Carrying Water to Hunt and to Battle: A History Lesson

When you go hiking, hunting, or fishing, there is a good chance that you are carrying some water along with you. At least, that’s what you should be doing. You should have some water stored away in your vehicle, and you should have some with you whenever you are heading out into the woods or desert. It’s easy enough for us to bring water along today, with all the fancy bottles and packs out there. But how did people carry water in the past?

The History of the Canteen

The canteen has been around for a very long time. Today, it’s typically made from plastic or metal. But the very first primitive canteens were made from just about anything that would hold water. Gourds were often hollowed out and used to hold water. These were known as “bottle gourds” or a calabash. There were canteens that were made from wood, while others were made from leather (called bota bags) or cow bladders, earning them the name “waterskins.” In the Kalahari, people would even use the eggshell of an ostrich to hold water. They would pierce a hole in it, drain the contents, and then use them to hold the water.

In the early 1900s, they started to make the canteens from glass bottles. Of course, having glass out in the field was not often a good idea, because it could break. Therefore, they would typically be covered with a woven basket, leather, or thick cloth, which would afford them a bit more protection. These would generally have a cork used as the stopper.

As metalwork improved, more and more of the canteens were made from metal. They were generally made from stainless steel or aluminum. Earlier versions had cork stoppers, but eventually, they developed screw caps, which were attached to the canteen by a short chain. This was to ensure that the cap did not get lost. These were better and more durable than the glass bottles that were used as canteens. However, they still had some problems of their own. They were prone to developing small leaks if they were dented or damaged. Also, older canteens were often soldered with lead, which resulted in lead poisoning for those who drank out of them.

Today, the canteens used by those in the military and by hikers alike are made from high-quality plastic. They are light and durable. We’ve come a long way since the old days of holding water in a gourd!

What About Water for Large Operations?

Water planning for desert operations – and many other types of operations for that matter – tends to be difficult because water is heavy and it can be challenging to transport. Often, water is going to be considered perishable. In addition, difficulties arise with the storage of water. Even though it might be easier to move in smaller containers of water, those smaller containers are going to get hotter than containers that are larger. When water gets warm, it is not as good to drink.

Therefore, when there are large military operations underway, planning for the water supply is essential. They need to consider how much water is needed, where they need to have the water, and when they need to have it supplied. They also need to make sure that the water is going to be able to get to the units without trouble.

Depending on the size of the operation, the military may have supplies of water delivered along with the food and other gear and then held at the base in large tanks. In some locations, water might be available locally, even in a desert. For smaller units and squads, water is brought along with them and is part of their gear. Mobile operations rely on water trucks to store water.

Water is always an essential part of any military operation, camping trip, or hike. Having the right gear and the right amount of water, no matter the need is essential.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Valerie Johnston

Valerie Johnston has over a decade of experience in writing over survival skills, homesteading and self-sufficiency. With a Bachelor's in Agriculture, she enjoys helping others learn about their options in homesteading and survival prep and how to apply it to their lives.

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