The earlier question, here, raised this question about carrying water.

How do you carry water during touring? Do yo carry it in panniers, water-bags, bottles, containers or elsewhere? How does your carrier change in different location. You can see from earlier question that it is not trivial to get even clean water. So it sounds logical to carry a lot of water when you are in locations where water can be tight. In such case, when you get the water perhaps bottled water. How do you allocate it? Have you never thrown something away because you needed more room for water?

4 Answers 4


I have used old wine cask bags (or bladders, readily available in Australia, not too sure about rest of the world) packed either into a pannier or strapped onto the top of the rear rack (not the best position but I was fully loaded). Some would say the slight after taste of wine is a bonus. I have also seen unused bladders available from some camping stores.

I also have carried water purification tablets just to be safe.

  • How do you fill them? It seems like either pushing water through the spigot which is meant to go the other way, or cut open the top and then you have to re-seal that new opening. Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 21:42
  • Locally they have a plastic spout with a snap on piece. With the judicious use of a table knife or a flat blade screwdriver you can remove the cover, allowing you to rinse out or fill the bladder.
    – Anthony K
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 19:50

Water is actually extremely dense, and heavier than people think; it can be difficult to carry. My solution is to carry water in four standard cycling water bottles. In addition to the two bottle cages on my touring bike's frame, I also purchased two plastic water bottle cages that fit on my front panniers: enter image description here

You can carry bottles of water in your panniers as well, they're just a little harder to get to; you also will want to be extra-careful that they don't leak. I also suggest carrying them low down in the bags (along with anything else you have that is heavy).

To carry even more water, you can purchase camping water bags; they're essentially flexible plastic bags that hold water, available in any camping supply store. However, as water is heavy and it sloshes around, it can be difficult to haul more than a couple of gallons. (I get by on a gallon and a half (about 6 liters) for a day of touring.)

  • I suspect you mean dense rather than heavy. A tonne of feathers is heavy :)
    – Мסž
    Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 23:47
  • 2
    @moz and it's heavy! You don't normally need to carry a ton of feathers, but you might need to carry 10kg of water.
    – mgb
    Commented Feb 28, 2011 at 17:13
  • You could also get a dual water bottle cage that mounts on the seat. Similar to this one (trisports.com/midocasamo.html)
    – Kibbee
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 13:58
  • @Kibbee - Those look very handy. If I didn't have stuff there already I'd get one. It looks like it's very easy to get at the water and put it back in the cage. Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 14:56

I rode 2200km this summer using a Revelate Designs Tangle Bag with a Camelbak water bladder (mine was 3L, but the Tangle Bag could hold at least another liter if you could find a larger bladder). Worked great. No switching bottles, just one thing to fill up, less distance to reach to get water, and water stays cooler longer. If you were riding across a desert or something you could carry water bottles in cages below it.

With the other Revelate bag in front (the "Gas Tank"), there is a spot between the front bag and the stem to stick the end of the Camelbak hose; the stem has a notch, between the steerer-clamp bolts, that helps hold it in place.

The one minor downer to the Revelate bags is that, while they are mostly water-resistant, they aren't water-proof like an Ortlieb pannier would be. The Tangle Bag in particular got significant water into it when riding in the rain for a while, I think because of the longer zipper and its orientation. Otherwise, amazing product.

Fork-mounted bottle cages might be an option, but I haven't used them myself.

Camelbak in Revelate Designs Tangle Bag


As Anthony says, collapsible bottles / bladders have got to be the way to go. They allow you to adapt the amount of water you carry on a daily basis, without taking up much room when you're not using them.

I carried a couple of 2 liter collapsible bottles while touring in Australia. Didn't use them all the time, since I had bike bottles too, but they came in handy when I needed to go for a couple of days without access to water.

Purification tablets are also a must !

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