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how much water to carry?

Nancy walker

New Member
Past OR future Camino
First time starting 22nd Sept 16 from St Jean Pied
Hello wise pilgrims of the forum :)

I am due to start my pilgrimage from SJPP to Fisterra on the 22nd September.

I am from the north of England, therefore I will overheat in the land of Spain more easily than most.... I also drink a lot of water.

I have a 1 litre platypus and a 2 litre platypus. I am unsure which one to bring. I know there are many water fountains along the route, and I can always carry an extra bottle on the stretches where there are no fountains.

I'm thinking the 1 litre platypus will be enough, and I can fill it up and each fountain. But what do y'all think?? I nail through 1 litre in an hour or two's walking at home when it is sunny. I would jump at the chance of the 2 litre bag, if water wasn't so darn heavy!

Opinions welcome!

p.s can't wait to get going :)

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Past OR future Camino
2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, (2021)
On our first Camino (Sept/Oct) we both started with 2 - 1L water bottles.
Three of the bottle broke before we finished.
We replaced the last one with a Soda bottle (worked great).

On our 2nd Camino (Sept/Oct) we both started with a single 700ml water bottle.
No regrets.
Twice we bought a 500ml water bottle for a long hot day.... and throw it away when empty.

I (personally) don't like bladders that go into your pack.
Hard to fill.
Most people end up taking too much water for the day.
Water = weight.

Always look at your guide book for Fountain locations
Your water bottle must survive a 1.5m fall.


Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
I'm thinking the 1 litre platypus will be enough, and I can fill it up and each fountain. But what do y'all think?? I nail through 1 litre in an hour or two's walking at home when it is sunny. I would jump at the chance of the 2 litre bag, if water wasn't so darn heavy!

Personally, I would take the 2 litre bladder, and just fill it with as much as you need. This will obviously depend on how far the next village/font is. But leave yourself a bit 'spare', just in case. A couple of times I found a font was no longer operating with potable water (Large sign on it)

After a couple of days you'll become quite good at judging how much water you'll need. 2 litres should be plenty 'capacity' for most days. On the long stretch out of Carrion (the 17km with no fonts) I carried extra in bottles, but ended up not needing it. But we all have different water needs.

When using a bladder, I would suggest always having a small 3-500 ml bottle as well. (as a backup). The one downside of a water bladder, is that you can't see how full it is. So it needs regular checking at stops. A couple of times I ran dry, which was not fun... The 'extra' small bottle got me to the next water stop.

Lastly, Don't skimp on your water intake. Even mild dehydration will cause additional muscle and joint problems....
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Charles Zammit

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
St Jean Pied de Port - Finisterra 2017
GR70 France 2018
Via Francigena 2019
Many bladder systems have ' wide mouths ' or open ends that seal exceptionally well , as seen here ,

These can be filled easily and extremely quickly as well as allowing you to place your entire hand into them in order to clean them effectively .
I find bladders very convenient , try filling your 2 litre to its maximum , you will most probably find it holds at least a half litre more than this . So you really have a system that can store anything from a few hundred ml up to 2500ml . This is very useful when there are vastly differing distances between water sources .


Veteran Member
I am starting to consider myself a close relative of camels and llamas...I am surprised how much water some fellow pilgrims drink. I usually have less than 1 liter in my standard 8 hrs stages; it is true that I avoid walking in really hot days. Well, every metabolism is different. I suppose that the only motive for worrying is if a water drinking pattern changes suddenly.
Coming back to the question: there are many chances of refilling along the Camino francés. It is not a walk in the wilderness...The only long stages without frequent public sources (or bars) are SJPP-Roncesvalles and right after Carrión de los Condes (17 km). In the former, distances are not good, because the degree of difficulty changes (it is much steepper at the beginning). Assuming you are doing 10 hrs (many do...), there are refilling chances in Orisson (+3 hrs (approx), Roldan source (+ 4 hrs, id) and obviously Roncesvalles (+ 3 hrs, id, by the easier Ibañeta variant). Adjust according to your probable schedule.
A final note: I walked between SJPP-Roncesvalles end of September and it was cloudy, slightly cold, and pleasant. But with weather you never know...
Buen camino!
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Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
As a former "dirt napper" from fainting as a result of dehydration and heat stroke, I strongly recommend you take BOTH bags and use the one fitting the coming day's conditions.

However, the alternative I would personally use would be to take the SMALLER 1 Lt bladder and keep it charged with potable water, topping it off daily. PLUS, I would obtain TWO .5 liter water bottles (easily enough done). Carry them in a side pocket on your rucksack or in a cargo pocket or on your belt if a suitable arrangement can be determined. They are easily rinsed, reused, and eventually recycled. Use them empty or filled as the coming day's activities suggest.

This gives you the flexibility of maintaining your main water supply clean, and not having to scrub some foreign substance (flavoring, salts, etc.) from the bladder. The separate bottles also offer you a wide range of fill mixture alternatives.

Personally, I must use powdered protein to supplement my diet everyday. But I frequently add in either Nescafe coffee singles for the first caffeine jolt of the morning, or electrolyte tablets for use once I sweat a few liters out. I also carry a small, collapsible funnel made of a silicone like material to assist getting powders into the bottle neck.

So, I recommend that you bring with you from home, or obtain in a Spanish pharmacy, electrolyte replacement powder or tablets that can be added to the small bottles of water to create a ready electrolyte replacement solution. You can also try a runner's store or general sporting goods store if you are in a larger town or city (Logrono, Burgos, Leon, Astorga, Ponferrada, etc. I buy my Nuun brand electrolyte replacement tablets locally in a runners store here in South Florida.

Larger tablets are typically scored to break them into two pieces that fit through the bottle neck. Three ideas that appeared this last week in the Forum include:

- “Sueroral Casen" in the farmacias in Spain.

- Dioralyte in the UK.

- Alternatively, over the counter (OTC) in any Spanish supermarket (supermercado): Aquarius sport drink (it is like Gatorade in the States)

Bananas are also a very food thing to eat to supplement your diet and electrolyte intake. But they are not always readily available, portable, or convenient.

I hope this helps.

Rick M

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
April ('16,'18, '19, 21)
While we are all thinking safety, let me offer a counterpoint. Taking a lot of water sounds like prudent planning, after all, who wants to get thirsty? Bad for the health, we all know that. Sounds good, but as you point out: It's Heavy. With a couple of notable exceptions, you are rarely more than two hours between a drink of water. When I walked in the spring, I carried water on just two occasions, a 500 ml bottle I bought from a bar. On one of those two days, an 18 km stretch across the meseta, I really wished I had brought more. Every other day, I drank water rather than cafe con leche at the stops along the way. Did I walk into town feeling thirsty? Yup, a few times. But I did not have to carry the weight, and that is something that happens every day, and takes a toll on the body. Bladders in packs are for wilderness trekkers who may be long stretches between creeks, and have to treat their water. You are walking through an area with regular access to fountains, convenience stores, and coke machines.

Save your knees. Check the guide every day before you set out, and figure out if you need a small water bottle that day. Or whether you should pick one up part way through the day for a longer stretch when the sun is hot. The forecast temperature figures into your thinking as well. You will discover that mostly, you don't need to carry any water at all. I would do the same again. I have also never heard of anyone succumbing to thirst on the Way. Buen Camino.


Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I have used a bladder/bottle system similar to that described by @Robo for my last three pilgrimage walks. It includes a 2 li bladder (from Source) and either a 500 ml or 750 ml bottle. This year on the CF I did adjust the fill of the bladder in the morning if there were plenty of water sources, but I never started with less than 2 li, which was generally more than enough. On only one day did I empty the bladder and need to refill it with the water in the bottle, and then refill both at the next font.

In hot conditions bushwalking in Australia, my overall consumption rate is around 700 ml/hour. I also know that I generally don't drink 2 li every two hours, and end up in deficit if I am not careful. If you already know that you have a relatively high consumption rate to keep hydrated, then you do need to be particularly careful about any advice to not carry water, particularly if the conditions are hot.
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Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés: (2015, ‘17, ‘18 and ‘19)
Chemin de Tours + Camino del Norte: 2020
Hello Nancy,
I agree with all the posts.
You must consider which one of the posts (or combination of posts) applies most appropriately to the balance between: 1) your physiological necessity and, 2) the level of your insecurity of running out of water for a given period of time (I've been there :(). It's imperative to cleanse the mouthpiece, tubing and bladder every day. Abide by the manufacturer's recommended method, which usually involves air-drying. You don't want to get a stomach ache in the Camino.
(By the way, I don't encourage one product over another, nor do I do marketing. The equipment below was purchased with my hard-earned money, used it and worked well for me).
What did I do for hydration on the Camino? Having tested and used almost all of the available hydration methods over the years, both personally and professionally, I choose to carry two very light water bottles on either side of my back-pack. The access is easy as is the everyday cleaning. I refilled them with fresh water and at times with an electrolyte. I drank alternatively from both sides so as to have a balanced backpack. In the Camino Frances, water and electrolyte drinks are readily available. In other caminos, you must evaluate the time and distance between water sources.
If you consider this option I suggest either a plastic or stainless steel bottle in the size and weight of your liking. If plastic, get information on a bpa free plastic bottle like for example a Thermos Intak. If stainless steel, there's Kleen Kanteen with the sports cap amongst other choices in stainless steel. I've tried both (although in different sizes) and they get the job well done and live forever. The flexibility and low maintenance that they provide worked well for me.
I hope that this little bit of information, coupled with that of my fellow peregrinos provides you with viable options.

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2012 Dieppe, FR Bici CF.
2014 Ruta Vasco/CF/Primativo
2 liter bladder. And please take care to NOT buy disposable water bottles. You'll see why once you start walking.
Buen Camino

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