Although there is allegedly plenty of water available on the Camino (the Frances route anyway), there are stretches on the Primitivo where we won’t want to go in relying on easily accessible water. Planning on a few hours of hydration carry each day is just smart. (Definitely a situation where the rule is, “Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!”)
Why Not a Hydration Bladder?
Although I have used and appreciated internal pack hydration bladder/reservoir technology on day hikes, I find them too much trouble to maintain on multi-day hikes. I want to enjoy as much walking and down time as possible on my Camino, and gear that requires a 12-step procedure and its own gear to keep clean us not worth the time saved unscrewing a bottle cap.
Bladders also do not lend themselves well to mixing powdered drinks.
They can also be difficult to fill quickly.
Not good for carrying hot drinks.
No ice either.
And they can leak.
Not judging, just saying.
So, although my pack includes hydration bladder storage and routing, I am going with a good old Nalgene bottle. Specifically, the Nalgene HDPE 48oz Silo Wide Mouth BPA-Free Water Bottle.
Yeah, I know it’s huge but it fits in all the same places a smaller one does and I don’t have to fill it all the way up (remember the B.T.H.I.A.N.N.I.T.T.N.I.A.N.H.I. rule.) Fully loaded, this will be the heaviest part of my kit because water weighs like an ounce per ounce or something. The bottle comes in at 7 oz. which is not terrible (the ultra light guys just re-use SMART water bottles) but that seems a bit to crunchy for me. I want a bottle that can also serve as a blunt weapon.
If you know anything about Nalgene bottles, you know they have a nice “big mouth” opening to keep them useful for ice, mixing, and quick-filling. That’s great, but as with all things in our finite world, it’s a trade-off. As you probably also know, Nalgene bottles can be very messy if you’re not standing still and carefully drinking.
Enter the Guyot Designs SplashGuard-Universal. This wonderful little insert converts the Nalgene’s opening into something manageable for people whose mouths aren’t half a foot across.
I have not seen too many warnings about bad water on the Camino (again, on the Frances route at least). Some have expressed concerns, though – and since there aren’t very many poop-and-puke days scheduled on our Camino, if we come upon some sketchy water, I want a filter.
Sawyer is the go-to brand for water filtration on the trail – and for backpacking they’re great. But I found a LifeStraw Universal Water Filter Bottle Adapter which is designed for Nalgene (and other) brand bottles. It’s very simple with no tricky bags or hoses. You just replace the bottle’s lid when you want to use it, and store it when you don’t.*
*Note: This really is a straw system. Despite appearances, the cap that fits a Nalgene bottle (pictured above) is not a pop top that can be re-sealed when you’re done drinking. So there is risk of spilling if the bottle falls over or you drop it with the straw attached.
The tricked-out system comes in at about 11 oz. That’s a lot, but I am willing to deal with it for what it offers.