Patrick, Steven, and I go on a colossal road trip to our southernmost National Park: Big Bend. I learned that sometimes being prepared doesn’t mean that you’ll succeed. It was a difficult journey and we had to make a tough call between what was safest for the group as a whole and what was the most fun for part of the group.
Everybody survived Big Bend and had a great time, which meant the trip was a success. In the future, we’re going to go run laps together before going hiking to make sure everyone is ready for a trip of that caliber!
The biggest challenge in Big Bend National Park is carrying water: to have enough water for three days of hiking, we needed to carry close to 25 lbs in our packs.
Water in the Desert: A Beginner’s Guide
You can get by on a little less than a gallon day by eliminating water waste. Here are the corners we cut so that we were only carrying drinking water:
- Use hand sanitizer to avoid hand-washing with water you could drink later!
- Don’t brush your teeth (not a long-term option, but for a two to three-day trip, it’s worth skipping).
- Don’t cook (carry lots of snacks and foods that don’t require water to cook. We had a lot of jerky, dried fruits, etc.)
We carried 10L Dromedary Bags from MSR. These bags are bullet-proof. I wouldn’t worry about using them to cache water along the trail or (like we did) just throwing in your pack and carrying them. We had no issues with leakage on the bag itself or from the lid. They are awesome candidates when you need to carry a lot of water.
MSR has a line of accessories for the Dromedaries that are pretty nifty:
- Shower Kit (hang the dromedary and use this to shower off on trips where you don’t need to conserve water)
- Spigot Cap (to make sharing water from the big bag easier).
For you ultralight hikers, there is a less solid but way lighter option from MSR: the DromLite. This is made of a rubbery plastic, rather than lined-canvas like the regular dromedaries, but it is substantially lighter.