need to bring all your water with you.

Bring a water filter

MSR TrailShot Micro-Filtration System

Most hikers and backpackers will benefit enormously from carrying a water filter or purifier. This will allow you to top up all your water bottles en route and means you can pack less water but be confident that you’ll stay properly hydrated.

Water filter technology has been improving rapidly and there are some amazing lightweight filters that make collecting and purifying water super simple and easy to do.

⚠️Be aware that many water sources are not available all year round. Only rely on a water source if you’re positive it has enough water in it to get you through your hike.

From the ultra-minimalist water bottles with built-in filters to the high powered water pumps like the MRS trailshot (read my review) that will create 1 liter of fresh filtered water every minute.

tmini works filter review

Water filters are pretty incredible, they make most river or creek water (that’s not been contaminated with heavy metals or industrial pollution) relatively safe to drink.

For higher risk areas opt for a water purifier like the MSR MiniWorks Ex Microfilter (read my review) which not only filters our bacteria and particles of sediment, but also the much smaller viruses.

P.S I wrote an entire buyers guide to water filters looking at the major differences between filters and how to decide on the best one for you – for high capacity to ultralight (prices range from $30-300).

I can still remember the first time I used a water filter…I stopped at a stream and pumped 2 liters of water into my platypus hydration system. It was one of the most liberating moments I’ve ever experienced hiking! I knew from then on, that the distance I could hike in a day would never be limited by the amount of water I could carry in my pack.
Nick from Hiking Ambition

How long will you be hiking?

At a minimum, you’ll want to have at least a few liters of water in your backpack to take you through your hike. If you’re planning a multi-day backpacking trip then you’ll likely need a water filter (more on that above) to allow you to top up our bottles during your journey.

The average moderately fit hiker will manage to walk around 3mph (or 20minutes per mile). For steeper or rockier terrain this will take longer whereas flat sections could be walked at a brisk pace of 5mph.

Formula for calculating water consumption

If your day hike is 12 miles and if your walking at an average pace of 3mph and you stop for one hour for lunch and breaks throughout the day. We can say that you’ll need 5 hours to walk this distance and so five hours worth of water.

  • Distance / Speed = Time + (Rest time) = Total hike time
  • 12 miles / 3mph = 4 hours + (Rest time) = 5hr

If we take the 0.5-1 liter (2-4 cup) per hour average, on the conservative end we can say bring 5 liters (21 cups) of water.

  • Hike time x water consumption = Total water needed
  • 5 hours x 1 liters per hour = 5 liters

This formula is based on averages, but you should adjust it to match your water needs and to account for the weather on the day and the difficulty of the hike – the more extraneous it is the more water you’ll need.

If you’re confident that there are at least two water sources en route where you can use your filter – then you could bring just 3 liters of water (the lower end of your water needs 2.5 liters + 0.5 liters safety net).

It’s always better to have some water left over at the end of your hike than to run out a few miles before the end of the day. At best it can be uncomfortable and at worst it could be deadly.

Factors that affect hydration

Temperature ?

The hotter it is the more you will be sweating and losing fluids from your body. To replace these lost fluids you need to be drinking more than you would otherwise be drinking. So in warmer weather, you may need to increase your water consumption to 1-1.5 liters (4-6 cups) per hour of hiking.

Even in cold temperatures your body still sweats and staying hydrated in just as important. If you have a backpacking stove with you then you can use it to melt snow in an emergency or fill up your water bottle and keep it inside of your jacket to melt.

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Humidity ?

When the air is saturated with water, it takes longer for sweat to evaporate from your skin – which makes the body’s natural cooling mechanism less effective and your core temperature heats up (source) making you sweat even more. In humid conditions, you need to be aware to drink more water to replace the lost fluid.

hiking trailHike Difficulty

Hikes that are continuously uphill or across open areas with no shade are going to be more difficult for the body. Your muscles will be burning more calories and you’ll be pushing your body harder. The harder the hike the more water you will need to stay hydrated.

Salt levels

Snacking on high calories food like nuts is often encouraged and I myself love to get my fill of Macadamia’s and roasted Cashews – but beware that consuming too much salt can make you really thirsty and lead yo to prematurely drink your supply of water. Try to drink your water slowly and be mindful of spreading it how throughout the day, rather than guzzling 1 liter and then peeing it all out in the next hour.

The USDA recommends no more than a teaspoon (2,400 mg) of sodium per day, maybe a bit more when you’re sweating heavily.

That said if you’re sweating alot and in a humid climate then having a bit of extra salt is a good thing – just be mindful of your consumption.

What you’re wearing

Wearing the right clothes for the climate is important while hiking. Too restrictive or materials that

Symptoms of dehydration

Common telltale signs that you need to drink more water often include the following:

  • Dry mouth and lips
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Thirst!

If dehydration is left untreated it come become dangerous, so the key is to stay properly hydrated – it will make hiking much more fun.

You can drink too much water ⚠️

There is a risk of drinking too much water which can be dangerous if you excessively over-hydrate.

Over-hydration is rare, but in extreme cases, it can lead to water intoxication or hyponatremia– when the electrolytes in the body are moved beyond their safe limits (source).

To exceed the body’s ability to excrete water, a young adult with normal kidney function would have to drink more than 6 gallons of water a day on a regular basis.

Overhydration. James Lewis MD. Source.

Those most at risk are extreme marathon runners and hikers who overcompensate by drinking too much.

If your pee is clear and you have no thirst and you have been drinking lots of water – take a break and don’t consume fluids until you feel thirsty.

Drinking too much water is not a concern for most hikers and usually, the opposite is true, but it is worth noting and something you should be aware of.

Why is water so important?

The human body relies on water for many of its vital functions and 50-60% of our body weight comes primarily from water (source).

Water helps us in all sorts of ways from creating saliva to breaks down solid fuel to lubricating our joints and tissues (source).

Final thoughts

Having enough water is crucial for your enjoyment and in some cases your survival. Here are the key takeaways to remember for your next outdoor adventure:

  • Always plan your route and hike with more than enough water to see you through the trip.
  • Bring a lightweight water filter with you to use as a backup and to collect water as you go.
  • Don’t assume that water sources are available year round.
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water (but don’t over-hydrate).
  • Be aware of how much salt your consuming and don’t overdo it.


Hi, I’m Simon, the hiker behind OutdoorYak.I love to love to travel, hike and explore new mountain trails. Read More.

The Right Amount of Water to Drink When Hiking

It is said that a person cannot survive without water for more than 3 days. Naturally, you shouldn’t test this limit, especially if you’re hiking. Ask any experienced hiker and you will hear that hydration should be your number one priority.

So how much water should you drink when hiking? Even though a person should drink 2 liters/68 ounces a day, it is highly recommended that you drink much more during the hiking activity. Consume approximately 1 liter/34 ounces every two hours. Drink even if you’re not thirsty at the moment. Constantly sip in order to be properly hydrated.

This, however, raises additional questions. How do hiking conditions affect the required amount of water? What is the best way to carry all that water? Let’s dive into these questions in order to have the complete picture of this important subject.

Some of the topics of this article are also summarized in the following video:

How Much Water Should a Hiker Drink?

I mentioned earlier that you should drink about half a liter (17 ounces) an hour. This amount, of course, depends on the conditions of the hike. For instance, a rougher terrain forces you to exert more effort, so you can probably drink more water to compensate. High temperatures are another factor that must be taken into consideration. You can still drink 1 liter per 2 hours at moderate temperatures – but no less than that. On the other hand, a hot weather makes you sweat more and lose more liquid, so you will need to replenish it faster.

Please keep in mind that you will sweat and lose liquids even during the coldest of weathers. You might not feel hot and fool yourself into thinking that you don’t need to drink. Don’t be lulled into this misconception, keep drinking even during the autumn and winter hikes. Consider drinking something hot, you will feel warmer as well as replenish the lost water. And always remember that water is the best hydration drink for hiking, so don’t experiment with any other substitutions.

The same goes for hiking at high altitudes. The sensation of thirst is less felt at higher treks, and you will need to counteract it with more drinking.

Another aspect is the way that you drink. Don’t just chug water when you’re thirsty. Instead, sip water evenly during the entire hike. This is the best way to absorb it and stay hydrated constantly.

Always plan your hike with water on your mind. You will need to calculate the sufficient amount to take with you, you will need to have the right equipment and filters (if necessary) and you will always need to look for signs of dehydration. I do my best to clarify all these points in the rest of the article.

How Much Water to Carry While Backpacking?

Using a map, estimate the length of your planned hike. Divide the distance by an average walking speed (about 3 mph or 5 km/h). This is how many hours you will be hiking on this day. Now multiply the hours by the recommended amount of water per hour, and you have your answer. For instance, if you plan to hike for 12 miles, that’s 4 hours or 2 liters.

If you aren’t fully sure about that amount, just bring more. It’s better to carry extra water than get stranded high and dry, literally. In fact, in your very first hike, bring double the amount you’ve calculated using the method I’ve just described. This will give you a good estimate for future hikes.

How To Carry Large Amounts of Water?

There are easy, common solutions. You can even purchase any of them online for the lowest possible prices.

  1. Water bottle – it’s durable and widely available. You can easily store it in your backpack. However, a bottle tends to be on the heavy and bulky side.
  2. Collapsible bottle – an improvement to the regular bottle. They are very compact and light, although can be less durable.
  3. Bladder/reservoir/hydration pack – these are actually a superb solution. They come with a hose that you can sip through on the go, just as recommended. The hose on your shoulder will constantly remind you to drink. Their only disadvantage is that it’s hard to know how much water you have left, which is why many people still prefer the transparent bottles.
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Any of these can serve you just fine, as long as you will always have water within your reach. If you go with the bottle and not the reservoir with a hose, make sure you can pull it out easily, without fumbling with the backpack’s zipper. Ideally you should store the bottle in the side mesh pocket of your backpack or the waist belt.

From my personal experience, the best bottle on the market is Embrava Best Sports Water Bottle. It’s large, durable, has a leak proof lid and made of eco-friendly material. With thousands of positive reviews on Amazon, this bottle is the right choice for every hiker who wants to stay hydrated at all times.

Here is a video that gives additional information on carrying water during a hike:

Can I Refill Water on the Hike?

Whichever solution from the previous list you choose, they all can be refilled on the hike. We have an extensive article on our blog that explains what water you should drink during the hike and how you can filter it. Refilling water on the go can greatly extend your hike, so plan it according to the bodies of water you can encounter along the way.

As far as filtering methods are concerned, it is understandable that not all of them fit a short hike. Unless your journey lasts for days, nobody expects you to use such time consuming methods as UV water purification, reverse osmosis, distillation, desalination, and so on. Boiling might take less time, but it requires making a camp fire, which exceeds the purpose of a simple 3-4 hours long hike.

So if there are reliable water sources on your route, consider the options that don’t add much to the time and the weight that you’re carrying. Chemical treatment by purifying tablets is quick, they weigh nothing and don’t take up place in your backpack. After you fill your bottle from the water source, drop the tablet in and enjoy purified water.

An additional option is the popular and famous LifeStraw (available on Amazon) is a great choice, it completely eliminates all the dangerous parasites and microbes from the water, such as salmonella and E. coli. LifeStraw even removes the undesirable microplastics, which unfortunately pollute a lot of water sources, lakes and streams. This excellent filter underwent meticulous testing and is very affordable. Personally, I highly recommend it.

Alternatively, you can go for a reusable bottle fitted with a special filter. Brita 20 Ounce Premium Filtering Water Bottle (on Amazon) has an effective built-in filter. The famous Brita filter improves the taste of the water while removing unnecessary chemicals. This can be your trusty companion to take anywhere, and not just to hiking, but also to work or on your long distance travels.

What Happens if I Don’t Drink Enough?

When you sweat the fluids out without adequately replenishing them, you will dehydrate. In fact, dehydration begins at the very first moment that you feel thirsty. If you don’t drink immediately to refill the lost liquids, you will begin to feel a strong thirst, dryness in mouth and your energy level will start getting lower and lower. If you don’t heed the signs, the dehydration symptoms will get even more severe: splitting headache, feeling of nausea, cramps everywhere, and overall loss of energy until you will be barely able to move on.

You can cure all of this by drinking. Check carefully how much water you sip, make sure you don’t fall off the hourly amount of half a liter or more. Also, consider drinking energy or sports drinks in addition to the regular water. They will help you to get back the lost electrolytes and carbohydrates. They leave our body when you exercise and sweat. They include potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium – all the elements which are important to your body and your performance. Replace the electrolytes with a sports drink, and you are good to go (literally). Such a drink can be made by purchasing the necessary tablets or powders and mixing them with water.

Is It Possible to Drink Too Much Water?

No, because your body is capable of releasing unused water by triggering the urination mechanism. You are going to pee a lot while hiking, it is usual and nothing to be concerned or ashamed about. Notice the color of your urine, it’s a good hint at the current hydration level. Ideally, your pee should be clear, like the water. A yellow or brown pee and a smaller urine volume are sure signs that you must hydrate immediately.

Of course, you should never push these limits, either. In some occasions, excessive water drinking can lead to the kidneys being overloaded. As a result, a person can suffer from hyponatremia – an extremely dangerous condition of sodium dilution in blood. The symptoms are similar to dehydration (see above). The solution is simply not to drink too much, but just the right amount. You can also prevent overhydration by adding salt. You can do this by drinking electrolytes-rich sports drink, consuming a salty snack or using a salt tablet.

Remember, when you go hiking, some seasons are preferred to the others. Find out which seasons are the best to for hiking.

Related Questions

How do I keep my water cold on a hike? Your hydration packs will remain cold during the day if you previously froze some water at night. You can also freeze water in plastic bottles, but use only those with the flexible plastic. Ice expands and can tear apart any hard plastic and glass. Try hiking mostly in shade, to keep the water cool.

How can I absorb more water? If you’re not used to drinking a lot and constantly, here are a few helpful tips. Drink lukewarm water (instead of ice cold one). Add sour or sweet flavor to it. Sip water throughout the hike instead of chugging. These tricks may definitely help you drink more water that what you’re used to.

What should you drink before a hike? Before the hike, it is advisable to drink 20 to 32 ounces of water. You must start your hike pre-hydrated. Then, as you hike, drink as we have suggested earlier. Take sips constantly, even before you feel thirsty. Have another liter of water with every break for a meal.

How Much Water Should You Drink on a 10 Mile Hike?

How Much Water Should You Drink on a 10 Mile Hike?

Hydrating is essential on a 10-mile hike, but how much water should you drink? Packing less water than you need can lead to heat exhaustion and dehydration, which is a severe risk while hiking. Avoid these health risks by correctly estimating the amount of water you will need and pack extra water or hydration drinks for your next hike.

How much water you should drink on a 10-mile hike is about 0.5 liters of water for every hour of hiking in normal conditions. Increase the rate of consumption when hiking in warmer temperatures and higher altitudes. The amount of water required to hydrate varies from person to person, so adjust according to your needs.

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Reading through the entire article will explain how much water you should drink on a 10-mile hike, the weather, and temperature considerations that can make you dehydrate faster, use a hiking water calculator, and the best hydration drink while hiking.

How Much Water Do I Actually Need for a 10 Mile Hike?

Water is most likely one of the heaviest items you will be carrying on your 10-mile hike, and you will feel the weight with every step you take. Water usually weighs around 2 lbs (0.9 kg) for each liter, which can add up very fast in your pack. You do not want to take too much water, but you want to make sure you have enough on the trail to keep you hydrated.

Generally, the amount of water you should drink on a 10-mile hike is approximately 0.5 liters (17 ounces) or 2 cups of water for every hour of hiking with moderate temperature in typical terrain.

Depending on the terrain surface, weather, and the speed you walk, you may need to drink more than 2 liters (68 ounces). You may need to carry a minimum of 2.3 liters (77.8 ounces) of water (10 cups) of water if your 10-mile hike takes about 5 hours, but this is a basic guideline, and you might drink more than usual.

A 10-mile hike can take from 4 hours to up to 10 hours, depending on the hiking pace, trail surface, pack weight, temperature, physical condition, and elevation gain. So the amount of water you may need to bring at a minimum should be approximately 2 liters (68 ounces) or more in higher heat and strenuous hiking.

Elevation Gain

You will need to carry an additional liter of water for every 1,000 feet in elevation gain as every 1,000 feet will take an hour for you to hike. If you are trekking at an altitude of 10,000 feet and are planning on climbing higher, you need to bring an additional liter of water for every 2,000 feet you ascend.

Weather Temperature

You will need to take an additional liter of water in hotter or humid weather. If the temperature is over 80°F or around 27°C, you will need to pack an additional liter for every 20 degrees increase in Fahrenheit or 10 degrees increase in Celsius.

Pack Weight

If you are packing very heavy, over 50 lbs or 22 kg, you will want to bring an additional liter of water for every 25 lbs (11 kg) you are over this weight. Additionally, 1 liter (34 ounces) of water weighs approximately 2.2 lbs (1 kg), so the amount of water you bring will increase your pack’s weight.

If you are hiking near a lake or along a river with a water source, you can get a filtration/purifying system instead, as there is not much of a weight difference between an additional water bottle or a filter.

Planning Around Meals

Bear in mind that you will use water for your meals and during rest breaks. Take a look at your planned meal schedule to see how much water you will need to make food. If you are taking dehydrated food or calorie-dense snacks, these can often take 0.5 liters (17 ounces) and must be included in your calculations.

Weather and Temperature Considerations

If the weather is too humid, the trail is particularly strenuous. The 10-mile route is becoming an unusually longer hike than anticipated, do not forget to refuel on salt and electrolytes. Your body cannot replace all the liquids you are sweating out without salt and cause loss of electrolytes, which can add to your fatigue and cause injuries.

Dehydration occurs when the amount of water absorbed into your body is less than the number of liquids your body is losing by sweating. While feeling thirsty is a crucial indicator of dehydration, reduced energy levels, dry throat, dark urine, and headaches are other dehydration symptoms. Make sure to have oral rehydration salts in your first aid kit as they help you to absorb and retain fluids effectively.

Another way to check if you are not drinking enough water is to check your body weight before and directly after your hike because you should weigh the same. If the weight has fallen, then the cause could be due to dehydration, and you must compensate for the loss of fluids in your body.

How Many Ounces of Water to Drink per Mile? (Hiking Water Calculator)

The estimated amount of water you should bring on your hike depends on your prediction of the total amount of time it will take you to finish the 10-mile hike. Be honest about your physical condition, and do not assume you will finish the hike faster if you are in decent shape.

There are many variables and changing conditions that can quickly shift on the trail, so always lean on the side of cautions and carry more than you think you may need.

According to CamelBak’s hiking water calculator, if you identify as a male that is 6 feet (182 cm) tall, weigh 190 pounds (86 kg), and are 30 years old, he sweats a moderate to a heavy amount on a 2-hour hike in sunny 80°F or 25°C weather, you will ideally need 2.35 liters (79.5 ounces) or 1 liter (34 ounces) per hour.

What Is Best to Drink While Hiking? (Filtered Water, Mixes and Powders, etc.)

Drinking sports beverages such as tablets or mixes in powder form and eating food with high salt content such as jerky or nuts to replenish any minerals and vitamins you lose while sweating. You can bring powders and tablets to mix with water before the hike or on the trail.

The best hydration drinks and products provide hydration and energy for longer hikes with easily digestible calories and electrolytes to encourage you to hike all day.

Ideally, you should drink these sport/hydration drinks when fatigue sets in and sip at your water regularly despite not feeling thirsty. When you are hiking, you can quickly lose track of time, so set a timer for every 15 to 20 minutes to take a sip of water to ensure you will not get dehydrated.

Some ingredients to look for in a hydration drink, powder, or tablet are:

  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Sugar (dextrose/fructose/cane sugar)
  • Caffeine (optional, for an extra boost)
Best Hydration Drink for Hiking?

The best hydration drink for hiking is water plus an electrolyte – like NUUN tabs. Rather than sugary sweet sports drinks, NUUN has sugar-free electrolyte tablets that dissolve in water. The electrolytes found in these tabs help relieve cramps and effectively burn energy.

NUUN recommends one self-dissolving tablet into 16 fluid ounces (473 ml) of water, waiting 2 minutes until it stops fizzing, and then consuming your hydration drink.


A 10-mile hike is not an easy activity even for experienced hikers and requires estimating how much water to pack for the trail in advance. Figuring out how long the hike will take will allow you to prepare water, hydration drinks, and electrolyte replacements to avoid dehydration and keep active longer.




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