Always drinking pure water can be boring and tasteless, especially when you have to filtrate it or use sterilizer/purification tabs which might cause the water to taste really bad.

What are easy (lightweight and not complicated to use) ways to get some flavour and diversion in my drinking while being outdoors for several weeks?

  • 2
    Bring some tea bags.
    – gerrit
    Aug 6, 2014 at 18:14
  • 4
    I like powder gatorade, replenish those electrolytes :)
    – AM_Hawk
    Aug 6, 2014 at 18:31
  • 3
    I would avoid drink mixes that are sweetened with sugar. I've heard that if the sugar isn't cleaned off of the threads of your water bottle, it can lead to dysentery.
    – user2169
    Aug 6, 2014 at 22:51
  • 3
    For those who don't like tea or coffee, you can get nice little packet hot chocolates (in response to @BenCrowell make sure you clean well as both these are sugary!) or for example things like Robinson's Squashed - which is a small squeezable fruit flavouring. I never camp without hot chocolate.
    – Aravona
    Aug 7, 2014 at 7:21
  • With hops. Sorry for the necromancy and the silly answer.
    – Vorac
    Aug 4, 2020 at 3:17

10 Answers 10


As a former soldier (and Medic), I personally don't flavour my water during the outdoors.

The contents of the canteen/flask might be required for a non-drinking purpose such as:

  • Eyewash
  • Rinsing
  • Medical
  • Cleaning etc

However, I do flavour my water on a day-to-day basis for the gym etc using super-concentrate micro capsules such as Squash'd

If you have not seen them then you can read about the growth in the super-concentrate market.

As a frequent Coca-Cola and Pepsi drinker I am a bit of a sugar addict and I can attest to the hyper-sweetness of even a 1/2 second squirt of Squash'd. It is very flavoursome without being overpowering. One little capsule should last for a week easily.

Electrolyte water however is really just a fancy name for some carbs (sugar) with a dash of salt. You can make exactly the same chemical solution at home with a pinch of salt and the juice of a citrus fruit - which is exactly what we used to make soldiers sip when suffering from heat exhaustion. For the price of a Lucozade sachet, I could make 40-50 litres of homemade electrolyte.

  • 7
    I carry two bottles, and one of them is always plain water.
    – Mark
    Aug 7, 2014 at 4:14
  • 2
    @Venture2099: Thats an amazing point about using the contents of the flask might be required for a non-drinking purposes. Will do a +1 tomorrow.. Daily vote limit reached. I got a Suffrage today!
    – WedaPashi
    Aug 7, 2014 at 7:06
  • The painful fact was demonstrated to us during a CS Gas rehearsal. The instructor deliberately picked a recruit he knew had put lemon flavour powder into his canteen. Upon exiting the chamber, covered in CS, he grabbed the canteen and poured into the eyes of the recruit to teach him a lesson. We never forgot - his screams were lesson enough haha. Aug 7, 2014 at 8:59
  • 1
    Does Squash contain Aspartame?
    – kenorb
    Aug 7, 2014 at 12:47
  • 2
    Never thought about why I wouldn't want to flavour my water. Great answer! Aug 11, 2014 at 1:04

Few things I do:

  • bring tea.
  • bring water flavoring packets, like Crystal Light or Propel.
  • bring coffee or instant coffee.
  • know your surrounding vegetation and make tea out of different plants, leaves, and/or roots. Emphasis on knowing your surrounding vegetation; make sure you know which plants (or parts of plants) are suitable for consumption.
  • 6
    If you plan on making tea out of surrounding vegetation, only use leaves and roots that you know aren't going to kill you :) Aug 6, 2014 at 19:19

I preferably avoid artificial materials, so I would use lemon, orange or grapefruit juice, just a bit for the taste, not really making lemonade (although it might irritate your stomach after several days of drinking it).

Crushed herb leaves can also give a new taste to the already "boring" water - for this purpose I would use mint, wild thyme, basil or maybe rosemary. Better experiment with these, because some could have stronger taste than what you would enjoy. Also, these aromatic plants have oils which might influence the digestion, so use with care.

  • 2
    +1 for lemon juice, it actually makes an alkaline solution in the body that helps prevent heartburn - this is a daily treatment for Acid Reflux, and tasty.
    – Aravona
    Aug 7, 2014 at 7:25

That is a very tricky question...

Pure water is the best for everything. There are lots of things you can use to add some taste and make it easy to drink but there are some considerations about that as well. For sure those electrolytes are the best options but they are not cheap.

In a camping trip, where exercise is not the focus, all those already said, should be fine. Coffee, tea bags, those juice powders...

If you are for something a bit more intense, you need to take in consideration dehydration. Teas and some juice powders have diuretic effect and you will get more dehydrated, which in this case I would prefer the electrolytes drinks.

If you are doing that most of people wouldn't, Water will be just fine.

Some times, when I'm on the go in a really long/intense trip, I feel that after half way, it gets hard even to eat. My body gets so tired that even digestion becomes hard. That is when I start on soup packs and soft food. The same thing for the drink. More pure water, your system will work better. :)

  • 3
    Coffee and tea causing dehydration is myth according to outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/5821/3362 Aug 8, 2014 at 12:47
  • 1
    I think that answer needs expanding. As a frequent caffeinated cola drinker I can attest to the diuretic effects of the beverages - in know way are they as comparable as water. I know the answer lists a number of studies which lends an air of authority but the studies had only 18 people. Any SE member can test this themselves. Spend 24 hours drinking nothing but plain water and capture your urine throughout the timebox. Do the same with only caffeine beverages such as Cola - compare and contrast. The caffeinated urine will be closer to toxic waste in colour. Aug 9, 2014 at 7:28
  • 1
    In addition, some of the studies de-linking dehydration and soda came out of the Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness. Which has the following description - "Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness (BIHW) is part of The Coca-Cola Company's ongoing commitment to advance scientific knowledge, awareness and understanding of beverages." Totally impartial science then... Aug 9, 2014 at 7:36
  • I'm also a coffee drinker. I don't drink fizzy/soda beverages often (almost never) by preference. My answer was to raise the diuretic
    – Desorder
    Aug 10, 2014 at 22:01
  • Sorry I pressed enter before finishing my comment... continuing... I'm also a coffee drinker but I don't drink fizzy/soda beverages often (almost never) by preference. My answer was to raise the fact of diuretic effects of flavoured drinks or flavour added water. I believe that researches about this topic can lead you to either side of the coin depending how persuasive the article is.
    – Desorder
    Aug 10, 2014 at 22:17

Depends on the activity. Depends on the time of year.

Summer on the trail: Water. I don't bother with anything else. Salted nuts are part of my lunch and there is a salt shaker with supper. Since in my hiking country stream crossings are rarely more than an hour apart, water is convenient. A 500 ml bottle is fine. If you were in serious sweat country, I'd give consideration to a drink with electrolytes.

(Addendum: Last trip included a ridge walk. We use a 2 liter pop bottle per person in addition to our 500 ml bottle. Most days the pop bottle was empty in our pack.)

Winter Snowshoeing. Water is much less available. I used to organize cross country orienteering contests, so would often spend all day putzing about setting controls for meets that were far enough in the future that my tracks would vanish.

Anyway, I would take 2 liter pop bottle full of hot coffee with lots of milk and sugar. This was nested in spare clothing in my day pack for insulation.

Dogsledding. We usually traveled 2 or 3 per sled, with half the people at any given time up front breaking trail. For these trips we carried 6 quart thermoses that we filled at breakfast with juice crystals (faux juice) made at double strength with boiling water.

In use, you would fill the cap or a cup with snow, add hot juice and turn it into double the volume of warm juice, or into a slushy if you preferred.

In camp, all trips: I like my morning coffee, made at near expresso strength, and 2 mugs with lots of brown sugar and plastic powdered creamer. In the evening I drink hot chocolate, or a mix of powdered coconut milk, powdered milk, and if I'm really decandant and can afford the weight (canoe trips, weekend trips, sled trips) a splash of vanilla extract.

I carry some extra soup and juice packets to use for rainy day lunches. Lunch on rainy days can be done two ways: Add a layer, eat as fast as you can, take off a layer and go; or add a layer, make a fire, make up soup or a hot beverage, have lunch, get warm, and go.

(All of my trips are in wilderness areas that permit fires. Last trip (Willmore Wilderness, north of Jasper) once we were a day from the trail head, we saw 2 sets of shoe prints, but many sets of wolf, bear, moose, and a few cougar. Very lightly used country.)

All trip meals tend to be soupy. This is both for rehydration, and it makes the pots easier to clean.

If you are into performance endurance racing, the standard faux juice is too sweet, running about 10% sugar. You want a solution around 5-7%. This is absorbed fast by your gut. Depending on the weather you can tune this. Hot weather (sweating due to environment) you want less sugar. Cooler weather (almost all sweat due to exertion) you can use more sugar. Fill your camel hump with the right level of glucose (not plain sugar) and you can postpone depleting your liver's glycogen and delay hitting the wall.

Note however:

I have found running trips with teens that, without flavouring, many kids will fail to drink enough, become chronically mildly dehydrated, with the attendant mild headaches, grumpiness, and lack of energy. To help keep them hydrated: Served hot chocolate with breakfast, dilute faux juice at lunch, and strong sweet tea after supper, as well serving soup as part of supper. In most cases all of these were served at about twice the dilution you would find in 'civilization'.

Yes, they drink when really thirsty, and will gradually start drinking enough, but that takes a week. Meanwhile at every stop, you have to remind them to drink.


Propel Zero powder packs is what I use on backpacking trips once I make camp. During each day of hiking I only drink water and obtain needed nutrition through food. After I finish for the day I will drink 16 or 20 ounces of water flavored with one Propel Zero packet while I rest and setup camp or my area in a shelter. Then it's back to water for dinner.


I take the small packets of gatorade or similar that offers flavor plus electrolytes. I find that flavouring helps to make certain sources of water palatable when filtering it out in the backcountry.


Since I don't like putting anything besides water in my water bottles while I'm backpacking, I typically will just alternate Gatorade powder with a swish of water, then mix it together in my mouth. Definitely gets rid of the sugar craving, since, after all, you're just eating sugar.


You might consider boiling it up with some berries, (suitable) plants or pine needles.

In terms of treatment tablets, there are neutralisers to sort the taste out, but they are not perfect.

For a double solution, you might want to try those effervescent vitamin c tablets. Orange is nice.

  • 1
    Some berries you don't even need to boil. Just crush them a little and throw them in. It depends on how strong you want the taste to be, this gives 'just a whiff'.
    – user15958
    Aug 13, 2018 at 19:38

Plain water is certainly the best choice, but it can be awfully boring. If I need something else I usually bring some single serve drink mixes, either crystal light or the Walmart branded ones.

Also, some of the single serve drink mixes are available with caffine/b vitamins. Not the best thing for hydration, but when your camping and don't feel like making coffee they can be a nice alternative.

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