I'm interested in doing multi-day hikes (i.e. backpacking) in the desert where water sources are not readily available, thus requiring one to carry in enough water for the duration of the trip.

On any given day I feel the need to drink a lot of water, much more than most people that I know. About a gallon in a typical relatively inactive (working at a desk) day. If I don't drink this much water, I start to feel thirsty. To do a multiday trip I will be drinking considerably more water (at least 1.5 gal/day?) which will become burdensome: this would mean 36 pounds of drinking water for a 3 day trip.

Like I said, I definitely begin to feel thirsty and dehydrated (dizzy) if I lower my current water intake much at all. Is it possible to train oneself to require less water per day (by slowly weaning down the amount)? Or, alternatively, is it possible to adjust one's chemical levels (e.g. electrolytes) to retain water longer in such a way that you do not need to take in quite as much water?

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    Related: How to stay hydrated with minimum water usage
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 0:15
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    Excessive water consumption can be a symptom of a number of conditions. Have you talked to a doctor to verify that your water consumption is simply a normal variation, and not evidence of some underlying problem?
    – Mark
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 2:35
  • @Mark Yes I have
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 3:18
  • Answering only as a comment as I don't have details or references beyond personal experience: yes it is possible to train oneself to require less water per day, exactly as you described. Wean down the amount you need. Myself and friends have found that to drink more or less comfortably requires easing into it over the course of a week or more. Don't reduce it too much beyond a safe / comfort level though, and if you get dizzy with less than a gallon, you may want to see a doctor about that (that's a lot more water than usually needed)!
    – cr0
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 23:14

1 Answer 1


You'd be better of strength training your muscles to carry the extra weight of the water you need to carry.

How much water an individual needs to stay hydrated is not a standard measure. Different individuals need more or less water to keep their bodies properly hydrated. I don't think it's necessarily wise to try and train your body to do with less of what it needs to function normally. All the personal trainers I know (my wife included) typically tell their clients to drink more water, especially when they are being active. Most people have the opposite problem you do, they don't drink enough.

If you're a larger guy then I wouldn't be surprised by the amount of water you're drinking. More muscle mass means you need more fluids for your tissues and body functions, as well as cooling. Burly guys tend to sweat more because it's more difficult to cool your core when you're muscle bound. In this case, you'd need to lose a lot of mass before you could get away with drinking less. I hike with some pretty big guys, and they always plan on carrying extra water because they know they're going to drink a lot more than the rest of us.

Supposing you are a big guy, it would be less of a burden for you to carry the extra weight compared to a smaller framed guy, especially considering how rapidly you're going to lighten the load by the amount you drink.

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    Completely second that answer. To add one point: Guys like e.g. Messner don't need that much water for a daily hike like the typical hiker does. His ability to suffer is distinct and I think by slowly reducing the amount you need for a specific activity for a specific time you get used to it which means you don't feel as bad anymore. Still it's risky and not healthy at all. And if your body really needs the water it could be too late. Daily form of fitness changes so you should always carry enough of the most essential the human body needs, pure water.
    – Wills
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 18:31
  • Yes, like developing a pain tolerance, you don't feel less pain, you simply learn to tolerate more pain. In this situation, I don't think you would be training your body to need less water, you be training your body to tolerate dehydration.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 21:58
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    What you're used to drinking IS a big factor though. Not saying he should be going thirsty all the time but it's very well possible that he's drinking so much because that's just what he does. He did state in the comments on his question that he had it checked out for any special conditions. Commented Apr 5, 2015 at 16:52
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    As per the tolerance adaption: IMHO, that's a dangerous path to take. The symptoms of dehydration are a warning sign, and not to be taken lightly. Ignoring those signs can be fatal. Next to hypothermia and anaphylactic shocks, dehydration is propably the most frequent cause of fatalities outdoors. The time between the more severe signs of dehydration and the point of inability to act isn't a long one. Bottom line: ShemSeger is correct in all accounts. Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 18:46

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