Ideas For Scooping Water on Trail

Ideas For Scooping Water on Trail

We often hear how much people love their Vecto and how it has made water collection so much simpler for them. We could probably write a full history of how the Vecto was made and designed and so on, to explain exactly what went into our solving the specific problem of scooping water, and we probably will at some point. Lately, though, we have seen a number of conversations that look something like this:

"I have a Sawyer bag/Smartwater bottle water and know that I will need something to scoop water with.... I don't really want to buy a Vecto bag now. What do you use to scoop water?"

Filling a Sawyer water container from a small stream

Usually the responses list a number of various ways to scoop water. Since we have used so many of those methods, we figured a consolidated list would be useful. We, obviously, think you should buy a Vecto, since we made it as a result of our dissatisfaction with these options. But, if you really don't want to buy one, or feel a need to compare it against the other options, we have provided them below.

Here is the list, in no particular order:

  • Lower half of a Sawyer bag - light and simple
  • Your pot - you are already carrying it
  • Make a small "cup" from the bottom of a PTE bottle - bonus points if it fits around your filter and bag, on the bottom of your Smartwater bottle or in your cooking pot. 3-4" seems to work best

PET bottle for scooping water

  • Zip lock bag - cheap and simple, make sure to use the thicker kind
  • Bottom part of a milk jug - fits on your cooking pot, light, durable and can be used as a small washing basin
  • The top of a Smartwater bottle with a coupling - you are probably carrying a Sawyer Coupling so take the top of the bottle and make it into a funnel
  • Sawyer's backflushing syringe - if you have more than one Sawyer filter, you can dedicate one of the syringes to "suck" water from shallow water source and into the container

Funnel from Coupling

  • Large straw or tube - divert water to the right place if the water is shallow
  • Your cup/mug - though commonly recommended, this might require constant cleaning of the cup to make sure it is not contaminated
  • Small plastic cup - just the right size, light, and might hold long enough without breaking
  • A hat (or shoe, or other?) - any thing that can hold water is useful

We'll end with the one thing that is always mentioned in those discussions:

"But my favorite is to use a CNOC vecto water bag. Has a wide mouth opening that can be used to scoop or collect from a drizzle. It has a slider to seal it up. A Sawyer filter can be attached and filter it right from it. It has a 2 liter capacity, and I can use that to filter some water then carry 2 more liters of dirty water either to camp, or thru a dry section."

Vecto fro scooping frigid water with a glove

Couldn't have said it any better ourselves! Most of us have tried some - if not all - of these solutions, but in the end we made the Vecto because none of them was great. So cut the headache, just get a Vecto and go hiking.


  • Bill Jensen

    I am a big fan of the top of a smart water bottle method. It can be used as a funnel when used in conjunction with the coupling, or a scoop when used with the smart water bottle cap. This gives you flexibility when dealing with small vertical or horizontal flows.

  • Phillip Santillan

    Bought and orange and a blue vector and have not looked back at trying to scoop water in sawyer bags. Seriously…best investment for my water filtration system!

  • RJ

    I use a sliced capri sun as a scoop for really shallow water sources, but you can always use the bottom half of your sawyer bag when the top splits!

  • Llama

    I’ve read that a sliced sun capri is a great water scoop! Though I have a vecto now so probably won’t need to test that

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