Bottles of olive oil often have special caps that help prevent drips/etc. when pouring the oil, but an entire bottle of olive oil is far to heavy to carry for a hike. What's the best method for carrying olive oil to avoid getting oil all over the container and everything else after a few uses?

To expand upon this: The problem with putting the oil is just any old container is that the oil tends to cling and drip or run down the sides. Over time you end up with a very oily/sticky container. Olive oil comes in containers with special caps to prevent this but a standard container can weigh pounds. Pounds matter a lot to lightweight hikers who are counting ounces.

  • 1
    Have you thought about clarified butter/ghee instead of oil?
    – StrongBad
    May 6, 2016 at 13:52
  • Some caps are easy to remove and put back. I would take the cap of an empty bottle and fit it to a smaller bottle. Then carry the bottle wrapped in multiple plastic bags.
    – FluidCode
    May 3 at 11:44
  • @StrongBad butter is almost liquid at a fairly low temperature, though
    – njzk2
    May 8 at 16:27

10 Answers 10


Some years ago I had the same problem. But, while shopping at my grocery store I looked at the olive oil options. Several came in small plastic bottles (maybe 3 oz), and since they were 'real' olive oil bottles had the funky no-drip top. After using up the original oil I've just refilled as necessary. Look around at your local supermarket.

  • 1
    This is awesome! The wife got one last night and the bottles has the exact pour cap that larger olive oil bottles have (the anti-drip kind). May 6, 2016 at 13:56

Depending on how much you need you can get a variety of food grade plastic bottles for carrying liquids.

To avoid drips probably the best option is a squeeze type bottle with both a nozzle and a screw top lid. The combination of a screw top and insert squirt nozzle gives a good combination of ease of refilling, seal security and ease of use with minimal dripping.

You can also get these in multiples of 10 or 15ml so they are good for small quantities.

  • Looking more for an idea proven through experience. I could come up with a lot of ideas that are "probably" good, but then I have to go field test all of them :) May 3, 2016 at 19:10
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    This is the method I use for carrying small quantities of liquids including oils. May 6, 2016 at 15:37
  • Examples of this sorta bottles would be greatly appreciated!
    – Iizuki
    Jan 25, 2023 at 13:26
  • I have used these for peanut oil and had no leaks. They are, if I remember right, the COglans brand gearshop.co.nz/products/coghlans-contain-alls May 1 at 4:19

I go to my local pharmacy and ask for medicine-grade screw-top bottles. These have good seals and only cost pennies.

To be doubly sure I place the bottle in a plastic bag and carry it in an outside pocket of my pack.

All this may seem a bit paranoid, but I once had a nasty experience with butter on my sleeping bag...


The first option that comes to mind is a 20 ounce plastic soda bottle or something similar. Lightweight and well sealed, if you fill it only half full it's relatively easy to pour without spilling down the sides.

There's also a product called the flexible flask that comes with a measuring spout that should prevent any spills, and then you could throw the measuring spout into a ziploc bag when you're not using it to further contain liquids.


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  • The problem is that oil is rather viscous. It's always going to cling to the lip on the bottle and end up with some down the sides. I don't want to even imagine the mess of trying to manage that separate pour spout on the vapur. Really looking for an idea proven through experience. May 3, 2016 at 19:10
  • 3
    What's wrong with that pour spout? Doesn't look too bad to me, closest thing to an olive oil bottle specifically for backpacking I've seen yet.
    – cr0
    May 3, 2016 at 19:22
  • @cr0 - The problem with the pour spout is that you have to put it in and take it out every time you use it. You can't store it in your pack and it will inevitably have oil on it when you take it out. Cleaning oil off the spout gets us back in the same problem I was originally trying to solve. May 6, 2016 at 12:08
  • @RussellSteen you could have a small, water-tight container (hard case or soft plastic bag) for the not-in-use spout. Containing the oil from the spout/cap while traveling won't be as bad as containing the whole olive oil bottle. If the vapor itself ends up oily on the outside, that's a different story...
    – cr0
    May 6, 2016 at 12:36
  • @cr0 -- Have you actually used this system for olive oil? May 6, 2016 at 13:59

You could always get a pour spout that you can use for any liquid. here's an example They sell them almost anywhere they sell kitchen utensils (even some hardware stores). Then you can use the coke bottle, the olive oil bottle, anything.

An alternative, placing chopstick in the bottle so that it sticks out of the mouth where your pouring will create a surface that the oil will follow along better, having the pour extend a bit past the mouth and stopping it from running down the bottle. The more viscous the better this works.


The Sea To Summit 'Wilderness Wash' bottles are by far the best. They have a squirt insert so don't drip and easier to control amounts. The insert comes out for filling and cleaning. The cap plugs the hole of the insert as well as cinching down on the bottle itself, so double leakproof. You can jump on it with all your weight and the bottle bursts before the seal fails, I have. They're available in 1.3, 3, 8.5oz and the squirt insert and cap is interchangeable throughout.

I've tried many bottle types and some work fine but nearly all fail with dramatic changes in altitude and temperature. If you fill these about 7/8 full and squeeze the air out before capping they never fail. Normal smaller Nalgene work fine as well but no squirt insert, which I find immensely handy for cleanliness and portioning.

I've put vinegar, oil, honey, tabasco, jellies, even thinner nut butters in them and the squirt insert and bottle always function flawlessly. With the added pouring ease and packability of a thin oblong bottle instead of round

  • 1
    Can you buy these empty? Or do you have to go through the process of buying full ones, using up the soap and then do X rinse cycles to clean it out?
    – fgysin
    May 1 at 6:16

I use one of these 250ml Nalgene wide mouth bottles:

They are made out of a soft-ish material, perfectly durable, reusable and don’t drip. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find them on the Nalgene website.

In colder climates (e.g. Scandinavia) I’ve used butter too.


Try olive oil capsules. You can find them in many health food stores and sometimes even supermarkets that stock vitamins or have a pharmacy. If no one carries them where you are, you can order them online easy enough. Get the 1000 mg capsules. Depending on the length of your hike, fill up a waterproof match container or two with them (plastic or aluminum type with an o-ring seal). You can find those just about anywhere camping gear is sold.

Kinda slow if you're wanting to whip up pesto, poking each one with a knife, but if you're just flavoring something a bit or needing some on a skillet, it works. Better is just to carry bacon. Bacon doesn't leak. And bacon grease makes everything taste great. On the other hand, I use olive oil on my knife blades, instead of petroleum based oils. And bacon grease on your blade...that's like crack for ants or something.

  • 3
    ... and bacon isn´t vegetarian. Not quite what the OP asked for, and olive oil capsules sounds very expensive and worksome. Jun 2, 2016 at 11:04
  • I guess it's relative. I don't see why anyone would have a problem just carrying a flask of olive oil. If a few ozs is going to make or break your trip, you're packing too heavy, or not in shape to be doing what you're planning on doing. Having used them, it takes all of a few seconds to open several. And it absolutely eliminates any spilling, even if your lid is not sealed tightly. Bacon solves the problem of oil without drip, and is only a suggested alternative. Using animal fat on the trail for cooking has a proven track record going back millennia, consolidates oil, container, and food. Jun 2, 2016 at 21:36
  • oz make pounds as they say. Everything can be considered in terms of "a few ounces". At the end of the day, any gear item over another is usually just "a few ounces". This is not a question of whether or not anyone is in shape enough, it's a question about finding a container that carries the amount of olive oil I want to carry. I also can't eat pork so that's right out. Your inability to discern why someone might not want to carry something is not a statement about how in shape they are. Jun 5, 2016 at 15:03
  • I wouldn't say I have an inability to discern whether or not someone doesn't eat pork or how much oil they want to carry when they state neither. I merely pointed out a flask with olive oil doesn't weigh much. I'm well aware of what weight means when you carry it, as an infantryman I carried packs for a living, including in a few instances loads in the 80-100lb range. Further, you didn't mention an amount, just that you didn't want to carry a whole bottle. Flasks come in a lot of sizes, including some that hold far less than a large bottle of olive oil--of which there are many sizes. Jun 6, 2016 at 9:35
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    " I don't see why anyone would have a problem just carrying a flask of olive oil. If a few ozs is going to make or break your trip, you're packing too heavy, or not in shape to be doing what you're planning on doing" -- Your comment speaks for itself. Jun 6, 2016 at 22:01

Plastic medical bottles for liquids that have been rinsed well ( the 250 ml size is perfect)


There are multiple manufacturers that sell olive oil packets (think single-use tear pouches similar to a ketchup or condiment packet), generally containing around 10mL (0.34 fl oz). I haven't personally seen them in grocery stores or supermarkets, but they are readily available online including some specialty hiking retailers.


  • Factory sealed, so no leaks or spoilage or drips.
  • Easy portioning & packing. Adding 1--2 packets to a meal is about right for a flavor & calorie bump (80ish kCal each).
  • Empties are easy to pack out.
  • If one packet does leak, you are only dealing with 10mL of oil instead of an entire bottle leaking out.


  • Prices vary, but they generally seem to be around 3x more expensive per volume compared to a bottle from the grocery store. It would be an expensive option for home cooking or a thru-hike, but the cost is still reasonable for weeklong backpacking trips.
  • Microtrash potential.
  • Moderate burst potential - I take a dozen or so inside a ziplock bag and keep them towards the top of my food bag / bear cannister.

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