How Much Water Should You Carry in Your Bug out Bag

By James Barton â€¢  Updated: 05/04/19 â€¢  6 min read

Are you wondering about how much water you should carry in your bug out bag?  We provide you with reliable information to help you make an informed choice before bugging out. Keeping yourself hydrated should be your primary concern.

Of all the items you can carry in your Bug out Bag, water is perhaps the most important. I say this because you cannot survive for too long without water. Since a bug out bag only carries essentials items to help you survive for three days, one could argue the possibility of surviving three days without water.

Water should keep your body hydrated. You may survive without water for 72 hours but you cannot be sure of the weather conditions on the day of disaster. On a very hot day, death from dehydration could occur in a couple of hours.  This is why you need to know how much water you should carry in your bug out bag.

So, how much water should you carry in your bug out bag?

This is not a simple question to answer. We have to look at many variables that affect directly or indirectly the amount of water you can carry. Here are some of these variables:

1. Weight of the Bug out Bag

According to survival experts, there is a formula to remember when packing your bug out bag. You should target BOB weight of 10 percent of your body weight. However, the maximum weight you should attempt to carry is 20 percent.

For instance, if you weigh 250lbs. then 10 percent of 250lbs. is 25lbs. That means the total weight of your bug out bag after packing should be 25 pounds. Of the 25 pounds, you must determine how much of that weight will water take.

2. Your Daily Water Needs

In an emergency, we only talk of the bare minimum amount of water you need for hydration. According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends drinking at least half a gallon of water (64 oz) each day. This amount of water is equal to two large water bottles. Thus you need to find a way to pack at least 1.5 gallons of water for the 72 hours.

In situations where water is very scarce, the United States Coast Guard recommends that each person should drink at least two 4.225 oz Emergency Water Pouches per day. That would translate into about 25 oz of water over the 72 hours per person. However, many people believe this amount of water is too little to sustain a physiological person.

3. The Mode of Carrying Water

The container in which you carry water is another important determinant of the amount of water you should carry in your BOB. Generally, you can pack water in either of two ways. You can use water bottles or pouches. These modes differ in many aspects.

Whereas water pouches are collapsible, water bottles are not. This gives pouches an advantage over water bottles when it comes to fitting into the bug out bag. Water bottles will take too much space because if their sizes and inability to collapse. Even if the amount of water they carry is the same, pouches will tend to take lesser space than water bottles.

However, you can find soft and collapsible water bottles. Such bottles will also take lesser space than non-collapsible water bottles. Unlike the regular bottles, collapsible models are flat when empty. Besides, they are a little taller and thinner than regular water bottles. They will fit into compact spaces allowing you room to pack other vital items.

Many people contend that water contained in water bottles tastes better and is cheaper than that contained in pouches. However, this is subjective. Sometimes survival is more important than taste and needs to save some money.

4. Your Activity Level on the Go

We lose more water when we are physically active than when we are at rest. We majorly lose it through sweat and perspiration. For instance, if you plan on going to hike all day long on moderate heat, you will need to drink up to 4 liters of water per day. You may even need more water if you plan on hiking all day long on rough terrain on a very hot day.

The story is very different if you plan on simply going to camp in an area with low to moderate heat. In that case, you’ll perform activities that require little exertion. Thus you will need to do some planning before you start packing your bug out bag.

5. Availability of Water Sources

It is sometimes hard to determine where a disaster will take you do. However, if you plan on going to hike or camp somewhere in the wilderness, you might have an idea of how well the place is endowed with water resources. With enough surety to get water in the wild, it would be a good idea to pack water purification system.

This way, you can carry the minimum amount of water you need for the 72 hours. You can purify more water to use if the disaster extends beyond three days.  In other words, pack light and then carry a personal purification device. This will make it possible for you to obtain clean water from any source out there.

6. The Environmental Factors

The environment in which you will be for the 72 hours has a lot of bearing on how much water you should carry in your bug out bag. For instance, you may need to pack heavy if you are going to hike in a hot desert. In such areas, to re-hydrate would require more than 1 gallon of water per person each day. The need would be even higher if you plan a strenuous activity as part of bugging out.

desert survival
Pack Heavy on Water For Desert Trips

Since you cannot be sure of finding more water in the desert, you might have to sacrifice certain items to allow you pack more water. A personal water purification system would be useless because access to any water would not be easy.

Bottom Line

Back to the question, how much water should you carry in your bug out bag?  The variables we have discussed will determine just how much water you need. Each person is different. Consider how much water you drink on a normal day. It would help to base your estimate on this amount. However, you should strive to pack a little bit more than what you take on a normal day. Bugging out means you will be outdoors. You need to rehydrate will be much higher. In all you do, ensure the overall weight of your bug out bag does not exceed 15 percent of your body weight.

James Barton

James Barton

Hi, I'm James. I am the founder and main editor for The Survival Corps. I have been a part of the survival and prepping community since my mid 30's as I downsized and started to prepare to be self sufficient in a time of crisis.