WATER questions: hiking across England along Hadrian's Wall (East to West)

9:15 a.m. on September 25, 2013 (EDT)
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We are planning an East to West hike across England.

With the exception of a couple days, I will have ample sources of clean water along the trail we are walking to simply refill bottles/bladders with safe water. But a couple of the days of our upcoming hike will either require me to filter/purify water along the way, or carry a lot of water (about a gallon?) and refill at night (we will be at a clean water source each night).

There are lots of choices. Some I do not like. * Not a fan of the UV Light systems that kill the bugs/viruses but leave the dirt/off taste in the water. * Not a fan of the purification tablets that can take up to an hour to work, and leave the dirt/off taste in the water. * Pump Filters are good, when they work, some are bulky and heavy, some less so. Acceptable if under 1#. * A "Lifestraw" would work for sipping out of a stream, but won't allow me to refill a water bottle. Fine if you are camping next to a stream/pond, but we are hiking and may not need the water when we pass a stream.

I'm hearing good things about the FIRST NEED XLE filter. It is far more than I need for the couple gallons of water that I may need. I'd love something 1/2 the size and clearly don't need that much capacity. Lots of very mixed reviews about the MSR and Katadyn products.

Or should I just buck up and carry 8# (1 gallon) of water and slug through the day, with the load lightening up as the day goes on? It is certainly a possible choice to carry extra water a couple days. It's obviously cheaper than buying an expensive gadget that may or may not work. It's obviously easier to pack a collapseable water bottle than it is to pack a bulky filter system.


10:42 a.m. on September 25, 2013 (EDT)
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I like the sawyer squeeze. But I admittedly have not used it a lot. BHeiser1, I believe used it on his JMT through hike. I think you would get more hits if this had been placed in Gear Selection. But here is a good old thread on the filtering of water:


12:12 p.m. on September 25, 2013 (EDT)
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I have considered the First Need in the past, I like the back-wash feature. It also happens to be one of the bulkiest of pump filters out there... I also don't find it very comfortable when pumping. 

Everybody has their own style... I'm not UL, my system consists of:

  1. Steri-pen Adventurer
  2. PUR Hiker Pro (now Katadyn)
  3. Purification tablets as backup

I have carried electrolyte drops that can heavily flavor water, if needed. I also was skeptical about UV technology, but have used mine several dozen times without a concern after the tech was out for a while. I haven't looked back. My system is clearly not the lightest, but the system works well for me. 

3:52 p.m. on September 25, 2013 (EDT)
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Also, Bill S wrote a four part series on this topic and is well worth the read:



This link is part 1 and at the bottom of each article is a link to the next part in the series.

I'm hesitant to recommend a particular solution for a part of the world I've never been to. For what it's worth, I mostly hike in the Southern Appalachian mountains of the United States and find a Sawyer Squeeze to be a good solution for my purposes.

3:55 p.m. on September 25, 2013 (EDT)
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Also regarding checmical methods, I have used Aqua Mira (Chlorine Dioxide) and it does not impart much if any taste to the water.

5:55 p.m. on September 25, 2013 (EDT)
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I will forever shout it from the rooftops--a SteriPen is worthless when it stops working (in my case on the second day of a 7 day trip).

The Sawyer Squeeze has worked flawlessly for me this year, and that's my recommendation to you. https://www.trailspace.com/gear/sawyer/squeeze-water-filter/

The filter is 4oz. and fits int your pocket. You can fill the bag and then squeeze the contents into another water bottle, or drink straight from the filter.

7:44 p.m. on September 25, 2013 (EDT)
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Do you really want to haul a gallon of water?

I'm not sure what you want us to suggest. Chemicals can leave a taste (as do UV systems), filters plug, and only a very few systems handle every germ or virus you might run into. You might just have to bite the bullet and pick based on some other criteria. 

I've used them all, including the Camelbak All Clear, which is a UV system. When I looked sat the Steri-pen, I was concerned about the fragility of the bulb, so I waited until something more rugged came out.

Review here:


In practice it held up just fine. It also has the advantage of coping with viruses, which might be a concern in the fens. While it's heavier than some other systems, it does what it's supposed to do. 

However, the lightest by far are the tablets and other chemical treatments. Carry two 1 litre bottles and switch back and forth. Assuming the temperature isn't too cold, you should have good treated water at the rate of 1 litre per hour. 

You can also use the tablets (or something else) in conjunction with a hydration bladder, carrying 3 litres at a time in addition to whatever you're treating in separate containers. That 'gallon' seems like WAY to much!

8:43 p.m. on September 25, 2013 (EDT)
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My wife has a limited ability to carry do to a back problem so I carry water for both of us. That is why a gallon would be on my back.

9:49 a.m. on September 26, 2013 (EDT)
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That makes sense. Then I'd suggest she carry one bottle for herself, while you carry a two more, alternating between them and re-filling hers when necessary, plus a hydration sack in reserve. 

Three times 750 ml is 2.25 litres, plus 2-3 more in the bladder, so if 750 litres = .2 US gallons, that gets you up to what you want.

How much water you have to carry depends on how far you have to go and how hot it is. On a cool day, you can probably get away with 2 litres of water per person for a 10-15 km walk.

Are you doing a hike with luggage transfers? If so, the weight of the extra water isn't that big a deal. 

I see the total distance is 135 km - how many days are you taking to do it? It looks like an interesting trip. 

7:50 p.m. on September 26, 2013 (EDT)
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On the longest days we will be walking about 13 miles, there are only 2 days that water could be an issue. The other days should not be a problem as there are places to get clean water most days. On the bright side the weather should be in the lower to mid 60's (F) during the time we are there, based on average temperatures. This is an easy hike, we are going to see the Roman ruins, museums, etc. that are along parts of the wall's path.

I have a 2 liter bladder, plus bottles. My wife will carry a small pack, 1 bottle.

We will use luggage transfers so we are looking at a weeks worth of day hiking.

9:23 a.m. on September 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Lucky man! What an excellent adventure!

Have a great time and when you get back, write up a trip report for us here. 

12:27 p.m. on September 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Lucky man! What an excellent adventure!

Have a great time and when you get back, write up a trip report for us here. 


We are hoping this is a great trip. We've been to parts of the wall, but are really looking forward to this trip. Probably 6 or 7 of us will be going as a group.

I've been buying some GSI mylar/plastic wine flask as "gifts" for the others in the group so they can carry the weight of the wine without the weight of the bottles . . . and then share the contents with me at lunchtime when we have picnics on the trail.

Not sure if we will take small stoves for cooking on the trail, still trying to figure out all the needs for the trip. Lunches may be as simple as some local bread, local salami, cheese, etc. Turning over the logistics of the trip to my sister, she lives in London and will be getting us (probably by train) to the starting point, and then getting us (probably by train) back to London from the end point. The week in between should be a fine hike with lots of historical sites to visit along the route.

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