10 camping uses for a bucket

Bucket reduced CustomSometimes it’s the simple things that really make a big difference and we've decided that a bucket is an essential part of our camping setup for any trip.

We’re always looking out for lightweight, compact and/or easily stackable or packable items that also serve multiple purposes around the campsite. By reducing the need to buy separate items for necessary functions, these items save money, reduce our load and can also add extra value by serving other less important camping functions. 

For a two day trip to the Murray River, we left behind a few items on our checklist – including our popup bucket. For this short trip, we mainly missed having our bucket at our campsite to carry water and to hold a store of water for cooking and washing. Using our double handled pot for the multiple trips to cart water from the tap to our campsite was literally a pain in the neck (and back).

A bucket also serves other important functions around the campsite. Here are our 10 camping related uses for a bucket.

1. To transport water
Unless you have a tank sufficient for your needs, you will need to transport water from your water supply to your campsite, sometimes over long distances. Buckets aren't made the way they are because they look good - they are designed to be easier for carrying heavy weights. Nevertheless, carrying a heavy bucket in the incorrect manner can still cause strains and injuries . For safer handling:
  • Don't overfill the bucket - you should be able to lift it comfortably
  • When lifting the bucket, bend your knees, and not your back, and keep your feet apart with one foot slightly in front of the other
  • Carry the bucket as close to your body as possible
  • If you have two buckets, carry one in each hand to distribute the load evenly
2. To hold water

BucketAgain, without a water tank, to avoid constant trips to the water source, keep a supply of water in your bucket at the camp kitchen for cooking, hand washing, rinsing food, drinking and for general use. Solid or folding water containers are generally used for this purpose but even the folding ones take up a lot of space in the car and are one less thing to take with you camping if you can get by with a bucket.

If you are reluctant to use this water for drinking, you could use a separate smaller container or reuse softdrink bottles. To avoid contaminating the water:
  • Keep a bowl or cup in the bucket to use to ladle water out into another container when rinsing or washing something
  • If, like us, you don't have a dedicated lid for your bucket you can instead place a large dinner plate or something similar over the top to keep bugs and dust out and weigh it down with something like a small rock in windy conditions to prevent the lid from blowing away
3. To put a fire out

For a lot of people a campfire goes hand in hand with camping, but it can really cause a lot of grief if not managed properly, and that especially includes how it is extinguished. Any time you have a campfire going make sure your bucket is kept full of water and is situated close to the fire for easy access so you can respond quickly in an emergency. Buckets are more practical for putting out a fire than standard hard or soft shell drinking water containers which don't generally have a sufficiently large opening to provide the flow and control you need, especially in an emergency.

4. To assist in the treatment of burns

A full bucket of water situated close to a fire, stove or other significant heat source will allow you to respond immediately in the event that someone might suffer a burn. With a bucket full of water close by, you can apply cool running water to the burns without any delay, potentially reducing its impact.

5. For children's water games and activities
Hot summer days are perfect for water games for the kids (and adults) and a bucket can save many trips to your water supply. These are just some of the water game uses for a bucket:
  • To fill water pistols
  • To fill (and refill) toddler pools
  • To dump the contents over an unsuspecting person - but watch your back!
  • To supply water for wet sponge games such as sponge tag (toss a wet sponge - if someone get's hit they're out). You can find online plenty of wet sponge and other water game ideas.
6. For hand bathing and showers
One of the great things about our camping and touring setup is that your destination is really only limited by the capacity of your vehicle to get you there and back - and that means you will often be without shower facilities. A bucket can be used to collect and hold water for bathing in two ways:
  • For hand bathing: You will need a bucket full of warm to hot water, a sponge, a smaller bowl containing soap mixed with water, shampoo etc. and another bowl to use to ladle the rinsing water from the bucket.
  • For a pump style shower: Similarly you will need a bucket full of warm to hot water, a pump style shower, some soap, shampoo etc and, if you prefer, a sponge. You can place the bucket on a table and shower with one hand holding the shower head. Alternatively, you could hang the shower hose from a tree or shower room (if you have one) or get someone to hold the showerhead for you. You will find numerous compact pump style camping showers on the market - some powered directly from a 12V or 240V power source and others via a rechargeable battery.
7. To wash down the car, bikes, your camping gear, the kids....

Things (and people) can get pretty grotty around the campsite, especially if you or your loved ones are into things like 4-wheel driving, mountain or dirt biking or just generally playing in the dirt. With a bucket, you can take them as far away from the campsite as possible for a wash down! Again the sponge comes in handy here but maybe not the one you will be using for bathing.

8. For fishing

Your bucket comes in useful to carry your fishing gear, bait and hopefully caught fish. You might want to give your bucket a good wash before you return it to some of the other duties listed in this article.

9. For dish washing or rinsing

In our camping setup, we take three basins for dishwashing for use to wash the dishes, to rinse the dishes and to sit them in to drain. Without a basin, you could use a bucket for any of these functions.

10. For clothes washing or rinsing

Likewise, in our camping setup, we take three plastic storage containers, two of which are spares for various uses around the campsite which would include clothes washing if necessary. Without an appropriate container, you could use a bucket to do a small load of hand washing or rinsing.

Now that’s one busy bucket ... hopefully you won't need two of them!

If you know of any other practical camping uses for a bucket, then please let us know and we'll add it to the list. 

Published: 6 May 2018