How to Pick the Best Water Containers for Camping

The best water containers for camping are those that get the water where you need it, whether that’s to your backcountry campsite or the nearest picnic table. Depending on your type of camping, this could be a compact water bladder or a heavy-duty plastic jug.

Whether you’ve chosen a campsite with electrical hookups and amenities, or a primitive one without even a simple fire pit, water is the one thing you have to have. We want to make sure you choose the best water containers for camping in any situation.

Choosing the Best Water Containers for Camping

Even the most amateur campers should consider hydration before almost anything else. And getting water out to the campsite is merely a question of “How?”

The first thing you need to know is how much water one person needs per day for your camping conditions, which can vary based on the person. It depends on how big you are, how much you sweat, and whether you plan on doing any exercise, like hiking or swimming.

There are a lot of factors that affect how much water you will need, and that will help you pick the best water containers for camping.

Staying hydrated while camping

One of the most important statistics when planning your water is this:

On average, a person needs about a half gallon, or two liters, of water per day.

That leaves out a lot of different aspects that come into play, of course. For a desert hike, you need to double this base amount. If you’re planning on hiking during your trip, bring at least one liter for every hour you’re planning on moving.

Also, if you’re planning on hiking a lot, smaller water containers are easier to pack along for longer day hikes.

Then there are other logistics to think about. Are you planning on having dishes to wash at your campsite? That can alter the amount of water you need, but it will also determine which are the best water containers for camping.

You should also know whether or not you have a drinkable water source at your site. Additionally, whether or not you plan on bringing a water filter is very important. You should not drink from a water source like a river or lake unless you have proper filtration or purification.

If you do, though, you may get away with bringing less water at the outset.

How We Picked the Best Water Containers for Camping

We picked our best water containers for camping based on a variety of purposes. Some of them are ideal for all-purpose camping. Others work best to carry water along on the trail. Still more are great for holding up under stress no matter where you haul them.

Although not all of our water containers rated above 4.0 stars based on consumer reviews, that was not the only criteria. If a water container had a positive professional review and a rating of 3.9 or better, we still included it on our list.

Whatever your need for a water container, campers and professionals alike have approved these.

How Much Will They Cost?

If you’re planning on stocking up on water for your camping trip, there’s good news:

Most of the best water containers for camping cost between $10 and $60. And a lot of the best water containers are shy of the $20 mark. Only one of the items listed here is more than around $70, and it’s quite an outlier. But its size and rugged build set it well apart from the others on this list.

You can expect to pay around $20 for the most basic water containers, and closer to $60 for hydration pouches which are made of more durable material and can pack flat. If you want the toughest option, the Yeti Silo container costs $300.

Our Top 12 Best Water Containers for Camping

Our list of the best water containers for camping spans everything from one-gallon pouches that can go on the trail with you to beefy coolers you could probably drop off a cliffside. You’re sure to find your pick among these 12 options.

They are included here in alphabetical order. We have listed volumes in both metric and imperial measurements.

1. HydraPak Expedition Collapsible 8 Liter Water Container

HydraPak’s Expedition collapsible 8-liter water container combines two key features: volume, and portability.

Its 8-liter (just over 2-gallon) capacity is enough to support one person for a long weekend, under normal conditions. It also packs flat, so that you can take it into the backcountry and fill it there. The HydraPak only weighs 9 ounces when empty.

The HydraPak also has a few design features which make it ideal for use at camp. It can be hung or carried by the webbing that is a part of its body. It has a wide mouth for easy filling and pouring, which is compatible with a dispenser lid.

Also, the container has a capacity gauge that helps you track the contents. It comes with dual baffles that provide added stability, so you can stand the HydraPak when it’s full. And with a durable body that can be frozen or used in temperatures up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the HydraPak can go anywhere.

On REI, the HydraPak Expedition has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. It is available on the HydraPak site, REI, and Backcountry for $55 to $65.

2. HydraPak Seeker 3-Liter

HydraPak’s 3-liter Seeker will serve any individual for a day or two, and much longer if you have a way to fill it up while camping or hiking.

Three liters is around three-quarters of a gallon, or 100 fluid ounces.

Like its larger cousin, the Expedition, the Seeker is made of durable material. It will stay leak-free when it’s packed down to nothing in your bag or while hanging off the back. While it can’t stand up, you can hang it for easy access.

Like the Expedition, the Seeker is compatible with a portable water filter from Katadyn. Unfortunately, its 42mm opening is only compatible with this water filter, which is limiting.

A review of the Seeker on Section Hiker also took issue with the container’s dark material. Where a transparent water container would let you see how dirty the water is — an important aspect of backcountry water safety — the Seeker hides this.

The review also recommends a backup filtration system and container in case this one fails in the backcountry. But for frontcountry use, with clean water, the Seeker is an excellent day container.

On REI, the Seeker earned 4.3 stars out of 5 from 47 reviewers. Some said the HydraPak Seeker was the best of the best, even against stiff competition. The Seeker is available from REI, CampSaver, and the HydraPak website for $20 to $25.

3. GSI Outdoors Water Cube

The GSI Outdoors Water Cube holds 10 liters, or around 2.6 gallons, in a food grade container with a built-in spigot. While it lacks the rugged construction of other containers on this list, it makes up for it with volume and portability.

This container collapses to a nearly flat shape. That feature makes it extremely portable, especially for the volume it holds. When unfolded to its full size, the water cube is rigid and has a free-flow tap.

You can set it up around camp and have water for dishwashing, cooking, and drinking with minimal trouble.

A review on the GSI Outdoors website praised the simplicity of the water cube. It is easy to open and close with one hand, stands up alone, and packs down more compactly than other water containers.

The GSI Outdoors 10-liter water cube earned 4.5 stars out of 5 on Backcountry. It is available on the GSI Outdoors website, Backcountry, and REI for $7 to $10.

4. MSR Dromedary Bag

MSR named their Dromedary Bags after camels, and they earn that title. Made with superior food-grade lining, these bags — which range from 4 to 10-liter models — can handle water at both freezing and boiling temperatures.

The Dromedary packs down to nearly nothing, with the largest 10-liter, or 2.6-gallon, bag weighing 10 ounces.

Their hardcore exteriors are made to withstand punishment from expedition crews and serious adventurers. Plus, its 3-in-1 cap lets you fill, pour, and drink from the Dromedary without having to change any hardware.

Some reviewers on REI warned that their bags broke nearly immediately after use, but many more found their Dromedary bags to hold up under serious strain.

The 10-liter size of Dromedary Bag received an average rating of 4.3 stars out of 5 on REI’s website. All three sizes cost between $40 and $100 and are available on the MSR website, REI, and Amazon.

5. MSR DromLite Bag

The MSR DromLite bags take the compactness of the larger Dromedary bags and bring it to another level. Rather than just folding down to a smaller size, the DromLite bags compress down to the size of their caps.

Of course, this also means they come in smaller sizes than the Dromedary. They are available in 2, 4, and 6-liter sizes (approximately 0.5 to 1.5 gallons).

Outdoor Gear Lab rated this hydration bladder at 5 stars out of 5, and the best in their backpacking category. They found it to be incredibly durable in all scenarios.

They did, however, find it difficult to wash or fill when it came to certain backcountry water sources. Still, its versatility and durability meant the experts at Outdoor Gear Lab named this among their best water containers for camping.

On the REI website, hikers, rock climbers, and kayakers all recommended this bottle for its efficient use of space and durability. While some warned that the seal could leak, most found the DromLite to be exceptional water containers. It earned 4.3 stars out of 5.

All three sizes of DromLite bags are available on REI and the MSR website for $25 to $35.

6. Platypus Platy Water Tank

Platypus is known for making water filtration systems and water bottles. Their Platy Water Tank is a move into larger capacity containers, for storing and dispensing water for groups.

Like the DromLite Bags, the Platy Water Tank comes in 2, 4, and 6-liter sizes so that you can pick the best water containers for your group.

One way the Platy is unique is that, in addition to the water spout, it features a BigZip opening on top, which lets you open the tank for easy cleaning and filling. Some reviewers on Backcountry found the zipper to be difficult to seal but said it was reliable once closed.

The Platy Water Tank also comes with a comfortable carry handle for easy transport and is compatible with Platy’s GravityWorks water filters. It is also clear, giving you an edge when it comes to filtration in the backcountry.

Reviews on Amazon only gave the Water Tank 3.9 stars out of 5, but a 4.3 rating on Backcountry, as well as a recommendation from an experienced camper, placed it among our best water containers for camping.

Platy Water Tank is available on the Platypus website, Amazon, and Backcountry for $30 to $45.

7. Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon

The Reliance Aqua-Tainer 7-gallon jug is one of the simplest, yet most highly recommended water containers available. The Aqua-Tainer website claims it is the “most popular and trusted” way to carry your water.

Reliance makes some of the largest-volume containers on this list, with their 7-gallon capacity equal to around 26 liters. This blue cube is around a foot square and weighs two pounds empty.

It comes with a hideaway spigot which you can invert for storage and a small vent for easier pouring. Beyond that, and the rugged plastic build, the Aqua-Tainer is largely featureless.

Still, this simplicity and portability make the Aqua-Tainer a must have for nearly every outdoor enthusiast. It can be filled anywhere, contains enough water for all of your camping and drinking needs for about three days, and fits easily in the back of your car.

While it doesn’t have the mobility to go into the backcountry on a long hike with you, it brings ample water wherever your car goes.

The Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer has 4.4 stars out of 5 from over 1,000 reviews on Amazon. It is available on Amazon and the Reliance Products website for $15 to $20.

8. Reliance Products Jumbo-Tainer 7 Gallon

Similar to the Reliance Aqua-Tainer, the Jumbo-Tainer holds seven gallons in rigid plastic with a high-volume spigot.

It comes in a jerry can style, which offers two handles and a more slender profile than its cube-shaped counterpart. That makes it easier to pour, and it can fit in areas where the Aqua-Tainer can’t, such as in cars with less storage room.

This container is functionally similar to the Aqua-Tainer, just with a few design differences to make it applicable in new situations.

While it only has a rating of 3.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon, it gives some new updates to the Aqua-Tainer. That earns it a place on our list of the best water containers.

The Reliance Jumbo-Tainer is available on REI, Amazon, and the Reliance website for $20 to $30.

9. Sawyer 1 Gallon Water Bladder

Sawyer’s 1-Gallon Water Bladder is a lightweight way to carry water and is good for backpacking and backcountry camping.

The water bladder is made of durable mylar to help it hold up to serious use when out in the woods. It weighs only 4.5 ounces empty and holds around 1 gallon, or 3.8 liters, of water.

For convenience, the Sawyer water bladder has a sturdy carrying handle and a wide-mouthed opening so it can fill up quickly. It also has a smaller spout for dispensing and is compatible with Sawyer water filters.

On Amazon, the Sawyer 1-Gallon Water Bladder earned 4.3 stars out of 5. This water container is available at Amazon and REI for $10 to $20.

10. Sea to Summit 10 Liter Folding Bucket

Sea to Summit’s 10 Liter Folding Bucket is unique from the other containers on this list.

Rather than offering a container that may be carried with you once full, this folding bucket is better suited for once you set up camp. Its wide opening makes it easy to fill, so you can store water for filtering or washing up.

That makes it ideal for hauling water from a source to camp, meaning you don’t have to worry about filling smaller-mouthed containers directly from the source. The folding bucket has a food grade lining as well.

Sea to Summit’s 10 Liter Bucket earned 4.4 stars out of 5 on REI. It is available for $30 to $60 on REI, Amazon, and Sea to Summit’s website.

11. Sea to Summit Pack Tap

The Pack Tap is another uniquely-designed offering from Sea to Summit. This diamond-shaped bag, which comes in 4, 6, and 10-liter sizes,

It can easily be hung up around camp, and its one-handed operation means you can access water at any time. The Pack Tap comes with multiple lash points for this purpose. It does not, however, allow for the use of hot water.

Like the Sawyer water bladder, the Pack Tap is durable mylar, ensuring it will hold up to repeated use.

The Pack Tap received 3.9 stars on Amazon and 4 stars on the Sea to Summit website. It costs $25 to $35.

12.Yeti Silo Water Cooler

Yeti’s Silo Water Cooler is a departure from the other plastic jugs and collapsible bladders on this list. It holds 6 gallons, nearly 23 liters, and focuses on durability and insulation rather than portability.

The Silo is heavy, over 16 pounds empty, but its cooler-style opening means you can easily add in ice to keep water cool. And if you have a spout for water, refilling is fast and easy.

This container is hardly light or easy to carry, so leave this container in the car or at camp rather than taking it on a hike.

The Silo earned 4.8 stars out of 5 on the REI website. If you’re going for all-out durability and insulation, be prepared to pay for it. The Yeti Silo costs between $300 and $320 on REI and the Yeti website.

Which of the Best Water Containers for Camping Is for You?

Our selection of the best water containers for camping is sure to have something for everyone, but every container won’t fit every style.

If you’re planning on long backcountry hikes, our pick is the MSR DromLite. It will save room in your pack and your budget for bigger, more expensive items, but will still fill your need for water on the trails.

If you regularly go car camping and just need a way to stay hydrated, it’s impossible to go wrong with a Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer. For that price, you could get two or three!

And if you’re the one to call for drinks on holiday weekend camping trips, you may want to splurge for the Yeti. It might be overkill, but it will get the job done.

Remember that there’s not just one water container that will work for you. You may need several for the campsite, plus one to take out on the trail. Choosing the best water containers for camping in any scenario will keep your camping experience safe and fun.

Do you have a favorite water container for camping? Tell us about it in the comments!

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