If you’re tired of buying those flimsy disposable water containers every time you go out camping, you’re not alone. They pour slow, can’t be refilled, and often end up in a landfill after just a day or two in the woods. Dedicated water jugs for camping, on the other hand, last somewhere between all year and a lifetime, come in a variety of sizes, and bring convenience and peace of mind to every trip.
This is our roundup of the best water containers for camping currently on the market. After testing and analyzing dozens of the most popular products out there, we found that the RotopaX RX2W is the best water container money can buy. RotopaX containers are virtually indestructible, incredibly versatile, and backed by a company that takes care of their customers.
The RotopaX won’t be the perfect choice for everyone though, which is why we’ve listed all our favorite alternatives for any camper on any budget down below as well.
If you’re new to camping water containers or just aren’t exactly sure what you need, make sure to check out our handy buyer’s guide down at the bottom as well.
Right, let’s get started.
|RotopaX RX2W Water Pack: Best Water Container For Camping Overall||Absolutely bulletproof design from a brand with a sterling reputation for customer support. Great as a standalone for smaller groups with the option of adding accessories for larger trips. See Review|
|MSR Dromedary Bag: Best Overall Quality||A heavily reinforced bladder system that is flexible and portable while still remaining durable. Perfect for small groups or backcountry camping. See Review|
|WaterStorageCube Collapsible Container: Best On A Budget||An inexpensive but effective design that boasts excellent portability and great capacity. Packs down to a fraction of its normal size when not in use. See Review|
|Scepter 5 Gallon Water Container||A virtually indestructible high-capacity container that’s built to military specifications. Dual-port cap allows for quick refilling and precise pouring. See Review|
|Igloo 5 Gallon Wheeled Sports Cooler||The classic game-day water container that doubles as a cooler, now with wheels and a collapsible handle for convenience. Versatile, tough, and inexpensive. See Review|
– Capacity: 2 gallons (7.6 liters)
– Materials: Seamless rotoformed plastic (BPA free)
– Construction: Rigid
– Preferred usage: Car and motorcycle camping, vanlife
If you want the best water container for camping money can buy, the RotopaX RX2W is the most durable, high-quality, outdoors-ready system out there. Rotopax are designed for serious overlanding duty, and are built from thick rotoformed plastic to stand up to the rigors of the trail.
Throw ‘em. Stand on ‘em. Hit ‘em with a hammer. Whatever. You won’t damage a Rotopax water container. Add to that the fact that every part of a RotopaX, from the lid to the nozzle and even the gaskets themselves, is completely replaceable, and you’ve got a camping water storage solution that’ll last you a lifetime.
We particularly like that RotopaX designs their containers to work by themselves, or as part of a larger modular system. For instance, every Rotopax container is designed to mount securely to any flat surface on your vehicle, trailer, or camper, and can be stacked or linked together with additional Rotopax containers like gas cans or trailside emergency kits.
Honestly the outright expense of putting together a RotopaX system is the only pain point of these versatile containers. The unit itself costs a few dollars more than other camping water containers, but if you want to add mounting accessories or other RotopaX containers to your camping loadout (which you probably will), it’ll cost you some time and money. Still, it’s a small price to pay for a great product that lasts a lifetime, and we like the option of being able to build up a RotopaX system over time as we take longer trips or camp in larger groups.
|– Incredibly durable construction|
– Tons of storage and mounting options for overlanding and off-roading
– Readily available replacement parts for long-term ownership
|– Expensive mounting accessories cost extra|
– Capacity: 2.6 gallons (9.8 liters)
– Materials: Nylon/ BPA-free plastic
– Construction: Collapsible
– Preferred usage: Camping water storage for small groups
Take the classic backpacker’s water bladder and make it big enough for the whole crew and you’ve got MSR’s Dromedary Bag Water Reservoir.
Don’t be fooled by the MSR’s floppy, flexible character: This water container is built to go the distance. That’s because MSR added a 1,000 denier fabric lining to the outside of their classic water bladder design, then took it a step further by running a durable perimeter webbing through fixed aluminum eyelets at every corner.
The result is a bag that’s as easy to carry as it is to hang from any nearby branch, stand, or table, but easily folds down and stores in your daypack. You’ll also notice that the traditional filling cap has been replaced with MSR’s proprietary 3-in-1 cap. By adding a locking spigot to the top of the cap, campers are able to either fill containers or drink directly from the bag itself using gravity alone. Heck, MSR even sells a conversion kit for the Dromedary Bag if you want to convert it to a personal hydration pack.
In typical MSR fashion, this is a well-built piece of camping gear that’s got the latest tech in all the right places. You’ll pay a premium for those materials, but pound for pound the MSR Dromedary Bag is one of the most versatile camping water container designs we’ve seen and is ideal for smaller groups and remote locations.
|– Lightweight and packable|
– Durable 1,000D outer lining
– Perimeter webbing makes for easy carrying, hanging, and storage
– Versatile 3-in-1 cap
|– Limited capacity|
– Expensive for its size
– Capacity: 5.3 gallons (20 liters)
– Materials: BPA-free PE plastic
– Construction: Collapsible
– Preferred usage: Group camping trips
If you’re looking for a lightweight water jug for camping but aren’t looking to make a serious investment, check out the WaterStorageCube.
This 5.3-gallon camp jug holds tons of fresh water, has a convenient fill cap/spigot combo, and includes a nice big handle for easy transportation. Basically everything you want in a water container for camping, but with an added bonus: You can store it just about anywhere.
That’s because the WaterStorageCube is designed to fold into itself when empty, packing down to a compact 2.5” height that’s ideal for sliding under the seat, stashing in a camping container, or stuffing into a backpack. These cubes are lightweight and compact, yet only cost a few dollars more than your typical single-use camping jug.
WaterStorageCube makes this possible by using a thin, flexible PE plastic throughout the container’s construction. Unfortunately, the lightweight nature of these materials is also the Cube’s Achilles heel: Your first several outings with the WaterStorageCube should be worry-free, but after a few refills and foldings, some campers report their Cube developing slow leaks in high-stress areas. If you’re mindful about how and where you use this water container, it should have no problems lasting you all season, but we generally don’t expect them to last more than a year or so. Small complaint considering the price, but one you should keep in mind.
|– Collapsible design saves space when not in use|
– High capacity
|– Not the most durable|
– Spigot pours slowly
Scepter 5 Gallon Water Container
– Capacity: 5 gallons/ 20 Liters
– Materials: Food-grade polyethylene
– Construction: Rigid
– Preferred usage: Water storage for group camping
When it comes to utility and outright durability, there’s something to be said for military-spec equipment. The Scepter 5 Gallon water container is the exact same container issued to US and Canadian armed forces, and pound for pound it’s the most indestructible water container for camping on the planet.
So what makes the Scepter so tough? Well for starters, it’s made from 100% high-density polyethylene, which is both food-grade and completely BPA free. Its construction is also 100% seamless, so there are zero potential failure points anywhere on the container for leaks or punctures.
We also love that Scepter includes a dual-opening cap for this large 5-gallon container: The larger portion of the cap features a wide mouth, which is ideal for quick filling or for quickly extinguishing campfires. The smaller cap, on the other hand, is great for carefully refilling single water bottles or measuring out water for your cookpot.
Our only issue with the Scepter is that it’s essentially designed for transport on large military vehicles. This bad boy is larger and bulkier than most containers, and can’t be collapsed when empty to save space. It’ll also cost you a few dollars more than most plastic containers, but for what it’s worth, we have no doubt that the Scepter is the last water container for camping that you’ll ever need to buy.
– Highly durable
– Military standard issue quality and design
|– Expensive for a plastic container|
– Capacity: 5 gallons (18.9 L)
– Materials: Polypropylene plastic (BPA free)
– Construction: Rigid
– Preferred usage: Large group camping
If you grew up playing team sports, the Igloo 5 water dispenser will press all your nostalgia buttons. That’s because it’s essentially the classic “big orange” Igloo drink cooler, but with an integrated stand, wheels, and collapsible handle that makes for an ideal water source for the whole group.
We also love that this Igloo doubles as a standalone cooler thanks to its large flat-sealing lid and insulated double-wall construction. The big lid also makes for an easy-to-fill and easy-to-clean water container for camping duty.
Combine all that versatility with a smattering of convenience features, and you’ve got a real winner here. For instance, the Igloo water container’s integrated base is tall enough to easily get a cup or bowl underneath, so you don’t have to elevate it on a camp table or platform for quick access. The long collapsible handle provides plenty of leverage for rolling the container from A to B whether it’s empty or full, and the wheels themselves are large enough to roll easily over grass, dirt, or gravel for easy transport from the car to camp.
Honestly the only low point of the Igloo 5 gallon water container is its overall size and bulk. Double-wall insulation takes up space, as do the wheels and base, which means this container is best suited to vehicles with plenty of storage space, especially if you intend to travel with it filled. Still, the price is right for such a versatile piece of gear, and can you really put a price on a cold drink of water in the middle of a hot day?
|– Insulated to keep water cool on hot days|
– Large top-loading system doubles as cooler when needed
– Loaded with convenience features
– Less expensive than some simple water-only containers
– Must be transported upright when filled
Not quite sure where to begin your hunt for the perfect camp water jug? You’re in the right place. Here’s everything you need to know to choose, use, and maintain your next water container.
Water is a key element of you camping checklist and if you’re not sure just how much water you need, consider the following: It’s recommended that your average person drink approximately 3.5 liters (or roughly one gallon) of water per day. Granted, some of that will come from the nice dishes you’ll cook, but taking into account the need to wash hands, dishes, etc., it’s a pretty good benchmark for what size container you’ll want.
We recommend groups of two stick with at least a two-gallon container, keeping in mind that you’ll need to refill it somehow once a day. If the spot you’re camping in doesn’t have water readily available, you’ll need either a larger container or multiple containers to get the job done.
Most water containers are either made from some type of plastic or rust-proof metals like aluminum. We generally stick with plastics for their longevity and ease of use, but pay attention to the plastic in your container.
The main feature you want in any plastic water container is “BPA-free” construction. Plastics containing BPAs can be harmful to your health as well as the environment. Most reputable companies no longer use BPAs in the construction of their plastics, but make sure you read the fine print before pulling the trigger on your next purchase.
The importance of design and portability depends entirely on how you plan to use your camp water container. If you’ve got the space to transport a large, rigid container and have no plans to take it hiking, they’re often the most rugged and long-lasting option.
If you need a container that packs down small, or just want the added versatility of a highly portable water container for camping, backpacking, etc., we recommend going with a compact and/or collapsible design.
There are two kinds of camping water containers out there: Those you can clean by hand, and those you can’t. Containers with larger openings like the Igloo above are generally the easiest to clean, since you can easily fit your hand inside to give them a good scrubbing.
Containers with smaller openings can and should be cleaned as well, but the process is a little different. We like to clean our containers using a mixture of hot water with a touch of vinegar after every outing, followed by a thorough rinsing with more clean water. It’s a little more time-intensive, but for outstanding products like the RotopaX or MSR above, it’s well worth the work.
Clean, fresh water should be safe to drink for 2-3 days from the time you filled your container. This is ideal for most camping water containers since their size limitations typically require them to be refilled every 24-48 hours anyways.
For this reason, we don’t recommend filling your water containers for camping trips days in advance. If there’s drinking water at the campground you’ll be staying at, it’s often easiest to simply fill your containers when you arrive. If you’re staying in the backcountry or at more primitive campgrounds, for best results you’ll want to fill your containers just before you hit the road.
Taking all the factors above into account, we found that the RotopaX RX2W is the best water container for camping overall. They’re built to last a lifetime, are incredibly versatile, and make the perfect addition to any car camping, overlanding, or vanlife setup you can imagine.
If you’re looking for a high-quality container that’s a little more backpack friendly, we think the MSR Dromedary Bag is a fantastically tough and portable option that will serve you well anywhere you take it and last for years to come.
And, if you’re just looking to keep it simple without spending a ton of money, both the WaterStorageCube and Igloo 5 Wheeled Sports Cooler make for excellent camping water containers depending on your intended use and how much room you’ve got to spare in your vehicle.