There are so many ways to carry water for Everyday Carry and even more ways to obtain water. Convenience, ease of carry and accessibility to water in your respective environment are the main concerns for me to deal with. I like to keep my hands free and try to keep the total weight of items I carry, to a minimum. If I’m going to carry a water bottle, I want to be able to hold it easily both when its full or empty. I don’t want it to take up too much space in my gear and I want it to be relatively lightweight. It also needs to be durable and capable of holding enough capacity to fulfill my hydration requirement until I’m able to refill it. In addition, I prefer for it to have other uses such as the ability to boil if possible. There are three ways that I accomplish these requirements. The first consideration that I should be aware of is how I choose to carry my water container. Since I already carry a bag for other daily supplies, I want my container to work in coalition with my bag or bags. I am a huge fan of the 5.11 Tactical bags and so I am lucky in this aspect because I am afforded several choices.
Basic carry and filtration
When I carry my sling bag, the 5.11 Tactical Rush Moab sling bag, I can carry a Camelbak 50 ounce water bladder in the specially designed pocket embedded in the bag. I can also carry a Lifestraw Water Filter that enables me to easily filter water from questionable sources in an emergency and can use it to filter water before I put it into a larger bottle or bladder. If I want to carry an actual bottle, I can carry a Lifestraw Water Bottle with an integrated Lifestraw Filter included as part of the actual bottle, which I can also attach and carry on the outside of my bag in a Molle equipped, 5.11 Tactical water bottle carrier on the outside of the bag. With each option, I am almost totally covered in the water carrying options. If I choose to use my secondary bag, the 5.11 Tactical Rush 12 backpack, I have all of the same options plus the ability to carry additional capacity of water bladders and bottles. I can also include a UV Steripen, water purification tablets, and a Shemagh, in case the water has solid particles such as leaves or dirt in which case, the Shemagh can act as an additional particle filter to help clean the water more significantly.
More expensive options for filtration
I also have a secondary water bottle filtration method that is called the Grayl push bottle filter and can filter down to 100 microns and can be used to filter out other chemicals that the Lifestraw isn’t capable of filtering. I’ve have seen people filter toilet water and even a bottle of Coca cola into water in less than 20 seconds with this particular filter. It isn’t cheap but it works really well though limited in its overall capacity and in some cases may not be the best option in a rugged environment.
There is another portable filtration system that is not quite as compact as the Lifestraw but is capable of filtering more water over its lifespan and can be used in conjunction with a Camelbak water reservoir to filter while on the move. This is the water filter and pump. You can literally dip a hose into a water source and pump the water through the filter and directly into the Camelbak reservoir. It is capable of filtering 10,000 liters of water over its lifetime but includes a hose and pump that takes up space and weight.
I really like the Camelback type water carriers because they have a good capacity, are durable and can fit into reservoir-capable bags easily. In addition, they are easy to use and can be used relatively hands-free and are easily accessible with the protruding hose that can be attached to the straps of whatever bag you happen to be wearing at the time. The drawback is that they can be damaged easily if not properly carried and are difficult to wash.
Options for Filtering soluble chemicals
Using these options in an urban environment allow you to use almost any source of water to survive. The exception is if the water source has high levels of soluble chemicals. They require other methods of filtration. The primary way to achieve filtration with high chemical water is with either boiling and steam distillation or through evaporative distillation.
Boiling and Distilling Water
To boil and distill water, you would need a distillation system or an enclosed metal pot or cup with a tube to catch the steam and cool it so that it can condense back into water and then collected into another container once cooled. This is not a 100% guaranteed way to reduce the chemicals because they can and do evaporate along with the water vapor and then condense with the final liquid once cooled, but it can be a way of reducing their concentration, especially with salts and several other compounds
An evaporative distiller such as a Echomax may also serve the same function and works easier without having to use fire but also takes longer to achieve depending on your environment and the weather. This is actually a good way to get water from plants, urine, waste water, dirt and mud, and can be effective if you have the time to wait for results. These filters can be made by improvising a plastic sheet over a hole with a rock in the center over a can but usually are a little bigger and require more space to work but depending on your location and how long you are staying, can be an excellent source of pure water.
Conclusion and how I carry water
I tend to stick with the easier, less expensive, portable and cheaper options for filtering water. I keep a Lifestraw or Grayl push filter bottle with me and an empty Camelback reservoir inside my bag empty. I also carry a small bottle of water purification tablets as well due to their small size and portability. Where I live, I can usually obtain or bring water with me rather easily, so these options are exactly that, options. Unless I’m travelling or camping I rarely need to find water. Instead I plan and prepare for emergencies. I have extra water at my house in bottles and I have a rain collection barrel on my roof balcony for emergencies. I keep extra water in my car as well and extra filters in case I’m ever stuck.