How Much Water to Bring Camping + 3 Ways To NEVER Run Out!

Written by: Karyn James


Everyone knows that water is essential to human survival. When you head out into the wilderness with friends for an outdoor adventure, an element of real survival comes into play, so you need to make sure you bring enough water. 

Hydration is important, but planning out days of your hydration can be tough. Every camping trip will be slightly different, whether you have intense hikes planned or bring seven dogs. This article will explain how much water to bring camping to ensure you can stay hydrated and not have to worry about running out. 


Questions to Ask Yourself First

Before determining exactly how much water you will bring camping, there are some questions you should ask yourself and your camping group. Not every camping trip will require the same amount of water, so you must consider the answers to these questions, so you can prepare correctly. 

  • How long is the camping trip? 
  • How many campers are in the group? 
  • What time of year is it?
  • What water sources will you be near?
  • Do you plan to cook most meals?
  • Do you plan on hiking often?
  • Will you be swimming?
  • How far from civilization will you be?
  • Will you be drinking alcohol?
  • Will you be drinking soda or other sugary beverages?

The time of year will play a huge role in how much water you must bring. If you’re hiking around in 90 degrees Fahrenheit, versus just sitting around a campfire in 50-degree weather, you will need more water because you’ll be sweating out water and electrolytes. 

When you exercise, you need more water, and you must consider how much physical activity you’ll be doing. If you plan on hiking and swimming on the camping trip, bring extra water to account for this activity. 

These questions are important to ask yourself, but try to think of other specific scenarios where you may want extra water. 

For example, I’ve brought an extra gallon of water because I knew I’d not only be hiking, but I’d be moving to a higher elevation. When you climb to higher elevations, even if you do it slowly, your body will become more dehydrated, and you’ll want extra water to prevent headaches and fatigue. 

It’s also easy to forget how much you’re sweating and how much water your body loses while you swim around. When you don’t see and feel your sweat because you’re in the water, it can be tougher to be aware of your hydration levels. 

I’m also a beach bum and will lay in the sun all day long after a refreshing swim. Laying in the sun will significantly deplete your hydration levels.

I am not a jogger, but camping buddies of ours always run a few miles in the morning to get their blood flowing, so we made sure to bring extra water to accommodate their runs. There are many aspects and scenarios to consider, so ask yourself these questions and consult with your camping group and the plan before settling on the amount of water you will pack. 


How Much Water To Bring Per Day?

For one adult camper, you should bring about two gallons of water. That comes out to about 7.5 liters per person for a single day of camping. 

The average person should drink around three liters of water a day, which comes out to about eight glasses per day from a 16-ounce cup. The rest will be for hygiene, cooking, and other water needs. 

You must bring more water than you would normally drink to prepare for the worst and account for additional exercise and activities. 


How Much Water To Bring For Children?

Kiddos need less water than full-grown adults. Their little bodies don’t need as much hydration. Children between the ages of one and ten usually need about 1.5 liters of water per day, and more if they are running around, hiking, or swimming. 

Another thing to consider when it comes to hydrating children is what else they’re consuming. If they love their root beers and Sunny D, these drinks will dehydrate them, meaning they need more water. 

It’s okay if the kids want to enjoy a sweet drink on their camping vacation, but you need to supplement these dehydrating beverages with more water. For every dehydrating beverage, they should drink one or two more glasses of water. 

If you struggle to get your kids to drink water because they think it’s boring, even though they’re wrong and water is the best, there are solutions. Bring Gatorade that will help hydrate them and also taste yummy. Gatorade will supplement their hydration and electrolytes in place of water if they refuse to drink enough water. 

So pack a few bottles of their favorite flavor, and maybe bargain with them so that they have to drink X number of water glasses before they get a bottle of Gatorade!


How Much Water To Bring For Adults?

On average, men need 3.7 liters a day, while women need 2.7 liters per day. Remember, this is for camping that doesn’t involve much physical activity, so increase the amount the more hiking or swimming you do. 

You should drink between half an ounce and one ounce per pound. So if you weigh 200 pounds, you should bring between 100 and 200 ounces of water. That comes to between 3 and 4 liters, which exemplifies the average for a grown male. 


How Much Water To Bring For Dogs?

We love bringing our fur children on camping trips with us when we can! He gets to smell the great outdoors and explore the woods without the hecticness of city life. 

If your furry friend is anything like ours, they’re a messy drinker and a water fiend, like father like son. So I always bring extra for our pup because I know he tends to slosh a lot when lapping from his bowl and also gets thirsty quickly. 

Dogs need about the same amount of water as humans. But because they vary so much in size and breed, it’s best to pack water based on their weight. Like humans, dogs need about one ounce of water per pound. So if you have a 60-pound dog like ours, they’ll need about 1.7 liters of water, but I round up to 2 liters for my sloppy drinker. 

Some dogs also tend to knock over their water bowls. If your rascal tends to curiously paw at their bowl, sometimes resulting in a spill, don’t be afraid to bring an extra 5-10 liters for them. 

Dogs often can’t communicate their thirst, so it’s up to us, their devoted owners, to make sure they stay hydrated. Signs that your dog is thirsty are if their tongue hangs out a lot, they drool excessively, or pant hard. 


How Much Water To Bring For Backpacking?

Backpacking can mean a lot of different things. If you backpack through Europe and plan to return to hostels in between hikes, then you only need to account for water during the day, as you’ll have access to a tap at night. In this case, you should still bring a minimum of four liters for each adult, but when backpacking people typically only carry supplies for themselves. 

One gallon of water, or four liters, means you can drink half a liter of water every hour that you hike. And you absolutely should try to stick to this hydration schedule. So this recommendation assumes you will not be backpacking for more than eight hours in one day. If you plan to be out and about for longer, bring another half-liter for every hour at least. 

A gallon of water is about four liters, this is a considerable amount of weight to carry. Consider using a Camelbak backpack underneath your main backpack to make carrying the correct amount of water easier. It can also make carrying the water easier if you distribute the weight throughout your back by utilizing several smaller water bottles. 

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The minimum water to bring is four liters because you need three for stagnant hydration, and you should have at least one extra liter because you’ll be hiking around and doing a lot of physical activity. 

How Much Water For Overnight Backpacking?

When backpacking all day and then camping in the woods overnight, you’ll need more water. Like with camping, you should try to bring two gallons per adult. So this doubles the amount of water you should bring. Overnight backpacking often requires cooking and some means of personal hygiene like brushing your teeth. 

So you’ll need to bring more water than you would for just day trips. If carrying two gallons seems like too much for you, you can limit it to 1.5 gallons, but you’ll need to use it sparingly for cooking and hygiene, as hydration is the most important. 


Water For Specific Needs

There are other needs for water while camping and overnight backpacking that go beyond hydration. Everyone’s needs concerning water usage will differ, so devise a plan for each of these three categories. 

Drinking-Water

For adults, you will designate at least three liters of water a day for consumption, especially if you’re doing strenuous activities. Always remember that you need one ounce of water per pound of weight. This rule applies to adults, children, and pets!

Cooking and Cleaning Water

When it comes to cooking and cleaning dishes while camping, you’ll need to allocate at least one liter of water per day for every adult. Try to limit how much water you use while cooking. 

But as someone who needs that morning cup of coffee, especially in the middle of the woods, I understand some creature comforts simply can’t be sacrificed. To allow for my much-needed coffee, I try to bring foods that don’t require water for cooking, but everyone will have different preferences. 

Personal Hygiene Water

If you plan to camp at a campground with a shower and sink area, you don’t need to account for personal hygiene water. But if you are one of the brave souls that camp in the middle of nowhere, you’ll need about two liters of water per adult per day. 

ALSO READ: Water Containers for Camping


Water Sources When Camping

Potential water sources while camping includes campground washing sites and natural sources. If you have access to tap water, staying hydrated is much easier. 

But when truly out in the wilderness, you should try to find ways to purify the water you have access to. There are a few ways to do this that are so easy, I promise! I know purifying water can seem complex, but check out the avenues you can take below. 


Best Ways to Purify Water While Camping

Chlorine and iodine tablets are an effective way to purify water that will also take up little room in your pack. Just make sure you bring enough to purify all the water you will need, and make sure you only add them to water that is free of dirt and debris. 

You should also consider buying a water filter or two, so you can filter natural water, making it safe to drink! A water filter can work for several days, but it does take some patience. 

Lastly, you can take the old-fashioned route of boiling your water! But this means you’ll need a decent pot and a fire. Boil all water for at least fifteen to twenty minutes to rid it of all harmful bacteria and organisms. 


How Much Water to Bring Camping – FAQs

How many gallons of water should I bring camping?

You should bring at least two gallons of water for every day of camping per person.

How much water do you need for two days camping?

For two days of camping, you should bring 4-5 gallons per adult on the camping trip.

How do you pack water for camping?

You can pack water in different ways, whether it’s giant bottles, smaller water bottles, a Camelbak backpack, or a massive jug. 

But it’s best not to place all your water in one container in case it punctures or gets knocked over. Then, you’ll lose your whole water supply, creating a serious problem depending on where you are. 

How do you carry water when camping?

You should try to keep your water tucked away, so it’s not in the sun because if you’re like me, drinking warm water is a nightmare. Carry water in a durable and sealed container to avoid breakage or spillage.


Final Thoughts

 I am a water fiend, and I get grouchy when I want a sip of water and there’s not enough water available to quench my thirst. If you’re like me, bring enough water on your camping trip to meet your bodily needs plus some extra to be on the safe side.

Two gallons per day is ideal for one person, and you should drink at least half a liter every hour. When in doubt, bring one ounce per pound of living creature (adult, child, dog, lizard, etc.) on the camping trip with you!

Please leave us a comment if you have any more questions about staying hydrated while camping or if you have any other tips to share!


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Karyn James

Karyn often went camping and boating as a child with her family where she has learned a lot about wildlife and the environment. Now that she has two very active little kids, she knows that planning is key to a fun and stress-free journey. You can find out more about Karyn here.

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