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Improvised Water Bag

(For Mini Kits)

By John D. McCann


When we wrote this tip, the Reynolds® Oven bags worked as described below. However, since then, the material the bags were made from has changed. They no longer seem to hold water!

An improvised water bag for mini kits can be obtained at the local grocery store. It is called a Reynolds® Oven Bag, size large. This tip was originally provided in my book, Build the Perfect Survival Kit. But for those who have not seen it, I will reiterate it here.

I was looking for something that could be used to hold water, purify water in, would pack very small, yet be durable. For years I used a non-lubricated condom, but it had to supported in a sleeve or trouser leg, or it would burst. Something else was in order.

One day I observed a turkey being baked in an oven in a Reynolds® Oven Bag. It is constructed of a Mylar-type material and is very robust. After various tests, I was confident that this bag would work as an improvised water bag for mini kits.

Reynolds Oven Bags

This is what you are looking for at the store.

The oven bags measure 16" wide x 17.5" high, and they come 5 to a box. They can be marked to indicate a one quart/liter line, for use with water purification tablets which are usually based on one quart/liter of water. You can fill the bag with one quart/liter and mark the top of the water line with a permanent marker, such as a "Sharpie" fine point. This works best with two people, one holding the bag with two hands from the top sides, and the other person pouring in the pre-measured water. This keeps the bag level so it can be marked accurately. I have found that, for the large size bag, the line should be up 2.75" from the bottom seam.

Oven Bag with Quart Mark

A view of the one quart/liter line marked with a "Sharpie" fine point.

For "Mini Kits" such as those in a pocket tin (such as an "Altoids Tin"), the bags can be cut down so that they fold smaller to save space. For this purpose, I usually cut 6" off the top. This still provides you with enough area to tie the bag up after putting one quart/liter of water in it.

Cut Down Oven Bag

This is what it looks like after it is cut down. The quart line can just be seen.

The oven bag, after cutting it down, can be folded quite small. This allows it to fit in very small mini kits. For a pocket tin, I usually fold it in 4th's from the bottom up, and then sideways 3 times.

Folded Oven Bag vs a Condom

A view of the folded oven bag shown next to a non-lubricated condom.

It should be noted that the bag does not have to be cut down. You only have to cut it to minimize its size for a mini kit. If you carry it in a small kit, or larger, there is no reason to cut it down. Full size, you can even mark it for both a one quart/liter line and a two quart/liter line. It can be used to store water in, even water that was boiled for purification (remember it is an oven bag so it will hold boiling water - just be careful as the bag will be hot). It can also be used as a small transpiration bag. Carrying a couple of these in your pack provides you with various options in a very small space.

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