How Much Water Should I Bring When Camping

Deciding on the amount of water to bring when camping is not a straightforward task. That is particularly because carrying a large amount of water is not easy.

A gallon of water weighs around 8.3 pounds, which is higher than the weight of your sleeping system or the whole tent. Because water is heavy, you have to think carefully about the amount you should bring when camping.

The best way to do that is to develop a plan for the whole trip. Make a chart for reference and add columns and rows each day for the liquids you require when camping. Fill every column and row with the plans and add up your total. The total should represent the amount of water you have to bring when camping.

How do I plan to use water when camping?

To know the amount of water you need, ask yourself the question before you leave your home.

Carrying many gallons of water that you do not need or you will not use is a waste of energy. Instead, plan on how you will use every drop.

Here are the main reasons you need to carry some water:

Water for Drinking 

You will end up drinking much of the water you carry to your camping site because, without water, you are unlikely to survive for three days.

USDA recommends that men should drink around 13 cups of fluids per day, while women should not take less than 9 cups.

Each gallon will provide you with 16 cups, so as a man you will need to carry a minimum of 1 gallon for every day you will be camping. Women will need to carry almost half a gallon every day. 

The figures will help you survive and avoid dehydration, but if you are planning to engage in many activities, you will have to carry more water.

Dehydration is the same as losing around 1 percent of your body weight in the form of fluid. When cycling, hiking, or doing anything else you love when camping, you will sweat. 

The internet offers free sweat calculators to help you know the number of fluids you lose. Alternatively, you can use the average amount of water people lose for your planning part.

On average, people will lose around 2 pounds or ¼ gallons of fluid per hour. Your goal should be to replace around 1.5 times the amount of fluid you lose through sweating. 

Water for Cooking 

If you love cooking outdoors, your campfire will form a central part of the experience. Cooking requires water and you have to plan for it when calculating the amount of water to take to the camping site.

The calculations are simple. For example, if you are planning to boil some water for drinking, you have to plan for it.

If you are among the people who have to drink around 2-3 cups of coffee each morning and before sleeping, include each cup in the water plan.

Camp meals will need boiled water so, evaluate your meals and add as many fluids to the water plan as you need.  

Water for Cleaning 

When camping, you will have to clean yourself and your supplies. After your outdoor culinary experience, the next thing that you will do is wash your dishes and cups.

That requires a substantial amount of water and you have to plan for it. If the camping involves dirty activities, there will be a need for even more water to clean your gear. Every camping is unique.

Some people love full showers and others just wipe their faces. Regardless of the route you follow, plan for it. 

Is it possible to find some more water when camping?

If carrying enough water for the trip is hard or you are planning to camp for one week or more days with many activities each day, your plan will add up to many gallons of water.

When hiking, you are unlikely to carry as much water as you will consume during the trip. You will have to refill your bottles during the trip.

Here are the key considerations when deciding on the amount of water to bring along:

How easy is it to find water?

At times, it can be possible to add some water during the camping trip. It might be easy to find a water source if you have a map for the national parks and the popular hiking trails.

If you do not have a map, you can find more water by following animal trails or going uphill or downhill to discover rivers and other sources of water.

You just need to climb on a small hill or a tree and look around. Head to the dips or valleys to find water and remember that moving water is always safer than the still one. 

Water Filtration

After finding a source of more water, you will have to filter the water you fetch before drinking or using it.

Filtration is not the same as sanitization – it is simply the removal of particles from the water. On the other hand, sanitization refers to the killing of any harmful organisms in the water.

Pass the water through a fine mesh to get rid of the particle. If you have none, four socks together will work perfectly. Your aim should be to remove sand, mud and other particles.

Even though that will not make the water safe for drinking, it will make it pleasant. 

Water Sanitization

Your water will be safe for drinking after you have sanitized it.

Microorganisms that live in water are likely to make you ill, so killing them is a good idea. The process is easy – just boil the water.

Alternatively, you can pack some purification tablets such as iodine tablets.

They will help you sanitize a large quantity of water at once. 


In cold weather, you will feel colder if you drink any cold water. So, find an insulated water bottle and fill it with hot water when starting your hikes.

If it is very cold or snowy, you will need a bottle with a huge lid, which you can remove easily while wearing your gloves.

Remember to take small sips before you become thirsty – it is advisable you take a few sips every 10-15 minutes. That will prevent dehydration.