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A Survivor's First Thing - Think You're a Prepper?

Updated: Dec 17, 2023

Written by Dr. Laralyn RiverWind
A coyote hole can be used to naturally filter water.
Coyote Hole aka Indian Hole for filtering water in a survival situation

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Her words still echo through my mind whether she's half a world away, a state away, or in the same room. There are three things I always hear Mom's voice saying to me:


  1. "I love you."

  2. "Have you prayed about it?"

  3. "Drink water."

Wiser words were never spoken.


Fast forward many-a-year and here I am thinking about how to help people be more prepared and self-sufficient. And again her words return to me. "Drink more water." During trauma, physical challenges, physical wounding (such as bleeding), and other heart-racing times, our need for water increases.


A Canteen


If you do not have this crucial survival element as part of your everyday carry, then you need to reassess your everyday carry. That may sound harsh but it could be a matter of life or death and we need to remember this as we start learning how to prepare. We all have to start somewhere and there is a purpose for everything. Now, you may find plenty of bushcrafters out there who might disagree with me - and that's fine. But in my humble opinion, one of the most important physical belongings in the world to have on you at all times is a water bottle.


Granted, you can find a used, dirty, beat-up water bottle almost anywhere these days. But if you've ever had to drink for days out of a who-knows-how-many-years-old used, crusty, plastic water bottle that touched some complete stranger's lips (ummm... yeah, that happened...see actual water bottle picture below after being filtered in a coyote hole #SurvivalInstructorSchool), you will begin to see the value of a $20-35 expenditure to keep on your person at all times.

Scout Week Water Bottle
Scout Week Water Bottle

Here are a few boons of buying your own reusable water bottle and making a part of your EDC (everyday carry):

  1. You will drink more water. It's a simple fact that having clean water available at your fingertips translates into being better hydrated. Convenience aids discipline.

  2. You will save money. Water has gotten expensive! I still shake my head at the fact that it is often less expensive to buy a cola than water. What sense does that make?

  3. You will be keeping the earth cleaner.

  4. You will be keeping the sea cleaner.

  5. You will be placing sea animals in less peril. Yeah, that's an actual thing. You may not consider yourself an environmentalist but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who would rather kill a baby dolphin uselessly with their trash.

  6. You will be reducing the amount of plastics being used in the world. Imagine how many bottles of water you have consumed in the past year alone. Now think of every member of your family and how many they have consumed. A family of 4 consuming a modest 2 water bottles a day each would save 2,920 water bottles annually.

  7. You will be training yourself and (your family) out of a disposable consumer mentality.

  8. It keeps your water cooler (or hotter, if that's your intent) longer when it's in an insulated canteen. One also tends to drink more water when it's at the temperature they prefer it to be (see #1).

  9. In a pinch, some water bottles can double as a cooking container. More on that later in this blog.


Water Bottle Selection


I always opt for wide-mouth bottles when possible. It's easier to fit ice in there (which I'm addicted to) and it's easier to clean. I've gone through many water bottles in my time so I'll share with you here a couple of my favorite brands. I'll keep it nice and short. Perhaps it will help you spend less in your quest to find your favorite water canteen.


1. Ello

An overall great water bottle. It keeps the water cold for a good long time. Great for at home and short travel distances in your vehicle. Nothing spectacular but they are good bottles that can keep the heat or preserve the cold.



2. Klean Kanteen (Everyday carry)

This was my first water bottle. I bought the sports cap to go on it which makes it convenient that you don't have to open the bottle each time you want a drink - very convenient. A lot of times when you purchase this bottle, it comes with a screw cap that you have to unscrew each time you want a sip of water. This is fine for the gulpers out there - the ones who just tip their head back and take in an entire glassful down the gullet. But for those of us who are sippers, getting the optional sports cap (pictured below) is well worth it. There were two downsides: 1) The sports cap is very difficult to clean. 2) Sometimes it can be a little noisy to drink from so if you sip from yours at night like I do, this is not a stealthy choice. You don't sneak up on anyone in the forest while drinking from this one. And it is bound to draw your professor's annoyed glance after the dozenth time he hears it during his lecture.


3. Klean Kanteen (Large, for the Bug Out Bag) Cooking Water Bottle - Single-Walled = Double Duty!

This is the one that got me through survival instructor school! If you want the option to use your canteen as a cooking pot, it's important to choose a SINGLE-walled stainless steel bottle and follow an important safety rule: When you cook with it over an open fire, keep the top completely off the bottle. You CANNOT use a double-walled container to cook in - it can be very dangerous! When using your single-walled canteen for cooking, be aware, that your bottle will carry the burn marks of the fire after that but then again, that stands as a badge of honor that you've been around the block and know what that puppy can do! Another important feature to me is that it is a wide-mouth canteen. It's much easier to cook fish in and to a lot simpler to clean.


4. Water Bottle Holders


I like having my hands free. I throw my water bottle on cross-body style and head out for my hike, for the store, for my place of worship, for anywhere and everywhere I go. It's so much easier to have my water bottle slung onto my shoulder. Here are the ones I've purchased. Click on the picture if you want to purchase one through Amazon.




On a Dime...


Maybe it's not close to payday. You don't need to spend anything to start implementing this preparedness tip. Chances are, you already have some type of reusable water container in the recesses of your kitchen. In a pinch, you can reuse the water bottle you just bought from the convenience store. Practice your knot-tying skills and use some paracord or rope to make a sling for it.


Every member of your family should have their own water bottle and it should go with them every time they leave the house. Take a couple of weeks to incentivize them to turn this into a habit. Perhaps this looks like letting them pick what's for dinner if you notice they've worn their water bottle to school. Or maybe you randomly hand them a dollar bill at points throughout the week when you notice they have it strapped on and being used. If you see rewards not being enough, maybe the sibling who forgot gets to do a chore for the sibling who remembered. Zing! The rewards can eventually become further spread out over time and randomly pop back up to reinforce the habit as necessary.


While on the Standing Rock reservation, we learned the phrase "Mini Wiconi". Mini Wiconi (me-nee we-cho-nee) is Lakota for Water is Life. Water truly is life because without it there is death. I challenge you to act on this now.

Sigma III Survival School Instructor Candidate
Dr. Laralyn RiverWind - Master Herbalist, Doctor of Naturopathy

Our bodies are mostly made of water and without water our bodies will not function for long. If you find yourself in a wilderness or outdoor survival situation the three most important things to have within the first 48 hours are first aid, shelter, fire, and water - preferably in this order.


So, Mom, this blog is dedicated to you - my eternal water pusher.







 


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Great advice! Thank you🤗🥰

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I am happy to report that my family and I went water bottle shopping today. My 10 year old made a list for our travels down to Tennessee and beyond. New water bottles were on his list. I remember as a child walking around Arizona and camping in the woods in Indiana; having an awesome canteen. I treasured that canteen for a long time. It always seemed to have the best tasting and cold water stored in it. I remember filling it up on vines in the woods. Of course swing from the same vines was a great past time. I enjoyed the blog and will stay hydrated. I hope to visit soon. Shalom!

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