How Can Bottled Water Improve Your Bug Out Bag?

bottled water in bug out bagEverybody knows that you need a water supply in your Bug Out Bag, or any other preps for that matter. Bottled water comes in cheap plastic bottles that are obviously not ideal for long term use. So how can bottled water improve your Bug Out Bag?

If you are like me once you have packed your Bug Out Bag it does a lot of nothing. It just sits around.

Problem With Bottled Water

Now think about what you are using to store water in your Bug Out Bag. More than likely you fall into 1 of 2 possibilities.

  1. Your bag is packed but has empty water containers, which you plan to fill as soon as you know you’re going to need it, or
  2. You water containers are filled and in your bag, just sitting.

Neither of these is a great option.

If you do #1: What if your water source is contaminated? Or you don’t have any time at all to grab and go. Maybe every second counts.

If you do #2: When is the last time you changed that water? Your Nalgene or Big Zip water container is going to be pretty gross and possibly even contaminated if it has been sitting for weeks or months.


Pack your clean, dry, empty water containers in your Bug Out Bag. Then pack enough bottled water to fill all of your containers. Don’t waste valuable pack space. Just strap a plastic bag full of bottled water to the outside of your pack. This is a temporary set up.  Also think about keeping some water in your Bug Out Bag,.

This way, when you have to bug out, you have enough water to fill all of your containers, but it is in sealed bottles that have a much longer shelf life. As soon as it’s time to go, dump all of the water into your nice clean containers and head out, or do it in the car.

Here is the product I recommend for you to get:

Platypus Platy 2-Liter Ultralight Collapsible Water Bottle
  • Collapsible, ultralight two-liter (70 ounce) water bottle with screw top for camping, day hiking,...
  • Weighs just 1.3 ounces, and measures 13.8 x 17.5 inches; collapses and rolls up small enough to fit...

Last update on 2021-05-11 at 23:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Wrap Up

Bug Out Bag Bottled WaterThis applies to more than just your Bug Out Bag. It will probably be even more useful for a Urban Survival or Get Home Bag where you might be away form home and your larger water reserves.

*Note: Even though this is a better solution you still need to rotate your bottled water stock occasionally. It lasts a while but not forever.

Also read “6 Dangerous Urban Myths About Water”

Photo by: shrff14

Written by Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here. Read more of Joel's articles.

65 thoughts on “How Can Bottled Water Improve Your Bug Out Bag?”

  1. I use cheap HDPE Nalgene narrow mouth bottles ordered direct from Nalgene:

    And follow these directions for water treatment:

    I use treated municipal water and rotate water every six months. These bottles are done in batches for my bail out/get home bag, truck bag, and bug out/in bag, with a Google calendar reminder to swap out water. And I keep a copy of that HTML page on my survival USB drives, of course.

      • In my bug out/in bag I have an Esbit stove and other means of starting fire, as well as a small camping cook set. For my bail out/get home bag and truck bag I use MRE heaters and beverage bags. They pack extremely flat, and will boil water and warm up food (although, water is primary for these resources):

        I do store FRHs in a ziplock bag now to prevent premature ignition.

          • those and a camel bak are all i use my best friend has the 2 quart containers but they seem a bit bulky for a web belt. and the MRE heaters are great but watch out the can over heat and burn you or your stuff. it has happend to me so just becareful everyone

        • Maybe I really behind the curve here but if you guys all use your MRE heaters for boiling water and whatnot for other stuff what do you do with the MRE and no way to "cook" them.

          or do you have a way to get extra heater packs?

          • I dont know about others but i can buy the heaters individually at the military supply store so i always have extra on hand but i eat my MREs cold most of the time they are not bad if you concider the alternative.

          • Ah very cool. I don't think my military supply store sells them individually (it's not an impressive store) so I didn't know they were even sold that way. Good to know.

          • one of the places to check for them in packs of six or 12 is cheaper than dirt and my store near me i guess you would call in my toy store i know the owner well he has always treated my guys and myself really well.

          • Those MREs can be eaten cold (or luke warm) if need be. I did it regularly during the war. No problem as they are all precooked.

  2. What does anybody think about adding unscented bleach to water for long term storage instead of waiting until it is needed. I am filling the bleach bottles we buy which have a few drops left and filling with tap water. All ideas welcome.

    • aj52,

      I think the first thing I would do is look up the correct water to bleach ratio that still maintains safe drinking water. I feel like it would be really easy to over do that if just pouring some in to fill the bottle.

  3. Lucas
    You are absolutely correct about the ratio. This depends on the strength of the bleach. You find that expressed as a percentage on the label. I wouldn't want to steer anybody in the wrong direction so anyone interested should check for themselves by Googling "Bleach as a water purifier". The EPA has an interesting chart. This may be covered elsewhere but I am also checking out the uses of baking soda,vinegar and honey. My idea being that in a survival situation the sooner we get to basics the better. Thanks for an excellent site!

  4. i find myself between the average citizen and the serious prepper, but mostly because i carry a certain number of things on my person at all times, just in case. these items are partly defense oriented items and partly due to the fact that i live in alaska, and alaska, while being the best state in the U.S., is also a place where even in the main city one can die of hypothermia just waiting for the bus if one isnt prepared.
    i also go this route because ive witnessed and experienced some really bad situations in my life and this has promoted a preparedness mindset coupled with a tendency to try to constantly be aware and "watching my six."
    someday though i hope to go to the full serious prepper, the only thing really holding me back is money, raising 3 kids is sure spendy. so we dont have the food stockpiles, but ive got much of the gear due to my hunting and camping hobbies. anyways, good article, keep em coming.

  5. It's late August and the area I live in has had some wicked heat and humidity for weeks at a time. When it comes to my anticipated water consumption during hard times I am doubling my storage and vastly upgrading my ability to secure and make safe drinking water. In a survival situation with limited ways to beat the heat I don't think the 1 Gal. per person per day is enough if you use water for cooling down.

  6. Most people don’t think of this, but, your hot water heater is a great place to get plenty of clean water in an emergency situation. I would probably turn off the water to the house, then empty the contents of the hot water heater into my empty water containers. (provided I was home when something happened.)

    • Sabrina that is a great way to get water, also if you live in the suburbs like I do I have a well, not city water. I have a shut off on the main line so I can isolate the house, all the plumbing is full of water, placing a spiket at the lowest level lets you drain the water into containners, remember…this water should be kept for drinking. Use other water sources for cooking by boiling.

  7. Just so you guys know, coming from a Chef that is ServSafe certified, According to the VA Department of Health, Bleach is used in 200ppm to purify water/sterilize. Anything over that and you can REALLY screw somebody up! Simple "test strips" can be purchased online (I am to lazy and doped up on cough meds to look up sites at the moment… sorry!). GENERALLY 1 cap-full of bleach will sanitize 5 gallons of water (per my buddy who was a "water-boy" in the Marine Corps Reserve).

    For me, I keep 12 cases of Deer Park 1L bottles stocked in the basement and rotate them every 6-8mo. I keep 1 case in my JEEP, cause you can NEVER be to safe! When I am "humpin' it" I use 2 2quart Arctic canteens (courtesy of my dad a few years ago for Christmas…. THANKS DAD…. YOU ROCK!) and a Mil-surplus Camelback 1.5 quart. The Camelback is nice because it has some "handy-dandy" pouches attatched for all kinds of cool stuff, mine had a silver oxide water purification tablet bottle in it (sealed) when I bought it…. BONUS!

    When I need to cook, I have a titanium cooking set from REI and I can use the arctic canteen cups that fit in the case on the bottom of the actual water bladder. IN A PINCH, and if you don't care about destroying your Camelback bladder, you can suspend it over a fire and boil water in it (DO NOT RECOMMEND). When using my Camelback, I usually have on a Cillean Air Force "survival vest", it has TONS of pockets, it's lightweight, durable (mine is going on 8yrs of use) and they can be found for pretty cheap in comparison to other systems.

    Sabrina- has a great point, water heaters are a great source of clean water (provided the water from the lines isn't contaminated) ALSO the water in the back tank of your toilet is a safe source.

  8. I forgot to mention, the iodine used for cleaning cuts can be used for water purification, I will try to find some info on the ratio (If I remember) and post it.

  9. In the Bug Out Bag article you recommend 3 liters of water – 1 liter per day. That little bug out bag would already be maxed out with 3 liters of water in it. It's Better to have a couple of bottles of water for immediate needs and a filter container like a Katadyn or Livesaver than 3 liters of water.

  10. lol, ChefBear, the VA DOH is always a pain inna butt – I have to display the test strips on the wash tubs when I do chlii cookoffs, but they're sometimes handy when working at home. I keep a few gallons of grocery store spring water, wrapped in a cheap fleece blanket, inside a trashbag in the vehicle, and most winters, they don't explode.

  11. Tie up some water bottles in plastic bag and then tie them up to strap on your BOB. Set a reminder on the computer or your paper calendar for every few months to drink your old ones and then replace them. ……. also, out of curiosity, does the bleach-treated water taste nasty?

  12. So how long can bottle water set?
    I think if you use bottle water you could have bottles setting with your BOB.
    Then rotate with the bottle water your using. New Bottle water goes to BOB
    A gal of water is 8 lbs the world round, Right?

    • Not really.
      Weight of 1 US Gallon of water = approx. 8.35 lb
      Weight of 1 Imperial gallon (i.e. UK measure) of water weighs 10 pounds by definition, at a specified temperature and pressure.

  13. I have a Kelly Kettle for boiling water, it comes in 3 different sizes, requires no packable fuel source like propane, kerosene, naptha, etc…. -uses sticks, twigs, pine cones, paper, etc.check it out online.

  14. general rule of hiking around in the desert southwest is plan out the amount of water you would normally carry anywhere else , then triple it !

  15. I'm wondering, If you keep a few bottles of water in the freezer, will they keep longer? Not to mention you will have ice cold drinking water as it melts, and ready ice packs to treat heat casualties. A bottle in each armpit and the groin will help bring down someones core temp.

    • I have a very large 40+ year old freezer, it is over 5' long 2.5' deep and close to 3' high, I line the entire bottom with 2 liter soda bottles rinsed and refilled with safe tap water. Saves on electricity bill for freezer because I cannot seem to keep it full, also the frozen bottles can be placed in fridge and kitchen freezer to help keep food safe for extended power outages, then are safe to drink or cook with once thawed. I have used one once that was at least 6 years old and was perfectly fine, just smelled like Mountain Dew…..hehe

  16. Hey guys why don't you go to the Ready Store website and buy their Micropur tablets or powder that will kill viruses, protozoa etc and then buy their water preserver that you add to your water bottles that will preserve water for years. They also have 4oz bags of H20 to put in your pack that will last for years and then there are the water blocks that are 8 oz. of water that lasts for years. They also have food grade stackable water containers. Good luck

    • Bleach and boiling are just as effective, if not more so and why put so much $ into water? There are likely other items in your bag that need to be changed out every 6 months to a year. Just swap out your water at the same time..
      All of the water on that site costs about $19 a gallon. That's really expensive water. A gallon of bleach will treat 3,800 gallons of water.

    • Why has nobody suggested reusing soda bottles.
      At reuse they are FREE, last years, function as good as any other, you can see what's in them
      unlike most others, they fit in almost all waterbottle pockets on packs/belts, they come is many sizes and most common is the 16oz and 24os sizes again *FREE*

      • Pre-filled plastic water or soda bottles are generally not recommended for reuse because the small diameter opening doesn't readily allow them to be properly cleaned inside and can thereby become a breeding ground for bacteria.
        It's also open to debate whether or not the PETE #1 plastic breaks down and into your water with repeated use and washing.
        That said, I don't often get out the bottle brush for my Klean Kanteen bottles, and it hasn't killed me, yet. I just swish soapy water around in it and give it a good rinse. I never put in anything other than water. I also frequently use collapsible cups rather than drinking directly from the bottle. Especially when I only bring one bottle but there are multiple people using it (me and my kids).
        I don't see any reason to not reuse a water bottle, but within limits. Like if you just finished the bottle, refill it and keep using. But I don't think I would continue the practice for several days (unless, of course, there was no other alternative).

  17. Keep the clear water bottles – unpure water can be passivly purified by leaving them in the sun. I’m keeping my stainless canteens but a few ounces of plastic tied on top can come in really handy.

  18. Basically, pack as much clean water as possible without compromising other supplies. As a backup, bring along means to filter or boil water just in case you run out and have to check your surroundings for a drink.

  19. There are also some really great carbon filtered bottles you can get that will essentially clean water from most anywhere. Bleach is also a good idea. I've read that before.

  20. Oh, and great tips and information. Noob here…can't peel myself from all the articles and comments. Dog is about to pee on my leg if I don't get up and take him outside! =)

  21. Bottled water is a rip-off, usually about 30-50X more expensive than tap water! Most bottled water is from municipal water supplies, "filtered", the price jacked up, and sold as being 'healthier'. Tests have shown that water in PET or PETE bottles (which are used for most bottled waters) release chemicals into the water over time especially when heated! Are they better than nothing? Absolutely, you will die from dehydration long before those chemicals will have any effect. There are companies that sell canned (metal cans) water with 30+ shelf lives but they are expensive. May I suggest a possible alternate, buy a strong metal rack system, place it out of the sunlight, (a closet works well) buy enough 5 gallon water jugs or smaller if they're too heavy for you to lift safely (glass is best) to fill the rack! Fill them all, then start left to right, top to bottom (just like you read) using them for food prep and drink (not dish washing or clothes washing or car washing, etc.). As you empty one, refill it and start using the next bottle in line, and continue (L-R & T-B)! This way if you have 12-5 gallon water jugs, you will have at least 55 gallons of potable water on hand at all times! Why is this important? Consider this, SHTF or TEOTWAWKI has occurred, you're two hours away from your home/BOL, by the time you get there water pressure from the faucet is down to a drip or stopped all together. Many systems use electric pumps to obtain water pressure, and gravity systems have a limited ready supple, and you KNOW everyone will be filling every available container all at the same time. If you haven't already filled up your 100 gallon Water Bobs (I have two), then you're probably not going to be able to, and except for your water heater and toilet tank, you might be SOL. And what if you have a hot-water-on-demand system ergo a tankless system and maybe your toilets are tankless as well? The problem with saving bottled water for me (besides the cost, figure out how 60 gallons worth of those 16 oz water containers cost) is that I'm Saving Them, they're put aside for a rainy day, out of sight, out of mind! Other than a swimming pool or stock tank or God-willing a good water well (that your neighbors and/or strangers can see) you probably won't be bathing anytime soon after! Good Luck!

  22. We are surrounded by BPA free bottles that can be used to store water in your vehicle.
    I prefer 2 liter pop bottles. Half gallon juice bottles work just as well.
    Rotate them every three months, or more often, if you prefer.
    When you rotate, use the water for pets & plants or to scrub your hard surface floors.
    A nice addition to your kit is a (22 oz) Berkey water filter bottle, or a LifeStraw water filter.

  23. better lube the faucet at the bottom of your hot water heater frequently and flush it frequently. It gets full of calium and other sediments, If shtf, be ready to invert the heater, saving your water, if the corroded valve breaks off when you try to open it

  24. burying some salt blocks, then using carrots, peanut butter, sweet corn, apples, etc to bait the game to the blocks, so that they start licking pawing at the salt, is a great prepper move! :-), then, right before needing the meat, you again set out the baits, of course. this can also be done with traps and snares (triggers not set) all summer, getting the critters used to your scent and accustomed to finding food there, they will check the place regularly. then, if you need the meat/fur, you set the triggers. Ideally, in late fall, when cold weather will help preserve the meat. you'll catch 4-5x as many animals this way, making it worth the calories burned to run your trapline.

  25. I know they are handy, but I urge you not to not use a bleach bottle to store water in them — for drinking or otherwise. Labels can and do wash off and could get mixed up with a full strength bleach bottle. I mention this because it happened to me when I was 12 on a camping trip and ended up in the hospital.

  26. First buy KRÜ 82 vodka 1.75 liter in a stainless bottle and drink it NOW you have a stainless water bottle.

    I have 2 and carabiners that hold them to my pack I keep a couple of cases of bottled water and that can be used to fill with.
    Bottled water in plastic and stored or treated water in stainless with a filter ? what is the difference none.
    Stainless has antimicrobial qualities due to electrolysis if you have a silver coin like a dime on a necklace
    you have something to help with water purification if your using the minimum of bleach or Iodine etc.
    since we do not have a unending supply this could happen.

    I use stainless bottles as I have never found where boiling plastic was advisable nor can you use a piece of copper tubing a couple of silicone plugs {these will handle 550 degrees} and make a distillation kit.
    Try that with a nalgene bottle.
    I have 3 bottles one to gather and treat the others to store in some areas 100 to 105 mid day is not uncommon
    using a cover that holds water if the humidity is not high convection from evaporation will cool the water and if it is only 20 degrees cooler that is heaven.
    these can be painted and the vodka is fine for martini's I never liked vermouth give me an olive and I'm good.
    it also makes a good astringent internally and externally.

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