Author Topic: How much water to carry?  (Read 952 times)

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Offline Buchmark

How much water to carry?
« on: April 02, 2024, 10:49:15 am »
My husband and I will be riding EE to TA May-July.  We will each have 2 large water bottles, a large Gatorade bottle, and a 4 liter HydraPak to use for more remote areas.

How much water capacity do others who have ridden these areas recommend?

Offline Westinghouse

Re: How much water to carry?
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2024, 02:15:28 pm »
For road cycling and long distance touring through towns, two 24 oz bottles of water are sufficient because service areas are so numerous.  None of my cycling (36,000 miles through 19 countries) was all that  remote. 99.9 % roadway cycling. Remote raises questions.  How remote?  How long in remote?  Are there water sources you know about there? The more sources of food and water available to you constantly, the less you need to carry, and that is one way of reducing weight.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: How much water to carry?
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2024, 05:23:24 pm »
That sounds like it should be sufficient.  I use two 25 oz. bottles and a 40 oz. CamelBak.  Every once in a while, I will fill an extra bottle, such as a Gator Ade bottle, with water for a long, hard (and possibly hot) stretch.

Be on the lookout for potential water sources, like schools, parks and places like USFS campgrounds along the day's route.  One time we even stopped at a private campground and asked to fill out bottles.  The person working the office was happy to let us.  On the Northern Tier, we stopped in a couple of bar/restaurants for water and were even offered ice.  Topping off the bottles just in case can't really hurt.

Offline davidbonn

Re: How much water to carry?
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2024, 11:00:33 pm »
I'd work backwards to figure out how much water to carry.

A reasonable rule of thumb is that over the course of a hard day's ride, on the average you'll need to drink about 4 liters of water.  If it is particularly hot or dry or at higher elevations you might drink more.  Then figure out where you can get water over the course of your day's ride and you can calculate, roughly, how much water you'd need to carry on any segment.

If you have to camp someplace without a good water supply a very rough rule of thumb is that each meal will take 1 liter of water per person.  That's both to prepare the meal and do a basic clean of your dishes afterwards.

The above figures are fairly generous but good rules of thumb for planning purposes.  With experience you might learn you can get away with less water or you might discover you need more.

Most trips I can easily get away with two or three 24oz (0.75 liter) bottles.

On some very dry trips and very dry sections I might carry two 64oz (2 liter) bottles on the front fork cages.  There are places in the American Southwest (and even in parts of SE Oregon and S Idaho) where that wouldn't be enough, and you might be looking at 50-75 miles between safe water sources.

Offline Jocycleph

Re: How much water to carry?
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2024, 02:47:06 am »
For road cycling and long distance touring through towns, two 24 oz bottles of water are sufficient because service areas are so numerous.  None of my cycling (36,000 miles through 19 countries) was all that  remote. 99.9 % roadway cycling. Remote raises questions.  How remote?  How long in remote?  Are there water sources you know about there? The more sources of food and water available to you constantly, the less you need to carry, and that is one way of reducing weight.

It’s impressive to hear about your extensive cycling through so many countries, @Westinghouse. Your point about the availability of service areas influencing the need to carry water is well-taken. For our trip, we’re planning ahead using Google Maps to map out known water sources ahead of time and will consider the balance between carrying enough water and managing weight.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: How much water to carry?
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2024, 02:56:03 am »
I think you may know this, however, just in case, Wal Mart sells the Sawyer water filter.  It is a big favorite for those who hike the Appalachian trail, the great divide trail and the Pacific crest trail, and many other trails for sure. All reviews I read and saw on you tube were positive. You can use it to draw clean drinking water from fresh water ponds, lakes, streams, brooks etc.  IMO, everybody should have one.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: How much water to carry?
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2024, 03:22:09 am »
For road cycling and long distance touring through towns, two 24 oz bottles of water are sufficient because service areas are so numerous.  None of my cycling (36,000 miles through 19 countries) was all that  remote. 99.9 % roadway cycling. Remote raises questions.  How remote?  How long in remote?  Are there water sources you know about there? The more sources of food and water available to you constantly, the less you need to carry, and that is one way of reducing weight.

It’s impressive to hear about your extensive cycling through so many countries, @Westinghouse. Your point about the availability of service areas influencing the need to carry water is well-taken. For our trip, we’re planning ahead using Google Maps to map out known water sources ahead of time and will consider the balance between carrying enough water and managing weight.

That is the way to determine how much water to carry. When you have mapped your water sources on your route, you can figure out how much water to carry by knowing your projected daily mileage, and knowing about how long it will take you to get from way point to way point.  You might have to plan ahead. On a bicycle, the forces of nature, which we can afford to pretty much ignore back home on the block, can become a determining power for or against you. It is nice to have the plan all done and arranged. Then, suddenly, out of nowhere, a headwind from hell comes slamming against you, or a powerful driving rain with strong side winds, and what to do then? Your projected 30 miles to the next oasis is not to be. You cycle 15 miles and hurry off to stand shivering under the overhang of a dilapidated abandoned old farm house. There are variables to offset the best laid plans of mice and men. Google check weather forecasts frequently enough that you always know what weather is headed your way days before it reaches your location. And what the hell.  There are people around.

Offline davidbonn

Re: How much water to carry?
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2024, 09:39:56 am »
The sawyer water filter is a good choice if you need to filter water.

It is important to note that the water filters commonly sold by the outdoor products industry are designed to filter out low concentrations of pathogens from relatively pristine water sources.  They are inadequate for severely polluted water.  Also, many of them do not filter viruses so if waterborne hepatitis is a concern you need to do more.

My general rule of thumb is I assume that any surface water in a built-up area or downstream from a built-up area is polluted and unsafe to drink with any kind of purification.  On the other hand if the area is built up you can almost always find a tap.  Fire stations are a good place to look for a tap.

One thing I like to do on a three-bottle tour is if it is going to be a hot day I fill two of the bottles with ice and water.  You lose some water volume but you get luxuriously cold water on the second and third bottles.  Mini markets with a soda fountain are a good source of ice for your bottles.

I dislike bottled water bottles, if only for the waste.  But sometimes you can use one or two of them to cover an otherwise waterless stretch if you don't have enough bottles.  1L Smartwater bottles are durable, fit in bottle cages, and can be reused for quite a while.

Hydration systems are, in my opinion, not particularly great for bicycle touring.  Although a hydration bag can be used to carry unfiltered water which can then be filtered into bottles as needed.  Or you can go fancy and get a gravity fed filtration system like this one:

https://www.rei.com/product/866422/platypus-gravityworks-water-filter-system-4-liter?sku=8664220001

Oh, the sawyer filter uses a 28mm thread on the output.  You can use either a Smartwater bottle or one of the excellent CNOC collapsible bottles for the output from the filter.  There is a cottage industry of 28mm caps and accessories for Smartwater bottles, mostly because the distance hiker subculture uses Smartwater bottles as water bottles.

https://cnocoutdoors.com/collections/drinkware

https://cnocoutdoors.com/collections/collecting


« Last Edit: April 04, 2024, 09:58:02 am by davidbonn »

Offline canalligators

Re: How much water to carry?
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2024, 09:57:38 am »
The ice is a good hint.  I don’t need my drinking water to be ice cold, but having it not hot is important.  To that end, I use double wall insulated bottles, especially in hot areas.  I now carry two TravelKuppe hot drink bottles, which fit in standard bottle cages.  For refilling, I use Igloo 36 oz/1.06L bottles. 

The double wall bottles are heavier, but I was SO glad that I had them going across Kansas in July.  DWS bottles insulate noticeably better than plastic insulated types.

Offline zzzz

Re: How much water to carry?
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2024, 08:45:23 pm »
Platypus Platys are 2 liter (really 2.5) collapsible water bottles. I think they weigh around 1 oz and roll up to about the size of a cigar, cost is $20.

I take 2 of them along stuffed in the bottom of my panniers and most days they aren’t used at all. When I think I may need more water capacity then my 2 standard water bottles because of distance or heat I fill one or both of the Platys up.

There was one 137 mile day from hanksville to blanding utah (not on your route) that was very remote, very hot and with a headwind, that I drank every bit of the almost 7 liters of water I left w that morning.

Cannalligators does warn against hot water below and it will be air temperature. I always thought even warm water was better than no water but he may correct me on that.

Offline froze

Re: How much water to carry?
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2024, 09:03:55 pm »
The ice is a good hint.  I don’t need my drinking water to be ice cold, but having it not hot is important.  To that end, I use double wall insulated bottles, especially in hot areas.  I now carry two TravelKuppe hot drink bottles, which fit in standard bottle cages.  For refilling, I use Igloo 36 oz/1.06L bottles. 

The double wall bottles are heavier, but I was SO glad that I had them going across Kansas in July.  DWS bottles insulate noticeably better than plastic insulated types.

Yes, stainless double insulated does insulate better over plastic insulated bottles by a long shot. But you can keep the water in a plastic insulated bottle colder longer if you freeze the water in the bottle overnight.

Now there is a trick to making plastic insulated bottles last even longer than 4 hours.  First, you wrap the bottle tightly with aluminum foil, then put layers of Saran type of wrap over that, then put another wrap of aluminum foil over the plastic.  Use duct tape to tape the end so it doesn't come undone.  Doing this will add at least an hour to the coldness, and it's a lot lighter than a double-insulated stainless bottle, plus no bottle rattling.

Offline canalligators

Re: How much water to carry?
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2024, 12:25:28 am »
I'm not claiming any medical reason to avoid drinking hot water, I'm not a trained medical person.  I just know that it makes me feel ill.  Froze, do your wrapped bottles still fit in a regular cage?  If you can save some weight, that could help.  Though my complete rig, bike+gear+shared+food, came in around 85#, which was towards the low end of my group's weights.

Offline froze

Re: How much water to carry?
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2024, 03:59:11 pm »
I'm not claiming any medical reason to avoid drinking hot water, I'm not a trained medical person.  I just know that it makes me feel ill.  Froze, do your wrapped bottles still fit in a regular cage?  If you can save some weight, that could help.  Though my complete rig, bike+gear+shared+food, came in around 85#, which was towards the low end of my group's weights.

4 of my cages are the Arundel Looney Bin cage, these are adjustable, if you tried to put a 24-ounce bottle with that wrapping a regular cage could rip it unless you can spread it apart with your hand first, but with the Arundel I just open the cage up larger.

I use the Arundel cage so that those bigger 52-ounce bottles I use will fit on the front, and so that I can place the two plastic insulated bottles into the cage without ripping the wrap, but that does mean that when you need a drink you'll have to stop and turn the dial on the cage to open it up so you can pull it out with ripping the wrap. 

Another reason for Arundel cage is so that it's impossible for a bottle to eject, and if I want to stick some other sort of bottle into the cage it will fit most bottles.

My only "normal" non-adjustable cage is the one on the underside of the down tube that holds a 16-ounce bottle due to any larger bottle hits the front fender.

I do carry a bit of spare AL foil just in case one rips, but so far that hasn't happened.

I used to use 4 stainless insulated bottles, another reason for the Arundel cages, in my search to find ways to reduce my carrying weight that was one of the things I had to change.

Also, I discovered that I can carry 11 more ounces in each front bottle cage using plastic bottles, that's 22 more ounces of fluid than the largest stainless that I could find that would fit in the Arundel cages.  So I killed two birds with one stone, less bottle weight, more water, but even with the more water weight, it still is less weight than the stainless bottles.

By the way, I carry this much water because I'm bike camping, not on a 2-hour ride!  So I might be riding for 4 to 6 hours at a stretch, then need water for food preparation at the campsite.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2024, 04:26:58 pm by froze »

Offline Mordo09

Re: How much water to carry?
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2024, 03:29:54 pm »
To be honest, it depends a lot on various factors like:

1. Bodyweight
2. Resistance
3. How much you sweat
4. What you ate

And a whole lot more. But speaking from experience, I'm a pretty big guy, and the bare minimum for me is 60 oz for a 2-hour ride.

Offline davidbonn

Re: How much water to carry?
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2024, 10:41:46 pm »
The most efficient place to carry water is in your body.  So if you know you have a long waterless stretch ahead of you drink until you almost pop before leaving the last water source.

Also, caffeinated drinks like coffee or tea are diuretic and you should go easy on them in very dry conditions.  To a lesser extent sugary drinks are diuretic too and even though sweet tea is delicious on a hot day I wouldn’t recommend drinking four or five glasses of it when riding a big day.

Electrolyte replacements are also a good idea in dry conditions when you are drinking lots of water.