Gear Guy

The Wide-Mouth Canteen     Photo: courtesy, Nalgene

Q:

What is the best way to carry water on a hike?

What is the best way to carry water into a hike? I have been using a regular gallon jug and it's just a bad choice, but I don't want to carry a bunch of Sigg or Nalgene bottles. Is there any lightweight system to carry water that is a little more...packable? Daniel Powell, OH

A:Well, that’s an interesting question. But I think I can help. I just learned about a company called AquaLite. They’ve developed a proprietary system for reducing the weight and bulk of water by nearly 99 percent. A day’s supply of water can be carried in a very small bottle. Then, to restore the AquaLite to a drinkable gallon, you simply add a scant four quarts of water. Presto!

Blast. It isn’t even April 1. But I do like the idea. The fact is, there just isn’t a good way to carry a lot of water. Aside from the shocking weight (nearly nine pounds for a gallon), there is the bulk and the sloshing.

About the best thing I have come across is the Nalgene Wide-Mouth Canteen ($10.50). It’s a big, soft (meaning, collapsible) water bottle that holds three quarts (96 ounces). It has a big, wide mouth (standard Nalgene bottle size) for easy filling or use with filters, and is made of tough, food-grade polyethylene. It packs down as you empty it, and when fully empty it doesn’t weigh very much at all—a few ounces.

But, pray tell, where in Ohio can you hike without finding water? I’m hard-pressed to think of any place where you’d need to carry water, outside of a couple of desert areas, and even then there usually are marked springs at tolerable intervals. Are you sure it’s not easier to carry an MSR Miniworks ($85) filter? Lighter, for sure.

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