How much water per day should I carry

on a desert river (Dolores Slickrock Canyon) where the water can’t be purified (high salt content) and there are few side creeks? I will probably be on the river only three days and two nights, and I’m guessing a gallon a day with a gallon in reserve. I will spit it across containers, but don’t expect to lose any because there are just a few significant rapids in 50 miles.

how hot?

I don’t expect temps over 80 at that
altitude and in early June. Could be less. But I have to drink more water than I did in my youth.

You might want to check out Colin
Fletcher and other backpacking writers who have done/do desert treks. Though I live in a wet part of Texas, I generally take more than a gallon of water/drinks if I’m going to be out on the water for a full day. If the temps are going to be in the 80’s, your problem won’t be the heat so much, though it does matter, but the low humidity. It dries you out quickly. I lived in West Texas and found that I had to constantly drink liquids to stay hydrated even in the spring and fall.

I would pack on the heavy side
Nothing worse than getting dehydrated in the desert. Just ask the fools who ride Moab’s Slickrock Trail with one water bottle. (No, I didn’t!)

Better to finish with extra than to finish dehydrated.


Been running trips in the
Everglades for yrs. and take a gallon per day per person . Which is also the amount the natnl. park sugguests … that would include drinkin, cookin an a lil for washin body . I use the sea water for washin cook stuff . ------M

Your right on target
I grew up with the high desert as my backyard and a gallon a day has always been the formula used. There may be better info from what the others share here but that has always worked well to keep one hydrated properly. The dewpoint is such that you tend to miscalculate how much you sweat out there. It evaporates immediately and cools you down like it’s supposed to. It is not like the humid states where you can measure the fluid loss by looking at your wet clothes!

No less than a gallon
I would say no less than a gallon a day, sure its tough to haul it with you but even tougher to ration.



Gallon Per Day
is the minimum recommended for hiking in Big Bend National Park. The extra gallon sounds very wise, also. Being on the water cooks one worse than the land it seems. Sunscreen, clothing, shade and all those things make a big difference in how you feel too. I used to work outdoors in South Texas. When we wised up to big hats and sunscreen it made for less fatigue.

What boat are you taking?

Gallon sounds right to me.
I second the notion on getting a big broadbrimmed hat with a brim going all the way around your head. Also, resist the urge to wear shorts and short sleeve shirt. Longsleeves and pants in Supplex keep you much cooler,

Agree with
seakayaking. I too tour the everglades where there is no freshwater. One gallon per day is more than sufficient. Breaks down to: 2 quarts for drinking water, 1 quart for cooking, 1 quart for bathing (can’t help it)or rinsing dishes if you have no seawater. Just keep the water away from local critters. Our racoons will open most any container to get water.

4 liters=1.05 gallon, 12 liters=3days
Platypus bags are nice if you need to save space as you drink the water, they fold up and can be frozen for ice water. Nice to have on a hot day.

Also 2 liter pop bottles frozen keep the cooler cold and provide ice water as they melt. Dromidary bags are nice in a canoe too for hot water for washing and cooking and coffee. left in the sun they heat up fast.

thanks NT
I was wondering how much a gallon was.


Thanks, it seems I was close in my
estimate. I will take a water filter in case I run short, but four gallons will be easy enough to carry.

Use wet wipes for body and face washing.
Take a sunshower bag and take a shower on the last night if you have excess water.

Freezing containers of water works great, as others have said. It’s nice to have cool water.