Astonishingly Low: How Much Water You Need Per Day When Camping

How Much Water Should You Bring When Camping?

Spending some time away in the great outdoors is one of life’s greatest joys, and it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for the journey by packing all the supplies you’ll need, including water. But when you’re going away camping, how much water per day is necessary? As a father of three kids who has experienced both short and extended camping trips, I’ve gathered some tips for how to make sure you’ve got enough water to have a great time.

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Estimating Water Usage

Calculating your water needs is dependent on many variables, such as the size of your group, the amount of exercise you’ll do on your camping trip, and the climate/weather you’ll be exposed to. To make a decent first estimate of how much water you’ll need, take into consideration the following factors.

  • Length of camping trip: For a typical camping trip lasting three days, you should add an extra gallon of water per person, per day for drinking and general hygiene.
  • Activity: If you plan on doing more physical activities, such as climbing or swimming, you will need more water. Make sure you add two to three liters per person for more active days.
  • Climate: Hotter climates will require you to use more water. Whether it’s for more frequent bathing, the need for more washing of clothing, or from the increased risk of dehydration, expect to use one to two extra gallons of drinking water per person each day.

Where can I find Drinking Water?

If you’re going camping in a place where you know there will be a freshwater source (such as a lake, river, or stream) without contamination, you can bring fewer total gallons of water with you, as you’ll be able to refill your containers with clean water. If you plan on sourcing some of your drinking water from a natural source, it’s important to keep the following in mind:

  • When sourcing drinking water from a stream or pond, make sure to find a clean source that doesn’t have an algae bloom or the presence of other microorganisms or contaminants.
  • Bring a filter/purifier with you, and make sure to bring extra back-up filter cartridges and parts, if necessary.
  • Some natural sources may be seasonal, so it’s important to check your water source before your trip to ensure it will be available.

picture of a lady in a lake

Tips For Storing and Keeping Your Water

When camping, it’s important to keep your drinking water safe and free of contamination. Here are some tips for what to do before, during and after your camping trip:

  • Before Your Trip:Bring a portable water filter/purifier and familiarize yourself with how to use it before your trip. Inspect the water containers you are bringing and make sure they don’t contain any leaking, cracked, or uneven surfaces.
  • During Your Trip:Keep your water containers in a cool, shaded area; preferably in the shade of a tree or tent. Replace water that has been sitting for longer than 8 hours, as it can become contaminated. Bring a smaller separate water container for washing dishes, as this helps you conserve your drinking water.
  • After Your Trip:Allow your water containers to air out and dry for at least 24 hours before packing to avoid bacteria growth.

When in Doubt, Refill

Even after following all these tips and preparing the estimated amount of drinking water, it’s still important to be smart with your remaining water supply. One easy way to make sure you don’t have any unexpected water shortages is to make sure you refill your water containers regularly. This way, you’ll have access to clean drinking water any time you need it.

picture of a person cleaning up their campsite

Using Other Sources of Water

In addition to ensuring you have enough drinking water, it’s important to consider other sources of water that can be useful during your camping trip. For instance, if you’re camping in a place where you’ll have access to a river or lake, you may also have the opportunity to use Grey Water. This type of water is not suitable for drinking, but can be used in other ways such as showering, washing dishes, and watering plants.

picture of a campfire with a person and their dog

Final Thoughts

Figure out how much water to bring when camping is an important step in making sure you have an enjoyable time in the great outdoors. Although there aren’t exact measurements that apply to everyone, by taking into account the length of your trip, physical activity, climate, and water sources, you can make an educated estimate of the total amount of water you’ll need. Also, always remember the tried and true advice: when in doubt, refill.

Here is a quick video on how to calculate how much water to pack when camping: