If your camping spot is any distance from a water source then your small water bottle ain’t going to cut it! Whether you’re in a group or a multi-day stay, ensuring you have enough water for hydration, cooking, and personal hygiene requires a container with a more convenient format and a far greater capacity.
We tried and tested dozens of H2O-holders and in this guide, review the top 7 on the market. Our favorite is the Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer, with honorable mentions for the WaterStorageCube Collapsible Container, Reliance Products Jumbo-Tainer, Scepter Military Grade Water Jug, Reliance Products Fold-a-Carrier, MSR Dromedary, and the Igloo Corporation 6-Gallon Blue.
Below our reviews, find everything you need to know to choose the best product. We cover features like capacity, leakproofing, collapsible vs. hard-sided options, spigot vs. cap, and material types. Lastly, we discuss reliable methods you can use for purifying and filtering stored water. Whether you prefer a collapsible water carrier, a hard-sided option, or pouring with a spigot or cap, we have a camping water dispenser for you.
Table of Contents
- Camping Water Storage: Quick Recommendations
- Best Water Storage by Category
- What Are The Best Water Containers for Camping?
- How to Choose Water Storage for Camping?
- What Water Filtration Systems Are Compatible With Camping Water Containers?
- Best Large Water Containers For Camping: The Verdict
Camping Water Storage: Quick Recommendations
Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer
“Ticks every box for RVers and car campers who can spare space in their vehicle.”
WaterStorageCube Collapsible Water Container
“Not as robust as others, but reliable nonetheless and far more portable.”
Reliance Products Jumbo-Tainer
“The perfect option for large groups or long-stay trips to dry campsites.”
Scepter Military Grade Water Jug
“We’d trust this one to carry the crown jewels safely, never mind a little water!”
Reliance Products Fold-a-Carrier
“The definition of cheap and cheerful!”
“A versatile, tough water container that’s suitable for both backpacking and frontcountry campsites.”
Igloo Corporation 6-Gallon Blue Water Container
“A high-capacity, genuinely leakproof plastic jerry can that comes with a reassuring 1-year warranty.”
Best Water Storage by Category
Budget: Reliance Fold-a-Carrier
High-capacity: Reliance Aqua-Tainer and Reliance Jumbo-Tainer
Collapsible: MSR Dromedary and WaterStorageCube Collapsible
Hard-sided: Scepter Military Grade Water Jug and Reliance Aqua-Tainer
What Are The Best Water Containers for Camping?
The following list has our top choices for camping water storage with the Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer topping it.
- Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer
- WaterStorageCube Collapsible Water Container
- Reliance Products Jumbo-Tainer
- Scepter Military Grade Water Jug
- Reliance Products Fold-a-Carrier
- MSR Dromedary
- Igloo Corporation 6-Gallon Blue Water Container
Reliance Products Aqua-TainerEditor’s Choice
The RP Aqua-Tainer won our vote as the best portble water container for camping for a number of reasons.
The Aqua-Tainer is made from rigid and ultra-durable polyethylene (PE plastic) that’s BPA-free and adds no scent or taste to your drinking water. Its 7-gallon capacity is large enough for long weekends at a dry campground, yet its unique design makes it more convenient to store than other plastic containers of similar size.
The AT’s water spigot is reversible, so can be stored inside the container when not in use to prevent damage. The flow rate can also be tweaked so you have a lighter flow when refilling your bottles with fresh drinking water and a faster flow when washing your hands or cleaning dishes. It even has a handy level indicator to let you know how much of the wet stuff you still have in reserve!
- Big! (It’s more of a tank than a mere ‘container’)
- Ideal for long-stay camping trips
- Stackable design lets you save more storage space for other things
- Tough enough for rugged outdoor camping
- Molded contour grip
- BPA-free plastic
- Takes up more space than collapsible models
Bottom-Line: Tough as nails and one of the most reliable and convenient options out there.
WaterStorageCube Collapsible Water ContainerBest Value
The WaterStorageCube combines the portability of a collapsible water container for camping with the robustness and durability of hard-sided options and all for great value.
The WSC can hold 5.3 gallons (20 liters) of water but takes up far less space when empty owing to its collapsible design. Unlike other collapsible water storage containers, it has no seams (the most common point of leakage) and is made with BPA-free, food-grade LDPE plastic that is tough enough to withstand frequent use and moderate abuse.
The WSC is pretty user-friendly, too. There’s a wide opening for refilling, a handy, easy-to-use on/off spigot that makes filling bottles a cinch, and a comfortable, integrated carry handle. The WSC also collapses as the water level declines, so it’s kind of a “smart” container and far more convenient storage-wise than the competition.
- Collapses as water level declines
- Easy on-off spigot
- One-piece, seamless construction prevents leakage
- Spigot feels a little lightweight and not the most durable
Bottom-Line: Convenient, high-capacity, and one of the toughest collapsible water containers available.
Reliance Products Jumbo-TainerBest High-Capacity
The Reliance Products Jumbo-Tainer is a jerry-can version of the RP Aqua-Tainer and wins our prize for the best high-capacity option. While the difference in design might seem negligible, there are reasons why one may be more suitable for your needs than the other.
Firstly, as mentioned the Jumbo-Tainer is made in the jerry-can style. This gives it more structural stability and makes it more slender than the more cuboid Aqua-Tainer, and thus can more easily fit into a smaller space in your vehicle. On the downside, the narrower base does mean it’s very easy to topple over – worth noting if you’re prone to forget to close the spigot!
Secondly, the Jumbo has a duo of paw-friendly, molded carry handles that make transportation a little easier – you can use two hands instead of one or enlist the help of a camping cohort when necessary.
- Jerry-can format
- Two robust, molded handles
- Highly durable, rigid materials
- Convenient spigot provides a fast water flow rate
- More streamlined than the Aqua-Tainer (easier to store water at camp and in your vehicle)
- Not as “freestanding” as the Aqua-Tainer (topples over easily)
Bottom-Line: A pricier, slightly more robust, jerry-can version of the RP Aqua-Tainer.
Scepter Military Grade Water JugMost Durable
The Scepter Military Grade Water Jug is a water container built to survive the apocalypse, never mind a little rough treatment at camp, and is by far the most durable option on our list.
It is also the most expensive, but its extra-burly construction will, for some, make it well worth the added expense. It’s made with rugged, puncture-resistant, military-specification, food-grade, BPA-free LDPE and HDPE plastic that adds no scent or taste to your water.
The Scepter’s jerry-can style and molded plastic handle make it easy to transport for such a large and rugged container.
But its main selling point, durability aside, is the versatility of the opening. The no-nonsense screw-lock cap is ultra-secure, and when refilling or pouring, you have the option of using the large opening or a smaller spout that’s ideal for filling narrow-mouth bottles.
- Easy to carry for such a large jug
- Adds no taste or scent to your water
- Two openings – one small, one large enough for ice cubes
- Overkill for many applications
Bottom-Line: Easy to use, convenient to carry for such a large unit, and tough as nails.
Reliance Products Fold-a-CarrierBest Budget
The Reliance Products Fold-a-Carrier is a lightweight, low-cost, high-capacity, collapsible water container ideal for the budget-conscious camper.
The Fold-a-Carrier is the collapsible version of our recommended favorite, the RP Aqua-Tainer. Despite its large, 19-liter (5-gallon) capacity, it weighs just over 13 ounces and collapses to a tiny size.
The Fold-a-Carrier is made with food-grade, BPA-free polyethylene plastic. The downside is that the plastic is far less robust than that used in models like the Aqua-Tainer or Scepter water container, both of which are far better options if you prioritize puncture resistance and durability.
- Fairly priced
- Convenient on/off spigot
- Less durable than others
- Slightly plasticky taste and smell
Bottom-Line: The perfect option if you want a low-cost, high-capacity foldable water container and are short on storage space.
MSR DromedaryBest Ultralight
The MSR Dromedary is our top ultralight option, with its lightweight and soft-side design making it equally suitable for car camping or backpacking.
The Dromedary is made with extra-rugged, puncture-resistant, 1,000D, polyurethane-laminated fabric. While not as tough as the hard plastics used on most of the hard-sided options we reviewed, this makes it more than hardy enough for the rough and tumble of camp life. It also has a BPA-free, food-grade lining and won’t freeze over in sub-zero temperatures.
The best part is that the Dromedary weighs a mere 10 ounces, which makes it the lightest option on our list. While its carrying capacity is a fairly meager 10 liters, this should be plenty for most campers as long as there’s a water supply or source nearby.
Two other features earn the Dromedary further brownie points. The first is a multi-functional cap that allows you to pour water at three different flow rates and the second is the assortment of straps that allow you to hang it wherever suits.
- More durable than most collapsible alternatives
- Small packed size lets you save space
- 3 spout options
- High-quality material
- Lower capacity
- Quite pricey
Bottom-Line: The best choice for buyers who want a water container suitable for both backpacking and car camping.
Igloo Corporation 6-Gallon Blue Water ContainerHonorable Mention
The Igloo Corporation 6-Gallon Blue Water Container is a no-nonsense, large-capacity water container that’s easy to use and worth mentioning on our list.
All told, the Igloo Blue is a smaller, two-handled version of the RP Aqua-Tainer. It’s made with very similar, robust, rigid materials, but has two molded handles instead of one. This small add-on makes the Igloo Blue a fraction more expensive, but also makes life a little easier when pouring water into other containers.
The Igloo Blue comes with a screw-on cap and a pouring spout that stows away inside the opening when not in use, thus reducing the risk of accidentally damaging it and making it more portable. The only real downside is that the lack of a spigot makes it difficult to wash your hands one-handed.
- Spout stores inside the container
- Adds no scent or taste to drinking water
- Large capacity
- Two handles
- No spigot
- Tricky to clean
Bottom-Line: A reliable, high-capacity jug that’s a little easier to handle than other competitors of its size.
How to Choose Water Storage for Camping?
Listed below are the key features to look for in camping water storage containers.
- Collapsible vs. Hard-Sided
- Spigot vs. Cap
Required capacity will depend on how much water you need. If camping in a large group or heading somewhere far from a reliable water source, we recommend a high-capacity container like the Reliance Jumbo-Tainer (26.5 liters). For backpacking, a smaller, collapsible container like the MSR Dromedary will be easier to carry and more likely to fit into small spaces in your pack.
The US National Park Service recommends that campers drink at least 2 liters per day. Bear this in mind when choosing, and also take into account variables like high temperatures, exertion (if you’ll be hiking, for example), and the regular water intake of members in your group.
All brands market their containers as “leakproof”, but not all live up to the billing. When compiling our list of options, we only selected models that are genuinely leakproof. However, there are a few general observations worth noting. In general, screw-cap closures are more leakproof than spigots, which have moving parts that can erode with time and use. Spigots are also more prone to breaking.
Collapsible vs. Hard-Sided
The main factor determining the portability of a camping water storage system is whether it is hard-sided or collapsible. Hard-sided models are usually more durable but are less portable and harder to store. Collapsible models can be squeezed into smaller spaces when empty, and some collapse as the water level decreases, making them more space-efficient.
With hard-sided models, portability is determined by the bulkiness of the container and the design of the handle. Heavy, bulky models like the Scepter Military-Grade Jug and RP Aqua-Tainer will take up a lot of space in your vehicle and, of course, your tent. Their weight when full will also make them tough to carry any distance.
While the carry handle on the RP Aqua-Tainer is a little small for big hands, the handles on the RP Jumbo-Tainer and Scepter Jug are far more conducive to comfortable carrying.
Some collapsible water containers, like the MSR Dromedary, are also made with burly materials that are highly puncture-resistant and otherwise tough enough to last you a lifetime with proper care.
In short, the right choice for you will depend on where and how you plan on using them. If you’re a car camper with plenty of room in your vehicle, then hard-siders are a safe bet. If you have less space or will need to transport the container to a campsite before filling it up, then collapsible models may be a better choice.
Spigot or Cap?
As mentioned above, screw-on caps are more reliable and durable than spigots. However, spigots make it easier to pour water from your container and are therefore the more convenient option. Our list includes containers with spigots, caps, and proprietary closures/seals that combine the two.
Spigot: Reliance Jumbo-Tainer, Reliance Aqua-Tainer, WaterStorageCube Container
Cap: Scepter Military Grade Jug and MSR Dromedary
The Igloo Blue Water Container is the outlier, using a long-pour spout that screws off and stows away inside the container when not in use.
Two important considerations for the material of your portable water container are ensuring it is non-toxic and that it is durable enough to withstand camp life.
First, make sure it has no harmful chemicals like BPA, DEHP, or PVC, and is made with food-grade material – all of the models on our list meet this criterion.
Secondly, it has to be tough enough to survive a little rough treatment around camp and during transportation. Again, we chose only containers made with heavy-duty materials for this list.
The toughest of the bunch is the Scepter Military-Grade Jug, which is made with a combo of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) for added puncture resistance and durability.
What Water Filtration Systems Are Compatible With Camping Water Containers?
Water filtration systems compatible with camping water containers include pump or gravity-fed filters, water purification tablets or drops, and UV water filters. These methods ensure a convenient and reliable way to obtain clean and safe drinking water during your time outdoors.
Portable water filters are typically lightweight and compact, ensuring easy transport and use while camping. Pump-style water filters work by manually pumping water through a filtration system to eliminate contaminants. Gravity filters work by suspending the untreated water from a branch or high point with gravity pulling it through the filter into a second receptacle. It’s important to note that filters don’t remove viruses.
Another option is to add water purification tablets or drops directly into the water container to kill harmful bacteria and viruses. These are convenient for campers looking for a quick and simple way to purify their water. While these tablets or drops are easy to pack, user-friendly, and cost-effective, they can take a long time to work fully and can leave a noticeable chemical aftertaste.
Finally, UV water filters use the sterilizing properties of UV light. These filters typically consist of a UV lamp or bulb housed within the water filtration system. The UV light emitted is effective in destroying or deactivating the DNA of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites that may be present in the water.
Best Large Water Containers For Camping: The Verdict
Our standout favorite water container for camping is the Reliance Aqua-Tainer. The Aqua-Tainer ticks every box for campers heading to dry campsites – it’s durable, leakproof, user-friendly, high-capacity, and affordable to boot.
If you’d prefer a collapsible model, we recommend the WaterStorageCube. This fairly priced container has a large capacity, is more durable than most other collapsible models, and collapses as you empty it, thereby saving you precious storage space. It’s also easy to use and very reliable.
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