There are several methods to carry your water with you. Whatever you pick, keep a few things in mind:
- make sure the water is drinking water if you obtain it from natural water sources. It usually is indicated on the water source if it is or not. If you are not sure, better not take your chances.
- make sure the drinking gear you buy is easy to clean properly.
- make sure you take enough water with you, but don’t overdo it because of the weight: just check out if you are going to be walking the whole day in the middle of nowhere or if you’ll be passing enough places where you can refill. 2 x 0.6L is really enough for one person.
- last but not least: drink little bits and drink frequently to stay properly hydrated!
Pick your drinking system
We never carry more than 1.5 liters per person. You really don’t need to take more unless you are certain you will be doing a long stretch that will have you walking for more than 4 hours in the middle of nowhere.
There are several systems out there and we’ll highlight the most common ones so you can decide for yourself:
- simple plastic water bottle right from the supermarket shelf
- not very friendly for the environment…
- no need to clean (don’t re-cycle though)
- sigg-like aluminum bottles you can refill
- easy and no plastic taste
- 0.6 L bottle in each of the side pockets of your backpack is easy to balance
- you’ll need someone to hand you the bottle, so if you’re on your own you’d better carry them in a special waist belt or somewhere at the front of your backpack… unless you have an Osprey pack with their supreme side pockets that are accessible without needing to take off your backpack!
- easy to clean
- Camel bags, Platypus and other hydration bladders
- try them if you want to, here’s why we don’t use them:
- they are not easy to clean
- most of them add a particular taste to your water
- water does not stay as cool as in regular sigg-like bottles
- they take up space in your backpack and refilling is a bit tedious
- they might leak into your backpack soaking your gear
- Filter your own water
- we never had the necessity to filter our own water and you won’t need it on the camino
How to clean your drinking bottle
Before you start your trip fill your bottles with hot water (not boiling) and drop a cleaning tablet in it. Follow the instructions for use of the tablets.
You can also throw in one of those tablets that are used to clean false teeth (steradent) or use a solution with vinegar.
We find the tablets most useful because it is easy to just take a few with you in your backpack.
Thoroughly rinse the bottles with clean water and you’re all set.
During the hike you can repeat the process once in a while and we do recommend to rinse the bottles anyway before re-filling them. You can use a plain odor-free washing solution to rinse them more frequently, but we only used the tablets before and after the hiking period and plain water during the hike, without experiencing any issues.
As for regular tap water in Spain: it is fully safe to drink it. Yes, it might have a different taste than you are used to at home since there are places where they add maybe a bit more chloride or other substances. If you don’t like the taste just buy mineral water.
Pick the drinking gear that works best for you.
Think about how you are going to keep it hygienic before you buy.
Keep the system clean and bacteria-free.
Think about the environment you are walking in and if you use plastic bottles anyway: don’t throw them around in nature. Dispose of them in a correct way so they can be recycled.
Don’t carry more water around than you need.
This post is also available in: Dutch