Archive for March, 2009

Hikers Need Pure Water

March 22, 2009

Access to potable water is vital for all hikers.

An adult hiker needs 3 quarts or more of water per day. Much of the water, even in the remote wilderness, is contaminated with pathogens such as giardia.

So, how can you know whether or not the water in that crystalline stream that you see rushing by is safe for drinking? There is no way to know. Even if there are no other humans within miles, an animal could have contaminated the water.

So, don’t take chances of getting annoying or even fatal gut problems. They can ruin your whole day.

So, to be assured that you have safe drinking water on the trail, you must do one of two things: carry your drinking water with you or purify it along the way. If you are backpacking for more than a day, you should probably consider some form of water purification. Then you can get water from streams and lakes along the way and save the weight of carrying all of your water.


There are a number of ways to purify your water.

Boiling: Boiling your water will effectively kill any nasty critters residing in it. A disadvantage of this method is that you have to carry a stove and extra fuel for this purpose. An advantage is the taste. Even though the water may taste flat after being boiled, at least it does not taste of chemicals that you may have added to treat your water.

Chemical Purification:Another way is to add a chemical to water that you collect to kill any bugs in it. This method has some advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that what you need to carry is light compared to what you need to carry with other methods – by a few ounces. A disadvantage is taste.

Water Filtration: Yet another way is to carry a water filter. A disadvantage of this method is that what you carry weighs a few ounces more than carrying water purification chemicals. The cost is also more. An advantage is that you can use it again and again. Another advantage is that the treatment is virtually instantaneous. You won’t have to wait to for the water to boil, which can take a lot of fuel and time at high altitudes. Neither will you have to wait for chemicals to take effect.

Whatever water treatment method that you choose, make sure that everyone in your hiking group has adequate access to water treatment equipment.

Here are some useful REI links related to this article:

REI Water Filters Page

REI Water Purification Chemicals Page

REI Water Treatment Article


GPS Breadcrumb Trail

March 18, 2009

You can use a GPS unit to find your way back. This might be handy if you ever get lost. Or if you just want to go back to the trailhead and home. Your device can be instructed to create a track, like a breadcrumb trail, of where you have gone, not where you are going.
Configure your unit to automatically create “trackpoints” either by time intervals or by distance intervals. Just retrace your steps by following the trackpoints in the reverse of the sequence in which they were laid down. And there you are back to the parking lot and ready for hot soup for supper.

Think layering

March 12, 2009


When you layer your clothing, you can be prepared for many different types of weather.  If the weather gets colder, put on another layer.  In the opposite situation where the weather gets warmer as the day wears on, peel off a layer or two and stuff them into your backpack.

I just read an account by Scott Janz of a ten-mile hike he took recently – partly in snow.  He reports that the wind gusted to 30 or 40 miles per hour and the wind chill was as low as -10.  Yet, he asserts that layering did the trick.  He did not become too cold or succumb to hypothermia.

You can read about Scott Janz’ winter hiking adventure at

Hike the Great Wall of China

March 10, 2009

One year ago, almost to the day, my wife and I hiked the Great Wall of China. Correction, we hiked on the Great Wall. After all, this phenomenon stretches nearly 4,000 miles across China.

If you hike on the Great Wall section nearest to Beijing, you won’t really be hiking on the original wall. This section has been refurbished for tourist use.

The best you can do is this. Get on the Wall and go left, the direction most people are going. Then keep hiking (probably more than a mile altogether) until you come to a gate that bars you from continuing. Beyond that gate is the original Wall, unadulterated. You can’t hike on it, but you get a great close-up view. It’s awesome.

Savor the moment, contemplate the history and magnitude, and then hike back. It’s well worth the experience.

Someday maybe I’ll attempt to hike the whole distance. Hehe.

Stream Crossings

March 2, 2009

By the way, here’s more on crossing a stream at my main blog, Great Outdoors Information.

Richard Davidian

Crossing a Stream Safely

March 2, 2009

I found a really good post about safely crossing a stream. This can be a fun part of hiking, but also a dangerous part. So, check this out. It’s a post with wise and practical information at Find Tips On.