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Would you stake your life, right now, on the condition of your equipment?
NEWS | July 2, 2021

Water Supply: H2O on the Go!

Soldier drinking water
Photo by Sgt. David Graves
You’ve heard the same safety advice ever since you joined the Army—drink lots of water, especially if you’re in full gear and soldiering in the heat. Just a couple of hours out in the sun without enough water will drain your energy and endurance. Soon you’ll feel the advanced stages of heat stress: headaches, nausea and serious fatigue.

So you know packing H2O is the right thing to do, but do you know all your options? If not, here are your choices for summertime sipping on the go.
1-Quart Canteen
1-quart canteen
1-qt canteen
The 1-qt canteen, NSN 8465-01-115-0026, is a rigid plastic container. The cover, NSN 8465-00-860-0256, has an outer pocket for water purification tablets. It attaches to your equipment belt or load-carrying equipment.
Filling 1 qt. canteen
1-qt canteen is easy to fill
2-Quart Collapsible Canteen

The 2-qt collapsible canteen, NSN 8465-01-118-8173, is larger and more flexible than the 1-qt canteen. The canteen’s cover, NSN 8465-00-927-7485, also has an outer pocket for water purification tablets.

You can carry this canteen over your shoulder with a strap. It can also attach to your equipment belt or load-carrying equipment. It collapses when drained for less bulk.
2-qt canteen
2-qt collapsible canteen
MOLLE Hydration System

Canteens are old-school sturdy and dependable, but more Soldiers are wearing hydration systems. That’s because using them makes it easier to replace bodily fluids lost through sweating.

The modular lightweight load-carrying equipment (MOLLE) hydration system, NSN 8465-01-641-9423, has a bladder for holding water, a carrier with straps for carrying it, and a drinking tube. It’s ergonomically designed and can be worn by itself or integrated with load-bearing equipment or web harness systems.

The bladder includes a drink tube with a bite valve, a positive shut-off, and an exterior fill port.
The carrier consists of abrasion-resistant nylon, has a sternum strap for added stability and has a handle for filling on the go.

One important warning: The MOLLE is not meant for use in a chemical environment.

It’s available in three (3) camouflage patterns:
Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP)
Item NSN 8465-
Hydration system *  01-641-9423
Carrier 01-641-9671
Bladder 01-641-9698
Drink tube 01-641-9707
Bite valve 01-641-9709
Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (OEF-CP)
Item NSN 8465-
Hydration system * 01-580-1316
Carrier 01-580-1319
Bladder 01-519-2304
Drink tube 01-519-2385
Bite valve 01-519-2383
Universal Camouflage (UC)
Item NSN 8465-
Hydration system * 01-641-9423
Carrier 01-524-8362
Bladder 01-519-2304
Drink tube 01-519-2385
Bite valve 01-519-2383
* includes carrier, shoulder and chest straps, 100-oz bladder, drink tube and bite valve 

Also, the MOLLE hydration system has several advantages over traditional canteens:
  •  It carries more water.
  •  You can drink on the move while keeping your hands and eyes focused on the mission.
  •  Drinking from a tube is more convenient than reaching for a canteen, so you’ll drink more water more often.
Tips for Using the MOLLE

Filling — If your hydration system has an external cap, you can fill it without removing the bladder. Just open the cap and fill the system with water.  Add ice cubes if you like. If your system doesn’t have an external cap, you’ll have to remove the bladder from the carrier.

Assembling — Insert a bladder into the carrier. Route the drinking tube out the carrier opening. To install a new bite valve, pinch the tube and pull off the old valve. Wet the tube and slide on a new valve. Make sure you don’t force the tube past the valve stops.
Installing new bite valve
Instructions for installing new bite valve

To install the bite valve cover, pinch the tube and pull off the valve.  Attach the cover’s lanyard to the tube.  Wet the tube and slide the bite valve back on.

Fitting — The MOLLE hydration system was made to be worn close to your body. When you carry weight close to your center of gravity, the load feels much lighter. So tighten the shoulder straps until the carrier is snug. If your carrier comes with a sternum strap and a waist belt, attach them. Drape the drinking tube over your shoulder with the bite valve close to your mouth. Adjust the tube length by sliding extra tubing into the carrier.

Drinking — Pinch and roll the bite valve between your fingers to open the drinking slit. Don’t use a knife to open it. You could damage the valve.  Bite down on the valve to start the water flowing. Draw in slightly, just like you were using a straw. Ease up on the valve to stop the water flow.
Drinking from MOLLE
Drinking from the MOLLE is as easy as biting down gently on bite valve

Inspecting and Repairing — Inspect the bladder often for leaks. If the bladder leaks, replace it. Before each mission, inspect the carrier, buckles and straps. Look for wear spots—any place where metal or plastic rubs against the fabric. Repair small rips, tears and loose seams.

Fix tears less than an inch long with cloth tape, NSN 8315-00-958-0744.

If the fabric is ripped up to three inches, sew it with the needle and thread from the tentage repair kit, NSN 8340-00-262-5767. And if the tears are longer than three inches, you may need to replace the carrier.
One Last Tip (literally) for the Road — Take care when packing pens, pencils, nail files, knives or other sharp objects in the hydration system. They can puncture the bladder.
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