How to Calculate the Amount of Water to Bring on Hikes

I hear this a lot from people who are trying to get into hiking. Many often ask how much water to bring on hikes, especially if they’re beginners or when hiking long distances for the first time.

Well, when calculating the amount of water to bring on hikes, you first need to know how many miles you will be hiking.

The difficulty of the trail, the weather, and the elevation of the trail, all play a huge part in this.

If you’re a long-time hiker, you know that there’s no such thing as enough water! Regardless, it’s good to know that there’s a starting point.

hiking the cypress boardwalk catwalk trail at highland hammocks state park

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One of the most important things to remember when hiking is to carry enough water. Dehydration is not something to play around with when you’re out hiking. It can cause a whole host of problems, ranging from headaches and dizziness to heat stroke and even death.

What Are the Symptoms of Dehydration While Hiking?

Some of how you can tell if you’re dehydrated are dry mouth, little or no urge to pee, increased thirst, headache, confusion, dizziness, and feeling sleepy or fatigued.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure you know how much water to bring on hikes, especially if you’re hiking long distances. Carrying enough water doesn’t have to be a burden, though.

There are plenty of ways to make sure you have enough water without having to lug around a huge bottle, and I’m giving you some options for this further in this post.

Make sure you know where there will be water stops along the way so you can refill as needed. And always bring more than you think you’ll need, just in case.

Dehydration is serious business, but as long as you take the necessary precautions, it’s easy to avoid.

How to Calculate the Amount of Water You Need For Hiking

Many factors can change the ideal amount of water to bring on hikes. For instance, one of the main factors is your average hiking speed. An average walking speed for a hiker can go anywhere from 2 mph to 5 mph.

Additionally, just with your walking speed and trail distance, you can calculate how much water you will need on your hike. Here’s how.

hiking trail distances to calculate water on hikes
Hiking Trail signs

How Much Water Should You Carry on a Hike?

As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good recommendation to drink 1/2 liter of water per hour on an average hike. For strenuous hikes, you’re better off with counting on at least 1 liter of water per hour.

Hiking Water Calculator

*Calculation is an estimate. Please consider factors like weather temperature, surface terrain, elevation gain, hiking speed, and physical condition when calculating the amount of water to take on a hike. Hiking water calculator created by Next Stop Adventures.

How Much Water Do You Need For a 10-mile hike?

At an average speed on an easy trail, a 10-mile hike would probably take you around 5 hours to complete on an even terrain. In a comfortable weather environment of about 75 to 80 degrees, an estimated amount of water would be a minimum of 2.5 liters of water for a 10-mile hike.

Keep in mind, that the amount of water needed will be more on days with high temperatures, especially during the summer. Also, remember to double the amount of water needed when hiking.

You should always be prepared to have enough water for at least 2 days or supplies to make use of the water resources available within the area you are hiking.

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What is the Best Way to Carry Water on a Hike?

Water reservoirs are the best way to carry water on hikes, especially when you need to carry large amounts of water since these reservoirs are lightweight. You can also carry a MODL hiking water bottle that holds 1 liter of water. With the MODL you can also attach a Pure MOD water filter to it and refill your bottle throughout your hike.

These water filters are great for hiking trails with access to rivers and lakes. Always do your research on the water quality within your hiking destination before using a water filter.

The option that I least recommend is carrying plastic water bottles. Not to mention, the extra weight these will add to your backpack, making it really uncomfortable to carry.

But if bottles are your only option for water to bring on hikes, then carry the 1-liter bottles instead of the 20-ounce ones.

MODL bottle for water to bring on hikes
With the MODL bottle, you can attach a water filter to it.

Tips for Avoiding Dehydration While Hiking

To help you maximize the amount of water to bring on hikes and stay hydrated on the trail, there are a few things you can do.

  1. Pre-hydrate. Drink at least 20-30 ounces of water when you’re on your way to your hiking destination. Even more, make sure you’re staying hydrated the night before.
  2. Don’t chug! It’s best to sip water continuously throughout your hike, instead of chugging it all down when you’re thirsty. If you start feeling thirsty, that means you’re already dehydrated. And that’s exactly what you need to avoid. Taking a short sip of water every 15 minutes works well for me. Find what’s best for you and stick with that.
  3. Add electrolytes to your water. Replacing the electrolytes you’re losing while sweating is one of the best ways to avoid dehydration. I add a couple of drops of electrolyte water enhancer to my MODL and my water reservoir. It works great and they come in a variety of flavors.

No matter how you wish to carry the amount of water to bring on hikes, the most important thing is to always carry extra water on all your hikes. Preparedness is key!

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how much water to bring on hikes
Yanitza Ninett
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Yanitza is an avid adventurer with 15+ years of hiking experience and outdoor travel. As a PADI-certified scuba diver, she's also passionate about ocean conservation. When she's not exploring the great outdoors, Yanitza obsesses over The Vampire Diaries and dreams of traveling to Mallorca, Spain.

18 thoughts on “How to Calculate the Amount of Water to Bring on Hikes”

  1. It’s so important to carry enough water when hiking. Another thing I do for hot days here is freeze half my water in the bag. It’s still warm by the end of the day, but if I don’t freeze it, it’s too hot to drink.

  2. Good advice, I always carry water, but I think I’ve not always had enough water on our hikes. Especially if you taking it for 3 persons, among which a kid, you need to have plenty.


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