Best water container for a road trip

Travel Essentials

If you’re taking a road trip somewhere, bring along one or two personal water containers so you can stay hydrated without needing to stop for water.

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Which water container for a road trip is best?

If you’re the type of person who loves a nice, long road trip, you should definitely have a reliable source of water on hand. While you may be able to pull over and purchase water at a gas station or other local spot, this isn’t always doable or convenient. That’s why a reusable water container for your road trip is a must.

From personal water bottles to larger containers that can store several gallons, there’s an appropriate size for everyone. For those who are health-conscious and want something insulated and durable, check out the Iron Flask Sports Water Bottle, our top choice.

What to know before you buy a water container for a road trip


Consider how long you plan on traveling without stopping. If the trip spans one or more days, then you may want to consider purchasing a water storage container. This includes things like a storage drum or barrel. These water containers can hold several gallons of water, making them ideal for longer journeys. Make sure you also have a smaller, separate water bottle or cup you can easily refill throughout the trip.

For trips that take less than a day, an individual, personal water bottle may be a better option. Storage drums and barrels can be quite large and heavy, making them cumbersome to pack. Personal bottles, however, typically hold between 12-32 ounces of liquid.


Personal water bottles or other containers are usually made from hard plastic, metal or glass.

  • Plastic is an inexpensive, common material used in a lot of water containers, including bottles, barrels and drums. It is lightweight when empty and comes in a variety of colors and designs. Depending on the quality or type of plastic, it may also be dishwasher safe.
  • Metal water containers are usually made of food-grade stainless steel. The biggest benefit of these containers is that they don’t leach chemicals into the water. Some metal containers are made of aluminum. Unlike stainless steel, these containers typically have a resin, polymer, enamel or epoxy lining inside. Aluminum is lighter and less expensive than stainless steel, but both materials are considered better alternatives to plastic.
  • Glass containers are usually easy to clean, as they are dishwasher safe. They also don’t alter the natural taste of whatever liquid is inside. Plus, glass isn’t porous and is BPA-free, unlike some plastic containers. On the downside, glass containers are usually more breakable than other options.

Health and safety concerns

The main health and safety concern revolving around personal water bottles or other water containers is the type of plastic used. Older plastic water containers are more susceptible to exposure to toxins or chemicals that could get into the liquid. However, many water containers are BPA-free, so they’re safer to use. Still, if you’re worried about potential health issues, consider getting a stainless steel or glass water container instead of a plastic one.

Keep in mind that even water containers made from glass or metal could have other materials in them. For example, if an aluminum water container has a plastic lining, it could have BPA or other chemicals in it. So, even if the aluminum itself has minimal health risks, the lining may be another story.

If you’re leaning toward getting a stainless steel water container, choose one that is high quality and as close to 100 percent metal as possible.

What to look for in a quality water container for a road trip

Size and storage

Don’t just think about the internal capacity, but also the external size. Many water containers don’t readily advertise the external size, but this is an important specification to know since a container that’s too large may not fit comfortably in a cup holder or bag.

The internal capacity, or the amount of liquid the water container can hold, can vary quite a lot. In general, a water drum or similarly-sized container should hold up to several gallons of water. Personal water containers usually max out at 32-64 ounces.

One other way to decide the appropriate size of the water container for your road trip is to base it on how much water you drink each day. The amount of water a person should drink depends on a range of factors, such as their age, gender and weight. According to the National Library of Medicine, women should consume around 85 ounces of water a day, while men should shoot for 101 ounces a day, including water from food and beverages.


Insulation is a material that allows whatever is inside a container to maintain its temperature for a length of time. An example of this is the Thermos, which has a double-wall construction that forms a vacuum between both walls to prevent significant temperature changes.

If you prefer your water to remain cold during your road trip, you’ll need a water container that offers some form of insulation. Otherwise, you’ll need to use an ice chest or cooler.

For water containers, one of the best insulators is stainless steel. Another option is glass, but this is less common in insulated water containers.

Opening mechanism

Water containers have different opening mechanisms. One of the most common opening mechanisms is the sports cap design. This mechanism makes it possible to drink water by pulling up the cap, and it also reduces the chance of spillage.

Many personal water bottles have a simple cap that you twist off entirely or partially turn to access the water inside. Other containers have pop-off tops or built-in straws.

Water drums and barrels usually have a spigot with a button that releases the water. Some may have a screw top instead.

How much you can expect to spend on a water container for a road trip

For a small, personal water bottle made of high-quality, durable material, expect to spend $10-$15. If you prefer a metal bottle, you may be looking at closer to $15-$25.

Water container for a road trip FAQ

How long can you store water in a container?

A. Unopened bottles that have been properly stored, such as one-time-use bottles, can last for months or even years. However, if you’re using a reusable water container, replace the water in it every day or two.

How long do water containers last?

A. This depends on the material it’s made from, as well as how you store it and its exposure to the environment. If your water container is starting to become discolored or if it takes on a strange odor, it’s time to replace it. Additionally, if it’s starting to leak or if the material looks cloudy, you should get a new one. With good care, a water container made of high-quality material can last for years.

What’s the best water container for a road trip to buy?

Top water container for a road trip

Iron Flask Sports Water Bottle

Iron Flask Sports Water Bottle

What you need to know: This 32-ounce, stainless steel water bottle has double-wall insulation to keep beverages at the right temperature, making it ideal for longer trips.

What you’ll love: Considering how sturdy this bottle is, it’s a great option for road trips, sporting events and outdoor activities such as camping or hiking. This sleek bottle comes in several colors and sizes. The lid and straw are made from BPA-free plastic, so this is a safer option than some plastic bottles.

What you should consider: The lid may leak when turned sideways.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top water container for a road trip for the money

CamelBak Chute Mag BPA Free Water Bottle

CamelBak Chute Mag BPA Free Water Bottle

What you need to know: Capable of holding up to 25 ounces of water, this container is perfect for long road trips.

What you’ll love: Along with holding a decent amount of liquid, this hard plastic water bottle has a convenient, magnetic cap and leak-proof seal for those on the road. The container is stain-resistant and has a comfortable grip.

What you should consider: The colors may be slightly different from the pictures.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Scepter 05177 Military Water Container

Scepter 05177 Military Water Container

What you need to know: With a capacity of 5 gallons, this military-designed water container is a great way to refill personal water containers while out on the road or during excursions into the outdoors.

What you’ll love: Made with BPA-free material, this heavy-duty water container is highly durable and perfect for refilling water on the go and emergencies.

What you should consider: The screw-top lid may leak when the container is on its side.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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