Water management when hiking in dry and hot regions

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    Water management when hiking in dry and hot regions

    On my walks through the desert mountains Jebel Sarhro in Morocco I have learned some valuable techniques and tricks with the scarce (and severe) Resource water to household. There are a few things to keep in mind so that the trip through the desert does not become a disaster.

    Tips and Tricks

    I can not afford one thing here: telling you how much water you have to carry! The required amount of water is very individual, and also depends on the current conditions. Think about how much water you are in hot conditions to drink, how much water is needed to cook for freeze-dried food, tea, coffee and then pack another liter as a reserve.

    Lonely slope in the shady canyon

    Two scenarios and a reason for light luggage

    In Morocco and other desert-like areas, there are two options for access to water:

    1. There are Water sources along the way: good planning allows you to get (almost) daily water. Although the Jbel Sarhro is sparsely populated, you can set your route so that you always pass by small hamlets. Such settlements are located in the valleys, where agriculture or livestock farming is also used to a limited extent. There you will also find water. Another trick is to look closely at the route on Google Earth and look for green spots. Guidebooks to the area also list wells and other sources of water. But: never rely on individual water sources, because wells can be silted up, sources can no longer flow.
    2. You have to complete the Take water supply with you: There are no sources of water in a given stretch of road and the entire water supply for this section must be taken. These are the exciting sections, because everything here focuses on your perfect planning (and your back).

    From my own experience, I can say that an additional weight of six or seven kilos quickly comes together. Six to seven liters of water per person per day are the bare minimum for dry but 30 ° C desert mountain tours, as there is not much left for the second or third coffee for breakfast.

    Six kilograms of water in the backpack in addition to other equipment and food are very much and quickly add up to over 20 kilograms of backpack weight. Depending on how much the rest of the equipment weighs, the total weight for the often barely existing and stone-sown paths is not sustainable. Therefore, it is important to have the remaining equipment as easy as possible to keep.

    Typical source of water in the Jbel Sarhro: collected surface water

    Water tank and water management

    • Careful water management is the be-all and end-all. A leaked container can sometimes differentiate between life and death. Ask yourself how much water you need to take with you, how much you drink at least, how much you need in the evening and in the morning in the camp, how far away the nearest waterhole is and expect some reserve.
    • Several containers have the advantage that in the case of a leaky container only a part of the water is lost. In addition, you can distribute the weight better in and on the backpack and thus improve the balance.
    • Attempting to carry the water containers as close to the body as possible improves balance.
    • Periodically inspect the water containers for wear, cracks, and holes. Check twice if the containers are really tight.
    • I use one and two liters of Platypus and more recently CNOC Vecto water bottles and bags as storage containers as well as ordinary 1 ½ liter plastic water bottles for comfortable drinking. Hydration systems with a tube for the backpack are indeed practical, but I am too uncertain and too much effort. I never know how much water is actually still in the bladder, to fill you have to unpack half the backpack and cleaning after the tour is awkward.
    • If you prefer a hydration system, always close the tube immediately after drinking. When parking the backpack, it can happen that the backpack presses on the valve and the precious water supply seeps away.
    • Take a spare lock with you, the things disappear quickly and you lose a liter or two of water directly, if you can not close the bag.
    • If something goes wrong, so a container is leaking, or you lose the lid, you can also use ZipLock bag for careful transport of water.
    • Handle the water tanks carefully. Pointed stones or thorns can quickly lead to holes.
    For each water source, immediately filter and top up with water

    Food and drinks

    • Drink plenty of water! False saving leads to dehydration and health problems. Make sure that your urine is clear. The clearer the better, the darker the more you should drink.
    • Make sure to consume plenty of electrolytes! Salty snacks, powdered sports drinks, gels or salt tablets help balance your mineral balance. If your mineral balance is messed up by too much water and too little salt (more precisely: sodium), it can at worst become deadly (there is actually a "water poisoning") / hyponatremia).
    • Use powdered drinks designed for athletes. In addition to the minerals and energy that these powders provide, they also provide better flavor of the often stale water and thus helps to more and easier drinking.
    • Since you carry a lot of water anyway, not every meal needs to be dehydrated. Especially in dry environments fresh vegetables and fruits are a good way of supplying water and minerals. In Morocco our lunch consisted mostly of bread and canned fish, as this combination is also available in many small villages. For dessert, there were mostly dates, which provide with its high sugar content for proper energy.
    A relatively clean well

    Security and planning

    • As soon as you discover a source of water, use it! No matter how unappetizing the water source looks, use it and fill up the supplies immediately. Later, you can still exchange the nasty water at a better source.
    • Hold yours water filters clean and rinse it regularly with fresh water.
    • Know your route and the water sources! Mark possible sources of water also off the route and along possible emergency exits.
    • Be especially careful with navigation and orientation. Corruptors cost time and therefore water.
    • Calculate the distances and the walking time between water sources as exactly as possible.
    • Injuries or illness: with a sprained ankle you go much longer until the next source. Do you have enough water?
    • Always keep some reserve with you. In case of injuries or pains this extra liter can become important.
    Typical "dry spell" in Morocco



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