How to get Water When on the Road

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Camping offers the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in nature’s beauty and revel in the wonders of the great outdoors.

However, securing clean, refreshing water can sometimes pose a few hurdles.

Fear not!

In this post, we’ll cover various strategies and secrets for procuring drinking water during your camping escapades, ensuring your hydration and well-being remain intact throughout your thrilling adventure.

Maybe you are new to van life, going on a road trip, or enjoying trips in nature. Depending on your circumstance, you might need to locate a water source during your journey.

Today we will cover different ways of getting clean water (also called potable water) while on the road.

The following information will also help those who like being prepared or planning for emergencies!

Here are some additional reasons this is a topic you should know about.

  • Safety: When traveling, it’s essential to have access to safe drinking water to avoid getting sick from waterborne illnesses. You want to know where and how to access safe drinking water and tips for purifying water sources that may not be safe to drink from.
  • Emergency preparedness: Access to safe drinking water is crucial in an emergency or natural disaster. I have some additional tools in my go bag. One is a simple water key that everyone should have for under seven bucks.

Things to Know

Before we go any further, there is something important to know. That is, if the water is safe to drink.

not safe for drinking

Generally speaking, water will be labeled as either potable or non-potable. It’s essential to know the difference.

Potable water is what you are looking for. This is treated and purified water that is safe to drink.

Non-Potable water is not treated water and is used for irrigation and livestock. This water is not safe to drink or use.

Check out this website to learn more about potable and non-potable water.

You should get into the habit of (for any road trip, camping, hiking, and even your emergency go bag) bringing a water filter or purification tablets.

My go-to is the Sawyer water filter or my Grayl, which I’ve written about in the past.

Another option when camping (or to put in your emergency bag) is to bring a water filter or purification tablets. These can purify water from streams, lakes, or other natural sources, making it safe to drink.

Depending on where you are (camping, backpacking, or in your vehicle), being mindful of your water usage will help you from getting in a bad situation.

To prevent running out of water, which is never good, be mindful of your water usage to ensure you don’t run out. This means knowing how much water you use for cooking, cleaning, and personal hygiene.

My rule of thumb is one and a half gallons per day. Remember, I am generally camping solo, and this ensures I have enough water to drink, cook, and clean with.

The rule of thumb I follow will also change depending on where I’m going. I think you get the idea if I’m near a body of water or going to the desert.

Although I was never in the military, I ensured I always had redundancy when I worked patrol.

Or, as I’ve been told by Navy Seals, “Two is one, and one is none.

Getting Water on the Road

Since you clicked here, you have been interested in different ways to get water on the road.

If you have any additional ideas I didn’t mention, leave them in the comments below.

I’m always looking for more ways to find, mainly drinking water, while traveling.


Here is a quick note. If a place offers free water, aka Arches Visitors Center, make sure you like the taste of it!

During my last trip to Arches, I decided to top off my water. That was a mistake.

I wouldn’t say I like the taste (I might be picky about my water, but still). Major bummer because I still had a few gallons that I could have used up.

Instead of finding a camping spot after a day of hiking, I had to search for a different refill station.

Learn from my mistake and taste the water before you fill your jugs with it.

iphone with installed apps

Let’s get to the good stuff. When you are on the road, here are a few ways to get your water:

  • Campgrounds and RV parks
  • Phone apps: iOverlander and All Stays camp
  • Gas stations, truck stops, national parks, state parks, visitor centers, rest areas
  • RV dump stations, esp if you are dumping, but you might have to pay otherwise.
  • Find water refill centers. These can be found at supermarkets or stand-alone refill stations (you pay per gallon)

clean water from kitchen sink

And a few more of the obvious places, but they are worth mentioning.

  • Fill at home before you leave
  • Friend’s houses while on the road
  • Purchase bottled water during your travels
  • Gyms, recreation centers, and aquatic centers (generally for a small fee)
  • Bring your water filtration to avoid the headache. Again, these include Sawyer products (becoming my go-to because they are a fantastic company), Britta, Grayl, and so on.

Sawyer squeeze near a river

Since we discussed water purification, here are a few additional ideas.

  • MSR backcountry water filter. I used to use this before I got more into Sawyer products. It works well and is a solid option.
  • The Katadyn water filter is similar to the Sawyer squeeze but much lighter. I started using this after a friend told me about it. It’s super easy, and I like it much more than the MSR water filter.
  • MSR hose attachment is something I keep in my go-bag and can be attached to any hose bibb (another reason to have that water key).
  • The Life Straw is considered a personal water filter. You put it into a water source and drink it like any beverage through a straw. I have two but have never used them yet.
  • Here is the one that I’ve heard about. I know people who have used it but haven’t experienced it yet. It’s called the SteriPEN and uses UV light to make the water safe to drink—something I’m considering, especially if traveling out of the US again.

There are many other options, but these are the ones that I know about, have, and have used.

MSR Hose Attachment
MSR hose attachment, perfect for emergency situations!

Set up camp near a water sourceGetting Water on the Road

As you can see, getting water while on the road isn’t as difficult as some make it seem.

Again, if you found any of this useful, or have additional ideas on where to find water, let us know in the comments below!

Staying hydrated while camping is essential for your health and well-being.

By following these tips and techniques, you can ensure that you have a reliable source of clean water throughout your camping trip.

Always purify or treat natural water sources before drinking and bring enough water for the entire trip.

Happy camping!

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2 thoughts on “How to get Water When on the Road”

  1. This was valuable information.

    Shopping for water devices is overwhelming. And, I never know if the “reviews” listed with a product are “real”. Thank you for narrowing down to a handful of options, and giving real life insight/feedback.

    It’s awesome that you provide links to each item you discuss. Seeing what the product actually looks like is invaluable. Not to mention seeing what the cost is.

    Your tip about tasting before filling a container is awesome!
    Honestly, I never thought of that.
    What a bummer you suffered through gallons of not-so-great tasting water.
    Thanks for saving all of us that grief.

    • Well Thanks! I always try and provide good information and links when I have them.
      It’s always nice to help people not have to do all the research I did as well.


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