Water is one of the most essential compounds for life. While water is very plentiful the world over a given water source often has some gotchas that prevent anyone from grabbing a gulp whenever they please. It might be frozen, too salty, too contaminated with germs, bugs and other biohazards or trapped way, way underground.
Considering drinkable water is what we need for continual and continuing hydration, and drinkable water is often in short supply or hard to find anytime you are away from the warm embrace of civilization, it is always in your best interest to carry a good bottle full of high quality H2O with you no matter how short the foray.
Sure, any bottle that will hold water will work in a pinch, but you can make your life and times carrying that bottle so much easier by choosing a bottle that will work with you, instead of against you. Some bottles may even have special capabilities like built in water filtration or the ability to be used as a vessel for boiling.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of various types of water bottles as well as some of the best ones on the market. So don’t go thirsty; let’s get started!
Hydration and Beyond
Water is a vital asset in any survival situation. In hot climes or cold, your body is using water 24/7 for all kinds of life processes. A decrease of just 5% of your body’s nominal water supply can be enough to start causing problems. Fatigue is one of those problems, so is disorientation.
Lose more than that without “gassing up” and you will start to experience significant muscle failure, weakness and drastic mental cloudiness. Not too far after that, you die.
Your body loses water from all kinds of processes: breathing, sweating, urination and vomiting all significantly reduce the body’s water level, some faster than others, obviously. If you are sitting with your feet up, made in the shade, your body will lose less water than if you were working like a mule in Mexico in the middle of July.
Similarly, bouts of vomiting and diarrhea expel drastic quantities of water quickly and for that reason are major dehydrators.
But the effects of dehydration are cumulative, and even mild to moderately intense activity that is not unduly taxing or taking place in extreme heat will still surely, over time, dehydrate you as much as a forced march in Death Valley.
Your first line of defense against dehydration is to simply make sure that your body has plenty of water in its stores to utilize for normal processes incurred from exertion or otherwise.
That is a long-winded way of saying stay hydrated! To do that, you should be drinking water regularly. It would not do to be dangerously low on water at the outbreak of an emergency or disaster.
Other Uses for Water in your EDC Plan
Clear, clean water is good for more than just hydration, though you should always take care to not squander it on tasks that are anything less than important.
Potable water can be used for mundane chores like cleaning and cooking (or as a base for electrolyte powder) and can also be used as an eye wash (pepper spray, tear gas) or wound rinse. There are plenty of medically-trained folks who would scream at the notion of using anything except a sterile wash solution for any injury care.
The first thing they’d take me to task for would be how water, even drinking water, especially from a bottle a human has drank from is not sterile, and may cause infection. To that I would reply, “What is sterile in a field environment?”
Note that I am not advocating for doing so in any circumstance except one where proper medical care is absent entirely or so far away as to make not doing something a worse choice. Hey, sounds kind of like a disaster situation.
If my options are to leave a nasty laceration, stab, gunshot wound or whatever un-washed or to use potable water to wash it before I bandage it, you had better believe I will take my chances with nominally clean water even if it has a stray germ or two floating in it before I’d leave such a wound dirty.
Water can also help neutralize or dilute a host of harmful chemicals, lessening their effects. This will be a real boon if you get gassed with CS or and in a real pinch may even be able to douse a fire before it grows beyond control- in the absence of a fire extinguisher of course!
The point is that a portable bottle of water may be useful in ways beyond what you’d expect.
One major perk your average reusable water bottle has over a flimsy disposable bottle that spring water comes in is their typically wide mouths for easy filling. This is not a convenience feature, though it does make filling convenient.
The thin neck and mouth of a disposable bottle makes filling it from a found source like a shallow creek or even a pool of standing water like a puddle difficult. It also does you no favors when you are trying to catch water dripping or falling from a high point.
If you want a bottle for ease of use and maximum versatility, choose one that has a wide mouth. If you hate drinking from these wide mouthed bottles you can opt for one with a thin spout or whatever for drinking so long as it can unscrew and reveal a wide mouth for filling and catching.
Options and Extras
When it comes to special perks some bottles have them, and some don’t. There are many bottles on the market that come with filtration systems built into them, so you can fill from any source you find and drink on the go, secure in the knowledge that your onboard filter is getting rid of gribblies that can make you sick.
Steel bottles may seem very pedestrian next to these and other fancy plastic bottles, but that classic construction hides an important capability: the ability to boil water within! No plastic bottle will survive heating water to a boiling point, and even lightweight aluminum alloy bottles run the risk of warping or leaching chemicals from their coatings into your water.
The rules of thumb if you intend to use your metal water bottle to boil water directly (instead of boiling it in a separate vessel) are as follows:
- Steel only
- No internal or external liner!
- Single wall construction only! No Thermos, Stanley, etc.
- Remove cap, tether, etc.
- Place bottle beside fire, not in it; extreme temperature may warp bottle
- Have a plan to handle hot bottle, and do not quench with cool water; bottle may crack or deform
Boiling water in your bottle is not rocket science, but you should pay attention to your bottle’s construction and what you are doing, lest you want to wreck things.
Another water bottle that is worth consideration is a flask, or so-called collapsible bottle. These flexible containers are like the waterskins of old, only made with modern synthetic materials.
Their advantages include a more forgiving form factor when stored inside a bag or pack and they collapse and weigh almost nothing when empty.
The Best EDC Water Bottles
The unstoppable classic. Nalgene has been making super-durable polymer bottles for years, and they are showing no signs of slowing down. The Nalgene features a generous size, can fit plenty of optional aftermarket attachments and is just about as rugged as you can make a plastic bottle.
Nalgene’s polyester blend material is BPA free, so you don’t have to worry about strange chemicals leaching into your water even during extended storage, and is temperature stable anywhere from 40 degrees below zero to a scorching 212 degree Fahrenheit. Not my first choice for hot beverages, but anything short of fresh coffee or tea will do just fine in one of these.
Easy to fill, easy to clean, and an affordable, durable option. One of the best, and made in the U.S.
LifeStraw’s portable and emergency filters need little introduction for most readers, but you might not have known that they produce their own line of water bottles with integrated 1- and 2-stage filters for the ultimate in speed and convenience when on the go out in the world.
The Go Water’s heart is its hollow fiber membrane filter system that removes all kinds of nasties from your water before it can make you sick: protozoa, bacteria, parasites and particulates all get the boot. The 2-stage filter improves on this even further with removal of chlorine and nasty odors.
The internal filter does eat up a little capacity in this already thin bottle, leaving you with a 23 ounce capacity, but a flip up drinking spout and screw off top and filter assembly make it easy to both refill and clean. A carabiner attachment loop lets you secure or hang it from just about any piece of gear.
If you though the classic Nalgene was not quite big enough, the Embrava 40 oz. has you covered. A wide spill-proof lid tapers to an ergonomic spout for drinking, and the entire bottle is made from BPA- and BPS-free plastic in a variety of low-profile colors.
Included in the design is a large tapered steel cargo ring, built tough, so you can hang this hefty bottle from a pack or strap, or just give it some extra security to ensure that it will not come out of where you stash it. The ring is removable in case you don’t need it or want to keep things quiet.
Volume hash marks are included on the side for tracking how much water you have left or are metering out.
One of the best flexible bottles on the market, Vapur’s offering shines far brighter than its competitors thanks to its leakproof top (a problem with this type of bottle) and excellent durability, granted by its three ply construction.
These bottles seem flimsy next to their rigid cousins, but are surprisingly tough, and can be folded, rolled, flattened and crunched with no ill effect. The cap is flip-up for easy drinking and an integrated folding D-ring in the neck makes it easy to hang and stows out of the way when you don’t need it anymore.
The thin neck on this flexible bottle makes filling from found sources a little trickier than with the big wide necks of the other bottles on our list, but the flexible, flat body makes up for this somewhat. About the only knock against this design is that it cannot to my knowledge accept an integrated 3rd party water filter.
If you desire a no-frills, sturdy bottle that you can boil water in, look no further than Triple Tree’s economical choice. The TT bottle is made from good 304 stainless steel with no external coatings or internal liners making it safe for boiling water. The only plastic components are in the cap which you will remove for boiling.
This bottle holds 32 oz., the same as many large bottles, but is tall and slender rather than short and wide. This can make accommodating it in typical bottle holders challenging without use of tie-downs. The cap features a rugged metal loop and carabiners are included to assist with this, however.
This is a great all-purpose bottle, easy to maintain, and ideal for saving weight and space since you will not need a separate vessel to boil water in as you would with a plastic bottle.
Water definitely has a place in your survival plan, and your EDC load. Hydration is one of the most crucial preparedness and survival tenets but water also comes in handy during all kinds of unforeseen events.
Whether you are thirsty or trying to solve a particular problem, water comes in very handy. Keep yours clean, clear and close with one of these nice water bottles.