Astonishingly Low: How Much Water Should You Bring Camping?

Everything You Need To Know About How Much Water To Pack When Camping

Camping is a great activity that allows you to experience nature and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life. You get to spend quality time with your family or friends, enjoy the tranquility of the great outdoors, and explore new places. But if you don’t plan your packing correctly, you could end up thirsty or even worse—dehydrated. Here’s what you need to know about how much water you should pack when camping.

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How Much Water Should You Bring For Overnight Camping?

This is a difficult question to answer since so many variables go into the equation. Generally speaking, you should aim to bring a minimum of half a gallon of water per person for an overnight trip, assuming you won’t be cooking or using a lot of water for cleaning. But if you’re cooking meals or doing a lot of intense activity, you’ll need to bring more. It is also important to bring more if you expect to be in a hot climate or if the expected weather is hotter than usual for the area. As a rule of thumb, it’s usually better to pack too much than not enough.

What Are Some Lightweight Water Storage Alternatives?

On backpacking trips, where you need to travel as light as possible, carrying individual water bottles or relying on natural sources may not be feasible. In this situation, a water bladder or portable water filter can be a great option. Bladders are lightweight, collapsible, and come in a variety of sizes, ranging from tiny 2-liter variants to larger 10-liter sizes.

A person standing in a campsite with a camping backpack and water bottle

In addition to reducing the amount of weight you’ll be carrying, bladders also make it easy to dispense water into different jugs and bottles. And, for more strenuous camping trips, portable water filters will help you turn lake, river, or stream water into safe drinking water. These filters use different methods ranging from UV light, iodine, ceramic, and flocculation—often with a few different filter types in one device.

What Are the Benefits of a Campsite Water Source?

If you’re camping in a formal campsite or on public land, chances are there will be some water source nearby. Most of the time there’ll be a potable water source with spigots that dispense drinkable water. This is an extremely convenient way to stock up on water, especially if you’re bringing a lot of people. And the best part: you don’t need to carry any extra unnecessary weight.

A person filling up a water bottle from a water source in a campsite

To make sure you get clean, safe water, make sure to check with the campground or park for any advisories. If you’re camping off-grid or without any potable water sources, you’ll probably need to bring along enough water to last the duration of your trip.

Tips For Saving Water When Camping

  • Use a sponge and dish soap for washing dishes. This will conserve a lot of water as opposed to using running water
  • Choose dishes that don’t need to be fully washed. Things like paper plates, foil pans, and plastic wear can be thrown away after meals eliminating the need for dishwashing
  • Use biodegradable dish soap and rinse water away from natural water sources
  • Reuse bath and dish water for cleaning, mopping, or other activities that don’t require drinkable water
  • Collect clean rainwater in an open container for cleaning
  • Lay layered towels or tarps for walkways to avoid tracking mud and soil into your camp

A camp camping with a tent set up and a view of a lake and mountains

Of course, when camping you will need to use a certain amount of water, but by following a few simple tips and using common sense, you can minimize the amount you use and how it impacts the environment.

What About Water Contamination?

Even if you’re camping on land with a potable water source, you should always check with the campground or park before drinking the water straight from the tap. It’s possible that the water could be contaminated with bacteria, chemicals, or parasites. If you’re uncertain, you can boil the water or use a portable water filter. Boiling heats water to a high enough temperature to kill off most illnesses that can be caused by contaminated water. Portable water filters clean the water of strains of bacteria or other substances in a simple process. Keep in mind that some water filters are not 100% efficient, and boiling is still the best way to make sure your water is safe.

At the end of the day, it’s important to be prepared and have enough water for your camping trip. No matter what type of camping you’ll be doing, you should make sure to pack enough water and have a reliable plan for storing and cleaning it. If you plan ahead, you can make sure that everyone stays hydrated and your camping trip is a success.