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Kumud Acharya, head of ecological engineering at the Desert Research Institute in Las Vegas, seeks out the world’s hottest conditions. Here’s what he brings to stay hydrated—and alive—while doing science in the most scorching environments.

reusable water bottle

Reusable Bottles

Acharya drinks from the tap when it’s safe, and bottled or purified when he’s not accustomed to the local aquatic flora. For a day’s work, he’ll bring four to five liters in reusable vessels in a cooler full of ice.

Skin Coverage

To prevent painful sunburns, Acharya applies spray-on, waterproof sunscreen copiously and often. He also wears long-sleeved shirts and large-brimmed hats with neck covers for more protection.

A Small Tent

It’s important to get out of the rays periodically, and the desert isn’t famous for its shade-giving trees. Acharya brings his own shelter. While he rests, he reslathers the sunscreen and rehydrates.
water filter in bottle

Water Filters

For unclean H20, Acharya uses one of two methods to kill bacteria: a small bag that combines sunlight and a photocatalyst, or potassium permanganate and chlorine dioxide tablets.

This article was originally published in the March/April 2017 issue of Popular Science, under the title “How to survive the desert.”