The right gear - Water carrier

Water carrierFew novices carry sufficient water, and even fewer keep it handy. You dehydrate quickly when walking, though you may not notice it. Every time you breathe out, you lose moisture, especially when the air is cold and at altitude. Top up your fluid intake as often as you can, and expect to drink one to four litres per day.

You should treat water from running streams before drinking it. Purification tablets weigh very little, and equip you for an unlimited safe supply. To counter the flavour, use neutralising tablets or fruit-flavoured powder. Really strenuous walkers may be interested in isotonic drinks, ie water with added minerals to replace what you lose when sweating a lot. Isotonic powder is expensive, but you can make your own: mix 50% fruit juice with 50% water (drinking or treated), then add a pinch of salt and shake.

The cheapest container is a screw-top plastic bottle, worth buying because it’s leak-proof. If your rucksack has a convenient outside pocket, this may work fine. Many people prefer a special plastic water bag or bladder, such as a Platypus or Camelbak. The tube threads through your rucksack strap, so you can take a sip hands-free whenever you feel like it. That way, you drink before you get dehydrated.

In cold temperatures the tube is prone to freeze. You can buy an expensive insulation sleeve, but it's cheaper to get in the habit of blowing back after each sip that you drink. By returning the water to the bladder, it's much less likely to freeze than in the exposed tube.