Summer camp = lots of time spent outdoors in the summer, often running around = need to drink at least 12 cups of water each day to stay hydrated!

There isn’t really a question of whether or not to use a water bottle, but rather which one to use. Water bottles provide the optimal solution for keeping hydrated – they keep your water close to you at all times AND you can keep track of the amount you are drinking! Pretty cool, huh? In addition to all that, they are environmentally friendly as they don’t end up in the landfill unless they break.

We’ve got years of experience preparing families for camp and we’re also part of some great Facebook camp communities. We’ve gathered valuable feedback from camp professionals and compiled this guide to water bottles.

In this guide, we look at the many factors you should consider when choosing a water bottle for camp: size, mouthpiece, durability, and much more.


The bigger the better….

However, not so big that your camper doesn’t want to carry it around with them because it’s too heavy.

Durability & Quality

Must be able to take more than a few knocks, fall from heights, moving cars, used as a ball and more. Seal must work fully or water will spill out everywhere…

One camp director sent us a picture of his water bottle (that he referred to as his “buddy”), which he was still using after 20 years, despite a few scuffs from a highway car accident where it went through the windshield. 😱


This factor includes personal preference as well as ease of cleaning.

Wide mouth

For ease in both drinking and cleaning, the wide mouth was the clear winner! Many suggested buying a separate splash guard to make the drinking less messy when walking around.

One camp director even suggested this bottle can be used for more than just drinking…

“I tend to go classic with the wide mouth Nalgene bottle. Easy to fill, easy to douse self or a fire if needed.”

Narrow mouth

Some preferred the narrow mouth for less spillage. It’s a bit harder to clean but easier to drink from neatly.

OTF (on the fly)

This was also a popular suggestion, the OTF (on the fly), which is a cap using a push button that opens quickly and allows the camper to drink from a small hole without spillage. You can also fill through the hole rather than opening the bottle up. Cleaning is easy as well.


Some professionals highly recommended using a silicone or metal straw, while others were dead set against a straw at all, as it is difficult to wash and an easy trap for bacteria.

Drinking cap

Just pour the water from the bottle into the cap and drink as if it’s a cup. Easy to wash too!

Bite valve

The bite valves require some “breaking in” and are a lot of work to drink out of when they’re new, but they’re great once you’ve used them for a couple weeks- they never leak and they easily fold down so they aren’t going to touch the ground if your bottle knocks over.


Another great way to keep hydrated is with an insulated water bottle that maintains the temperature of your water keeping it cold for those hot days or warm for those cold night around the fire.


Nalgene, Hydroflask, Yeti, Camelbak, Thermos, Contigo, Human Gear, Smart Flask, Swell were just a sample of the brands mentioned by our experts. Styles can widely vary within the brand as well. And no-name brands can be just as effective if you find the right one!


Range from a buck to more than a hundred. Remember that price does not always determine durability (see above).

Hydration pack

An expanded version of a water bottle is the hydration pack – your child can drink copious amounts of water without noticing it! The water sits inside a bladder in the bag and is easily refillable. There is bonus room in the bag for other items such as a snack, tissues, keys and more!


If your water bottle is dishwasher safe, place it on the top rack of the dishwasher and away from any heating element.

You can also wash your water bottle by hand. Fill your bottle about 2/3 full with very warm water and a few drops of bleach. Put the cap on, shake well, then let it sit for an hour. You can use a bottle scrubber to scrub out the cap and bottle. Rinse well.


Don’t forget to put your name all over your water bottle so you can claim your own when it’s time to drink! You can write it on with a permanent laundry marker or use waterproof stick-on labels.


Some experts suggested attaching your water bottle to your clothing or backpack with a carabiner for hands-free, easy access at all times.


One cool camp tradition is to put stickers on everything. This of course includes your water bottle! Makes it easy to identify and fun to use 😊

Questions and Feedback

We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide and we’d love to hear your feedback about this post. If you are still confused or have any questions about water bottles, get in touch with us and we’ll do our best to help you.

About the Author

Melissa Goldwag spent many summers as a camper, counselor and lifeguard at sleepaway and day camps in the Catskills. She is the co-founder and CEO of Pack for Camp, an online store that offers everything you expect to find on a camp packing list: soft trunks, name labels, bedding, laundry accessories, toiletries, storage solutions, clothing and more.