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How much water to carry?

kevinz

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Future
Hello, all,

I'm beginning the Camino del Norte around Irún around 19 August and walking for about two weeks. Through this section of the Camino del Norte, how much water should I plan on carrying with me between fountains and towns? In the heat, walking, I can go through one liter per hour, I estimate. Are towns and fountains more than one or two hours apart?

Thanks for your suggestions and advice. Buen Camino!

-Kevin
 
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trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
If you use a guidebook, app or Gronze.com they will usually show you the distances between towns, and often if there are water fountains available between towns. With that information, you should be able to estimate how much water you need to carry each day.
The most that I normally carry is 1.5 liters, but everyone's needs are different. For example, I can't imagine drinking 1 liter every hour, but if that's what you need, plan accordingly.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015,
2016, 2018
VdlP 2023
As @trecile has said, we are all different.
And guidebooks will help you assess where you can refill with water.

I consistently use 1 litre per 10 kms. That's 2.5 to 3 hours walking for me, as I walk slowly.
But I carry a 300 ml backup bottle with electrolytes regardless of my 'main' water load.
In hot weather I also use an umbrella, and this reduces my water needs.
 

xin loi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Walked May 14, 2014 from St Jean France

starting to walk again August 25, 2016 --SJPDP to Finisterre
Hello, all,

I'm beginning the Camino del Norte around Irún around 19 August and walking for about two weeks. Through this section of the Camino del Norte, how much water should I plan on carrying with me between fountains and towns? In the heat, walking, I can go through one liter per hour, I estimate. Are towns and fountains more than one or two hours apart?

Thanks for your suggestions and advice. Buen Camino!

-Kevin
Walked from SJPDP to Santiago carrying a full liter bottle of water and NEVER opened it. Lots of places for water fountains. Did the Norte in August and September in 2019 and did not bother to carry water.
 
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pjacobi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015, St. Jean Pied de Port to Burgos
2016, Burgos to Ponferrada
2017, Ponferrada to Atlantic Ocean
Remember to carry snack foods to eat with your water! You need to eat salty and high calorie snacks to replace replenish energy and loss of salt though sweat.


-Paul
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
I found out that splitting my water between just water and water with electrolyte replenishment salts in it is best for me. I'm a diabetic and the meds that I take cause me to lose more water. So that plus sweat means that I need to carry or find a lot more water than most. It all depends on our body and your requirements.
 

edtrudeau

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
March 2022 Frances
Hello, all,

I'm beginning the Camino del Norte around Irún around 19 August and walking for about two weeks. Through this section of the Camino del Norte, how much water should I plan on carrying with me between fountains and towns? In the heat, walking, I can go through one liter per hour, I estimate. Are towns and fountains more than one or two hours apart?

Thanks for your suggestions and advice. Buen Camino!

-Kevin
I brought 2 one liter collapsable bottles by Platypus with their hose. Usually filled 1 1/2 unless looked like a ‘dry’ day. Refilled at fountains and cafes as needed. BC
 

jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021, 2022
I just finished the Norte to Primitivo this summer. If you know how much water you drink per hour - just plan accordingly paying attention to distance between towns - the distances between towns varies a lot more than it does on the Frances. In between towns I don't recall seeing many water sources - if any. And I don't recall seeing as many fountain water sources. FOR ME - Most of the time - carrying 1L is just fine. Some days I had to refill. Some days I didn't. Some days I carried an extra half liter. I always made sure my water bottle was full before leaving the albergue for the day and tried to drink extra water in the afternoon/evening on arrival.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I haven't walked the Norte, but my other experiences on the Iberian Peninsula make me cautious. The advice from @Scott Sweeney , @edtrudeau and @jeanineonthecamino is worth reading again.

I have carried at least two litres in a combination of a bladder and reserve bottle for many years. In spring, that would last most of the walking day normally, but in the hot conditions on the CP this year, two litres only lasted until lunchtime and I started carrying 2.5 to 3 litres at the start of the day.

I avoid fonts unless they are clearly marked as potable, preferring to stop at a bar and get a tap refill there with my coffee. Too many friends have had GI problems. Whether it was from water or food I cannot tell, but they have relied on getting water from village fonts along the way.

In August, I expect fonts will all have been turned on. In early spring, there were some on the CF that hadn't been turned back on after winter. This didn't worry me at all, but someone walking with just a 600ml bottle was clearly depending on water being available at one point where this happened, and he faced another 30 minutes at least without water to get to the next village.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Via Podiensis 2017
del Norte 2018
Fisterra 2018
Primitivo 2019
Madrid (2020)
I have done Norte completely and Primitivo. Neither in summer months but both in warm months - May and September. 1.5 litres in a 2litre bladder was good for me except on the longest days when I took 2 litres. Didn‘t fill it during the stage. Emptied the bladder several times but certainly not every time. If you need 1 litre per hour, I think you will both need to fill it and pre locate the spots. Some of the early stages dont have cafés for say 10 km intervals. Most have spots every 5 to 10 kms. I think the critical part for you will be the first stages up to Bilbao….
 
Time of past OR future Camino
September 2022
We anticipate 2 liter's of water during a days walk.We never drink from fountain's (seen many sick walkers blaming food for their issues).This of course a personal issue.
I am curious about the water situation. I start the CF on August 30. I have a large hydration bladder that fits in my day pack, but on my training walks I usually just carry a couple of water bottles with me. If you don't drink from fountains, do you drink bottled water? Does anyone use those tablets to ensure safe water? Please advise. I don't want to get sick either and I was always leery of drinking tap water during travels abroad.
 

xin loi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Walked May 14, 2014 from St Jean France

starting to walk again August 25, 2016 --SJPDP to Finisterre
In my previous life I worked as a Sanitary Engineer dealing with water projects. While the majority of people blame GI problems on water when traveling, most studies indicate the problem is usually NOT water but vegetables. For example, ever notice the irrigation water flowing next to pastures used by cattle and then flowing downslope where that water is used to irrigate vegetables? What do you think is in that water? It is in YOUR salad. And Bottled water? Every Saturday morning I used to get a call from a store telling me that their bottled water test from Monday just came back positive for coliform. Well people have been drinking it for 5 days--clean your equipment! My advise? Don't worry--I don't. Travel all over Mexico and South America and always drink tap water, but don't eat salads.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
I am curious about the water situation. I start the CF on August 30. I have a large hydration bladder that fits in my day pack, but on my training walks I usually just carry a couple of water bottles with me. If you don't drink from fountains, do you drink bottled water? Does anyone use those tablets to ensure safe water? Please advise. I don't want to get sick either and I was always leery of drinking tap water during travels abroad.
I never fill up from the outdoor fountains on the Camino. I fill my hydration bladder in the morning at the albergue. It isn't the only liquid that I drink during the day. I usually have some orange juice at breakfast, then water or a soft drink at the bar or restaurant where I stop for lunch or an afternoon snack. If I need to top off my hydration bladder I can fill it in a bar or restaurant rest room.
 
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pjacobi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015, St. Jean Pied de Port to Burgos
2016, Burgos to Ponferrada
2017, Ponferrada to Atlantic Ocean
Water requirements greatly depend on temperature. More water is needed when hot, less when cool.

How much water do you need to walk for 4 hours at 80 degrees F? You need to discover this for yourself while training at home for the Camino.

An easy test for drinking the proper amount of water is simply the color of your urine. No color or light yellow, means you're fine. Dark yellow or orange means dehydration.


-Paul
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
If you don't drink from fountains, do you drink bottled water?
Some water sources outdoors are not treated, or at least are not tested to confirm if they are potable. Usually there will be a sign saying if it is potable or not. Even if you don't want to drink from outdoor fountains, you can simply drink the tap water from an indoor tap. Tap water in Spain meets all the European standards for safe water.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
If you don't drink from fountains, do you drink bottled water?
I prefer to refill at a bar or cafe where I have a coffee or a meal. Tap water is fine, and I have never had a problem with it. I have filled from fonts, but not routinely.
Does anyone use those tablets to ensure safe water?
Yes, but really only felt the need when refilling from a source that hadn't been treated or tested.

I carry a 500 ml or 1 li bottle in the top of my pack. This gets decanted into my bladder should that run out, and if I refill the bottle from an untreated/untested source, I will treat it with a purifying tablet. More often, I can refill the bottle at a bar/cafe when I stop for lunch after I decant the bottle into the bladder.
 
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Scott Sweeney

Veteran Member
I am curious about the water situation. I start the CF on August 30. I have a large hydration bladder that fits in my day pack, but on my training walks I usually just carry a couple of water bottles with me. If you don't drink from fountains, do you drink bottled water? Does anyone use those tablets to ensure safe water? Please advise. I don't want to get sick either and I was always leery of drinking tap water during travels abroad.
Water is very inexpensive in Spain and I prefer going with bottles. We refill or reuse bottle when in larger cities. I never liked bladder's even while on local hikes, but that is me. A liter bottle on each side of the pack works good for me.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
See signature. Too many to list here.
Water water everywhere. I've actually had worse experiences when drinking too much! Before I knew about electrolytes I would pound water continuously, and lose salts! Nowadays I balance my water intake with electrolytes, available at your local friendly pharmacy.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Yes
Keep in mind that water weighs 2.2 pounds per liter. (also per litre ;) ) 1 kilo= 2.2 lbs

1 liter = 2.2 lbs (1 kilo)
1.5 liter = 3.3 lbs
2 liter = 4.4 lbs

Carrying more water than needed can greatly increase your pack weight.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Water water everywhere.
My experience on the CF is that it is a mis-perception that there is always water 'within a few kilometres', and I addressed that in posts some years ago here and here. I first walked in Apr 2010, and was caught badly on the Meseta when many of the fonts listed in Brierley proved to be dry. Perhaps it was too early for them to have been turned on, the water table was too low, or the pump needed priming. Who knows. But at that time, I learnt not to trust being able to get water between towns, and generally that means carrying enough water for a couple of hours.
Carrying more water than needed can greatly increase your pack weight.
I agree, but @grayland, I think you have pulled your punches here. How does someone know what water they need to stay well hydrated? Add to this that many people walking the Camino for the first time won't be regular bush walkers/trampers/ramblers/etc and may have no idea about how to tell when they need to drink.
On the first point, @pjacobi's advice is worth taking:
You need to discover this for yourself while training at home for the Camino.
This is not too difficult to discover. It can be done with any reasonably accurate digital body scales with a measurement interval of 100gm or less. Analogue scales might be used, but the measurements will be more difficult to do.
  • First, calculate the volume of your bladder by weighing yourself before and after emptying your bladder from full.
  • Second, choose a reasonably tough walk that will be at least two hours long, preferably longer than that. It would also be preferable to do this on a moderately hot day which will start to match the temperatures that you might expect to be walking in on your Camino.
    • Take as much water as you would normally carry for the conditions. Measure that if you don't know the volume of the containers you normally use.
  • Third, weigh yourself, preferably naked, before you leave home.
    • On the walk, empty your bladder only when it is full, and note how many times you do that.
  • Fourth, measure how much water you have left at the end of the walk.
  • Last, on your return, weigh yourself again, preferably naked.
To calculate your water consumption:
  • To the weight difference between start and end, add the weight of urine passed during the walk and the amount of water consumed during your walk. This is your total fluid loss.
  • Using the duration of your walk, calculate your fluid loss/hour.
  • Compare this to your fluid consumption/hour based on the amount of water that you drank during the walk.
  • The difference between total fluid loss/hour and fluid consumption/hour is the rate at which you are accumulating a hydration deficit on the walk.
  • You will know how much water / other fluids you might need to carry to stay reasonably well hydrated for any particular leg of the Camino.
So what? My personal observation is that even with good hydration discipline, you will accumulate a water deficit over the course of a walking day, and you will still need to address re-hydration at the end of the day. There are many options for this, but my preference is to make up about 500 ml of hydration solution and consume that first after arriving at an albergue. Others have more interesting approaches, noting that many involve diuretic substances, so may not really address re-establishing your hydration balance for the next day!

The other issue is when to drink. There is a lot of advice available around the internet, but if you start to feel thirsty, you are already becoming de-hydrated, and should drink something then. It is better to drink more regularly, and not let yourself start to feel thirsty. That's hard, and I don't really have a good way of suggesting how that might be done other than some of this comes from experience. So getting some longer walks in during training so that you can practice this is a good idea.
 

pjacobi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015, St. Jean Pied de Port to Burgos
2016, Burgos to Ponferrada
2017, Ponferrada to Atlantic Ocean
Absolutely! When they are around and open!

That's why hikers always carry GORP - Good Ol' Rasins and Peanuts. It can be made with your preference or whatever is available of salty and sweet snacks. This helps your body absorb water, replaces electrolytes and stabilizes blood sugar. Chocolate and peanuts taste much better that sports drinks!


-Paul
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015,
2016, 2018
VdlP 2023
An interesting range of views as always :)

I have run out of water twice in hot weather, on my first Camino.
(once was due to a leaking fitting on my water bladder)

As it was on the CF, water was available within an hour or so.
But I really don't want to feel that dehydrated again!

So I plan water consumption, water load and water availability carefully each day.
It just needs a glance at a guidebook, map and the weather forecast.
But 1 litre per 10 kms is my rule of thumb now.

Regarding water 'sources', we all have preferences.
We would normally fill our bottles from the accommodation tap in the mornings.
Then top up from fonts along the way.

Pat loved the font water so much, she would tip out any remaining tap water,
and refill her bottles from the Fonts! :rolleyes::rolleyes:

Is was usually a much nicer taste and often very cold...... :)
 
Last edited:

OZAJ

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Mozarabe/VdlP/Sanabres (2008) Norte (2009) Vezelay/Frances/Salvador/Primitivo (2010) etc.
The only time I have run out of water and been unable to refill was between Canterbury and Dover!

I usually carry 2 litres and refill whenever possible. I have only once had a problem with water quality and that was at a cemetery in France. The water was contaminated with kerosine.

Some of the best water I have ever drunk was from fountains in Spain. Most fountains on the main routes will either say "potable" or "non potable" or not guaranteed - I don't remember the Spanish. I suspect that the "not guaranteed" is lawyer advice and to be safe should perhaps be avoided. I have drunk it with no problems ... yet.

The only time I have suffered problems was here in Oz in the Blue mountains. I got sick from drinking water from a creek in the National Park. That was about 30 years ago.
 
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Ok. Seriously if you are out in the heat and sweating profusely and drinking a lot of water, make sure you get your electrolytes. My version of a lot of water during hot weather was 12 liters consumed on the San Salvador. Problem was no place to eat, no stores to buy from. I arrived in town thinking I would not make it. I carry electrolytes now always.
 
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Scott Sweeney

Veteran Member
If you use a guidebook, app or Gronze.com they will usually show you the distances between towns, and often if there are water fountains available between towns. With that information, you should be able to estimate how much water you need to carry each day.
The most that I normally carry is 1.5 liters, but everyone's needs are different. For example, I can't imagine drinking 1 liter every hour, but if that's what you need, plan accordingly.
Two liter's each for each of us while walking and never drink from fountain's. Our personal choice.
 

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