Hydration on a backcountry hunt

Hunting in the field requires extreme amounts of knowledge. Two very basic things that anyone who goes to the field should know about are water and fire. Without water you will not be able to stay hydrated. Without a fire, it will be difficult to stay warm, making it incredibly difficult to stay comfortable.

water basics
Staying hydrated on the field is essential. Severe dehydration can lead to heat stroke and hypothermia; mild dehydration can lead to loss of energy, poor attitudes, and poor decision-making. Drink more water than you think you need, and don’t be afraid to add powdered or flavored supplements if it helps you swallow more water.

Under typical conditions, you should consume 3 liters a day to stay in top condition. In hot or strenuous conditions, opt for 5 litres.

Treat your water treatment and drinking equipment with the same seriousness that you treat your bow or rifle. Here is a rundown of some basic water tools.

A: 1 Quart Bottles Some people like stainless steel or aluminum bottles, which are fine, but it’s hard to beat the simple, ubiquitous Nalgene bottle.

B: Bladders that go inside the pack with a hose that goes to the shoulder strap are great for staying hydrated, drinking more water when it’s convenient to do so. The downside is that they cannot be fully trusted. Sometimes they burst or leak, soaking the contents of the backpack. And during sub-zero weather, the hoses will freeze and block.

C: Collapsible water bottles are great for long trips when you’re short on water. Shown here is a standard military-grade 2-quart collapsible canteen. A better but more expensive option are the Dromedary canteens made by MSR. They come in a variety of sizes, are durable, and weigh next to nothing.

D: Water filter. Waterborne parasites are a bitch. They will ruin your trip, or even your life. Make it a general practice to purify all drinking water drawn from ponds, streams, lakes, rivers, etc. (Shown here is the excellent MSR MiniWorks EX ceramic filter; the Katadyn Hiker Pro is another good filter.)

ME: The Steripen, which uses ultraviolet light to purify drinking water, is an ideal lightweight tool for purifying small amounts of water; perfect for solo trips that last only a day or two.

F: Tablets or drops made from iodine, chlorine derivatives, or other chemicals are simple and effective ways to treat water. Be careful to follow the directions on the packaging and taste them before heading to the field to make sure you can handle off-flavors.

Follow directions carefully, giving the chemicals plenty of time to do their job. Shown here is Aquamira Iodine Water Purification Tablets. In a pinch, 3 to 5 drops of chlorine bleach will treat 1 liter of water. Tastes like a pool but keeps you healthy. Water can also be effectively treated by boiling it for several minutes.

GRAM: Drink mixes like Hydrate and Recover, a great Wilderness Athlete product, help mask the tastes of poor-quality drinking water and also help combat dehydration and exhaustion from strenuous physical activities like hunting in the mountains.