Canteens are an Important Part of Your Field Gear


After a disaster whether you are bugging out or just scouting around your neighborhood, you will need to carry water.  You never know what may happen that will keep you away from home a bit longer than you expect.  Now Camelbaks are great, but there are other canteens that I like and that are readily available.

I like the 1 and 2 quart US Military canteens.  I have used them for many years without a problem.  The two quart is a plastic canteen that is designed to hook on to your gear or be carried with a shoulder strap.  The 1 quart can be attached to your gear or carried on a pistol belt.  If you can still find them, the older 1-quart stainless steel ones are my favorite, but the new plastic ones are functional.  I avoid the older aluminum ones; they always seem to be corroded.

A plastic military 1 quart canteen
a 1 quart canteen cover

The newer 1 quart canteens come with a good sturdy cover and clips that can be attached to a large variety of belts or straps. The older ones were designed to only work with the pistol belt.  A canteen cup and a stove will fit in the cover with the canteen.  The cup is extremely handy and can be used for heating hot drinks or cooking.  It is made of stainless steel.

The stove is designed to work with military heat tabs but can be used with a variety of fuels.  I have used mine with small quantities of hot coals when the wind was blowing and been able to heat up drinks.

If you take care of the military canteens, they will last for years.  I have not found any civilian canteens that will outlast the military versions.  When you go to purchase one, be sure to get a real US one and not a cheap knock off.

See also  Understanding the Various Methods of Water Filtration or Purification
A military canteen cup.  These are great for heating liquids or cooking
As you can see the canteen fits inside the cup and stove. This will all fit in the cover

A few tips for using canteens

  • The 1 Quart is great use for in winter, do not fill it more than 3/4 full because of freezing.
  • The soft 2-quart military canteens make great pillows.  If it’s cold, wrap them and if it’s hot the cold water will help keep your head cool.
The canteen cup set on top of the stove for cooking. Notice where the heat tab is placed
  • If you just bought a canteen in a garage sale or from a surplus store, always check the inside with a flashlight for any strange residues.  I then always wash them out with water and chlorine.  Make sure you include the cap and around the threads.
  • There are other good civilian canteens on the market, but for the price I have never been able to beat the cost of the military surplus ones.


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    5 thoughts on “Canteens are an Important Part of Your Field Gear”

    1. Veteran Who Is Preparing

      Never ever ever put some type of drink mix inside a plastic canteen. I wouldn’t put juice inside plastic canteens either. When I was in Basic our Drills told us that the sugars in the mix adhere to the plastic and it is nearly impossible to get out. Even if it is done only once you will taste it in the water for years to come even with multiple changes. Whenever I buy canteens online I buy only brand new unused ones. When I buy them at garage sales, surplus stores, or camping stores I always smell them even if they are marked as new. If I smell anything I put that one back and check the next. And repeat until I find ones that have no smell or only smell like plastic. I have been sent used canteens in bundles of used gear I bought online. When I check the canteen and it smells I just toss it in the trash. Also, do not put plastic canteens on or near a stove, they will melt even if they are frozen.

    2. Cleaning and sanitizing plastic water bottles and canteens:

      Preferred method, use Camelback cleansing tablets and follow the instructions!

      Recommended Alternate methods

      1) Use 1 tablespoon of bleach per quart of water, fill bottle, shake, allow to sit for 5 minutes, pour out bleach water, and rinse with clean water before refilling, or

      2) Insert one effervescent denture cleaning tablet, fill bottle with water, shake and let sit for 30 minutes, and rinse thoroughly before refill, or

      3) Wash with hot water and detergent, rinse thoroughly , then add 1 cup of white vinegar, refill the canteen with water, let stand overnight, and in the morning thoroughly rinse and refill.

      These methods can also be used with stainless steel or aluminum canteens and bottles. Denture cleaning tablets are most effective form removing accumulated oxides and “funk” from military surplus metal canteens.

    3. I strongly suggest skipping military canteens. They taste awful, are very difficult to clean, and the necks are narrow which results in icing during cold weather.

      Buy a Nalgene brand bottle (BPA free and made in the USA). The break quite rarely, and round stainless steel cups for them can be found easily.

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