You can spend half your time preparing all kinds of survival supplies, but if you don’t know critical facts about water supplies, your efforts could well be worthless.
The irony here is that the same water you need for survival can also make you deathly ill if you don’t follow recommended purification practices.
The easiest way to achieve healthy water is to boil it for a good two minutes. But what if you don’t always have the time—or the opportunity—for boiling?
Fortunately, there are faster, more convenient solutions.
Maximum Purity Water Supplies: Tablets and Pump Filters
Many seasoned preppers make it a point to pack a good supply of chlorine dioxide and iodine tablets into their bug out bags. A major advantage of such products is that they’re small, lightweight, and simple to use.
Just make sure to follow directions and give them time to work properly.
Others prefer pump filters. A possible downside of these filters, besides being somewhat heavy and needing maintenance, is that they don’t protect you against viruses.
Personally, I use both. I carry both the tablets and a Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System ($20) in my bug out bags.
I chose the Sawyer Mini because it weighs just 2 ounces, and I use the tabs as a backup in case, for any reason, the Sawyer can’t be used.
Incidentally, I’ve found I can make the Sawyer Mini last longer (it’s rated for over 100,000 gallons) by filtering stream or lake water through a bit of t-shirt material spread over the mouth of the Sawyer Mini water pouch.
That tip could come in handy should you need to use the Sawyer over a long period of time.
Added benefit: It gets rid of those irritating “floaties,” too!
And here’s another tip: don’t pour the purified water back into the same canteen or other vessel you used to draw the water from a stream.
You risk contamination from even the smallest amounts of residual, unpurified water in the bottom of the container.
Steel or Titanium Water Bottles for Boiling
As a best practice, I use the Sawyer Mini water pouch to draw the water and then pour it into a single-wall, stainless or titanium water bottle which you can use the boil and purify the water.
My favorite is a Nalgene Backpacker 32-ounce Stainless Steel Bottle ($25) for this, and it works very well.
Nalgene Backer 32 Ounce Stainless Steel Bottle
If you’ve got the budget for it, you might also check out the Keith Titanium 24-ounce water bottle ($50) which weighs a bit less than the Nalgene bottle.
The Next Essential: The 100-ounce Wearable CamelBak Water Reservoir
Another best practice, if you can get used to it, is to avoid drinking straight from your canteen.
Instead, once I’ve purified the water with tablets or boiling water, I add it to my 100-ounce CamelBak Omega Water Reservoir which I can then wear and drink from frequently and effortlessly as I trek along.
100-ounce CamelBak Omega Water Reservoir
With the drinking tube resting on your shoulder, you can remain hydrated all day long. The CamelBak is well-constructed and durable, much better quality than many of the cheaper, poorly constructed off brands.
I also like the Vapur Eclipse water bottle/bladder. When empty, you can compactly roll it up and hang it from your pack. Filled, the bladder is light weight, BPA free, and stands on its own (very handy in a camp setting or rest spot.)
Vapur Eclipse water bottle/bladder.
A big advantage of the Vapur bottle for me is that I don’t need to carry a bulky stainless steel water bottle in my get home and assault bags.
The Vapur holds my water during the purification process and I can directly pour the water from it into my CamelBak bladder.
What’s the Best Tablet Brand?
I’ve experimented a lot, but the brand I keep going back to is the Katadyn Micropure MP1 Purification Tablet. They have the least aftertaste and that’s always an important deciding factor in choosing a water tab.
Each tablet takes about a half hour or so to fully kill most bacteria and viruses in a liter or quart of water. Again, don’t shortcut that purification period. Give it time to do its job.
How many tablets will you need? It depends upon how long you’ll be out.
I’ve found that a dozen tablets will last me if I don’t travel more than a day’s walk. If I think I’ll be out around 5 days, I include a 60-pack of tablets in my water supplies.
If I were traveling as a lone wolf, I’d up that to 90 tablets, supplementing them with boiling every chance I got.
Hydrate Well and Often
I’m always amazed at how few people don’t know that hydration serves you best when you begin at least a full day before your trip or other activity.
Drinking water (in excess of what you think you might need)the day before can make a major difference in your energy levels when you’re on the road.
Remember, you can’t soon rehydrate yourself when you’re already exerting yourself physically.
Final Water Supplies Tip: Hydrate before the trip and you should be fine.
If your urine color is almost clear, then you’re doing it correctly. If it’s a light yellow, you’re still dehydrated.
If it’s dark orange, you absolutely need more water!
Drink before you exert. Drink more than you may think you need. Make full and complete hydration your minimum requirement for every trip.
With plenty of water supplies at hand, you can ensure the odds of making your trip will be a successful one.