Outdoors

7 Ways of Finding Water in the Wilderness

There’s no doubt about it: one of the most important things when it comes to survival in ANY circumstances is water. The rule of threes says you can only survive without the liquid of life for up to 3 days, but in reality you’ll feel sick before that. Dehydration is not only unpleasant, but it will restrict your ability to move and think.

Should you find yourself in a bug out situation, you’ll need to know these ways of finding water to quench your thirst, and to take some with you on your bug out journey.



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#1. Lakes, Rivers, and Ponds

These should be your obvious choices, but how can you ensure there’s going to be a river when you’ll need it? The only way I can think of is to avoid bugging out to the desert, or through places that don’t have water sources along the way.

If there aren’t water sources along your bug out routes, the only two alternatives would be to either move out before SHTF, or to stock up your bug out vehicle with as much water as you can. Just keep in mind that should you be forced to continue your journey on foot, there’s only so much water you can carry on your back.

Of course, if you’re going to drink water from unknown sources, you should have at least a personal water filter such as the Sawyer Mini, some water purification tablets, and the means to boil water or even to distil it to make it safe to drink.

#2. Plants

No, I’m not going to suggest you drink water from a cactus or a bamboo plant. Far from it. What you need to do do is tie a plastic bag over a tree branch and let it sit for as long as you can afford to wait. Plants transpire, water drops will begin to form and collect inside the bag. Be sure to tie it as tightly as possible, but without hurting the tree. Easy-peasy.

#3. Rain Water

Did you know rain water is pretty much safe to drink across the Globe? I’m not saying it won’t have any side effects on you, but in a survival situation, you might not have a choice. Even so, you can ensure your safety by filtering and purifying it first, using you water filter or some of the other methods discussed in this article.

#4. Dew

To catch the morning dew, tie a couple of bandanas or rags to your feet, grab a container in your hand and walk around through the wet grass. Every now and then, take the soaking wet rags and collect the dew inside the container.

#5. Using the Solar Still Method

It’s not that hard to obtain clear drinking water, using the solar still method. Dig a hole in the ground in direct sunlight, place green vegetation inside (the more the better), place a container inside the water to collect the water, then cover with a sheet of plastic big enough to cover the whole.

Secure the plastic sheet such that there’s no way for the air to get inside, and place a small rock over the sheet directly above the collection container, which should be in the middle of the whole.

Leaves aren’t the only things you can put inside the hole, you can also add containers with seawater, mud water, or any other type of water you need to purify.

The moisture and water from all these sources will evaporate, it will hit the inner side of the plastic sheet, water droplets will form, and they’ll start collecting into the empty container.

This is a diagram of what a solar still looks like:

solar still

…and this is an excellent video showing how to do it. Suffices to say this works best in warm climates with plenty of sunlight.

#6. Water from Snow

Just like rain water, water resulting from melting the snow is likely to be good to drink. The one thing to remember is to never eat snow. Your stomach will spend energy trying to melt it first, not to mention it could give you headaches. So use a bandana to melt the snow into a container first.

#7. By Following Animals to Water Sources

Birds, bees and game are indicators that there’s drinkable water nearby, you just have to follow them.

Bonus: Water Sources to Avoid

Some of the water sources you should avoid in the wild include:

  • water in the vicinity of a nuclear meltdown;
  • water from urine
  • alcohol and energy drinks (they will dehydrate you)
  • and sea water (unless you distill it using the advice above, because the high salt content will also dehydrate you)

Effects of Dehydration

We briefly mentioned how terrible dehydration is in a survival situation…

If it’s in its early stages, you will feel tired, thirsty and your mouth will be dry, but if you don’t do anything about it, you’ll feel tired, hot, and sluggish. You’ll experience muscle cramps, nausea, and numbness, which will significantly hinder your survival efforts.

After that, you’ll probably stop seeing well and be delirious. Needless to say, by that time you won’t be in any shape to continue looking for water.



50 survival items for travel
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Dan Sullivan

About Dan Sullivan

Dan has come into contact with homesteading when he was 4 years old, and would spend summers in the countryside with his grandparents. The skills and the mindset that he's learned now allow him in his mid 30s to better prepare for whatever may come.
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3 thoughts on “7 Ways of Finding Water in the Wilderness

  1. Very informative and interesting. Recently saw an episode of “Bill Nye Saves the World” on Netflix where many of these methods were discussed and demonstrated. Very cool thanks for the insight!

  2. Water is priority #1 to survive. When the stuff hits the fan, clean water will become very precious. Thanks for this article.

  3. Thank you Dan!
    I liked the dew collection method. allows more for multitasking. (gathering berries and leaves or needles for tea for breakie)

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