WATER = LIFE
Whenever I’m preparing emergency gear and kits for myself or for my family, water is one of the top four things that I make sure I have adequate supplies and resources for.
My priorities for an emergency kit are based on my wilderness survival experience and are almost always broken down in the order of Survival Priorities:
- Water (in the warmer months, when warmth is not an immediate concern, water takes priority #1)
Water is a vital part of everything we do. As humans, we can only survive 3 days without water. However, do not let that 3-day mark be a safety net or something you take advantage of. We can suffer from things like dehydration much sooner than 3 days. Dehydration can be a very dangerous place to be in, especially when you’re in the outdoors or stuck at home without proper rehydration supplies.
PREPAREDNESS STARTS AT HOME
While the majority of my emergency preparedness and survival training is based in wilderness settings, let’s consider the important fact that preparedness must start in all of our homes. As a bit of background, I work full-time in the outdoor industry as a commercial photographer and product tester. But, that does not mean I spend all of my time outdoors (even though I wish I could). I spend a lot of time in my home office and studio space. While my family spends 90% of their week in our home as well. In our emergency preparedness plans, we can often focus too much on building the perfect “get-home bag”, or “bugout bag” while neglecting our home preparedness...which is where we spend the bulk of our time.
Something as simple as a boil water advisory or something as catastrophic as a natural disaster can compromise our tap water. And that’s where I have recently added the new Sawyer Tap Filter to our family emergency tote. This ensures that we’re going to have safe drinking water and water to cook with no matter what. The Tap Filter is great because it fits on our standard facets, even our outdoor spigots. And it takes up very little room in our tote, especially considering we can filter up to 500 gallons of water in any given day.
In my area of the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky, we have an abundance of water. You can literally walk in any direction and find some type of water (creek, pond, a natural spring, etc). However, this water is not always safe to drink as-is. In fact, I always treat every natural body of water as unsafe to drink until it is filtered or boiled. I am not willing to take the risk and potentially get sick + dehydrated because of suspect water.
That brings me to my 2 go-to methods for preparing safe drinking water while I’m in the field…
- Boiling Water:
Boiling water in a steel container like a canteen or cook pot is a great option for long-term wilderness survival. It kills off anything that could make you sick and you aren’t depleting a resource like your Sawyer Squeeze. However, the problem comes when you want to drink your water immediately. Once you have boiled the water, you have to wait for it to cool down...Which takes a long while. There’s also the possibility that you’re not able to build a fire due to time constraints, the need for stealth, or regulations in your area. In this case, you need a filter.
- Sawyer Water Filter:
Even in times where I have a fire, I often reach for my Sawyer Filter to take care of my water needs. It takes a minute (give or take) to process a canteen full of water and I don’t have to worry about any cool-down time for the water. I can even fill up additional squeeze bags to carry with me so I can filter them later on. A water filter like the Sawyer Squeeze gives me immediate access to clean drinking water no matter where I am.
BE PREPARED WITH YOUR OWN KIT
Ensuring that you have clean drinking water, whether at home or in the backcountry, is simpler now than ever before. By adding only a few ounces of weight to your pack for a filter (Sawyer Squeeze = 3oz) and a few squeezable bags (32oz bags = 2.56oz/each) you are able to filter a million gallons of water! I don’t know about most people, but that is enough water for me and my family of six for a very long while.
As for my personal water kit for the outdoors, here’s everything I carry:
- Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter:
The flow rate mixed with the ability to set it up as a gravity filter makes the Sawyer Squeeze a winner for my personal loadout.
- (x2) 32oz Squeezable Bags:
These smaller bags are compact and very easy to carry.
- (x1) 64oz Squeezable Bags:
The larger bags are great for basecamp setups and for gravity filtration.
- Metal Canteen.
A metal canteen is my go-to for carrying the water that I’ve filtered.
A bandana is great for pre-filtering large particulates out of dirty water. Simply hold your bandana over the squeeze-bag opening while filling up with water. This will extend the life of your filter as well.
May 7, 2022
In my side pouches, you can find tent poles (right) and a SmartWater bottle (left). A sawyer squeeze is placed inline from the SmartWater bottle and attached to my Osprey mouthpiece to drink fro, as I walk.
The EWG sees picaridin as a reasonably good alternative to DEET—although it hasn’t been tested as long, it doesn’t have the same neurotoxicity concerns. They recommend a concentration of 20 percent for Lyme protection. Common brands include: OFF!, Cutter, Sawyer, Natrapel, Insect Guard.
Fill them up with tap water and it slowly passes through a filter system. Then the main reservoir below collects the filtered water.