Empowering The Bicycle Traveler

The Watercarriers

Not to be confused with The Stars and The Watercarriers.
One particular overnight desert bikepacking trip in the desert of southern Idaho had the potential for a little extra discomfort. We had planned on being able to get water out of the river at the end of the ride, but the river gurgled along several hundred feet below us at the bottom of the vertical gap it is cutting through this volcanic plateau.

That's an 18" gas pipeline crossing the ditch down there and the river is maybe 450' below the line.

That’s an 18″ gas pipeline crossing the ditch down there and the river is maybe 450′ below the line.


We took a quick inventory of water we had on board and decided we wouldn’t die but that we would need to be careful. Ultimately we found a way down to the water by hiking a couple miles downstream. I was prompted to write this post about some ways to carry water on the bike.
-First is the good old hydration pack- 70 or 100 ounces (2 or 3 liters) carried on the rider’s back. Some people complain about the discomfort of carrying a back pack in hot weather, but to me it is worth it. Especially since you can stuff other things into the pack besides the water bladder.
-Standard water bottles fit in standard bottle cages which bolt to the bike carry 22 or 24 ounces (around .7 liter each) If the forks on the bike have bottle bosses you can carry one or two more bottles there. You can add additional mounts for standard cages, either on the fork or one of the bicycle main tubes, by using the Elite VIP Bottlecage Clips.
-The Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag works well for carrying standard bottles too.
-Topeak make the Modula bottle cage which mounts to the two standard bolt holes and is designed to carry the large plastic 1 to 1.5 liter bottles sold at most convenience stores.
Velo Orange Mojave bottle cage with 32 ounce (.95 liter) Nalgene bottle or 40 ounce (1.2 liter) Klean Kanteen. These bolt onto the standard two bolt mounts on most bikes or, even better, with three bolts using the mounts now found on some bikepacking bike forks and frames. Combine one of the VIP Bottlecage Clips with the two bosses on the bike for extra security.

Bikepacking bike

Sky King rolls with the VO Mojave cage and 32oz. Nalgene on the down tube.

-In locales without services but with access to surface water you will need a water filter or purifier. We use the Camelbak All Clear water bottle which incorporates an ultraviolet light in the cap which and will kill all the bugs in .75 liters of water (25 ounces) in 60 seconds. A mechanical filter like the Platypus GravityWorks is potentially a little bit faster.
-If there will be no access to surface water and no services then carry an additional 4 or 6 liters (135 or 203 ounces) in the MSR Dromedary bladder.

Every trip and every day will have different requirements for how much water needs to be carried. These are just a few ideas to think about. Let me know what I missed in the comments.

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