Approx 3 Liters of Fresh Drinking Water
Whenever I discuss building a Bug Out Bag I always assume the time period is 72 hours. However, I try to design my pack in such a way that I could survive much longer. With that said, the first item in the Water Department is FRESH DRINKING WATER.
It is my opinion that you should start your bug out with 3 days worth of water – MINIMUM.
Container # 1: 32 Oz. Nalgene Bottle
These bottles are rugged. I’ve taken a Nalgene bottle with me on countless different excursions in countless environments and they have never let me know. They will take a beating – trust me. I always use the wide-mouth style. It’s easier and quicker to fill from water sources. On many of my nalgenes I will keep 10-20 feet of duct tape wrapped around them. It adds very little weight and the bottle is the perfect ‘core’ for duct tape. Duct tape has countless survival uses from first aid to miscellaneous repairs.
Container # 2: Metal Canteen
Even though I carry a metal cook set and metal cup in my BOB, I have also chosen to carry a metal canteen as well. I do this because I can use it to boil water. I am going to have 3 containers ANYWAY so I like the flexibility that another metal container offers me. For this reason, I carry a metal canteen full of fresh drinking water.
Container # 3: Collapsible Platypus Water Bag
For my 3rd liter, I carry a collapsible platypus container filled with water. Because I already have 2 other rigid containers, I carry a collapsible one so that I can reduce bulk as I consume the water. This is the first container that I will drink from. When empty it is virtually nonexistent.
Water Purification Kit Items
In addition to fresh drinking water, I also carry several kit items that can be used to purify water ‘on-the-go’ if necessary. I pack both filtering options & chemical tablets. When out of fresh drinking water you are left with 5 options if you do not have purification methods:
Boiling Water – Consumes Time, Energy & Fuel
Drinking Unfiltered or Untreated Water – Risk of illness from bacteria & virus
Depending on others – Not good survival practice – may have to barter other valuable survival items
Sourcing clean water such as rain, fresh spring water or snow – Dependent on environment (no control)
Scavenging clean water from other sources such as abandoned vehicles, etc… – Very time consuming when your focus should be getting to a Bug Out Location.
By packing methods of purifying water you will be less dependent on other sources and much more expedient in reaching your destination. Below are the water purification methods that I pack in my BOB.
Katadyn Hiker Pro Hand Pump Filter
For the price ($80) and weight (11 oz.), the Hiker Pro is my choice for walter filtration. It is compact and durable and pumps A LOT of water – about 1 liter per minute. It’s very easy to clean and maintain and is also simple to operate. This little unit is my first line of defense when it comes to getting water from puddles, streams or ponds. I use mine year-round and change the filter once each year in the spring. This is an excellent Bug Out Bag filter system.
Katadyn MP1 Sodium Chlorite Water Purification Tablets
1 tablet chemically treats 1 full liter of water. The wait time is 4 hours. I keep 30 tablets in my BOB – good for 30 liters of water. These 30 tablets weight less than a ball-point pen. So the questions here is “Why wouldn’t you carry these?” They take up NO room and add NO weight. They can also purify water while you travel. Collect some water in your Nalgene…throw in a tablet….and keep hiking. These tablets are an excellent Back-Up Plan just in case your pump should get damaged or mechanically fails.
Aquamira Frontier Filter – Survival Straw
The Frontier Emergency Water Filter System is ideal for hiking, travel, and emergency preparedness. It is the perfect addition to your 72 hour emergency kit. One unit will filter up to 20 gallons (75L) of water. The Frontier Filter is tested and certified to remove >99.9% of Cryptosporidium and Giardia.
The Frontier Emergency Water Filter System is also easy to operate, just attach and expand the straw, submerge the filter end into the water source, and drink through the straw.
Ultra light and compact, the Aquamira Frontier Emergency Filter System weighs less than one ounce and easily slips into a day pack, shirt pocket or travel luggage and is always ready when you need it. The Frontier Filter is the ideal alternative to heavy, bulky and expensive pump filtration units when space and weight are primary factors. Activated coconut shell carbon helps reduce waterborne chemicals, improves water taste and eliminates odors. Use the Frontier Emergency Water Filter System to drink from any bottle, cup or directly from water sources. We love these little guys so much that we sell them in our gear shop on-line here: Aquamira Frontier Filter
Other Misc. Pack Items
There are also several other items in my BOB that can be used to help with sourcing clean drinking water. They are multi-use items that can perform many functions. If you don’t already, you might want to consider adding the below items to your BOB.
Heavy Duty Garbage Bag
Contractor grade garbage bags can be used in a huge variety of survival related tasks from make-shift shelters and sleeping bags to ground covers and flotation devices. However, when it comes to collecting rain water, nothing performs quite as nicely as a good ol’ garbage bag. You can use it to funnel rain water into a large container or you can use the garbage bag as a container itself by lining a hole dug in the ground or by setting it up on a tripod of limbs. It can be used in a myriad of configurations for catching rain water – which by the way does not need to be purified before consumption.
36″ Length of Runner Tubing
A length of rubber tubing takes up VERY LITTLE room in a BOB and weighs next to nothing. However, it is unique in that it can perform a number of tasks that NOTHING ELSE in your BOB can do. When it comes to procuring water, a length of rubber hose can be used as a long straw that can reach water in areas that otherwise would be inaccessible. It can also be used as a siphon if needed – for water or fuel. For the cost, size and weight it just makes sense to include.
Some water might need to be PRE-FILTERD before even running it through one of the purification methods listed above. If it’s really muddy or has a lot of particulates and debris it is best practice to run it through a pre-filter first. Some items that can be used as a pre-filter are:
- N95 Dust Mask
I carry each of these items in my BOB as well – and again – neither of them take up much weight or space and all of them are multi-use products.
As you can see, when it comes to securing clean drinking water, I do not cut corners. Trust me, 2 days of barfing your guts out in between bouts of horrific diarrhea will make a believer out of you too. Learn from my mistakes and don’t cut any corners when it comes to water. I’ve heard guys say, “I’ll just boil my water – I don’t need all of that crap.” While they are in the woods boiling water I will be 2 days ahead taking a hot shower in my Bug Out Location.
What are your thoughts about sourcing water in a Bug Out Scenario?
Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,