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99 Capacities Series – Capacity #16 – Collect and Treat Water When on the Move

The sixteenth capacity that I introduce in my eBook is that you must [be able to] collect, store, and treat water if on the move. In it I state that:

Collect, store, and treat water if on the move. All of the aforementioned concerns are included here but on a more portable scale. Camping and hiking gear are what you want. Gadgets like the Steripen UV Purifier or the Katadyn Pocket Filter (for longer term needs) are great options. Visit your local sporting goods store and you’ll have plenty to choose from.

Essentially, the idea here is to replicate solutions similar to those discussed in the previous water-related capacities, but for bug out and evacuation scenarios. Look at any wilderness or camping store and you’ll find plenty of options. Heck, there are entire blogs dedicated to such endeavors.

Now that I reread what I wrote, I can see that I glossed over this topic and did you a disservice because I simply ignored the collection and storage aspects and dove right into the treatment options! I guess that’s because I assumed the answer was obvious, but maybe it’s not. Here are a few suggestions for you…


The first concern may be a trivial  one in most cases but should still be considered, that is, how will you get the water from the source to the storage device? In most cases, this is as simple as dipping your container into the nearby stream. In other cases it may include the use of pre-filters (e.g., coffee filters or an old cotton t-shirt), small hoses or straws (if the water source had to be dug into the ground, for example), transpiration bags (wrapping a plastic bag around a bushy tree to collect water), and even small solar stills (also to collect condensed water).

A Google search will provide the “how to” if you’re interested in these ideas. The point you should take away is that you should have the knowledge and ability to perform these collection techniques, if necessary. For example, several straws and/or a small diameter three foot plastic hose weigh almost nothing and may prove indispensable when collecting water from a hole in the ground. The same can be said for several clear plastic sheets that can be used as a solar still.


Any number of storage containers exist, including lexan water bottles, stainless steel bottles, a thermos, canteens, and even water bladders such as those make by Camelbak. I’m partial to the lexan water bottles and thermos but it’s really up to you. Regardless, any storage container MUST have a lid to prevent accidental water loss; as such, this precludes the most basic “storage” device: the trusty cup. Of course, I would still include a cup because it very useful to have on hand such as for boiling water or for sharing.

There are still other possible storage options such as the 5-gallon collapsible water totes but I would generally stay away from such ideas for bug out situations because of their bulk (even when collapsed) and the fact that it is very difficult to carry one any distance, even half-filled.

One particularly useful option is the soft-sided water bottles made by Platypus and others. They weight almost nothing and can be squished down to almost nothing until needed. I keep them in my bags and recommend you do as well.

Another interesting idea that I’ve never tried myself but seen recommended elsewhere is the camp bucket, another collapsible storage device that weighs almost nothing. Read this nice review on 7 Great Uses for a Backpacking Bucket and maybe you’ll decide it is a worth addition.


As you likely know, there are many options for treating water when on the move. Several of these options were already discussed in the 99 Capacities Series – Capacity #13: Properly Treat Collected Water from a few weeks ago, so I won’t bother to rehash them here. Suffice it to say that any number of devices would prove useful for water treatment. The takeaway here is to know how to use them as well as their limitations.

Note: This post is part of an ongoing series detailing the ideas from my free eBook, The 99 Capacities You MUST Acquire BEFORE Disaster Strikes You!, which you may freely download here.

1 comment to 99 Capacities Series – Capacity #16 – Collect and Treat Water When on the Move

  • Martin

    I keep the Katadyn Pocket for just this reason since you never know how long you’ll need to filter water or from what source. It’s the best you can get.