Hell Hike and Raft: Hydration

The Hell Hike and Raft had a lot of great sponsors. Figuring out how to share it all with you has been a bit daunting. But since I’ve finished the story of the hiking portion of the trip when staying hydrated was an individual matter, it’s a good time to break down the products we used that had to do with hydration while we were on the trail.

The gear…

Because of the gear-testing aspect of the Hell Hike and Raft, my hydration system underwent an overhaul.
For this hike it included:

hell hike and raft - val in real life
The key ingredients to my Hell Hike and Raft hydration scheme.

  • PURE: As part of my Potable Aqua ambassadorship, they provided me with the soon-to-be-released PURE electrolyte water purifier as my main water treatment device.
  • Tablets: With the PURE being completely new to me, I still kept both types (chlorine and iodine) of my Potable Aqua tablets with me.
  • LifeStraw: LifeStraw provided both LifeStraws and LifeStraw Go bottles to the crew members. I ended up with a LifeStraw Go
    which is a 1-liter bottle that incorporates the LifeStraw and includes a flip-up bite valve.
  • Geigerrig: Geigerrig provided the crew with Hydration Engines
    which is a pressurized bladder system. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sipper not a chugger. I need constant low-levels of water, not less-frequent but bigger intake, so a bladder system is my go-to setup.
  • Platy Bottle: In the past I’ve been a hard bottle girl when it comes to storing water while in treatment. For this trip I converted to a larger 2-liter soft Platy Bottle
    to treat and hold my extra water.
  • Vapur pouch: To accommodate a way to use the Hammer Fizz tablets we were given, I brought a 1/2-liter Vapur Water Bottle for my Hammer time.

I know that looks pretty elaborate and complicated but it really wasn’t. This is how it went down.

The system…

potable aqua PURE - val in real life
Giving the PURE a run in the Seven Devils.
  • My 2-liter Geigerrig bladder held my treated drinking water.
  • My 2-liter Platypus held water that was being treated. Once that was complete and my Geigerrig was empty, I transferred it over, then refilled the Platypus and began the next treatment.
  • When I needed to use the Hammer Fizz electrolyte tablets, I simply used my Geiegerrig to fill my 1/2-liter Vapur Pouch and popped in a tablet. The Vapur clipped to my Teton Sports pack for easy access and has it’s own flip-top for easy drinking on the trail.
  • The LifeStraw Go came into play at camp, allowing me to easily hydrate without having to bother with treating, reserving my bladder system supply for hiking. It’s also what I used for the rafting portion of the trip when maintaining a treated water supply wasn’t necessary.


I was already familiar with Geigerrig since I’ve been using a Rig 700 pack system for local trail runs and hikes for awhile now.

geigerrig - val in real life
My Geigerrig 700 pack for local adventures and the hydration engine used on the Hell Hike and Raft.

Before I quit running, I found the pressurized system too sloshy and noisy to keep inflated all the time so I largely didn’t use that feature for runs. It’s proved just fine for hiking though. And having the pressurized water flow has many advantages. Here’s just a few off the top of my head:

  • Relieving pressure: When your head is pounding, having a pressurized system really helps relieve the pressure of sucking created with a non-pressurized system.
  • Cleansing wounds: I carry a small syringe to get the pressure needed to properly irrigate a wound but the pressurized bladder eliminates that and is certainly more efficient than my tiny syringe.
  • Filling my Vapur Pouch: When it was Hammer time, it was super easy to fill it from the Giegerrig.
  • Trail pups: Easily delivering water to the Disapproving Beagle.

Many of the crew members opted for the inline filter that attaches directly into the Geigerrig System. Because I’m not really a filter person and I knew I’d be testing the PURE, I didn’t go that route but that option does is exist if like.

Now, I did find that it took some practice properly packing the Geigerring in our Teton Sports packs. If I did it right, all was good but there were times something in the pack or along the tubes would interfere with the bladder as it deflated, requiring me to do some backpack gymnastics to shake the water loose without dismounting the pack.

LifeStraw Go…

I really liked this product. The reported lifespan of the straw will likely long outlive the bottle itself in my estimation.

lifestraw go - hell hike and raft
The LifeStraw Go at camp…

It was quite convenient to have on hand but with everything else I was carrying on the Hell Hike and Raft it was probably overkill. I do like taking it on shorter hikes now though, when the time-frame of my route doesn’t allow for the longer treatment times of the tablets or the PURE. It’s also very convenient for the boys who don’t always give me a heads up when they’re running low on water.

I will say it does require a good bit of suction to draw the water through the filter but that’s not a huge deal unless my head is pounding from major exertion.

Thoughts on this system…

I struggled with how much water to carry and initially I thought I was carrying too much.

But when I started going through it like mad, I was very happy I always had my 2-liter reserve. So yes, if you’re doing the math, my water storage was between 2 and 4 liters of water at all times. That’s about 4-8 pounds of water. Even if you’re like me and built like a pack mule, that’s quite a lot.

hell hike and raft - val in real life
Long days in the Seven Devils left me sucking down water like a fish…

I’m sure a lot of backpackers will think I’m nuts for carrying that much but I was relieved I had it for this trip. For shorter or less rigorous hikes, I could easily see ramping that down to treating and drinking only 1 liter at a time while still using this arrangement.

My hangup is that I take hydration very seriously. And even so, I made some mis-steps on that front while on the Pacific Northwest Tour just a few months before the Hell Hike and Raft. So in addition to trying out a completely new system, I was also hypersensitive about my water supply on this trip.

But overall I was very happy with all of the products. And since this hydration post is already too long, I’ll give you my thoughts on the PURE device next time around. Stay tuned.

Many thanks to Potable Aqua, Geigerrig, and Lifestraw for helping keep me hydrated on the Hell Hike and Raft!

And if any of this tickles your fancy, you can or, as you’ve likely noticed, over at Amazon.

(And if you’re wondering why all the affiliate links… it’s because that’s what keeps this site funded. A small percentage of your purchase comes back to me and keeps things humming here at Val in Real Life HQ. Thank your for your support, friends!)

And now for your moment of green…

shelf lake idaho - val in real life
The water sources in the Seven Devils are remarkably pristine but I’m not one to take a chance with Beaver Fever… treat and hike on!

Hell Hike and Raft


  1. […] Other crew members who have reviewed this are Annie @ Outdoorsy Mama, Jeff @ Missouri Howell, Val @ Val In Real Life, and Trevor @ Colorado […]

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