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Water requirements when bush walking


Never Alone In The Bush
Staff member
Jun 16, 2011
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Melbourne, Victoria
I came across this table of "water requirements" for bushwalking.

I think this is a fairly good guide. Apparently it is adapted from a US military guide
(link no affiliation: https://www.bushwalking101.org/water-needs-2/ )

I was thinking that if I didn't walk when it was above 32, I'd never walk in summer .....
... but thinking about it, its probably not bad advice to take it slow and not to over exert as the temps rise.

For me that probably means planning a shady walk in the mountains where its cooler, rather than going somewhere exposed

I usually take lots of water in my pack, but I often don't drink it all.
When I thought about it, I think this does reflect what I actually drink during a walk (given I have a big drink at the car before I start, esp in summer)

What do you think ?

Does the quantity seem right to you ?



Ray Mears
Dec 5, 2019
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Don’t know Aussie if I’ve got the exact science down either .

I will say this if drinking . 75 liter per hour when it’s 32 deg up here and humid , if doing hard walking on hills or with no shade and I won’t be needing to stop for any number 1 toilet breaks .
that tells me it is not really enough .

it’s complicated though , a lot of people would quit or their body would before they did what some people push themselves to do on purpose .

a few factors come to mind .

fitness , age , weight / or body mass , genetics , actually lifetime conditioning too and acclimatization .

some snow bunnies may never be able to achieve getting properly acclimatized to the heat , luckily we have varying degrees of latitude to accommodate .

being an army chart I’d expect that would be for the fit .

I walk every day , mostly pretty flat strolls , sometimes steep hills and gullies , sometimes dragging heavy things around like a Clydesdale .

water varies from probably a couple cups , to 1 1/4 lt per hour I reckon ,otherwise big drinks like skulling 2lt bottles in one go and I would be resting as that’s not a sustainable rate .

if going beyond any feasible extremes the body will say find a shady tree , or give up the plans .

I carry heaps of water , and that includes in the vehicle .
Don’t want to get caught out .

did you see this story of the 2 aboriginal boys last week , it’s sort of the other extreme .

tens of thousands of years of genetic conditioning I imagine ,so these guys went for days .

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Richard Proenneke
Jan 9, 2019
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For me that probably means planning a shady walk in the mountains where its cooler, rather than going somewhere exposed
This is me :ROFLMAO:. I usually ride mtb through the drier months. I have a network of tracks close by that are awesome when it's wet or cold - it's a fairly dry area and not many exposed cold areas. In summer it is a dusty oven with minimal air movement whether you're on top of a ridge or down in a gully - that's when I tend to ride on the mostly shady, tall forest side of the mountain range; it's protected from the late afternoon sun. I do the same with walking - avoid exposed tracks during hot days or when the sun is overhead (middle part of the day). To a degree though, I also try to stay reasonably heat tolerant, because I'm in Tasmania and realize that it is quite a bit cooler here. I've never carried much water, 500ml to 2lt, in the kimberleys where it might be 8hrs to the next water source; 600ml to 1.2 litres here in Tassie. I've always had a good hat and cool airy light colored clothing though, and have a totally different diet when I live in a hot place. I tend to lose any excess weight, even if it is only for a month or two. Actually I think I start losing weight beforehand, in anticipation. We were in Flores during the wet season for a month (38°C + and high humidity) and I didn't have an ounce of fat on me - I was really thankful for that. And I usually go a # 1 on my head :).

If I had to wear army gear - reasonably dark and heavy trousers and long sleeve top, not airy or reflective (but it is tough), and a pissy little giggle hat - I reckon I'd want a fair bit more to drink in the heat. Especially with normal rat pack diet :oops:
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Richard Proenneke
Mar 9, 2013
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Perth, WA
One of the more important things about drinking is to drink a decent amount when you do. Don't sip, drink at least 250mls in one hit. The reason is that if you have a good drink various kidney wizardry hormones works better to stop you drying out. Sipping does not enable these clever things to switch on and do their magic, so is self defeating.