safe water storage container?

The last few camping and paddling trips I’ve taken (including some car camping), I’ve carried water from home in one of those collapsible plastic cubes with a handle and a nice pouring spout. (Holds a couple of gallons.) But this past weekend, I drank directly from the spout once and tasted plastic in the water. Uh-oh! I didn’t like that. Don’t need to be ingesting plastic residue. My question is, what might be some safe water-storage containers for canoe and car camping? I DO have Platypus bladders for kayak camping. Maybe for canoeing I could carry Platypus plus the 1-gallon plastic water jugs with the water you buy at the grocery store? Any opinions from you guys will be appreciated. And, in case you’re wondering, I wouldn’t want to filter and drink the water on the Roanoke River, where I’m going in a few weeks. Other times, I carry water for car camping just because I think my own well water tastes better than campground water at the beach. Thanks!

G in NC

I use Platy & Camelback bladders, filled w. our tasty local tap water, in their respective packs.

Can’t go wrong w. either brand.

The pack cover protects them of course. Easily sanitized at trip’s end w. an ounce of an antiseptic mouthwash per bladder. Nice taste. Some use a tinge of bleach. I prefer minty mouthwash LOL.

Use the soft lowbristled brush kit sold by Camelbak to clean the tubes, nasties can linger there.

One or the other is always clipped to the back of my seat. The other rides cool under a hatch or the front deck rigging - depending on length of trip & how hot a day it’ll be. Some also mount the packs on the backs of their PFDs. As you like.

Easy constant hydration is a good thing, has really helped my stamina & muscle recovery time…

Poland springs 2 or 3 gallon jugs
work great for camping, They have a pour sput and I’ve never had an issue with plastic taste. I use 32oz Nalgene bottles regularly for camping, kayaking and hiking, as well as a 70 oz camelback.

Maybe it is time to replace it
with another Reliance folding jug.

Reliance jugs are made from food-grade polyethylene, wich is BPA free if you are concerned, and (so far) has a safe track record. Sure, questions have arisen about all plastics used for food & water storage, but short of carrying stainless steel containers what are you going to do?


Folding jugs
If you are using the kind of jug I’m familiar with it is polyethylene which does impart a plastic taste but it is considered safe like milk jugs are safe. I don’t think you will find anything safer than polyethylene that is not a metal or glass container.

Thanks for suggestions, and, yes . . .
my container is from Reliance.

Time for a new container – maybe another Reliance, plus others suggested here. This time I’ll remember to look for terms like “food-grade” plastic!

Appreciate all the help.

G in NC

Bladders from box wine
are an inexpensive option and emptying the wine out is a pleasant DIY project.

Juice Jugs
For canoe and car-camping, where space is less restricted than kayak-camping, I often (re)use 1-gallon jugs of apple, etc. juice.

These are durable, often include integrated carrying handles, are clear for easy visibility and cleaning, and the price can’t be beat.


Although not collapsable
the clear PETE jugs in which bottled water is sold are probably the least apt to impart taste. Just another option.


the collapsible cube is in the past!
No more of those. I think for canoe camping from now on it’s new or reused containers that previously held water or juice for sale. And I do remember those Poland Spring containers with more volume.

My favorite suggestion here is emptying the wine bags, but I’d probably prefer harder-sided containers. Will stick with Platypus in the kayak. Thanks again, you all!

G in NC

1 vs. 2
While I recommend re-using plastic food-grade #1 (PETE or PET) bottles and jugs like those used to package juice, etc., I would advise against using the common #2 (HDPE) 2.5-gal water jugs:

Being made of the same type and gauge plastic as milk jugs, they tend to easily puncture and leak, which is a hassle at your picnic but can be downright dangerous when backcountry camping without the means to filter natural water sources.

The large #1 jugs are made of a harder and thicker plastic, and being transparent, are easier to inspect and clean.

Good luck!


also makes hard plastic jugs in three and six gallon sizes and, they too, are BPA free. I used the Reliance folding jugs for many years and am still hanging on to them but have gotten tired of the valves. I’ve found they tend to open slightly while in the bottom of the canoe when other packs are laid on top of them.

Perhaps replacing your folding jugs is the wrong approach if its the taste that bothers you. Mine had a taste when I first got them, but after a few uses it went away. I think whatever substance it is that is imparting taste (and it probably isn’t harmful - this stuff is tested, for what that’s worth) leaches out after a while. I usually leave water in them when in storage then drain and replace it with fresh water before leaving to facilitate leaching and flush away anything that might be present.

I switched recently to the blue-green harder plastic Reliance jugs (in the smaller three gallon size to make boat trimming easier) last fall when I took a trip to Utah. One doesn’t even want to think about wasting water due to a leaky valve in a desert; especially on a desert river that I think could clog any filter known to God or man in under five gallons.

I like the new jugs so far. I haven’t noticed any odd taste from them. I’d recommend them.

Clear, rigid plastic
For both home and camping I use 1-gallon clear, rigid plastic containers. The water has no taste at all.

But I also bring a collapsible 2.5-gallon container for washing.

the thought finally occurred to me . . .
that maybe I should keep the collapsible jug for carrying wash water and use the other jugs you all have suggested for carrying drinking water. Good ideas here!

g in nc

not for me
I went on a 3-day trip.

Joanne paddles a 10’ Mallard with 5 of these 2.5 gallon water jugs and a couple 1-gallon jugs.

She made the campsite ONLY because I took most of her water into my boat.

I rarely reuse those store-bottles more than a couple times.

I drink so much juice that I always have some laying around to recycle as water bottles for a few trips… then toss them and use more.

Forgot to add
if you use empty wine bladders, slipping it into a nylon sack will make it easier to carry. It will help protect from punctures, but still allow it to form to hull contours to take up less room. And I’m available for the “emptying” project.

Look for
BPA Free plastic containers.

keeping perspective
The collapsible water carriers are fine for camping trips. You can make sure that they start clean by rinsing with a little bit of bleach in water at the beginning of the season. You don’t drink from these bags as an every-day-of-your-life event. If you get any trace of chemical from the container it would be minuscule. They give rats hundreds of times over a dose of something for weeks or months to give them cancer or whatever. A week of drinking from a clean Reliance folding jug shouldn’t hurt anyone with a normal body.

Pnetter bruce’s bottles are outstanding: inexpensive (why bother with Nalgene) and healthy. Available at all Wal-Marts (plus Target, etce etc). Just go to the plastic goods aisle and turn over the product and look for Arrow Plastics sticker/seal.

And if you have any irks or suggestions about them, Pnetter bruce will help you.

and thanks again . . .
for more good ideas. Didn’t know of Arrow Plastic bottles. And point well taken about the infrequency of exposure to plastic when we go camping. I guess the taste of a little plastic should be low on the list of things I worry about in life!

g in nc