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Swiss Canteen PSK

In my never-ending search for the perfect PSK container, I think I’ve hit upon a winner. Since I use a hydration Daypack, I thought carrying a container that can be used to boil water in was good idea. Until now I usually carried a metal cup for this purpose, but I have left it behind on more than one occasion. I thought incorporating the cup into a sturdy, easy to stow PSK case would be a real bonus. All I had to do was find the right materials to work with.  It took a little scouting around to find something that would work for my project, but I soon came across something that I thought would do the job quite nicely.  It’s something that you run across every day in the outdoors world, but it takes a spark of inspiration for its functionality to register with you.  With a little time and some thought, it’s very easy to put together one of these kits to meet your own needs, and you can make other versions that meet the needs of family members or friends as well!

These are Swiss military surplus canteens made by SIGG; my example is dated ‘72. Joe Flowers recently did a write up on the newly made SIGG canteens and these are basically just older surplus versions of the same bottle. The bottle and cup are both made of aluminum. By taking off the top of the canteen and reversing it when placing it into the cup, I ended up with a two-part aluminum PSK container. The volume of the container is actually expandable since the two halves just slide together.

I still need to finalize the contents, but to get an idea of the volume I put in some basic items from one of my other kits and had room to spare.



The items were ones that I chose that I thought would be used more often and that I thought was essential to have in case of an emergency out in the wilderness.

  • AMK Heatsheet, Victorinox Farmer
  • A 3” x 5” baggie filled with firestarters
  • Butane lighter
  • Sparklite and Tinder Quik
  • Whistle
  • Compass
  • Potable Aqua tablets
  • Mason’s line
  • Tie-Wraps
  • Foil
  • Fresnel lens


The procedure for doing this is very simple, I just hacksawed the top of the canteen off at the top shoulder below the mouthpiece and smoothed the cut edge using a file and some sandpaper. Removal of the black paint is optional. I chose to sandpaper it off, using a stainless bristled brush to help remove it from the small dents and dings. This was followed by some fine steel wool to burnish and clean the two halves.

The interior of the bottle is coated with some sort of lining. I experimented with burning it off with the thought of being able to use the canteen portion as a small Billy equipped with a wire bail. The coating caught fire but left what looks like a hard to remove residue. Luckily my experiment was with the discarded top of the bottle so I decided to leave the coating intact on portion that would be used. I suppose if you had access to sand or bead blasting equipment, the paint and interior liner removal would be much easier. The plan with the current configuration would be to use the cup for boiling and transfer it to the canteen half to cool, freeing the cup for boiling a second batch in the fire if needed

Luke Causey suggested that this would make a neat pocket Brew-kit when I was discussing the project with him. I have five more of these canteens, so I might outfit one this way. The contents for mine will probably be coffee, a small fire kit, coffee, a spoon, instant soup and possibly…some coffee.

I bought 6 of these canteens online for a very reasonable $20 online and it may be possible to find them at a local Surplus store.

If a local search doesn’t bear fruit for you, then are dozens of online retailers that carry this type of equipment.  You may have to spend some time doing the research, but the end result along with the saving you enjoy will be well worth the effort!

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