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Survival Lab: Emergency Water

Without a drink, a hiker can die in as little as a day. We tested three techniques for conjuring H20 out of thin air. Plus: 5 easy ways to stay hydrated in hot climates.
Sept12_Bydlon_Urine_445x260Pee Bottle (Andrew Bydlon)

Solar Still
RESULTS Best for wringing pure water from a plentiful but questionable supply (salty, muddy, choked with dead possums). In four hours of partial sunlight, our still condensed 1/4
cup of water from a motley source of moist earth, a handful of greens, and a sprinkle of urine.

DO IT Best bet: Find a hole in a sunny area. Next best: Dig a 2-by-2-foot one with a flat bottom, or several smaller holes if the ground is hard. Add green vegetation,
nonpotable water, or urine, then place a cup in the center. Spread a watertight material (rainfly, plastic) over the opening, pull taut, and seal the edges using rocks and soil. Use a stone to weight
the sheet above the cup so the water drips into it.

TIP Save sweat: Dig at night in soft soil.

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