We’re not going to tackle basic dissection of each survival elements gear & associated skills in order of priority.  Lets get the easier elements out of the way so we can quickly start building up a kit.

A long “water is life” essay or detailing the dangers of why we must make water safe to use is not necessary.  A lot written about it and can find yourself online.

We will have a specific tools essay or two down the road to round out the necessary items and their major uses, however I prefer to list the essential tools of each survival element in that specific topics essay. Obviously there will be some overlap. Find this approach makes things more DO-able.


We need something to purify as well as something to carry water.


Many methods for locating/collecting water and no need to rewrite them. A lot of free information online and in survival books. There will be a water location assignment at end of this article.

Keep in mind you’re generally looking for water that is clear as possible, ideally without bad smell, not next to an obvious area where animals leave waste, certainly not near a known toxic chemical plant etc., avoid right beside a highway (or railway) due to weed spraying or toxin’s from vehicle exhaust, don’t collect water down stream of YOUR “outhouse” area etc. etc. Put thought into water collecting, common sense goes a very long way with this topic. 

Starting with common sense decisions for gathering water will get you a third of the way toward safe clean water and that skill costs zero dollars.


Large number of water purification products utilizing  various methods are available. Ranging in cost from cheap to quite expensive. Could easily spend $500 for the best pump style with a spare filter.  Best backpack sized gravity fed model with spare filter is about $100. Countless water tools available but for our application cheap will not work because we require applicable tools for rugged long term survival. There are only a small handful to fill that bill.

Given costs for this extremely important task boiling water is the no brainer, which obviously requires fire. and a metal pot.  Boiling is also one of the most effective methods so its a win-win choice.

(note: whenever fire is required you could be giving position away to light observation, smell, thermal imaging technology as well as leaving evidence behind < evidence you can get rid of though. Things to keep in mind).

A lot of debate regarding required boiling duration. Higher elevations make it more difficult/longer to get to boiling point so investigate the details if you live in a high elevation region. 

From experience I find typically just have to get at a roiling boil and its safe. (assuming you made good collecting choices to start). If you’re in doubt leave it a bit longer, however there is rarely a need to boil for the typical 10 minutes most suggest. Let water cool then pour into carry container. Your good to go.

PURIFICATION GEAR:  (this is the bottom effective line)

– TWO metal cans:  Ideal “free” cans are large steel coffee cans or large steel apple juice cans (or one of each). If currently only have access to typical pasta sauce size or peach can size use them to start. At least you have SOMETHING. Trade up to coffee or apple juice can asap.

– MILLBANK BAG:  British Military used to issue an item called the “Millbank Bag”. Basically its a light weight canvas sock about 15 inches long by 6 1/2 inches wide but without the foot portion. More like a canvas tube with the bottom cut at an angle, bottom end is of course sewed closed. The top (open end) has a metal grommet through both sides of the “sock” on one side of the opening. Since grommet is on one side, bag hangs at a bit of an angle, which is why the bottom is cut at an angle. This way the water drips from the “point” on one side of the bottom.  (search this item online for a better visual).

Here’s the idea behind the British Military Issued Millbank bag;  tie one end of a 6 ft. section of 550 paracord (look it up) through the grommet. Soak bag thoroughly, fill bag to line indicated (say at least 3 inches) bellow top. Tie other end of cord to sturdy branch and hang bag no more than say 6 inches over top of coffee can. Now, gravity does the work for you. More importantly you can ACCOMPLISH OTHER TASKS, like collecting firewood or setting traps for food while the MB bag is removing debris for you before boiling. Dry MB bag before re-packing in kit. (reason real MB bag is made of canvas is strength and it dries faster than cotton).

Have you ever placed a t-shirt or bandana (two most commonly recommended items on survival gear lists for this purpose) over a coffee can, then poured water from another can “through” the shirt/bandana material to remove debris from water collected before boiling? If you have you’ll know exactly why I’m instructing you to make a homemade Millbank Bag. Its a lot more efficient.


If only water available is not very clear you can place fine sand and cooled charcoal from fire in MB bag. This DOES NOT make water any safer, just helps to make water clearer. A lot of easily found instruction for this approach online and in survival books.

Making homemade MB bag: 

Ideally sew one up from description above out of canvas for strength (water is heavy and will tear thin materials). If you cannot sew ask a friend to help. An appropriate size chunk of canvas from material supply outlet is very inexpensive. Hopefully can find some around your home. If canvas or the like is not a option right now experiment with what you currently have on hand. Other materials can work. Keep in mind strength for long term use. Do NOT use a material that can rot like leather. 

Next, locate stone about kids marble size. Locate 6 ft. chunk of strong string or thin rope. On top (open) side of homemade MB bag place small stone about an inch inside the opening, opposite side of bottom point. Tie string/rope with a sturdy knot around the “material wrapped” stone. Stone will stop material from slipping out of the knot under weight of water. Leave this cord attached, don’t use for other tasks so water kit is ready at all times.

Next, try to locate two simple cheap metal rods. Looking for something about 15 inches long, maybe 1/4 inch thick.  Not too long or too short, not too thin or too thick. Ideally something hollow yet sturdy enough to hold a can of water. Home Depot sells this for just a few dollars in the fastener isle, cut to length. The rods are so you always have something quick on hand to prop up on some rocks with a fire between them, or place rods over a hole in ground with fire in it. Place water filled coffee/apple can on rods to boil.  A company that supplies exactly this item is (look for grill stix), although a much more expensive option than the Home Depot parts.

Finally, locate a bag to place the two cans, MB bag, & metal rod purification kit in. Something like a small pillow case. Light weight nylon sack with drawstring is ideal. Reason is the can for boiling and “grill” rods will get black from fire and make a mess of inside of backpack. Also, this dedicated water kit will see so much use its very handy to have all items in one spot inside your pack.

The cans are essential. A metal pot of some sort is one of the most needed tools in survival, right up there with a knife, fire starter and water carry container. Most survival sites do not clarify this point imo. I cannot emphasize this enough. A METAL POT / CAN IS ESSENTIAL TO SURVIVAL. Two is better. Burn that understanding into your head. A METAL POT IS SURVIVAL. However, the little extra weight from the MB bag, “grill” rods and water kit carry sack are well worth it since water purification is near top of survival element list. We are making this endless task easy as possible.


– looking for at least 4x food grade containers with lid that does not leak. We use a lot of water and therefore require more than one water bottle. Its also such an important item you need a spare. The absolute minimum is two.

While looking around Army Surplus store for backpack ideas (essay #4 ) may have seen military plastic water canteens, typically OD Green. They are usually inexpensive. Even cheaper if used and cleanable. (There are better plastics for health though).

The ideal canteen is stainless steel but its not commonly available with the exception of the model from This product is not cheap but fantastic. Stainless steel water bottles are common place however and you may already have one or two, yet can be expensive as well for quality versions. Plastic food grade Nalgene water bottles are common and again, you may already have one. 

Lets say you have nothing appropriate and no extra money at the moment.  For now use a couple large size mason jars with lids. Maybe a couple well washed pickle jars & lids. Know this, I really don’t recommend glass jars. From a health stand point they are excellent, however from a safety stand point they’re not smart because they break easily. If this is all you have right now at least you HAVE SOMETHING and this is about getting started. Place the water filled mason jar in a sock incase it breaks, at least the glass will not be all over your backpack and a possible danger to you.  Place jar inside coffee can for extra protection. Trade up to an appropriate canteen/water bottle asap.


For several years now US Military have been issuing Camelback bladder water bags with hose. Generally stay away from this product. They are not cheap, difficult to clean and nowhere near rugged enough for long term survival. If you choose to use a water bag an excellent choice is the MSR Dromdary bag. 4 or 6 liter size. This product is expensive though. 

For rugged, inexpensive, availability, and excellent design the surplus US Military canteen is hard to beat.

Homework assignments for this essay:

#1.  use maps, google earth, walking around etc. to locate ALL appropriate natural water sources within a one mile walking distance from your home in every direction. (multiple sites are obviously better). If not within one mile walking distance locate and note EXACTLY where nearest couple of appropriate sources are and note how far. After appropriate site(s) located do best to observe what it’s next to, and/or what is up and down stream. You could find a great stream 1/4 mile away only to look 1000 feet to the right and see a factory dumping questionable stuff. If nothing within a reasonable distance its time to give this problem some real thought because you MUST have water.

#2.  dig up 2x steel coffee/apple juice cans, 2x homemade grill rods, small stone, 6 ft. string/rope, chunk of canvas or other appropriate material fashioned into millbank bag, 4x canteen/water bottles (or 2x glass jars with lids), bag to store water kit. (Might have all of this lying around in your home. If not, its very cheap to acquire).

#3.  whatever your current water intake is currently do your best to double it and maintain. Its a good health practice, however in a real long term survival situation you must have discipline to maintain necessary water intake. 

#4.  when homemade millbank bag is complete, fill up and try the method described above in your bathtub. If for some reason you cannot build a millbank bag cut a 30 inch x 30 inch chunk of cotton from a clean t-shirt. Fill one can with water. Pre-filter this water “through” the t-shirt material into the second can. This method does work if its all you have available.

Next essential survival element…


Even though we could all do without this war, I’m thankful to be on the same side of the fight with all of you. Someday we’ll use our Bug-Out-Bags for the more enjoyable purpose of family camping and reminisce about how we finally turned our history around. How we rebuilt the world the way we know it should have been all along, without any trace of our current psychopathic rulers.

Thanks for reading and preparing.

Courteous opinions welcome

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