The 3 best collapsible water containers
Whether you're setting out for the wilderness or stocking up for a preparedness kit, the best collapsible water containers are a space-efficient way to guarantee hydration and access to water for cooking and washing hands. From ultra-durable pouches to large-capacity cubes, they come in a variety of sizes and styles, so you can find what works best for you.
If you’re shopping for a water container for a preparedness kit, it’s worth getting a large-capacity water cube. These cubes make it easy to set up a water station on a counter or table, and their built-in spigots make dispensing a breeze. They're also a good option if you're setting up camp and not planning to move around a lot. But if you're concerned about carrying a lot of weight (5 gallons of water weighs about 47 pounds), you may find it easier to manage multiple smaller containers, rather than one large vessel. Likewise, a set of smaller bag-style containers is preferable if you're squeezed for space — I've included some that are only 1 inch wide, so you can store or pack them separately for space efficiency in your car or camping gear.
Now, if you plan to be backpacking, you'll want a compact but rugged bladder-style pouch that takes up minimal space and forms easily to the inside of your bag. A water pouch made with tough materials can help prevent rips and tears, so look for options with a high denier (D), which measures the weight and thickness of fibers. Generally, between 70D to 1,000D is a good bet for outdoor gear (though, this metric won't always be provided by brands).
With all that in mind, these are the best collapsible water containers you can get on Amazon.
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1. The one for setting up camp
If you’ll be camping for a few days, or want to stockpile water before a storm, this 5.3-gallon collapsible water storage container is a good option. The large size means you won't have to refill as often, and the leak-free spigot allows for easy dispensing, which is convenient if you’re setting up camp for a while. Made from a single piece of food-grade plastic, it's graded to withstand a 4-foot drop and temperatures ranging from -4 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit — helpful if you'll be dealing with extreme temperatures.
When empty, the container can be folded nearly flat between uses to save valuable space. However, because of the cube shape, it is the bulkiest option when filled with water (measuring 11.4- by 11.4 inches), so keep that in mind if storage or portability is a concern.
This container is sold in packs of one, two, four, and eight, and it's also available in 1.3- and 2.6-gallon sizes if you like the design but need less capacity.
One reviewer wrote: "This worked like a charm for our campsite. Was perfect to store on a table and wash our hands, feet or some dishes. Collapsed very well and traveled lightly with it!"
2. The one for portability
If you’d rather not lift a single, large-capacity water container, this set of four 1.3-gallon pouches offers about the same capacity as the previous option, but in a portable, lightweight format. These pouches also take up minimal space (they're each just 1 inch wide when filled with water), so they're easy to squeeze into packed cars or camping gear.
Made from flexible BPA-free plastic that's temperature-resistant between 32 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, each bag folds flat into a size that's just a little larger than a legal envelope, so they pack easily for filling up on the road or on the trail. The leakproof lids prevent spills, but dispensing water is a bit tricker with the pour spouts, as opposed to a spigot. Available in packs of two, four, and 10, this option is also offered in a larger 2.6-gallon size.
One reviewer wrote: "I used these for backcountry camping this summer. They are very lightweight and seemed tough. Once I set up camp, I would store filtered water in them for use at camp. [...] The pleated base helps them stand upright when there is water in them, but also allows them to fold flat for storage when empty. The handle makes them convenient to carry."
3. The one for backpacking
A water container’s material can affect its weight, durability, and packability, an aspect that's especially important to consider when setting out for some backpacking. The best collapsible water container for backpacking is made from ultra-tough 1,000-denier fabric, so it can stand up to drops and jostling, and the bladder-style pouch is malleable for maximum space efficiency in a backpack.
The reservoir’s seams are welded using radio frequency technology to prevent leaking and splitting, and the bag is durable enough to handle freezing temperatures and boiling water. When collapsed, the reservoir can be folded down as small as the size of the cap, so you can even fit it in your pocket. Due to the soft, flexible nature of the bag, it can be difficult to pour with one hand, but the hanging loop on the end offers some steadiness if pouring directly into a pot or a cup. This option is available in 2-, 4-, and 6-liter sizes.
One reviewer wrote: "I went backpacking with a few friends with this unit and a MSR water filter - this unit was extremely light and small and held enough water for all three of us for the day, meaning we only had to go down to the stream to pump once per day. Absolutely worth it."
Also great: a portable water filtration system
If you’ll be filling your collapsible container at natural water sources, a high-efficiency filter is a smart investment. This flexible, 1-gallon water filter from LifeStraw has a two-stage fiber membrane filter that removes 99.99% of bacteria, protozoa, and micro-plastics, resulting in water that exceeds Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water standards for bacteria and parasites.
The bag is made from durable synthetic fabric with a plastic interior, and the included replaceable carbon filter can clean up to 24.6 gallons of water, so you can bring it along for several days of drinking or cooking while camping. The bag has a wide opening that makes it easy to fill, and you can hang it filter-side down, and gravity will draw water through for purification. Fresh, filtered water can then be poured into one of the above collapsible containers, or directly into your mouth using the straw valve at the bottom of the filter.
One reviewer wrote: "We live near a lake, so in a big emergency (I'm thinking major earthquake), we'll have some access to fresh water - but who knows what will be in that water? [...] The gravity filtration system is genius. Yes, it's a bit pricey, but water is truly the one thing you literally cannot live without. If you don't have a filtration system in your emergency kit yet, do yourself a favor and add this."