Sea to Summit Folding Bucket


Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $25


This bucket performs reasonably well with some care. While it can be challenging to fill, and difficult to get it to stand up, it adds a real level of convenience to backcountry camping. No more frequent trips to the water supply — I find one fill-up of the bucket provides enough water for an overnight stay.


  • Relatively lightweight
  • Relatively compact storage


  • Difficult to keep it standing
  • Difficult to fill

I never thought I'd buy something like this for backpacking ... but I figured it might help prolong the life of my water filter between cleanings if I had a bucket to let sediment settle before using the filter. Also it probably is more LNT-ish to collect water from the source and store it at the campsite rather than making multiple trips to the water's edge to filter it from there.

Anyway, I've used this just once so far on an overnight trip, and it worked out pretty well. It did help in the ways I thought it would. There are a few things to consider though.

  • It can be difficult to fill unless deep water is accessible. To really fill it, you need to have water deep enough to submerge the bucket while it's upright. Pulling the bucket along horizontally doesn't allow you to collect much water. So it works fine if you have a stream where there's a pool, or a lake that slopes fairly steeply... or of course if there's a waterfall :). But if the water source is a shallow stream, this bucket probably won't be of much use.
  • It can be tricky to get it to stand up while full of water. I lost one bucket full because it simply fell over after I'd left it and walked away. After that I was much more careful in positioning it, and it was OK. But as I used water from it, I kept wondering if it'd tip over again (and collapse). I guess you just need to be careful, and if possible, position it next to something supportive.

At about 3.5 oz (with the little stuff-package), it's significant, but probably not unreasonable given its benefits. It is very compact when folded, so it doesn't take much space in your pack, or pack pocket.

I plan to continue using mine, at least when headed to destinations where I'll be likely to find a suitable water source where I can use it.

Update: November 24, 2011

I've continued to use this on my trips since first posting my review over a year ago. I've developed this routine now, when I select a campsite, I fill the bucket at the water source, then find a low hanging branch, or narrow rock outcropping, or similar at my site, and attach the bucket handle with a bungee cord to keep it upright. Then I have a water source right at my campsite without needing to schlep to the lake/creek repeatedly.  

It's better for the water-side vegetation, more convenient for me, and I can even select campsites further from the water without it being inconvenient (again, better for the environment near the water). I've found this to be well worth the few extra ounces in my pack...

Here there was a convenient log with a nicely positioned hook for the bungee:


Have you owned or used a Sea to Summit Folding Bucket? Share your experience »

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