So I read this answer and I was wondering what contraption produce the most water when you don't have a water source? So what water trap produces the most water? Specifically, what should I do with my plastic bags/baggies that will net the most water per bag/baggie so I can spend less time setting up water traps and more time on other survival necessities?

I am assuming I would have to make several a day, but knowing what produces the most would be helpful.

I assume this would change for environment so for this question assume a mountain forest.


2 Answers 2


The key is to always have a trash bag. Your most reliable backwoods method for clean water is condensation, either through natural action, or via a still of some kind. The primary component of this is having large enough suitable material to make said still. If you are depending on natural action, then surface area is still key. Assuming you left your baggie at home you need to find the largest smooth, flexible, non-absorbent material you can.

If the presumption is that you are so back woods and so thoroughly hosed that you have no emergency kit whatsoever then... prayer may be your best option for obtaining large volumes of pest free water. An improvised filter will not provide protection from microbial dangers. You'll get water that looks more clear, but is just as (or more since you can pick up contaminants from your 'filter') dangerous.

  • This is great information but I was hoping for a more specific answer of "setup your baggies or trash bag like [this] and you will get the most water." I will edit my answer to be more clear on that. Commented Oct 4, 2012 at 14:47
  • @MaskedPlant -- I'm not sure I can effectively give that, because it's going to vary based on what you have on hand, the type of ground (not all forest ground is the same), etc, but I'll do what I can. Commented Oct 4, 2012 at 22:08

This isn't in the spirit of the original question, but if you want to make sure you have enough water in the back woods, remember that proper planning is going to be the safest strategy.

To me, proper planning would include:

  • Having a good sense of where you can find water in that region. Is it a temperate forest, where the streams and rivers are reliable? Or are you in the desert, where water may only be found in specific places. A good map of the area, that would help you find streams, is also going to be handy.
  • If in doubt, contact the park service, and ask to speak with a ranger. At least in the US, they can give you a good sense of seasonal water availability (which springs and creeks are usually flowing in a particular time of year)
  • Remember to carry a water purification system. Water filters and iodine tabs are both good options.
  • Remember to carry enough water with you. At least capacity for 2-4 liters per person per day, possibly a lot more if you're going to be in a hot, arid environment.
  • If you're going to be passing through an area with limited availibility (for instance, if you're on a multiday backpacking trip, and one of the campsites doesn't have a water source), think about carrying some larger, collapsible water bladder . I have a 10L water bladder that has served me well on desert backpacking trips.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.