Ask most people what their EDC consists of, and they will recount a series of common items.
● Pocket Knife
● Concealed Carry Pistol
All of these are important items you will likely use on a daily basis, with one notable (hopefully) exception. They fit conveniently in pockets, purses, or other bags, and they have a certain ability to act as an accessory to reflect your personality.
Occasionally the list will include something that may not fit in a pocket, but something everyone should use multiple times a day, even hourly.
The humble water bottle.
While they may not conveniently fit in a pocket, (Who doesn't carry some sort of bag with them these days?) water bottles are still worth carrying for their health benefits, convenience, environmental friendliness, and personalization.
Why Carry a Water Bottle?
Experts generally suggest adults consume somewhere between 11 and 16 cups (2.5 to 4 liters) of fluids a day, depending on size, weight, activity level, and a good number of other variables. A 245 pound, 6’6” man who works out twice a day around his construction job in Phoenix needs more fluids than a 120 pount 5’6” woman who practices yoga three times a week after she leaves the accounting firm.
For something essentially free, water provides an incredible amount of benefits. (You know, beyond the whole “keeping you alive” thing.)
The Light Machine Gun of water bottles.
The human body is 60% water. Losing as little as 2% of that good ole’ H2O can noticeably impair physical performance. This can lead to suboptimal workouts, (You are physically training, aren't you?) delaying your improvement and diminishing the long term health effects of a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, if you have a physical job, this can be downright dangerous. Imagine lifting a heavy object over your head to your buddy, or needing a quick sprint, only for your body to lack the hydration it needs to finish the movement.
Drinking water can even help you shed those extra pounds you have been trying to lose. Your body needs water to help convert fat into energy. Beyond that, filling your stomach with water helps you feel more full, leading to eating fewer calories at meals and reducing unplanned snack breaks. Seriously, check out the footnote, the studies on water and weight loss are eye opening.
When we are dehydrated, two things happen in our minds. We get angry, and we lose focus. Neither of those are good outcomes, especially in a professional environment. Staying positive and being able to work through tasks is something everyone will need in any type of challenging work environment, and simply drinking water can help prevent workplace drama and missed deadlines.
Our energy levels are also affected by the lack of hydration. Without water, your body begins to slow down its functions, leading to a lack of energy to get through the day. How many times have you gotten home from work, school, or some type of trip, only to lack the energy to tackle the tasks you know you need to accomplish?
I can personally attest to the pain and annoyance of dehydration headaches. Without sufficient water, that dull, aching pain in your cranium can cause all kinds of cascading failures, something that can often be avoided simply by staying hydrated.
Speaking of pain, but beyond headaches, drinking water can help prevent kidney stones, or at least make the experience less miserable. Drinking water can help push fluid through your kidneys, preventing the buildup of the minerals that cause those painful stones. Along those same lines, your intestines need water for their duties, and that extra water can help relieve constipation.
It's hard to overstate how badly your body needs water for its essential functions.
What Kind of Bottle to Carry?
So you are ready to add a water bottle to the list of items you grab before you ever leave the house, but you are asking yourself, what kind is best?
Reusable vs Packaged
This is simple. Reusable. A 20 ounce bottle of water costs about $1.50. If you are drinking 100 ounces a day, that's $7.50 a day. One Nalgene bottle costs about $10, and is basically free to fill. That means in less than two days you come out ahead. Beyond the cost sayings, it keeps plastic out of landfills. Speaking of plastic...
Plastic Water Bottles
The most common plastic water bottle brand is Nalgene, and they are popular for a reason. They are cheap (about $10), durable, and lightweight. The most common size is 1 liter, but other sizes are available. The wide mouth makes them easy to clean, but can make it easy to splash your drink all over your face. I recommend a replacement lid that steps down the opening size to a more manageable level. I use the Humangear branded ones and they have worked great for years.
I personally like the measurements on the side, which make it easy to keep track of your intake over the course of a day, and are handy when you are camping and need to measure liquids for MRE or other cooking. Stepping outside the Nalgene brand, you can get humongous plastic water bottles that double as weights for curls. The biggest drawback of plastic water bottles is lack of insulation. While they keep ice water cold for a while, they can’t compete with vacuum sealed bottles. Hot liquids are questionable at best, as they may pull harmful chemicals out of the plastic.
Metal Water Bottles with multiple lids.
Metal/Vacuum Sealed Bottles
While more expensive (around $25), Vacuum sealed water bottles offer significant advantages. They are more susceptible to dents, but they don't shatter as easily as plastic bottles. The biggest advantage is the ability to keep cold liquids ice cold for more than 24 hours, and hot liquids cold for 4+ hours. As an avid coffee drinker, these are my go to bottles, as I can leave the house with hot coffee, and then fill the same bottle with water when I finish.
These bottles also come in a variety of sizes, from 14 to 64 ounces. Some ship with multiple types of lids for cold beverages and hot beverages, but I prefer the ones with button lids that allow me to use the same lid for hot and cold drinks. Some people don’t like sharing the same lid though, as the flavor from your coffee or tea may carry over into your cold water.
Personality in Personal Hydration
Have you ever met someone into watches? Like, really into watches. It doesn’t take much to get them talking about how such a small accessory can show so much about a personality. G-Shock? Probably outdoorsy and lives a fairly active lifestyle. Rolex? High roller, lives large, likes the finer things. Latest smart watch? Techie, cutting edge, intelligent. I will posit that a water bottle can do all that, with the added practicality of not being obsolete since the cell phone became common 20 years ago.
Nalgenes, in all their varied colors, can really reflect your personality and show a sense of fashion when paired with an outfit. A sleak, clean, black and silver bottle expresses a degree of class and sophistication. I have even had technical water bottles, such as rechargeable bottles that blend your drink mix or protein powder. As bottles get older, the dings and dents and scratches attest to your active lifestyle, lived with the scars to prove it.
Then there is the granddaddy of all personal expression choices: Stickers
Memes, of course, being the kings.
Outdoorsy? Cover your bottle in stickers depicting the national parks you have visited. Traveler? Get a sticker for every city or country you really connect with. Meme lord? They make stickers for that too. I personally get one new bottle each year, and cover it with stickers from meaningful events or places I have visited so that I can look back at everything I did that year. As my collection grows, it creates a visual story that I can look on fondly.
In the world of EDC, we tend to look at the exciting. We consider the low probability, high risk situations we need to cover with our gear. Sometimes, we forget about the simple things in life, like water. Water bottles can be an enriching, personal part of your Every Day Carry. With a little bit of thought, you can have a healthy, practical tool with you whenever you need it.