Survival Starts at Home: Water

Survival Starts at Home: Water, we spent an amazing week in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and you can read about it HERE, but it was definitely a stark contrast from the water situation down here in SoCal. Now I’m not saying we don’t have water down here, but it does seem like that from time to time, a lot of our water sources have to be planned out and are seasonal. Compared to Michigan it seemed like it was everywhere, we were even staying on an island so yes, we were surrounded by it…

Now one of the reasons I bring this up is a good lesson for us outdoor adventurers when it comes to planning, location and experience. We spent an amazing week in the cool green water available U.P. then where back on a plane Thursday for a cross country flight and where backpacking in the desert Friday. Now what does this have to do with water, good question; Our ability to travel is amazing but it is also very easy to get into trouble quick to environmental changes between home and were we are enjoying the outdoors. When we say survival starts at home, we really mean it especially when it comes to your water plan. In SoCal your water plan can vary from an hour from your house.

Things you need to be aware of are, Time, Temperature and Terrain. On top of the usual plans for storage and filtration. Time is important, how long are you going out? My water needs can vary for the same distance traveled based on my time and exposure on the trail. When I do a ten-mile day hike I am usually hydrated before I step off and will bring around three liters of water for a day hike in my two 1.5-liter Nalgenes. When I get back from my hike there is water in my truck and when I get home I am back to hydrating. So, I actually need more than the three liters, but I only need to carry that much for that time. Whereas if I am doing the same distance as an overnight trip, I usually carry seven liters to account for camp, there I need to use water for cooking and cleaning as well as continuing to stay hydrated for the rest of the hike in the morning. Keep in mind this is the same distance, but a longer time spent outside.

When we talk Temperature, I am looking at two concepts here, what is the weather, humidity and heat going to be, will this impact my need for water significantly?  What special considerations will I need gear wise, do I need to protect my water source from freezing or getting too hot to drink? Will my plan for filtering or treating water be effective with the temperatures we will be staying in. Also, for Temperature what is my operational temperature for this trip, what speed do we plan on going, what distance are we doing day one as opposed to day two? Do we have side trip planned or is this hike getting me somewhere to do something else like climb, hunt or take pictures? These factors also need to be considered when planning for water.

Terrain is another big one, what kind of area are we hiking in? An easy hike with little to no. major elevation gain is a lot different than a hard corps up the mountain type trip. We also have to look at exposure to the elements, do we have shade, or will it be an exposed trip? The time we start can also affect the way the terrain will affect us, are we hiking early and taking a break or starting late and hiking into the night. This factor can be lumped. Into the others I mentioned above but in the end the time you plan hiking will also directly affect how the terrain plays into your hydration.

So my big take away from this is doing your research and knowing exactly what you are getting into even locally as the environments can change big time with just an hour ride in your car let alone traveling cross country for a outdoor adventure. Taking Time, Temperature and Terrain into account can help you build a solid plan for staying hydrated on the trail and keeping it safe and fun.

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