Personal water-carrying equipment - from water flasks to modern hydration systems
As probably all of you know, the human body requires (depending on the environment, the intensity of physical activity, etc.) around two liters of water daily to be able to function correctly. For most, that isn’t new information, yet still many people struggle to reach that minimal level of hydration throughout the day.
Achieving a proper hydration level stays an important problem since the beginning of times, even though technology went far ahead in all fields concerned - on the battlefields, tourism, sports, and everyday life.
Why do we still struggle? It may be dictated by our lack of interest in controlling that field, which seems irrelevant and unimportant, our dislike of bulky bottles you need to carry around, or maybe just plain laziness.
The others, for example, US Air Force pilots still do a thing called “Tactical Dehydration”. It’s a process of dehydrating your body before the flight, which results in removing the need to use the restroom during the flight.
No matter the reason, if you won’t drink enough water during the day, you will feel weaker, and dehydration will limit both your mental and physical capabilities, rendering you less effective throughout the day, tasks, and life.
In this blog post, we will try to show you some different types of products built to help you carry water throughout whatever tasks you might have ahead in any type of environment. We hope, that it will help you keep getting hydrated and thus healthier.
This blog will consist of three parts. In the first one, we will talk about different types of water bottles and canteens, next, we will move to the tactical hydration systems, to talk about our thoughts and experiences in the last part.
Tactical water bottles, canteens, folding bottles. Metal, or plastic? - Which water bottle to choose
With new technologies pouring into every field of our lives, new, stronger, and lighter materials being developed, more options regarding means to transport water for oneself also show up. Tens of years ago we would still mostly carry water in glass or ceramic bottles, sometimes in metal canteens. Today, the market is dominated by water canteens and bottles made out of different types of plastic, which not only bring weight reduction in comparison to the older materials, but higher quality products also tend to be more resistant to damage.
Metal canteens and bottles still like to stick around, even though they are with us for many years already. Made out of lightweight and highly resistant alloys they still play their role as durable water-carrying equipment, while some models also offer a highly modern and elegant look. A metal bottle covered with a black, matte protective layer with elements of pure stainless steel shining for contrast will look very good when put on the desk during a meeting, while also showing that we care for the environment using recyclable materials and reducing the number of plastic waste. In a tactical setting, however, such bottle could be a problem during stealth movement if it will hit something hard in your backpack, sending around that loud, metallic ping. The bottles with thin walls also have a tendency to not muffle the sound of water moving inside them.
Bottles made out of plastic quickly took over most parts of the market when they entered the stores, filled with colorful drinks of all colors and tastes you could think of. They also entered the shops selling hiking equipment, by offering a lightweight, resistant to environmental hazards, and highly durable alternative to metal bottles and canteens at highly competitive prices. Bottles and canteens made out of the newest synthetic materials come in many different shapes, colors, and sizes, but also mend the problem of cheaper products, which tended to smell after holding a liquid for too long.
Now the market offers many different types of water bottles made out of high-tech materials like popular Tritan™, and lots and lots of accessories allowing for example to filter tap water just by drinking it from our bottle, adapters allowing for easier drinking from wide mouth bottles, or equipment helping with cleaning of their insides.
The newest addition to the market of water bottles are the foldable bottles. Being made out of highly elastic synthetic material, they offer the possibility to roll them like a spent tube of toothpaste when they get empty. It helps with saving a lot of space because each time we take a sip, we can roll it a bit more, leaving more and more space free. Having a bottle like that in your backpack or even a purse allows you to always have it at hand and is a great must-have if you like to conserve space!
Key features of tactical water bottles
In contrary to hydration systems, tactical water bottles are more resistant to blunt force and piercing. Thanks to utilizing highly resistant materials during the process of production of such water bottles, you do not need to fear about their durability both for everyday and outdoor use. It is not without reason, that canteens, now mainly made out of synthetic materials, are still the main way to carry water in armies around the world.
Modern water bottles are designed with not only ease of use and being easy and comfortable to carry around in mind, but also to look esthetic and provide easy access to water, while not taking up much space in your backpack or purse. The times of heavy bottles made out of thick glass are long gone! Now, you may not even notice that you are still carrying your bottle around.
Benefits of tactical water bottles
Lightweight and compact water bottles provide an easy and comfortable way to carry water wherever you go, independently of the situation. In comparison to traditional water bottles or canteens, they also help you save up space and weight, which are very important factors when preparing for an outdoor adventure. One fact worth noting is that some of the bottles come with an option to, or are already equipped, a water filtration system, which allows using tap, and in more professional models, even stream or river water, without the need to use additional filtration means. Having such a bottle may come in handy in any outdoor activity and not only.
Military hydration systems - a comfortable way to carry water on your back
With advancements in technology, many companies started research to develop new ways to allow for more comfortable and efficient carrying and drinking of water during military actions. One of those, which currently has its place on the backs of many soldiers around the world, is an elastic water bladder equipped with a pipe and mouthpiece, allowing users to drink without the use of their hands.
Those systems started to be called CamelBacks or CamelBags, which come from the name of one of the companies that started producing such systems. CamelBak is the name of this company, and its name comes from the back of a camel, which he uses to store water.
Water bladders can be worn in backpacks equipped with a special pouch or mounting systems, dedicated pouches, dedicated backpacks, or just put into a normal backpack or bag. All that is thanks to the durable sealed closure, which not only restricts water from pouring out but also creates a vacuum when drinking, thus pushing water closer to the pipe allowing for easier drinking.
Key features of military hydration systems
Made out of durable synthetic materials and utilizing technologically advanced processes, making them easy to use and keep clean, render military hydration systems a very good option for people with high levels of physical activity and high intensity. Additionally, water carried in camelbak may be used as a backup for water stored in bottles or canteens during hiking or camping.
Modern models of water bladders, such as products offered by Aquamira, can be equipped with water filters, allowing users to not only safely drink water from unknown sources, but also, to a limited extent, to safely drink water contaminated with battle gases or mildly radioactive. It is also worth noting, that there are many accessories that further expand the uses of tactical hydration systems such as bottle-to-bladder adapters, allowing to fill up the bladder through the drinking pipe from the bottle, or changing the mouthpiece to be more fitting. Another thing worth mentioning is the fact, that there are mouthpieces compatible with the most popular models of gas masks available on the market and in the military.
Benefits of tactical hydration systems
In contrary to water bottles or canteens, using tactical water bladder does not require users' hands to be constantly engaged in that activity. You just need to put the mouthpiece in your mouth and your hands can do whatever else while you drink. This makes such a way of drinking increase proficiency in sports or work, massively decreasing the time that our hands need to be removed from the main activity.
Thanks to the many different ways of carrying camelback, it helps us keep high mobility in periods of high-intensity physical activities. A carrying system chosen to fit our posture and bladder size will allow us to keep full mobility while carrying even 3 liters of water on us at any given time.
Canteen or camelbak, what to choose and when?
With so many different available shapes and sizes of water-carrying equipment, it is hard to say if there is one universally better answer. Depending on the situation, environment, or our own needs which we will be able to clarify only after experiencing many different situations and testing our capabilities, a different solution may be more fitting or more reliable. Based on our own experience, we would like to say what we think may be worth checking.
While both solutions offer a comfortable way of transporting water and easy access to it, both have their own characteristics which the other does not have. This forces us to think about which of those we need the most.
When tactical water bottle or canteen may win…
A canteen or tactical water bottle may be more suitable in situations when we need to always have the option of quickly checking how much water we have left. We will also blend better in the urban environment carrying water bottles than wearing a backpack with a drinking pipe sticking out of it. Exemption from that rule may be running or other high-intensity physical activity.
A water bottle or canteen made out of metal may also be used to cook water, which is a very useful option to have during winter hikes, bushcraft trips, or when we do not have a dedicated cooking set such as a gas stove from M-Tac or solid fuel cooking set from Esbit. On the contrary, the liquids held in them may produce way more sounds during movement than we would like to, essentially rendering stealth approaches way harder than they would be without them.
… and when it would be a camelbag
CamelBak or a different water bladder will shine when we want to have easy and comfortable access to our water without the need to stop to drink. Thanks to their various sizes, we can choose how big bladder we want to take with us for long marches or running sessions, while also having the option to not fully fill the bigger bladder. Worn in a dedicated backpack or pouch it will not only stay comfortably close to our body, but also more often than not offer us some space to carry additional equipment, or put in a hand warmer for warming our water or a cooling insert to keep it cold in the hot season.
One of the bad sides is that especially cheaper products have a tendency to break the seal under pressure, thus leading to losing water and wetting our equipment, which may have very bad consequences in certain situations.
Two is one, one is none. It is better to have more than none
We think, that it is always better to have a main, and backup source of water. Of course, we will not bring water bladders to the office (or will we?), but depending on the situation, we would always lean toward having different options and sources of the most essential stuff for our safety and survival. Especially in situations when losing one source of water may have big consequences for the success of our mission or our survival. We would advise having both a water bladder and a water canteen or bottle, while also thinking about adding a water filter, just to be on the safe side in case everything goes south. While we are at that, we would also like to invite you to read our post about water filters.
Camelbak as a main source of water when we are on the move, metal canteen or synthetic canteen equipped with a metal cup as a stationary drinking solution and a way to conveniently fill our water bladder, maybe even a foldable water bottle as that extra option to carry just that bit more water when we may need it, and save space while still having that option at hand at all times.