Carrying water for a kayak camping trip

I’m going on a five day paddling/camping trip

off the Maine coast.

We will be primitive camping and have to carry our

water for the trip.

Any good suggestions for doing this?

I don’t think Pur filters take the salt out of ocean water.

I have a high volume boat with good packing room, but

not sure where or how to put the water.


I carry my water
in flexible bladders from MRS. If you have no chance of picking up water at any creek that meets the ocean (I thought in Maine that would not be problem) and you have to carry all the drinking water with you the the best solution is some kind of bladder.

Rigid containers don’t comform well to the hull.

I place my 10 lt MSR bladders in the day hatch to keep the weight close to the center of the hull.

MSR bladders are not cheap but they are absolutely the best solution if you want reliability.

Consider taking around 5 quarts of water per day but you might be able to go less if the weather is not that hot and if some of your cooking will be done with sea water (pasta boiling can be a 50% mix with sea water).


Cheap, Simple, Effective
Try this:

Drink the juice, Gatorade, etc., rinse out well, and dry for storage.

Fill with tap water for your trip, pack them in the boat low, centered, and as close to your butt as possible to keep the center of gravity near you.

In camp, dispense water for cooking, etc., and clean upon returning home for multiple uses.

Some will argue that these are not expensive enough, nor complicated enough, nor collapsible, all of which is true. They are instead cheap, simple, effective, feature nice handles, and are far more durable than nearly any other option available.

As for the collapsing feature, or lack thereof, ask yourself what you intend to do with the extra space created by collapsing them as you empty them. If you have the room for a FULL 1-gallon bottle of water when departing on your trip, why wouldn’t you have room for an EMPTY 1-gallon bottle on your return?

Here are some more tips on packing for a kayak-camping trip:

Good Luck!


talked about in a article

– Last Updated: Jun-19-08 7:14 PM EST –

Towards the bottom, under "Don't forget to drink"

In general, flexible containers are preferable to hard sided, so they can be collapsed down as they are emptied to free up space (this isn't so much an issue with our canoe brethren here, but kayaks do have more limited space).

And you a right - water filters do not take the salt out. There are desalinators out there, but they are very expensive. Check out, but be prepared for sticker shock.

Dunkin Donuts Box of Joe Guts
I just discovered that the innards of the Box of Joe from Dunkin Donuts is a heat-proof bladder that looks like it’s durable enough to be re-used. Haven’t tried it yet; has anyone?

I don’t think anyone will argue
that they’re “not expensive enough, not complicated enough”, etc.

Here is what I do in the San Juans
Where water is iffy…

I have two 10 litre MSR dromedary bags, but typically only use one at a time. I put it behind the seat but in front of the day hatch bulkhead. I also buy one of those 2 gallon rectangular refriderator boxes of water. It has a small spigot built into the packaging. It fits in front of the footpegs, but behind the front bulkhead in otherwise wasted space. I secure it there with a small strip of wood between the pegs so it does not fall out whilst rolling.

Then I usually position several bottles of water (6 to 8) in each hatch to fill up space. A gallon a day is a starting point but it depends on the weather and the food you bring. I could bring less and use a water filter if there is fresh water around.

Another advantage of juice bottles
After you drink ten gallons of cranberry juice, you’re not going to be that thirsty, so you can take less water with you.

All five days?

There are often places you can fill up mid trip. You probably want to avoid carrying all of the water you will need for all five days.

Those islands don’t have any fresh water (so you aren’t going to get any real use from your filter).

(There aren’t going to be filters that will remove the salt.)

Platypus-type bags
The squishy, not firm ones. Put 'em along the bottom of the boat in various compartments to even out the load.

I agree with njkayaker - you should see if you can arrange to put in somewhere that you can refill the bottles and empty out the waste you will be carrying since the islands are leave no trace. Not even cat holes allowed, unless you are stopping at one of the few more built up ones that might have an outhouse.

Are you set up for the leave no trace part? That can take more planning than the water sometimes.

What is your planned route? We have camped/stopped etc on most of the places in Muscongous Bay.

Many thanks!
I am paddling a QCC500.

Our planned trip route is to leave Deere Island,

circumnavigate Isle au Haut, head east to Mt Desert

Island, then back to our starting point.

Thanks for all the great suggestions.

I will study them all and see if my wallet


Drink Melted Ice
For canoeing I use empty water bottles, or quart size plastic soft drink bottles, fill them with tap water, freeze in my home freezer, use the frozen bottles for ice in chests and drink the water as it melts over the next few days. It also saves $$ buying ice for your chest.


with that route you dont have to carry
all your water. You can resupply in IAH and Mt Desert.

Try box wine bladders. Drink now and fill with water…they pack easily.

That in a combo of two liter soda bottles (fill and freeze now) gives you a lot of versatility.

10 L MSR Bladder
I just got back from eight days up in the Stonington area about an hour ago. You can get water at Stonington, Isle au Haute general store, Swans Island, at Frenchboro on Long Island, Bass Harbor, Southwest Harbor and any number of boat yards and lobster docks.

I’ve paddled the whole Maine coast and I can’t think of any place where you could go more than two days without passing a convenient source of water. I’m leaving next Saturday to paddle from the New Hampshire border up to the Canadian border and I am only taking one 10 liter MSR bladder. I don’t do much fancy cooking and wash my pots in seawater; if you are a heavey water user, you may want to carry an extra gallon.

Food too
Many of the places mentioned also have all the food you might want to use from easy to cook rice/pasta to fresh fruit and veggies. This past week we picked up some wonderful Brie at the IAH general store along with some frozen veggies and crackers as well as water.

I agree on MSR bladders, but I use slightly smaller ones along with 5L boxed wine bladders…only I empty the wine from the bladders during the trip not before. I don’t think you will ever be more than afternoon’s paddle from a store on the trip described.

Doesn’t anyone just …
… get 1 gal. water containers right from the store and take them sealed just as they are ??

We do , works perfect evey time . I don’t see why it would be any different in a yak . I think there also is a special cap you can get that locks on to the standard gal. jug (you only need one), I’ve just never used it .

Camp is where you’ll use most of your water . Transfer what you want to keep beside you while paddling to a hand bottle .

A gal. only cost $1. , so for 5 days that’s $5. , no fuss no muss .

walmart …
Went down the Green River last summer using the collapsable containers found in the camping section of walmart. We paddle for 7 days - I carried 7 gallons. I have been using these for years. For that trip I used two 2.5 gallons containers and two 1 gallon containers. This way I could monitor my water consumption by drinking only one 1 gallon container each day as reccomended and then I would just refill them using the 2.5 gallon container. It also allowed me to pack them and use them as a ballast. 2 gallons in front hatch 5 in back but then I would shift the weight around accordingly as I drank the water. Doing this pretty much allowed me to pack all my gear in the same locations without having to ballast my boat by experimenting with moving gear about. As added protection of my water supply I bought those super large sized ziplocks and kept the water containers inside them. As I drank the water I would be left with large ziplocks for trash or soiled clothing. It worked well. If I could afford the MSR bags I would go with them but I couldn’t see paying that much money for something I probably wouldn’t get to use but a few times in my life.

never thought of that
Box wine bladders, great idea.

nope I avoid bottled water
at all costs…another petroleum product.

I do like soda though so I freeze 2 l soda bottles after the soda is gone and use them for water storage too.

Maybe I just have a thing about Poland Springs sucking the life out of our wells to sell my water.

No fresh water
The area you’re going to has no fresh water sources?