Family Camping Essentials: GRAYL Bottles

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For families who like to camp like we do, having drinkable water on hand is by far one of the most important family camping essentials. In the past, we used to buy bottled water from the store. But as we try to be more environmentally responsible during our travels, we decided to invest in something that will allow us to have clean, drinkable water all the time.

These days, we never go camping without our GRAYL bottles. They’re one of our essential travel items. These bottles help us have drinkable water whenever we want. And they also help us to be more environmentally friendly!

This post was updated on May 7, 2020.

This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase something. But don’t worry, this will not result in any extra costs to you.

GRAYL bottle, an example of family camping essentials, in front of Mexican ruins
Taking our GRAYL bottle to Mexico (November 2018)

Reducing our reliance on plastic water bottles

According to Forbes, one million plastic bottles are purchased each minute in the world, and only 9% of those bottles are recycled. Even for those plastic bottles that are recycled, the process of recycling isn’t as environmentally friendly as you would think, as it uses up valuable resources like water and electricity.

When we were thinking of what to pack for our camping essentials, and travel essentials in general, we wanted to be mindful of purchasing items that would have a small environmental impact, but still also do the job that it needed to do.

In the case of water bottles, we wanted something that would reduce our reliance on one time use plastic bottles, but also still provide us clean and safe drinking water.

That’s when we discovered GRAYL. It’s a water bottle with a water filter AND purifier.

Another traveling family recommended these bottles to us. They traveled for eight years as a family, and swear by GRAYL water bottles. I found out that they are based in Seattle. So I sent them a message, and they sent me back a few bottles to review.

A shelf of GRAYL water bottles, family camping essentials for clean water
GRAYL water bottles over the years (July 2018)

How does it work?

GRAYL water bottles uses a technology called electroadsorption, which filters out particles, pathogens, and heavy metals in water. The bottles consist of an outer container and an inner container with a filter and purifier cartridge attached to the bottom. Water is filled into the outer container, and then you insert the inner container and press down on it to allow the water to pass through the cartridge and into the inner container.

The cartridges have activated carbon that attracts any material in the water and pulls it out, so that all you have left is clean water. The whole filtering and purifying process takes about 15 seconds, and even my 7 year old daughter can do it!

My daughter pressing the GRAYL to filter water (July 2018)

Taking the GRAYL water bottles camping

We recently took our GRAYL water bottles for a test spin when we went camping earlier this month at Seaquest State Park in Washington state, and we loved using them. These bottles have definitely become one of our favorite family camping essentials.

It was easy to fill up the bottles at the potable water faucets and filter the water on the spot. The bottles are made of heavy duty plastic, and are lightweight, so carrying them around on our hikes wasn’t any different than carrying regular water bottles.

One drawback is that the bottles only hold about 16 ounces of water. If you’re a big water drinker like I am, that means frequent refilling of the bottles. GRAYL recommends having another clean bottle or water bladder on hand, which you can pour the filtered water into. In my case, I didn’t mind taking multiple trips to the potable water faucet, it was a good excuse to get more steps in!

Unfiltered water in the outer compartment (July 2018)

Taking care of GRAYL water bottles

Keeping your family camping essentials clean and cared for is important to ensure longevity of use. The GRAYL water bottles are no exception.

Taking care of GRAYL water bottles is relatively easy. All parts of the bottle, EXCEPT for the cartridge, are washable by hand with soap and warm water. I would avoid putting them in the dishwasher, in order to preserve the integrity and shape of the bottles. You can give the cartridge a rinse with water, but avoid using hot water, as it may damage the effectiveness of the carbon in the cartridges.

Purifier cartridges attached to the inner compartment (July 2018)

A cost effective alternative to plastic water bottles

When it comes to choosing camping essentials, we always want to make sure that we are spending our money in a cost effective way. At $70 each, GRAYL water bottles are not cheap. The replacement cartridges are not cheap either. They run around $25 each, and need to be replaced approximately every three months, or after 300 uses. When you add it up, that means you’re spending about $150 for your first year of using a GRAYL bottle, and $100 each subsequent year.

However, when you divide that in terms of daily use, that equals only $.28-$.41 per day (for approximately 48 ounces of water per day). Buying the plastic bottled water equivalent of that much water can run you upwards of $3 a day.  You can be saving almost $1,000 in the span of a year!

GRAYL now also has a much larger bottle, called the GeoPress. These bottles can hold up to 24 liters of water. The price is more expensive, at $90 a bottle. However, they are definitely still worth every penny!

Two GRAYL bottles on a wooden table, very important family camping essentials for clean water
GRAYL bottles, one of our favorite camping essentials (July 2018)

A must for family camping essentials

We love our GRAYL water bottles. We plan to continue using them not only for camping, but also as we travel from country to country for the next three years. The bottles have been so easy to use. The peace of mind of having access to clean drinking water no matter where we go makes GRAYL one of our most recommended family camping essentials. The added perk of reducing the number of plastic water bottles being used in the world is also a plus!

Are you ready to switch to a GRAYL bottle? You can buy them on the GRAYL website, or through the Amazon on the links below.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received two water purifier bottles from GRAYL in exchange for a product review. However, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Family Camping Essentials: GRAYL Bottles | The Wandering Daughter

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18 Responses

  1. As frequent travellers, I agree that we all must do our part to ensure that we travel as responsibly as possible. These filter bottles do seem like a good option to cut down on the use of bottled water. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I’m also someone who’s interested in environment issues and also try to reduce the impact I have on env. I know that plastic is an light weight material, but I would like to find glass bottles, maybe surrounded by natural rubber so that they would be harder to break.
    However, these bottles are, I’m sure, a way better replacement for everyday plastic bottles. And the fact that they filter water, it’s really amazing.

    1. Yes, I’ve definitely seen those glass bottles with the rubber covering around. That would definitely be a good option too. For our family, we’ll probably stick to the more heavy duty plastic until the kids are older. 🙂

  3. Grayl is such an interesting and innovative product. It completely eliminates the need for buying water and for disposing plastic bottles. This could be the answer to our water needs while travelling. Thanks for sharing.

    1. You’re welcome! It truly is innovative, and I’m hoping that more people will jump on the bandwagon and buy them for their travels.

  4. Those do like like useful bottles for a camping trip. Glad that they worked well for you and that you enjoy them!

  5. I never used such type of bottles which can filter the water and easy to carry out. Grayl looks a very good healthy and affordable option to carry drinkable water while on an outdoor trip. Will buy definitely when I am traveling next.

  6. It’s so nice to see travellers who are thinking about the environment when they’re out and about. I don’t have such a water bottle, but I haven’t been camping since forever, to be honest. But it should come in handy during the next road trip.

    1. Thanks! The great thing about these bottles is that they’re not just for camping. We’ve been using them on our road trips too.

  7. Wow these water bottles look awesome! It’s great to see people being environmentally aware. I love camping and am going to be camping in the Pyrenees in September so I might invest 🙂

  8. We’ve been thinking of something like this, but in all honesty we’ve not known who to trust. As you say, it’s important to reduce impact on the environment and when we’re out and about in the middle of nowhere, sometimes we don’t want to be carrying litres of water with us, as long as we’re close to a reliable source. I’ll do some research into Grayl, if they really clean out the bacteria effectively, it could be a good buy. Thanks for the info :).

  9. Plastic has indeed become the bane of the world. It is so essential to take all steps to beat plastic pollution. As travellers, we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to reduce the usage of single-use plastic. Grayl sounds like a great option in this direction. Looks so handy for camping and love the fact that it has an inbuilt filter and purifier as well.

    1. Yes, they’re pretty handy bottles to have. We really do need to reduce our use of one time use plastic in this world.

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I'm a travel-loving mom of three from Seattle. Join our adventures as we explore the Pacific Northwest and the world!



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