How much water??

Submitted: Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 16:53
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Just wanted to know what most people see as an adequate amount of water needed for camping (cooking, cleaning, drinking) in litres per day??

Am heading off on an adventure and space is limited but water is of major importance - any suggestions would be much appreciated.
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Reply By: Angler - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 17:25

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 17:25
How many people ? Are any female ? are some teenagers ?

All adds up you know
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Reply By: CJ - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 17:53

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 17:53
We take:

5 litres per person per day for drinking. Usually enough for cooking as well if you take/juice/ales.

The 'how long is a piece of string' comes in with washing dishes and showering;
Washing dishes for a family of 4 can be as much as 10 -15 litres per day if you have cooked on pots pans and oily dishes, or as little as 4 litres per day for the odd pot but if you use paper plates with food that doesn't require many pots/pans. Water based food such as pasta and sauce you can almost wipe clean, but not so a stew in a camp oven, or burnt on bacon.
Showering can range from 0, to 10, to 20 litres per day depending on what you do!

So back over to you, these are our experiences, how does that apply to you and your habits?

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Reply By: pop2jocem - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 18:18

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 18:18
I guess the amount of water for washing both yourselves and general cooking requirements can be varied to a large degree depending on your supply and any other water sources you may come upon in your travels. The amount that in my opinion is not negotiable if going into remote areas where alternative supplies can not be counted on is to keep at least 2 litres per person per day for the trip duration and a bit more for emergencies.

Cheers Pop

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Follow Up By: Tenpounder (SA) - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:05

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:05
Sorry, Pop, but I can't let this pass without comment. 2 litres per person per day as as total water ration is woefully inadequate. Just for drinking, in reasonable conditions, I'd be allowing up to 5 litres per person per day, as part of a minimum 10 litres per head for drinking, cooking and (spartan) washing up.
This is based on several trips across the Simpson, where 20 litres for my wife and I left NO spare.
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 21:08

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 21:08
Hi Chris

Our usage is under 2lt/day and this is what we plan on as per Pops reply.

To be fair we would consume another lt in coke/wine/juice etc.

We however waste none , never need any for washing up , and have receipes for food that include dried food like Deb mash etc which comes from the 2lt/day allowance.

So it can be done without strain , but the sight of a river is very welcome.
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Follow Up By: Tenpounder (SA) - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 21:36

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 21:36
Ok, Robin. I am not trying to tell you what to do.
But if I am advising someone, like this thread asks, then it would be criminal to suggest a general ration of 2 litres or less. OK, so if the temperature was low enough, and if you are not expending any significant energy, and if you are drinking another 2 litres of Coke (heaven forbid!) ..., then 2 litres of water may be enough.
The vital thing, of course, is to consume at least as much as you are losing through sweat and urination,and it isn't hard to lose a fair bit more than 2 litres per day in sweat alone.
But if you use water to reconstitute Deb etc. out of a total of 2 litres, then there ain't much left, I can tell you.
Maybe you come from the cooler areas of Oz, but please don't suggest this is OK for the interior except in dead winter.
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 22:33

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 22:33
What you are advising is certainly on the side of maximum safety and that's fair enough. If someone was to travel any of the desert areas of Oz in anything like summer conditions then more water is certainly in order. But consider a couple of points, firstly my recommendation, if you re-read my response, was a MINIMUM of 2lt per person per day reserved for drinking. Secondly I think anyone that goes into the desert areas in summer conditions for any other reason than work or in an emergency situation needs their head examined. If however you feel the need to visit a remote and hot area then certainly a lot more water should be carried. There is also the consideration of the extra weight you are carrying and the effect this will have on your lifeline... namely your vehicle. A balance in all of the above is required. I personally do not recommend substituting alcohol for water as any part of your fluid intake, in fact just the opposite.
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 08:51

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 08:51
Chris , Grotman was asking a very general question about camping needs of which ours is 2lt / day for everything - this is a long way from yours at 10/day 5 for drinking.
If he was asking about going into a known dry dessert in heat then I would make some additional points.

If we used your figures for our typical week long trip that would be 140kg of water.

I would find it near imposssible to drink 5lt water per day (includes coffee etc) , last weekend I was at a damaged track before sun up with matock in hand and left 6pm , temps peaked at 30, sweat pouring off me so much that the salt it leaves stings your face.
During which time I didn't finish off my 1 lt of water supplemented by 2 cans of diet coke and a delivered coffee.

Worth noting that in my reply that the water used in Deb etc goes into you, and that water from food sources like fruit and vegetables etc probably adds another litre.
I.E. This makes a total of some 4lt available to be lost as sweat etc.

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Follow Up By: Member - Duncs - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 09:50

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 09:50
I am reluctant to enter this argument/discussion but I will.

A few years ago I did a bushwalk along a ridge where we did not expect to get any water. I did a lot of asking around and based on the best information I could gather at the time decided to carry 2l per person per day.

Because I always carry a water bottle anyway I ended up carrying 4l for the 2 days based on the above allowance plus another 750ml in my water bottle. It turned out to be inadequate but not by much. Maybe another 500ml per day would have been sufficient. I stress that this was walking, it was cold climate, we were in mountainous country and carrying packs for 4 days. (We had a creek crossing early on day 3 hence the 2 days).

As a general rule when travelling by car with a family of 5 I allow 1 jerry can per day. Which works out at 4l per person per day, for everything. My family includes 3 teenagers 2 of whom are girls and of course SWMBO.

That has always proved to be a very generous allowance. We have used this as our general rule on every trip including the Simpson Desert in October and numerous trips into the Flinders Ranges, Strzlecki Desert and Corner Country at various times of the year including December.

We always bring back water and often as much as 50% of what we set out with. But I still, always carry that much because running out is not pretty.

As for washing up. In sandy country all washing up can be done without water. If we do have to use water we can get by with about 2l for a full wash up and most of that can be recycled. Just tip it back into a grey water jerry using a coffee filter to catch the crud.


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Follow Up By: Tenpounder (SA) - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 14:39

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 14:39
Thanks guys for all the comments in reply to my plea! I think we're all about on the same wavelength: the amount you need must be relevant to the trip.
Clearly, Grotman was asking about adventures, and that may include remote areas. Indeed, if an area is not remote, the water issue is much reduced as a planning problem.
I've never been to the desert in summer, and don't plan on doing so, but I am aware of the risks of being caught, even in Spring, hence my fears.
Grotman didn't say what terrain, what time of year, and so the advice must be general.
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Follow Up By: Grotman - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 21:49

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 21:49

Thanks everyone for the input - I am not going inland (sticking to the coast) and there is only two of us.

sincere thanks for your input. Certainly have a better idea of requirements.
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Reply By: Goldfind (Dunsborough) - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 18:29

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 18:29
Hi Grotman,

We usually are away camping for around 3 to 4 weeks and I have 2 x 60l tanks fitted to the van and also have a 100l tank on the roof rack. I also usually carry 1 or 2 x 25 l itre containers. This amount allows us to both take a shower around each 2nd day (15litres each)and do all our usual dishwashing etc
If it runs low we can usually take the two containers to the nearest town to refill.
Note: many of the goldfield towns of WA such as Cue, do not allow water to be taken unless you stay in the caravan park. All accessible taps in town have been changed so it requires a special tap to access.

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Follow Up By: dbish - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:13

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:13
The special 4 way security tap handle is avalable from Bunnings $10 bought one 2 weeks ago. Cheers Daryl
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Follow Up By: Goldfind (Dunsborough) - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:22

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:22
Thanks dbish, I will check it out tomorrow
Regards Wayne
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 21:21

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 21:21
Considering tap handles have been removed in areas where water may be scarce, don't you think using you own handle to take water could be considered theft? I note dbish has not said to use the handle, just to have it. Check with local Shire Office or Visitor Centre re availability of water for visitors, and if a fee applies, pay it cheerfully.



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Follow Up By: dbish - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 22:07

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 22:07
Only carry the handle for emergencies. In fact i didnt know they existed untill several caravaners posted on another forum that they also carried these handles. only passing on a good idea. Cheers Daryl
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Follow Up By: Goldfind (Dunsborough) - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 22:15

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 22:15
Hi Motherhen,

Yes I did check with the Cue Shire office in Cue on the last time I went into town to get 25l of water. I was informed by the Shire office that water is definately not available in town and they do not accept payment either. However you can buy water at the roadhouse or check into the caravan park for free top up

Regards Wayne
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Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:00

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:00
Hi Grotman

It depends on climate and activity how much you need to drink. Someone has already suggested 5 litres per person per day - but you will use less in cooler climates unless you are taking strenuous walks.

Cooking - depends on how and what you cook. You could work that out from what it takes at home for your style of cooking. Water from boiling vegetables can be saved for rinsing the dishes. Minimal water is then needed to complete the job.

Washing - when water is in short supply a litre or two per person can suffice (less if you share). If you find you have access to a water hole with good water, you can lash out and have a bigger bath or a shower.

Keeping drinking water separately, you can manage for two people on two or three litres per day for everything else when you really have to.


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Reply By: Member - Geoff C (QLD) - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:17

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:17
We like to travel as we live which means showers every day, teeth cleaned twice daily and washing up done after use. We've got very efficient at it and average 30l a day total. This includes the occasional hand wash of small clothes. We even showered daily in the Simpson. My caravan has tanks for 180l and I usually carry an extra 40l in the ute but only use that as a last resort. In one of the oddities of life my dearly beloved can shower with less water than I can. We usually fill up the water at the servo when we fill up the diesel and as we carry 220l of diesel the servos don't seem to mind.
Horses for courses, I lived rough in the army and like to make up for it now.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 23:49

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 23:49
Hi Geoff

30 litres a day sounds good if you can carry it and are in areas where supplies can be easily topped up. That would be around our maximum even where water was plentiful. We have four x 80 litre tanks (one dedicated drinking water). One tank lasts three to four days when not not needing to be cautious.

We also carry a 20 - 40 litres of drinking water in the ute which is an emergency back up, for use when camping away from the caravan, or for emergency if stranded away from the caravan.

In times when we need to be frugal with water, we still bathe every day - in a bowl, not using the shower, and clean our teeth, wash dishes etc. Washing clothes is usually done with water obtained from an outside source such as a waterhole or stream. We don't put water from these sources into our tanks unless it is very clear (eg streams in Tasmania).


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Reply By: equinox - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:22

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:22
2 to 5 litres per day per person (including water for finding punctures)

"space is limited but water is of major importance" - can relate to that, wish it wasn't so heavy

Looking for adventure.
In whatever comes our way.

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Follow Up By: equinox - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:26

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:26
Sorry - I should add that in remote areas it's good to take another 2 weeks worth of water in case of emergency.

Looking for adventure.
In whatever comes our way.

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 21:25

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 21:25
Very good point equinox. A breakdown or even a closed road due to rain (water which you may not be able to take advantage of) can leave you stranded for from a few days to a couple of weeks. Always have enough drinking water and food for such emergencies.


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Reply By: Fab72 - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 21:38

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 21:38
Surprised that no-one has mentioned to take enough water for a full cooling system refill on top of your washing, drinking, showering water.

Am I being too cautious, having always done this as a matter of habit????

Grotman....why not do a dry run (no pun intended) on the weekend or something. Keep tabs of how much water you use to cook, clean, wash and drink and that should be pretty accurate. Everyone is different so my needs may be different to say a teenage daughters needs etc.

Before a big trip, we usually camp out on the back lawn and try to be self sufficient. Everything we have to walk back into the house to get, immediatley goes on our shopping list, so it's not forgotten on the trip. Sounds stoooopid, I know, but sure beats hack sawing the tops of cans because someone forgot the can opener.

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Follow Up By: Grotman - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 22:24

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 22:24
All great ideas Thanks Fab!
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Reply By: Member - Robin H (WA) - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 21:57

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 21:57
Depends where your going and how much physical activity you intend to do. 4-5 litres per person per day for drinking especially if kids are involved is a safe bet.
Most people can survive on less but were not talking about survival, more like good health.

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Reply By: Member - Alastair D (NSW) - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 09:24

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 09:24
As others have said the amount of water you need to drink to keep well hydrated varies greatly depending on temperature, altitude, activity etc.

Several years ago we went to Sth America and did a lot of walking including going high into the Andes. Before leaving I had a chat to a colleague who was an experienced high altitude physician and did a lot of climbing and trekking himself. He said that over the years he had got into so many arguments about how much water one should drink that he had changed his approach. His recommendation is now that if you do not feel like having a pee every 2 - 3 hours then you are not drinking enough. It works for us.

When travelling in dry areas we have sponge baths rather than worry about showers. Overall we (wife & I) typically use about 5 - 10L per day above what we drink. We always have 2 x 10L containers stored away for emergency and typically carry 60L in our tank. Carry more if going into dry remote areas.


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Reply By: John and Lynne - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 09:27

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 09:27
Do you have a caravan or trailer with decent tanks? If you are relying on carrying water and gear in the vehicle you will be limited and need to ensure that you are frequently in places where drinking water is available = this is not always the case. You can't rely on always finding river water etc for non drinking purposes either!
Our van carries140 litres and we carry two small jerry cans in the vehicle which can be easily handled and filled in town or serve as emergency water.
This amount enables us to camp comfortably fo 8 days with normal cooking and drinking for 2 adults and a small dog across the Nullarbor where no water was availablein fairly warm weather. We managed with a daily sponge bath and no showers.
So our figure is 10 litres a day for fairly comfortable living - if you can't take that much you just cut back on the comfort! However I wouldn't attempt summer camping with less than 5 litres a day per person! Soft drink, alcohol etc is all very dehydrating and better not counted in your fluid intake - the weight is better taken up with water if you are seriously short of space! Cheers Lynne
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Reply By: Wayne (NSW) - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 09:39

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 09:39

You don't say where you adventure is heading or for how long, what time of year, how many people and how much water you intend to carry.

I have a very simple rule for water and fuel. If I am going away, any where in Australia, start out with full tanks and for me that is 120lt water.

I would rather come home with water in the tanks that run out.

So as a very rough guide I would allow 5lt per person per day plus 10lt for the vehicle per week and that would be a minimum.


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Reply By: DIO - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 10:06

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 10:06

The human body is composed of two thirds water and we simply could not survive without it. It is essential for nearly all bodily functions ranging from digestion, metabolism, waste removal and muscle contraction. Before starting any form of exercise it is important to ensure you are properly hydrated to avoid the negative effects of dehydration on the body. Proper hydration is especially important if you are undertaking high intensity training such as boot camps, as the greater the intensity of your workout, the more important it is to ensure adequate water intake is part of your exercise regime.

Water is an essential element to leading a healthy lifestyle and plays an important role in the body. Benefits include:

•Aids digestion
•Regulates temperature through sweating
•Helps to remove toxins from the body
•Transportation of nutrients
•Ensures joints and tissues are lubricated
•Increases oxygen availability to the cells
Athletes particularly, need to stay well hydrated to perform at their optimum level. Inadequate water intake has been proven to have serious implications to the bodies’ skin, bones, joints, brain and muscle as well as affecting aerobic and anaerobic performance.

How much water should I have?

Water is lost each day through your breath, urine, bowel movements and perspiration. In order for your body to perform and function at its best, it is imperative that this lost water is replenished. The body needs to be adequately hydrated to effectively eliminate waste products and avoid waste build up which can lead to increased acidity levels in the blood. As a result of this build up, losing weight can become even more difficult.

If you don’t consume enough water, it will eventually lead to dehydration resulting in headaches, constipation, lethargy, light-headedness and ultimately affect your training performance. When exercising it is important to think about how much you drink. Exercising regularly will accelerate water loss, so it is important for each individual to monitor this and if you are feeling dizzy or weak, it is a sure sign you are not replenishing lost stores. This can be further exacerbated if exercising in hot and humid conditions.

Research shows that individuals should drink before, during and after a workout and depends on a number of factors:

•Your medical history
•Your Age
Weather conditions
•Sweat loss
•Prescribed medications
•Your body size, weight and muscle mass
•Level of workout intensity
Specific fluid recommendations vary for each individual. Generally speaking, it is important that individuals consume at least 2 litres of water a day and even more if they exercise regularly. For every hour of exercise, people should aim for 0.5 – 1 litre of extra water intake daily to avoid the effects of dehydration. Below are some basic guidelines to use as a starting point for those in good health.

Before exercise

It is important to consume fluids several hours before a workout to ensure sufficient fluid and electrolyte balance.

During exercise

Working out at a high intensity requires the need for greater water intake particularly if exceeding 45 minutes. Experts recommend the consumption of sports drinks as a better option to assist in replacing lost carbohydrates and electrolytes during a training session.

After exercise

It is important after a workout to replace fluid lost during exercise. It is recommended to consume water 30 minutes post workout.

How does hydration assist fat loss?

As mentioned earlier adequate water intake is vital in eliminating waste from the body. Research has shown that water has a positive effect on an individual’s metabolic rate and thus helps in improving weight loss. Water promotes a thermogenic state which boosts your metabolism rate and increases your chances of success with losing weight.

Drinking water helps to reduce cravings for food as it works by reducing an individual’s appetite. Research has shown that thirst and hunger are triggered simultaneously and if a person is dehydrated this could be mistaken for hunger. In actual fact, the body is actually craving fluid but because individual’s mistake this for hunger they are driven to consume food and not water, leading to more weight gain. If you are looking to lose weight, the recommended 8 glasses per day should be maintained and even more if you are working out.

Tips to staying well hydrated

•Constantly monitor your hydration levels
•Avoid drinks such as soft drinks, tea and coffee that contain a high amount of carbohydrates (sugars) as this can prevent absorption of fluid into the bloodstream.
•Be aware of the possible symptoms of dehydration.
•Increase water intake during time of heat, humid conditions, increased training loads etc

If you do not drink sufficient water (NOT alcohol, tea, coffee, soft drinks etc) death can result. Particularly in hot climates regardless of the physical activity involved. Sitting in an air conditioned vehicle all day can also lead to dehydration if sufficient water is not consumed.
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