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Backpacking Gear for Beginners: Water Bottle

This post is part of the Backpacking Gear for Beginners course.

Why do you need a water bottle? 

On day hikes and multi-day adventures, you’ll need a water bottle. Humans can survive without food for longer than we can go without water. It doesn’t need to be expensive, but we need something to hold our water. 

For backpacking, you’ll likely be refilling it along the way at lakes or streams. Water is heavy so it’s difficult to carry every drop of water you’ll need for multiple days hiking. For this we can use a water filter or purification drops but we’ll be discussing those in a different section. 

Another option for carrying water is a water bladder which is the next section. I find carrying both a water bottle and water bladder works best for me. The bladder is my main water that I drink from during the day because it’s convenient. Then the water bottle is the emergency water if I run out while drinking from the bladder and great for around camp, using it as a hot water bottle for cold nights and the measurements for cooking.

What fits in your backpack?

Where are you going to carry this water bottle? Many backpacks have water bottle pockets on either side of the outside. Your pack might carry Nalgene 1 litre bottles well.

Does it have measurements?

Many dehydrated backpacking meals require a certain amount of water like 300 or 500 milliliters. Having a water bottle or pot that can measure this amount of water is helpful in cooking your food properly. Even if you are using a cheap disposable water bottle, you can draw the cup and millilitre markings on the side with a permanent marker at home.

What fits on your filter?

Many water filters like MSR or Sawyer screw onto a particular water bottle. They are different size. MSR water filters typically fit on 1 liter Nalgene-type bottles. Sawyer filters tend to fit on smaller disposable water bottles like Smartwater bottles. 

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