If you are hiking or camping in the wild, water quality in the lakes, rivers, and streams can vary widely. This is especially true if you are planning an excursion in a developing country. In some water sources there are typically up to three types of disease-carrying organisms that can’t be seen by the human eye. These are viruses, protozoa, and bacteria. When you are choosing whether to use a water purifier versus a filter, it is important to note that a mechanical, electronic, or chemical water purifier will eliminate all three, while a filter will only take care of protozoa and bacteria.
In most of Canada, America, and in many European countries the risk of viral contamination is considered low enough that water filters will work well for backcountry travel. But in less developed countries and even a few of the world’s leaders…the surface water and even some of the tap water in urban areas can be unsafe to drink. Wherever you plan to travel and hike, check the local water quality or err on the side of caution and treat natural water sources with a purifier.
Hope for the best and prepare for the worst, even for a day hike. Carry a small backpack to store items such as your map or guidebook, compass, waterproof matches, a small first aid kit, toilet tissue in a plastic baggie, and a headlamp or flashlight that has new batteries. Take sun protection, insect repellent, a whistle, pocket knife, and throw in a light jacket, and some cash.
Make sure to pack enough water…the suggested amount is three quarts per day for each person. Take water in, and take along something that will allow you to filter or treat water from natural sources. It is important to stay hydrated throughout the hike. Include nutritious snack food and tuck in a self-heating meal pack such as this vegetable curry. It’s better to have more food than you need, then to go hungry.
NOLS, or The National Outdoor Leadership School, is focused on teaching wilderness skills across six continents—including backpacking, canoeing, white-water kayaking, pack rafting, caving, rock climbing, fly fishing, horse-packing, sea kayaking, mountaineering, rafting, sailing, skiing, and snowboarding. NOLS estimates that travellers backpacking in the wild will utilize between 2,500 and 4,500 calories per day, depending on their individual body type and the level of activity and degree of difficulty of the hike. Each individual needs between 1.5 to 2.5 pounds of food for each day of the hike based on these caloric needs.
This United States based non-profit outdoor education school is dedicated to promoting environmental ethics, technical outdoor skills, safety and judgment, and leadership on extended wilderness expeditions. NOLS is a leader in Wilderness Medicine Education and offers direct credit agreements with many colleges and universities for its courses.
When hiking or participating in high adventure activities an MRE or boil-in-the-bag meal is often the best choice. But when you are camping you often have more space for foodstuffs and the opportunity to use the campfire for cooking. Simple and fast is still best for these meals, leaving you time to sing around the fire or just enjoy the sounds of nature.
One of the easiest campfire meals is a Hobo or aluminium foil packet dinner. Simply take a sheet of heavy duty foil (or double regular foil) and place chunked pieces of meat and veggie on the foil. These are usually done for each person, so they can put in the amount and types of meat and veggies that they want. Then add seasoning, some sort of sauce or liquid… roll up the edges and place packet at the edge of the fire in hot coals. Let it cook for about 15 minutes and then use tongs or a long handled spatula to turn over and cook another 15 minutes. Open, check that the meat is done…and enjoy!
Try chunked chicken, onion, bell pepper, celery, a teaspoon of butter- then season with salt, pepper, and an assortment of dried herbs. Perfect!