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Always drinking pure water can be boring and tasteless, especially when you have to filtrate it or use sterilizer/purification tabs which might cause the water to taste really bad.

What are easy (lightweight and not complicated to use) ways to get some flavour and diversion in my drinking while being outdoors for several weeks?

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Bring some tea bags. – gerrit Aug 6 '14 at 18:14
I like powder gatorade, replenish those electrolytes :) – AM_Hawk Aug 6 '14 at 18:31
I would avoid drink mixes that are sweetened with sugar. I've heard that if the sugar isn't cleaned off of the threads of your water bottle, it can lead to dysentery. – Ben Crowell Aug 6 '14 at 22:51
For those who don't like tea or coffee, you can get nice little packet hot chocolates (in response to @BenCrowell make sure you clean well as both these are sugary!) or for example things like Robinson's Squashed - which is a small squeezable fruit flavouring. I never camp without hot chocolate. – Aravona Aug 7 '14 at 7:21
up vote 24 down vote accepted

As a former soldier (and Medic), I personally don't flavour my water during the outdoors.

The contents of the canteen/flask might be required for a non-drinking purpose such as:

  • Eyewash
  • Rinsing
  • Medical
  • Cleaning etc

However, I do flavour my water on a day-to-day basis for the gym etc using super-concentrate micro capsules such as Squash'd

If you have not seen them then you can read about the growth in the super-concentrate market.

As a frequent Coca-Cola and Pepsi drinker I am a bit of a sugar addict and I can attest to the hyper-sweetness of even a 1/2 second squirt of Squash'd. It is very flavoursome without being overpowering. One little capsule should last for a week easily.

Electrolyte water however is really just a fancy name for some carbs (sugar) with a dash of salt. You can make exactly the same chemical solution at home with a pinch of salt and the juice of a citrus fruit - which is exactly what we used to make soldiers sip when suffering from heat exhaustion. For the price of a Lucozade sachet, I could make 40-50 litres of homemade electrolyte.

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I carry two bottles, and one of them is always plain water. – Mark Aug 7 '14 at 4:14
@Venture2099: Thats an amazing point about using the contents of the flask might be required for a non-drinking purposes. Will do a +1 tomorrow.. Daily vote limit reached. I got a Suffrage today! – WedaPashi Aug 7 '14 at 7:06
The painful fact was demonstrated to us during a CS Gas rehearsal. The instructor deliberately picked a recruit he knew had put lemon flavour powder into his canteen. Upon exiting the chamber, covered in CS, he grabbed the canteen and poured into the eyes of the recruit to teach him a lesson. We never forgot - his screams were lesson enough haha. – Venture2099 Aug 7 '14 at 8:59
Does Squash contain Aspartame? – kenorb Aug 7 '14 at 12:47
Never thought about why I wouldn't want to flavour my water. Great answer! – Matt Hanson Aug 11 '14 at 1:04

Few things I do:

  • bring tea.
  • bring water flavoring packets, like Crystal Light or Propel.
  • bring coffee or instant coffee.
  • know your surrounding vegetation and make tea out of different plants, leaves, and/or roots. Emphasis on knowing your surrounding vegetation; make sure you know which plants (or parts of plants) are suitable for consumption.
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If you plan on making tea out of surrounding vegetation, only use leaves and roots that you know aren't going to kill you :) – hillsons Aug 6 '14 at 19:19
@slybloty: Edited the post, kindly see the edit summary. If you still feel that it was better the way it was, revert back. – WedaPashi Aug 7 '14 at 7:03

I preferably avoid artificial materials, so I would use lemon, orange or grapefruit juice, just a bit for the taste, not really making lemonade (although it might irritate your stomach after several days of drinking it).

Crushed herb leaves can also give a new taste to the already "boring" water - for this purpose I would use mint, wild thyme, basil or maybe rosemary. Better experiment with these, because some could have stronger taste than what you would enjoy. Also, these aromatic plants have oils which might influence the digestion, so use with care.

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+1 for lemon juice, it actually makes an alkaline solution in the body that helps prevent heartburn - this is a daily treatment for Acid Reflux, and tasty. – Aravona Aug 7 '14 at 7:25

That is a very tricky question...

Pure water is the best for everything. There are lots of things you can use to add some taste and make it easy to drink but there are some considerations about that as well. For sure those electrolytes are the best options but they are not cheap.

In a camping trip, where exercise is not the focus, all those already said, should be fine. Coffee, tea bags, those juice powders...

If you are for something a bit more intense, you need to take in consideration dehydration. Teas and some juice powders have diuretic effect and you will get more dehydrated, which in this case I would prefer the electrolytes drinks.

If you are doing that most of people wouldn't, Water will be just fine.

Some times, when I'm on the go in a really long/intense trip, I feel that after half way, it gets hard even to eat. My body gets so tired that even digestion becomes hard. That is when I start on soup packs and soft food. The same thing for the drink. More pure water, your system will work better. :)

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Coffee and tea causing dehydration is myth according to – Ossi Herrala Aug 8 '14 at 12:47
I think that answer needs expanding. As a frequent caffeinated cola drinker I can attest to the diuretic effects of the beverages - in know way are they as comparable as water. I know the answer lists a number of studies which lends an air of authority but the studies had only 18 people. Any SE member can test this themselves. Spend 24 hours drinking nothing but plain water and capture your urine throughout the timebox. Do the same with only caffeine beverages such as Cola - compare and contrast. The caffeinated urine will be closer to toxic waste in colour. – Venture2099 Aug 9 '14 at 7:28
In addition, some of the studies de-linking dehydration and soda came out of the Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness. Which has the following description - "Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness (BIHW) is part of The Coca-Cola Company's ongoing commitment to advance scientific knowledge, awareness and understanding of beverages." Totally impartial science then... – Venture2099 Aug 9 '14 at 7:36
I'm also a coffee drinker. I don't drink fizzy/soda beverages often (almost never) by preference. My answer was to raise the diuretic – Desorder Aug 10 '14 at 22:01
Sorry I pressed enter before finishing my comment... continuing... I'm also a coffee drinker but I don't drink fizzy/soda beverages often (almost never) by preference. My answer was to raise the fact of diuretic effects of flavoured drinks or flavour added water. I believe that researches about this topic can lead you to either side of the coin depending how persuasive the article is. – Desorder Aug 10 '14 at 22:17

I take the small packets of gatorade or similar that offers flavor plus electrolytes. I find that flavouring helps to make certain sources of water palatable when filtering it out in the backcountry.

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Since I don't like putting anything besides water in my water bottles while I'm backpacking, I typically will just alternate Gatorade powder with a swish of water, then mix it together in my mouth. Definitely gets rid of the sugar craving, since, after all, you're just eating sugar.

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Propel Zero powder packs is what I use on backpacking trips once I make camp. During each day of hiking I only drink water and obtain needed nutrition through food. After I finish for the day I will drink 16 or 20 ounces of water flavored with one Propel Zero packet while I rest and setup camp or my area in a shelter. Then it's back to water for dinner.

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You might consider boiling it up with some berries, (suitable) plants or pine needles.

In terms of treatment tablets, there are neutralisers to sort the taste out, but they are not perfect.

For a double solution, you might want to try those effervescent vitamin c tablets. Orange is nice.

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