3 days without water is enough to kill the average adult, yet an estimated 75% of Americans experience dehydration throughout the day as they refuse to carry water on them.
It’s heavy, takes up precious volume within our bags, and runs the risk of damaging precious electronics. So, it makes sense many of us choose to exclude water from our EDC, but this does not have to be the case.
From hydration bladders to MOLLE integration and specialty-shaped bottles, there are a huge number of options out there to help make carrying water a much easier experience.
So, let’s break down some of the more practical options out there to see if one of these may fit into to your EDC loadout.
Why is Water so Important?
Proper hydration is essential!
We engrain this into our children from the moment they are able to start understanding the world, yet most adults will find themselves dehydrated on a nearly daily basis.
Whether it be from high temperatures, increased exercise, illness, or simply from forgetting to drink, the effects can be extremely severe.
So why is water so important?
Simply put, water is the solvent that keeps us working.
It is critical to keep the nerves that make up our brain firing, explaining the headaches and loss of cognitive function in cases of severe dehydration. It also makes up the majority of volume in our blood and is essential in both distributing nutrients around the body and removing toxins.
By the time we start to get thirsty, dehydration has already started to set in, and it is only a matter of time until more noticeable symptoms present themselves.
We know water is important, so before we get into some of the ways we can carry it, let’s try to understand why many of us aren’t.
Why Are We Not Carrying Water?
For each reason we should be carrying water, there are just as many excuses we probably aren’t.
Maybe for some of us, we don’t think we need to.
If we’re spending the day in a city almost anywhere around the world, it’s easy to assume we can just by water whenever the need arises or that we won’t be out long enough to ever need a drink.
For others, it may be a size and weight consideration.
In smaller bags, such as the NutSac 11 or FirstTactical Summit, there may not be the space or weight capacity to carry a large bottle of water so why should we bother increasing the size of our carry bag for short trips?
Finally, it may also just be a matter of convenience.
If we’re already late out of the door, running through our EDC to make sure we make it to work on time and not forget anything, remembering to top off a water bottle is one final task most of us do not need in our already busy schedule.
These highlight just a few cases that may prevent us from EDCing a water bottle, yet there are countless ways to work a bottle into your plan that is bound to help keep you slightly more prepared, wherever you are in the world.
How to Everyday Carry Water?
An EDC system is intended to make carrying your gear easier. It’s why we’ve written so extensively on setting up an Everyday Carry kit or bag, yet large and obnoxious water bottles do not easily fit into these systems.
With that said, let’s first look at some of the best ways to integrate water into an EDC bag before examining four alternative ways the minimalists amongst us can still stay hydrated without carrying a bottle in their hands all day.
The inside of our bags seems like the most obvious place to throw a water bottle, and assuming you are confident your bottle will not leak, there is nothing wrong with this method of storage.
Although it can be better.
Many packs, such as the Maxpedition Entity, offer internal pockets to keep water bottles held upright and away from the contents of your bag while most tactical backs will typically also include room for a hydration bladder.
These work great for day trips where you know you’re going to be walking for extended periods of time and could benefit from the hands-free access to water; however, is relatively impractical for city life.
Pulling out a large straw from the back of your back Is only going to draw attention to yourself, so while hydration bladders are great in the right circumstances, for most people in an urban setting, a bottle will typically be best.
Bottles may be a more casual method of carrying water, but that does not mean all bottles are created equally.
If space and weight are not a concern for you, a stainless steel bottle can be a great option as not only is it unlikely to be crushed in your bag, and also doubles as a great way to boil and purify water.
Alternatively, various compact water bottles exist that are designed to stay out of the way when not in use and expand whenever needed.
Instead, brands such as Memo aim to strike a compromise with a high strength plastic bottle shaped after a traditional A5 notebook.
The unique shape of bottles such as these may take some getting used to, but their ability to fit into almost any bag pocket and remain upright throughout the day truly cannot be beaten.
The inside of our bag is arguably the most secure location to store a water bottle to ensure we do not lose it, but that does not make it a perfect space.
Add in any expensive device or important paperwork, and most people are not willing to risk the potential water damage and instead will look to carrying a water bottle on the outside of the bag.
Most backpacks are especially great at this as they’ll typically include either a bottle pocket (such as those from Vertx), or MOLLE platform to add your own.
OneTigris and Maxpedition in particular make some great bottle holders that are not only able to store a water bottle but include additional pockets for any other accessories you need (such as purification tablets or filters).
Accessories like this are great if you are looking to reliably carry a bottle with you day in and day out, but can take up a huge amount of space, especially if you are adding an after-market MOLLE accessory and this is where bottle slings come into play.
These small clips wrap around the neck of almost any standard bottle neck allowing you to quickly attach and detach the bottle from your bag with just a small carabiner.
They’re a great piece of kit, however, are relatively limited to specific bottle sizes. Instead, a similar setup can be achieved with a short length of paracord. Ben over at Texas Tool Crib has an excellent demonstration of how to make these loops, but there are countless methods available beyond the traditional bottle sling.
If the power of MOLLE integration with the convenience of a bottle clip has caught your interest, it’s worth noting that many companies have tried to integrate this directly into their bottle designs.
While several variants have been tried, such as the Pogo and even CamelBack, which will work extremely well in a pinch, MODL has set the standard when it comes to modular bottles, primarily thanks to their elastic retention system and interchangeable bottle tops.
Alternatives to Carrying Water
Integrating a water bottle into your daily carry with custom-shaped bottles or paracord slings are great solutions, however, they fail to address one of the most fundamental challenges of carrying water.
The first is to introduce chemicals such as electrolytes into the water. This will never beat carrying a higher volume pure water but can help fight off dehydration by increasing the effectiveness of water in your body.
Electrolytes aren’t a perfect solution but work great for extreme situations such as high temperatures during summer or medical emergencies (I.E. diarrhea).
All you need to do is add a small packet of electrolytes from companies such as Propel, and you’ve essentially increased the value of your water instantly.
If you are not able to improve the quality of your water, a better solution may be to acquire your own water.
While there are countless ways to do this, in the city two stand out in particular.
These allow you to use any source of water, regardless of how questionable it is, as clean purified drinking water without ever having to worry about parasites, bacteria, or even viruses.
In emergency situations, a better method is available to the huge network of water pipes that run throughout our urban landscape.
All of these pipes share a water maintenance key (Sillcock Key) that can be found throughout sites such as Amazon and eBay.
This means for only a few dollars, you can theoretically have an unlimited supply of water at your disposal by simply walking up to a spigot and turning the key.
It is important to note that this last method should only be used in extreme situations but offers a guaranteed way of sourcing water during an emergency.
The Last Resort to Carrying Water
Everyone’s EDC system is unique to their own needs, so while we’ve covered a huge amount of ways you can carry or access water in your day-to-day lives, some of these may not work for you.
If that’s the case, the bare minimum we recommend to stay prepared is to stage water in places you know you’ll be.
Keeping a case of water in your car or even a few bottles in a desk at work helps ensure that whenever you need water, you will always have some available to you.
It’s not a perfect solution, as you will likely have to travel some distance to access your supply, but it helps ensure that even in the worst-case scenario, you always have some available to you.
Sourcing water is one of the most important focuses we often discuss during emergency scenarios, yet most of us still fail to reliably incorporate it into our daily lives.
Having a convenient method of carrying water that works well with your EDC system is undoubtedly one of the biggest things you can do to start carrying and drinking more water during your day and ultimately stay hydrated and in fighting shape.
While many of the methods we looked at here are great for smaller bags, a dedicated EDC bag can make life much easier. So, be sure to check out our recent look at five of the best bags currently on the market.