How Much Water Should you Bring Camping?

A crucial part of any camping trip is planning and preparing what you need to bring. Of course, you need the essentials—things you need to live and survive on top of everything else you need to camp comfortably. This includes ensuring you bring enough water camping for you and your group, which can be tricky to estimate.

While there are numerous factors to consider when trying to determine how much to bring, a good rule of thumb is to pack one gallon per person per day for drinking. Whether you bring that with you or get it at the campground, that’s a different story.

Some estimates have water consumption as low as 2 quarts (64 ounces or half a gallon) per person per day, but that is on the very low end and doesn’t account for any additional water needs such as temperature and activities. If you are planning on spending days adventuring in the great outdoors, it’s best to err on the side of caution and bring more water than you think you’ll need.

With that, let’s determine how much water you’ll need for your next camping trip. We’ll even throw in some tips and a video on how to purify your own water.

Full hookups and water on site.

Campgrounds May have Water Spigot
Campgrounds typically have city water. This makes it convenient to have water at your campsite.

First, if you are staying at a campground with full hookups, you will have water available and don’t need to worry about bringing as much. However, it is still a good idea to bring a small amount of water with you, just in case the spigot is turned off, or there is a problem with the water supply.

Personally, we prefer to bring our own bottled water to drink and cook with, even when there is water available on site. This is because we need to become more familiar with the taste or quality of the water, and we would rather err on the side of caution. We will, however, use the campground’s water for showers and cleaning.

However, not every campground has water hookups, and you may need to haul your water in. Let’s explore how much water you should bring in this case.

Primitive camping with no hookups.

Taking Water Jugs in Back of SUV
5 gallon jugs are ideal for taking plenty of water with you. They fit nicely in the back of your SUV or car.

You might be adventurous and like to get away from it all by primitive camping. This means you will have to haul in all of your own water, which can be a challenge. The first thing you need to do is figure out how much water you will realistically need.

Drinking water only.

A good rule of thumb is to bring 1 gallon of water per person daily. This will ensure that everyone has enough to drink and stay hydrated.

If you are planning on doing strenuous activities or it will be sweltering, then you should increase this amount. For example, if it is going to be very hot, you should bring 1.5 gallons of water per person daily.

If you are only going to be camping for a short period or there is a nearby water source you can refill, you can get away with bringing less water.

Cooking, washing dishes, and showering.

The 1 gallon per day is for drinking only, but what if you want to wash dishes or take a shower? Then you will need to bring extra water on your camping trip for that. In this case, a good rule of thumb is to bring at least 2-3 gallons of water per person per day for cooking, cleaning, and bathing.

This might seem like a lot, but remember, you will be using this water for multiple purposes, not just drinking.

Of course, if you are only cooking simple meals that don’t require a lot of water or don’t plan on showering, you can get away with bringing less water.

We like to think about our entire trip, how many people are going, and what our needs will be before deciding how much water to bring.

Purifying your own water.

Only for the most rugged campers; If you are planning on getting your water from a natural source like a river, you will need to purify it before drinking. This requires extra equipment and time, but it can be done if you are prepared.

There are multiple ways to make lake, pond, or river water potable before ingesting it.

First, you can have iodine tablets or a small bottle of iodine tincture on hand. This will kill bacteria, viruses, and protozoans in the water, making it safe to drink. You will need to follow the directions on how much iodine to use per quart or liter of water. Your water will taste like iodine, which is not desirable, but it will be safe to drink.

Here’s a quick video that shows you how to purify your water with iodine to make it safe for consumption.

You might want to invest in a portable water filter or purifier for longer-term camping trips. These can range from small personal filters to larger ones that can simultaneously purify several gallons of water.

There are also solar stills that you can set up, extracting the water from plants and making it safe to drink. However, this prolonged method might only be practical for some people.

Lastly, you can always boil water to kill any pathogens. This is a slow process, but highly effective when you’re in a bind.

Whenever possible, we like to find a campground with water hookups. This way, we don’t have to worry about purifying our own water and don’t have to bring much water when we go camping. However, it is always good to know how to do it in case of an emergency.

Water is essential, so have access to plenty of it!

Camping can be a fun and adventurous way to escape it all, but it is essential to remember that you need access to plenty of water outdoors. Whether you are primitive camping and have to haul your water in or are staying at a campground with water hookups, knowing how much water to bring is essential for an enjoyable and safe trip.

You should have a better idea of how much water you will need while camping, depending on the activities and conditions you plan on doing. Remember to always pack more than enough, just in case.

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