Submitted by Eric Daniel
I saw something both sad and humorous while at my last National Guard drill; brand new soldiers trying to drink MRE beverage base powder out of a bag. As you may or may not know, newer MREs now come with a resealable beverage pouch (I suppose in the event you want to walk around with a fluid filled Ziploc bag in your cargo pocket) for drinking the various concoctions (both hot and cold) that come with the MRE.
The reason for the bag is the Army's going away from the canteen (replacing it with the camelback or similar hydration system) and the canteen cup (while I can get canteens from CIF, they are no longer issuing canteen cups) leaving troops with no other option than to either try and drink out of a bag-lined cardboard box (messy and embarrassing to say the least) or mix the stuff in a canteen, if they can get one.
Now, mixing stuff in your canteen has always been bad juju. It's dark and moist inside that canteen, and when half filled with a sugar-water slurry, it makes for a wonderful breeding ground for bacteria. Moreover, given the design of the canteen, it's very difficult to clean, and once contaminated, it's really difficult to verify you've gotten all the crud out.
My solution was to pick up a 1 qt. wide mouth nalgene bottle.
Fabricated from high impact polycarbonate plastic, it stands up well to its fair share of abuse. It's survived shipping in a duffle bag, kicking, dropping, and with a temperature range of -211 to +225 degrees F it performs well hot or cold. Mixing drinks in this thing is a snap - add powder and water and shake. It will even accept boiling water if you're lacking a more suitable container for making coffee or tea in. Moreover, if you're using dehydrated rations, you can dump your meal in, add some water, and let it slosh around in your kit for the next couple of hours (something I did frequently while hiking.)
While the nalgene bottle does not eliminate the issue of canteen "fermentation" given that it's made of clear plastic it's easy to clean out and visually inspect for residue.