Finding Water in the Mountains: Survival Tips

If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you must know how to locate water while camping or hiking in the mountains. Water is, clearly, the most important resource in any survival scenario. While you can go without food and shelter for some time, not having water to drink for long hours can affect you severely. 

Dehydration can lead to fainting, vomiting, and clouded judgment, among others. The body can start to shut down in less than 72 hours, leading to death. Fortunately, finding potable water is easier than you think, and with just some knowledge and ingenuity, you can find it amidst the wilderness. Read on to know more.

Find Running Water 

Clear, flowing streams are your best water sources in the wild. Look around for mountain streams – the faster the water flow, the better it is. Running water doesn’t allow bacteria to grow and is well suited for drinking. 

Lookout for Groundwater

Groundwater is another good water source. Scout the region for low-lying areas such as depressions and valleys, from a vantage point. 

As water always flows downhill, you are sure to find rivers, ponds, and lakes as you walk down the slopes. If the water you located is cloudy, take some of it and wait for a while. If there is just dirt in the water, it will settle to the bottom, leaving clear water at the top for you to drink. 

Use your Senses 

Animals know where water is available, so be on the lookout for animal tracks in the soil or swarming insects; these often signal a water source nearby. Look around for such signs and when you come across a pool of water, check if other living beings are drinking from it or if there is green vegetation nearby. If animals can drink the water, you probably, too, can. 

You can find water by listening to the sounds of it too. Pause your walk and listen carefully to the noises around you. The sounds of water can be heard from even far away in quiet surroundings. Go closer to the sounds to find a water source. 

Muddy and Ice Water Sources

Muddy areas indicate that there would be groundwater available there. Chances are, if you dig about 1 foot in these places, you will find that the hole gets filled with water. 

As the water would be muddy, strain it with some cloth to drink it. If there is ice and snow around you in the mountains, you can melt it and drink the water. 

There are different ways to melt the ice. You can use a lighter or match to melt the snow, and if you don’t have these, you can use your body heat to melt the snow. Avoid drinking it frozen as it can drastically reduce your temperature and lead to dehydration.

Collect Rainwater to Drink

Rainwater is another easy source of drinking water. There are two ways to collect it. Just find an open space and keep a container there that can catch the rainwater. Next, filter it and drink. 

The second one is to spread out a plastic sheet or tarp and tie the four corners a few feet off the ground, to the trees. Keep a small rock in the center of the sheet to form a depression where the rainwater can collect. 

Apart from manually collecting the water, you can also find natural rainwater in the wilderness – in the depressions in rocks and the hollow stumps of trees. Keep in mind, standing water can get contaminated quickly so it will be crucial to purify it before you ingest it. 

Water from Vegetables & Fruits 

Several vegetables, fruits, fleshy plants, cacti, and even some roots carry a lot of water. It is helpful if you have some knowledge of poisonous and non-poisonous plants to identify the ones you can drink. 

Collect the vegetation that you find around you, put them in a container, and open them to drink the liquid. Coconuts, especially, are a great source of hydration. While sucking water from plants, avoid plant sap that is colored, thick, bitter, sour, or has an unpleasant odor – these are most likely not fit for drinking.

Purify the Water

Keep in mind, however, that no matter where you source your water from, don’t start drinking it immediately. You should purify and filter it as much as possible. Drinking water contaminated by bacteria or animal waste can lead to serious health complications; make sure to take as much precaution as possible. 

Anyone venturing into the wilderness should know how to find water in the various landscapes. The above are some of the best ways to keep dehydration at bay when stranded in the mountains. With some effort, you should be able to locate water to drink and survive till you find your way or are rescued.

How to Purify Water in the Wild (with Steps)

Humans are born adventurers with an innate instinct to go to places where the paved roads end wilderness begins. Living in the archaic fashion like our ancestors did thousands of years ago, shedding the social shell and modern domesticity. The days of being in a forest observing the quietness while your surroundings are shifting in the forest, a sudden voice coming from far away.

It is peaceful yet tipping to the blurred line of fear and overcoming it to be one with the wild pack. Exquisite is that feeling and being a survivalist is all about knowing your natural elements and taking advantage of them. Water is the key to any adventure, and it’s also the first resource that runs out in any given scenario. The human body loses 500 ml daily to urination alone, so running out of water can have disastrous consequences.

According to the American hiking society, dehydration is the number one reason hikers often get lost, dealing with severe dizziness and nausea. You have to think on your feet and take stock of the surroundings to drink pure water from the surrounding areas quickly. This article will teach you how to purify water from contaminated sources and survive in the jungle.

Boiling water   

Even if it looks the cleanest, any water source is filled with pathogens and viruses, giving you dysentery to N number of horrible diseases. You should boil any natural stream or pond water for 2-5 mins and then 10 -15 mins of cooling to be consumable. 

There is simply no easier way to perform purification and has worked exquisitely since the dawn of time. You can carry a simple lighter and cooking can to boil water anywhere, anytime, with not much to worry about.

Filtration Straw or Pumps

These are highly popular survivalist products in the market which are extremely portable and can purify water at a microscopic level instantly. Another great aspect is that they are also fairly affordable with no electricity required to purify water. 

The only con of these products tends to be that their filters get clogged up after a while and might create issues for you. The overall reliability is not the best, which can become an issue if you are simply dependent on them for survival purposes.

Using Evaporation 

Basic natural science concepts taught at middle and high school are lifesavers in the wilderness. Want to create water from the very ground you walk on? Here just simple steps that you need to follow:

  • Create a medium-sized hole and place a water container in the middle of it.
  • Place a transparent plastic sheet on top of the hole to create a strong seal.
  • Now place a rock at the center, touching the tip of the water bottle.
  • Let it stay under the sun for 12 hours or more.

The water will slowly evaporate and travel through the sheet to collect in the water bottle. Suppose you want to purify it further, then use a filtration straw or boil it to ensure the purest water there is. 

Read this case study of Solar Distillation to clean water in Nigeria, solving the ongoing clean water crisis.

Purification Tablets

Once again, chemical science comes to rescue you in need of the hour in the form of iodine tablets and other chemical compounds that promise to kill all bacteria. They are simple, requiring you to drop the tablet in the water bottle and wait for 20 mins-4 hours to let it do its work.

The biggest issue with purification tablets is that you’re putting a high amount of chemicals into your body. They are certainly not free of side effects and cause problems in your stomach, thyroid glands etc. 

Overall, water taste is also not particularly good, with chloride solutions being the least offensive. It’s best not to rely on them, and but they’re good enough for emergency purposes.

Sun Bathing

Being an adventurer requires you to be highly creative, conscious and resource-oriented at all times. If there is any way to disinfect water, an object, or anything else, put it under direct sunlight for hours. In a recent scientific study, experts have determined that sunlight is as good as UV rays to kill the bacteria and viruses in the air.

Putting a simple water bottle under the sunlight can cleanse it within a day. The only caveat in this scenario tends to be that you need a constant stream of uninterrupted sunlight with no cloudy weather or rain. If there’s even a doubt in your mind regarding the purity of water when using this technique, do not drink the water.

UV-powered cleansing devices

A wide spectrum of devices is available in the market that utilizes the Ultra Violet rays to kill viruses and bacteria in water. These products have battery packs that ensure long-term use and easy cleaning with replaceable batteries. Other UV products come with solar panels or hand cranks to ensure greater battery life and ease of use. 

The only downside of these products is that they can only be used in clear water and requires a filtration of the larger compound substances.

Final Thoughts

The idea of having to purify your water when adventuring doesn’t need to be something you have to commit to when under crisis. You can use wood or distillation to do fun DIY experiments in the wilderness. 

Even finding a lake, water stream or pond can be a mission you can embark on to reconnect with yourself. It also gives one a perspective of the importance of a resource like water that we take for granted in everyday life is precious. You are now ready to be an outdoor survivor and employ these newfound tips to travel in unknown paths.