7 Great Uses for a Backpacking Bucket

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By Joel Jefferson •  3 min read

A backpacking bucket can be an extremely versatile addition to your water system in an outdoor survival scenario. Many people might think that a collapsible bucket is an extra nicety and not worth the weight, but for a few ounces folded up to the size of a deck of playing cards you add a lot of capabilities that you just can’t get with water bottles.

7 Uses for a Backpacking Bucket

1. Save your Bottles

Your Bug Out Bag may only have a few water bottles. If you use your water bottle before and after filtering, obviously some of the non-filtered water will be in your bottle. It might only take a drop of water with bacteria to make you sick. Why take the risk? Save your bottles for drinking water only.  (Carry Collapsible Water Bottles for backup or a Nalgene water bottle)

2. Filter Water

Instead of sticking your water filter straight into a lake, pond, or puddle just use your collapsible backpacking bucket to dip water off the top without stirring up mud or silt. You can let the water settle back at camp and run only the cleanest water possible through your filter to save wear. (Further protect your filtration system with coffee filters)

3. Collect Water

Stick it under the edge of a tent, tarp, or any other water runoff and collect water over time. Obviously this is going to be much easier with the wide mouth of the bucket than a small water bottle, and it won’t tie up one of your clean water bottles.

4. Bathe

The same principle as filtering your water, how clean will you really feel bathing out of a pond or puddle? Fill up your collapsible bucket, let the water settle, and bathe at camp. Maybe even dump in some hot water to the mix and make your clean up even more enjoyable. This would be great for winter.

5. Laundry

Fill your backpacking bucket with clean water from your source and add soap. In a pond or stream if you use soap it is going to wash away pretty quickly, but not in your bucket. Again, adding hot water only makes things better.

6. Dishes

Doing dishes in your camp out of a bucket is going to be a lot nicer than having to bend over a stream or pond the whole time. Once again: hot water possibilities.

7. Fire Extinguisher

Having some extra water around in case your fire gets out of hand is always a good idea. You can’t just go wasting important drinking water on burning brush.

Pros and Cons of Collapsible Buckets




Can you put boiling water in a collapsible bucket?

A collapsible bucket should have no problem holding warm or hot water, but boiling water should be avoided.

Will a collapsible bucket stand upright on its own when it is full of water?

This may depend on the design of your particular bucket, but most collapsible buckets come with a carrying handle that can be used for hanging or helping it to stand upright.

Get Heavy Duty

Some collapsible buckets have plastic rings around the top and bottom, they are usually cheaper but will not collapse as small because the rim isn’t supposed to bend. Spend a few extra bucks and get a sturdy one (think heavy duty dry bag) that doesn’t require rings and will fold up small.

Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of SurvivalCache.com. After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here.