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Old 04-22-2013, 01:07 PM
Ballard Ballard is offline
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Hi All - long time lurker, just signed up after reading through this forum many times! Question that I can't find a real solid answer too. I've been doing some desert hiking recently and always have plenty of water on me. I was wondering what is the best way to ration the water, if something happens, like if i get lost, or injured. Little sips to make it last as long as possible? Good size gulps to stay hydrated? I'm sure it depends on situation and amount but any insight would be appreciated, thanks!
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Old 04-22-2013, 01:45 PM
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Little sips have little value for survival. Drink in moderation, but don't short yourself. If you are thirsty, drink about a cup at a time (1/4 quart). If you aren't really thirsty...sure, just wet your whistle with a slug or two of water.

Your body is a semi-permeable membrane. The best place for water is in your system vs. in a water bottle. You lose water through sweat, exhalation, and elimination. The object is to stay functionally hydrated. You are either hydrated or not.

The indicators for successfully accomplishing that are:
1. Lack of severe thirst
2. Clear urine (as opposed to dark yellow)
3. Continued ability to sweat when you should (when the body ceases sweating due to dehydration... you are minutes away from heat stroke)

Drink normally (in moderation) when you are thirsty and monitor your pee. If you have been guzzling water and your urine is clear, scale back your intake a bit. You don't want to flood your system by drinking an entire quart at one sitting...then have to urinate it away because your bladder is bursting. A little thirst/dehydration is OK. If you are "dying" of thirst...your body is trying to tell you something.

Say that you are in the middle of the desert with one quart of water. If your system becomes a quart low, it is only going to optimally function when you replenish that quart. A sip won't cut it. Sipping is like rationing oil when your car's low oil pressure light is on. Drink a cup or more at a time...depending upon how much water is available. If less works for you, that's OK...as long as you can still function comfortably.

Heat injuries sneak up on you rapidly. It's not like in the movies where the heroes struggle through the desert until they shake the last drop out of their canteens. In reality...you'll be walking along (severely dehydrated), possibly in mid conversation with someone else...when you suddenly slip into dizziness and collapse seconds later. Unconscious or very soon to be. Like an overheated engine seizing up. Heat stroke.

I knew some Bulgarian troops who traveled to Louisiana for summertime multi-national exercises shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Empire. They wore wool winter weight uniforms and carried a single 1-liter canteen on their belts. They were also issued instructions by their commanding officer to not touch a drop until after nightfall.

Normally, they would have inspected their troop's canteens at sundown to ensure adherence to orders. Unfortunately for their platoon commander, most of his troops were heat casualties by the end of the first day in the field. It was high summer in Louisiana (at JRTC)...and his guys dropped like flies. They had never experienced sub-tropical heat and humidity until that trip. They obeyed orders and failed to drink water...with predictable results.

Their officers had been taught (and believed) that drinking water "caused sweat". Not drinking water actually caused injury and collapse...requiring helicopter MEDEVAC and insertion of IV lines.

Naturally, the very best way to ration water is to minimize body loss through sweat...by finding shade and rest during the day...and by traveling on foot only at night.
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Old 04-22-2013, 02:32 PM
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I have not had to ration my water for survival. And it is largely depenant on the situation. But the rule Ive been told is, if you do get lost or hurt, and have to resort to rationing water, break up the amounts for it to last you three days.
Statistics show, If search and rescue does find you, whether your dead or alive, it will be within three days of the start of the search. That is assuming you did the obvious and let at least two separate parties know where you were going, and for how long.
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Old 04-22-2013, 02:57 PM
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Thanks for the insight guys, I appreciate it
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Old 04-22-2013, 08:45 PM
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Water is heavy, it does better inside of you rather than in your canteen. But as stated above if you bloat yourself with all the water you will just pass it out. Then you have to do Man Woman wild and drink your own pee!

I always hydrate well before a long hike (often10 miles plus) and just satisfy my thirst along the way. I often regulate my temp in the summer with a dunk in the river. That seriously drops my water consumption. I know there's no river in the desert but its the principle I'm attempting to convey.
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Old 04-22-2013, 09:37 PM
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Old 04-22-2013, 09:55 PM
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Having suffered a few heat injuries, including one which caused me to hospitalized (never force yourself to do a road march when suffering salmonilla, no matter if you want to show up Ole Gunny) I will say bring more water than you think you need.

I'm biased. I've got a low threshhold for heat injuries.
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Old 04-23-2013, 01:20 AM
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First, don't ration water!!! There have been multitude of people found with water in container's as they was trying to ration it! Water does one good only if it is in the body! When you feel like your thirsty, guess what, yep, you are already behind the ball. Before you go out treking, drink you fill of water, to the point that you feel bloated, then top off your containers. If your urine is clear you are good to go. As you trek, sip the water down but keep hydrated, it has to be in your body. I am no expert, but I have experiance from 10 years in the Marine Corps in few deserts and jungles. There are few good book's out there, and for the desert treking Cody Lundin's book 98.6 keeping your ass alive is a must read. If you don't like what I have to say, okay. but please, read this book, or go to many site's and research it. You took the first step and now keep getting educated. Remember this, the desert is no place to mess around, Heat exhaustion and sTroke are serious and there are three ways to combat it. 1) be and stay hydrated, two) ensure someone is aware of where your going and when you be home, and 3) Adequate clothing. Hope this helps, mother nature is beautiful and great, but she has her own rules and can be relentless. Not trying to scare you, just be prepared.
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Old 04-23-2013, 01:30 AM
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You don't ration the water. You drink when you are thirsty. You drink even when you are not. It is common for people working hard in the heat not to notice their growing dehydration. What you ration is the work. Go into hiding during the day. Hike at night and early morning.

Don't eat if water is short. Digestion takes water. Having a source of electrolytes (diluted Gatorade will do in a pinch) is good but not the first priority.

Fully tank up at every opportunity - at the beginning and everywhere along the way you find water. Fill your belly first and then fill your containers. Then fill your belly again. And saturate your clothing and hair with any moisture you can. Shade during daytime is critical. Stay off the surface of the soil, dig down a few inches or suspend yourself a few inches above it if you can. You can change the temperature several degrees that way. Sleep if you can, daydream if you can't.

Your hat is your friend. Ventilated and a very broad brim. Alternately a shemag or kafiya. Or a Legionaires hat. Objective is to keep the head/neck/shoulders as shaded as possible.

Removing clothing is more comfortable but increases water loss and risks sunburn. Keep a layer of clothing on to trap the sweat in the fabric a while longer. Bedouins wear many layers of very loose clothing. Outer layers with lots of ventilation shade the inner layer which traps moisture.

Stay hydrated. Dehydration clouds your judgement and makes you weak and leads to hyperthermia.
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Old 04-23-2013, 03:22 AM
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The best place to store water is in your stomach - Rudolf the Red in The Monkey Wrench Gang book.

Watch the original Flight of the Phoenix movie.

A pebble in your mouth can help keep spit flowing. If in danger of dehydration No sweating. Travel only during the cooler parts of day if you can. Barrel cactus and signal mirror.
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Old 04-23-2013, 03:42 AM
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Astronomy pretty much nailed it right off the bat.

The only thing I can add is the importance of carrying proper water amounts (or replenishment means) for the terrain you will be in.

Unless you are going, unprepared, into an environment naturally low on water, only a worst case scenario (such as a crash that destroys your supplies or some sort of separation from your primary supplies) should ever make this an issue.

Learn where the water is and how to acquire it. Have the stuff and skills needed to get it, treat it, and what have you.
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Old 04-23-2013, 10:35 PM
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A great thread with great responses.
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Old 04-23-2013, 11:48 PM
danpass danpass is offline
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Chap 4:4-10 of the US Army Survival Field Manual 3-05.70, basically the reference for survival, talks about conserving sweat, not water.

========
4-10. Of all the physical problems encountered in a survival situation, the loss of water is the most
preventable. The following are basic guidelines for the prevention of dehydration:

• Always drink water when eating. Water is used and consumed as a part of the digestion process and can lead to dehydration.
• Acclimatize. The body performs more efficiently in extreme conditions when acclimatized.
• Conserve sweat, not water. Limit sweat-producing activities but drink water.
• Ration water. Until you find a suitable source, ration your sweat, not your water. Limit activity and heat gain or loss.
=======


I forget where I downloaded it so here is the link to my file in my Dropbox:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/of1cobi9g7...%203-05-70.pdf
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Old 04-24-2013, 03:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danpass View Post
Chap 4:4-10 of the US Army Survival Field Manual 3-05.70, basically the reference for survival, talks about conserving sweat, not water.

========
4-10. Of all the physical problems encountered in a survival situation, the loss of water is the most
preventable. The following are basic guidelines for the prevention of dehydration:

Always drink water when eating. Water is used and consumed as a part of the digestion process and can lead to dehydration.
Acclimatize. The body performs more efficiently in extreme conditions when acclimatized.
Conserve sweat, not water. Limit sweat-producing activities but drink water.
Ration water. Until you find a suitable source, ration your sweat, not your water. Limit activity and heat gain or loss.
=======


I forget where I downloaded it so here is the link to my file in my Dropbox:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/clvvagthgr...IVALMANUAL.pdf
It clearly says, "ration water" on the fourth line.

To the OP.
This is a great forum to get many different viewpoints. Please take none as gospel. (Exept maybe Astronomy, that guy knows his stuff. )

I am assuming you are talking about a survival situation where you do not have access to water and do not know when you would be getting out. Otherwise there would be no reason to ration it in the first place.

Here are two scenarios.
1) your on 'fluffy bunny trail' which had just been asphalted it's entire one mile distance. And you have four full canteens strapped to your belt.
2) You are lost in the middle of Arizona with one gallon of water and have no clue where to refill and have no idea how long you will be out there... (yes, it happens.)

If anyone can see themselves utilizing their water supply differently between scenerios in any way at all, then guess what? Your rationing water!

If you drink even when your not thirsty, as was recommended in a previous post(), some water will be going 'through' you and you will not be getting it's full benefits. Not to mention you will run out much sooner.

I cant stress enough, not to use this forum as a survival guide to what should be done in an emergency. God forbid you find yourself in a water rationing situation.

Last edited by TimHaar; 04-24-2013 at 03:10 AM.. Reason: misworded phrase.
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Old 04-24-2013, 03:25 AM
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I think it is a terrible idea to start rationing water. Try walking around for a few hours without drinking and measure how far you get, then do the same while you are drinking. Rationing will probably do more harm then sticking to your daily requirements since any functions in the body rely on water. Rest during the day and walk at night if you need to conserve water instead. Getting a few extra miles a day could be the difference between life and death as I see it.

Rationing as it is talked about during wars, famine, droughts, etc is more done as to serve societies needs and to give everyone their fare share. I doubt you will find any survivalist expert who would advice you to not drink enough.

If you have water for 1 day it is probably better to drink it all in one day then rationing it to last 3 days. I have no basis for this other then my belief that you never should get to a state where your body don't get enough water.
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Old 04-24-2013, 04:41 AM
pauldude000 pauldude000 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ballard View Post
Hi All - long time lurker, just signed up after reading through this forum many times! Question that I can't find a real solid answer too. I've been doing some desert hiking recently and always have plenty of water on me. I was wondering what is the best way to ration the water, if something happens, like if i get lost, or injured. Little sips to make it last as long as possible? Good size gulps to stay hydrated? I'm sure it depends on situation and amount but any insight would be appreciated, thanks!
Desert, in the heat, very little water = very bad situation.

You are looking at a situation where A, you have no choice but to conserve water, and B you must stay hydrated or you will lose your ability to survive. Knowledge is what you need. Learn natural water sources for the area you are dealing with, where and how to acquire them. This knowledge is just as important, if not actually more so, than actually having a plentiful supply of water with you.

If you drink it all in one day, you better hope you get rescued in the next day or two. You will quickly not have the strength to rescue yourself.
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