How To Carry Water While Kayaking?

How To Carry Water While Kayaking?

Staying hydrated while kayaking is essential for avoiding heat stroke, especially on long summer kayaking trips.

However, carrying a large amount of drinking water can sometimes be tricky, especially if you need enough for two or more people and have a small kayak that is already loaded with fishing and camping gear.

Today, I will be showing you the best ways to carry water while kayaking.

The short version: Use wine bladders, MSR Dromedary or Dromlite bags, PFD hydration packs, or hiking bladders to carry water. Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking before and during your trip.

Read on to learn more.

How to Carry Water While Kayaking?

Hiking Bladders

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Hiking bladders, also called hydration bladders and hydration packs, are packs of water that strap to your body, allowing for easy access during hiking or other physical activities, like kayaking and fishing.

They come in different sizes, such as two or three liters, and they usually come with a tube that allows you to drink with ease while kayaking.

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You can usually wear them on your back like a backpack. These types of hydration systems aren’t usually too big for that reason; they’re not designed to be your main water storage.

If they were too heavy, it would make hiking, kayaking, and other physical activities a lot more difficult.

Kayak PFD Bladders

Another type of hydration system that you might find works better for you are those that attach to your life jacket. The problem with using hiking bladders for kayaking is that it can make wearing a life jacket a little uncomfortable and awkward.

However, you should always use a lifejacket, as not doing so may not only be illegal but is also very unsafe, especially if you are kayaking far from shore.

A good solution is using a water pack that attaches to your personal flotation device. These water packs are designed specifically for kayaking.

I recommend the Kokatat Tributary Hydration System. It holds 1.5 liters and attaches to almost all Kokatat life jackets.

You drink using the 36-inch long tube. The pack even comes with an extra zipper pocket so you can put some other items there.

Another option is the 1.5-liter hydration pack from Hyde Sportswear. It comes with a 36-inch tube, but you can cut it to adjust it to your desired length.

The valve on the tube closes by itself after each sip, making life a bit more convenient. This particular pack is compatible with the Wingman life jacket.

These types of packs are a bit less common, as there are fewer companies selling them. They may only be compatible with life jackets from a certain company.

MSR Dromedary Bags

For storing larger amounts of water, consider getting an MSR Dromedary bag. These bags are not meant to be carried on your person, so they can store large amounts – up to 10 liters.

Sold by MSR, these bags come in three sizes: four liters, six liters, and 10 liters. The lining is BPA-free to minimize bad tastes, and the three-in-one cap is designed to make it easy to fill, empty, and drink from the bags.

The bags are collapsible as well, an essential feature that you should look for in a kayak water carrier or hydration system. Remember, storage space on your kayak is limited, and you have a weight limit as well, so being able to collapse your bag will ensure that you have enough space when needed.

The bags are very durable, and they will withstand all types of conditions. They also allow you to put in both boiling and freezing water.

The exterior is hydrophobic, which means that it won’t absorb any extra water weight that might weigh down your kayak. There are little holes on the bag that make it easy to hang it up or attach it securely to your kayak so that it doesn’t fall off.

MSR Dromedary bags are very popular among kayakers, but they do have downsides. The main complaint relates not to their utility but to the taste of the water stored in the bags.

Many people in the reviews complain about foul-tasting water that has a plastic taste. However, reviews are mixed, with some people saying that they did not taste any plastic in the water at all, so your mileage may vary.

Some reviewers advised filling the bag with water several times and emptying it out to get rid of the initial bad taste. Others said they had success by adding some baking soda and lemon juice to the water as well and then emptying it out and cleaning it a few times with pure water to remove the chemical taste.

Meanwhile, other people said that despite flushing the bag many times, soaking it overnight, adding baking soda to the water while flushing it, and using other tricks, they were unable to get rid of the chemical taste that the bag imparted to the water inside.

If you have sensitive taste buds, this might not be the right product for you, so use one of the other alternatives I list in this article.

MSR has improved the inner lining of the bags, adding a food-grade lining to prevent bad-tasting water, but some people say that there’s still that plastic taste.

MSR Dromlite Bags

MSR Dromlite bags are a good alternative to the standard MSR Dromedary bags. These bags are smaller, so they hold less water, but they are also lighter, and they collapse down to the size of the cap alone.

They come in three sizes:

  • Two liters
  • Four liters
  • Six liters

As with the regular MSR Dromedary bags, though, there are mixed reviews, with many people complaining about a chemical or plastic taste in the water. There also seems to be quite a few reviews of people saying the bags leaked.

However, the majority of the reviews are positive. People love how light the bags are and how easy it is to collapse and store them when not in use.

Wine Bladders

A lot of people, especially people frustrated with the bad taste of MSR Dromedary and Dromlite bags, have had success using wine bladders for kayaking. Wine bladders can hold large amounts of water, and most of them don’t impart a bad taste to the water inside.

They are also collapsable and can be stored easily.

One of the downsides of using wine bladders, though, is that they are often not as durable as MSR Dromedary bags. After all, they weren’t really designed to be made for long outdoor trips like kayaking or camping.

For example, these wine bladders from Amazon can hold 1.5 liters each, but there are definitely wine bladders that can hold more liquid than that. These particular ones come with spouts for easy pouring, and they are made of durable aluminum foil that will help you avoid breakage.

If you want a wine bladder that can hold more water, check out these three-liter wine bags from Amazon. They have great sealing and won’t leak easily, and they are also easy to clean in between trips.

There are bigger options as well, such as this five-liter wine bladder or this 18-liter bag, both from Astropaq.

Wine bladers tend to be pretty affordable as well, which is another plus. For a small fee, you can usually get a pack of four wine bladders, so it’s enough to carry water for the whole group.

Juice/Milk Bottles or Cartons

Juice/Milk Bottles or Cartons

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I recommend having one or two juice or milk bottles or cartons as well. These can typically hold one or two liters, and they are easy to carry around.

They are disposable, which means you can either reuse them or throw them out after your trip. The reason for carrying them is that they are simply easier to drink from.

You can easily fit them under your kayak seat or in an extra storage hatch that you are not using, making them easily accessible compared to large water bags but without needing to carry them on your person.

Small Water Bottles

Additionally, I recommend using one-liter or half-liter water or Gatorade bottles. Whether you use plastic disposable bottles or reusable bottles is up to you.

Either way, the point is to have small amounts of water that are easily accessible. If your kayak has a bottle or cup holder, you can place them there and drink easily; just refill them when they are finished.

If you use a Gatorade bottle, you can also empty it out and pee into it while kayaking.

Water Coolers

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Sometimes, it’s just so hot outside that room-temperature water just won’t do it. Even worse, the heat might heat up the water in your kayak, and not many people enjoy drinking warm or hot water on a hot, sunny day.

Water coolers are perfect for kayaks, but make sure to get a kayak-sized one. You can usually strap down a water cooler in the back storage area that’s made for crates.

Another option is getting a cooler bag. If you don’t even have room for that, a floating cooler might be a good alternative.

Water coolers are perfect for keeping water and other beverages cold. You can throw in a few cans of beer, and I also recommend carrying some Gatorade or another sports drink that would help you replenish lost electrolytes from sweating too much.

If you don’t want all the extra sugar from Gatorade, and you can’t find a sugar-free sports drink, you can buy some oral rehydration salts online or at your local pharmacy. Simply pour them into your water – they don’t always taste that good, but they will help replenish lost minerals.

When fishing, you can also use water coolers for keeping fish fresh. On a long kayaking trip, especially on a hot sunny day, fish can easily get spoiled if you leave them out too long.

Crates of Bottled Water

Another option is simply buying a crate of water bottles and strapping it down to the back of your kayak.

An advantage of this method is that you don’t have to buy extra gear, such as wine bladders. You also won’t have to worry about a bad taste in your water.

However, you would end up with a lot of plastic waste, so you should recycle the used bottles appropriately.

Tips for Staying Hydrated While Kayaking

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It’s super important to drink enough water while kayaking, even if it’s not that hot or humid outside. Kayaking is an intense physical activity that will cause you to lose water, and you can easily suffer heat stroke or dehydration if you’re not careful.

Staying hydrated starts with having enough water with you on the kayak. Too many people take just a couple of water bottles with them, only to discover later that it wasn’t nearly enough.

Here are my top tips for staying hydrated while kayaking.


Don’t wait until you’re on the water to start hydrating. Make sure you drink plenty of water beforehand.

To ensure your body can retain the fluid, add some oral rehydration salt powder or dissolvable tablets to your water. Trust me, you’ll feel better and less thirsty later on.

Two to four cups of water around an hour before heading out is ideal.

Drink Often

It can be easy to forget to hydrate while kayaking. Your hands are usually busy, and you’re having a lot of fun.

If you need to, set a periodic alarm to remind yourself to drink. Try to take small sips of water every 10-15 minutes or at least a cup or two every hour or so.

Avoid Dehydrating Fluids

Coffee and alcohol are diuretics and can dehydrate you. Not only will you have to pee more often, which can be quite annoying while kayaking, but you will also be at a greater risk for dehydration.

Try to avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages in the hours leading up to a trip. The same goes for alcohol – it’s better to relax with a beer after you finish kayaking, not before.

Eat Fruits

A rat way to ensure your body has enough water is to eat fruits. Did you know that your body gets 20% of the water it needs from food?

Fruits and vegetables tend to be high in water, but some have more than others. Cucumbers, tomatoes, and watermelons are all great, as they have more than 92% water content, but you can also take oranges and apples if you don’t like the taste of cucumbers and tomatoes.

Wrapping It Up

My top ways for carrying water while kayaking is to use wine bladders, MSR bags, and hiking or PFD hydration packs. They make it easy to access water while kayaking, which is important if you want to drink regularly and stay hydrated.

Also, remember to drink a lot of water, avoid coffee and alcohol, and replenish your body with oral rehydration salts or sports drinks.

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How To Carry Water While Kayaking?

Peter Salisbury

Peter Salisbury

Pete is the Owner of Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, he grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him skiing in the mountains, reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.

Welcome! I’m so glad you are here :-) I’m Pete. I am the owner of I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, I grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When I am not out on the water, you can find me skiing in the mountains, reading my favorite books, and spending time with my family.