How to Transport Items Up, Down, and Horizontally in Minecraft. Ultimate Guide.


Featured Image credit: Mojang.

Minecraft is a beautiful game; gathering resources for building projects can be calming and enjoyable.

However, getting all those resources to a specific place where you need them can be difficult and time-consuming, mainly because you are limited to only 36 inventory spaces to carry items.

So what do you do if you have filled your last inventory slot but still need transport stuff? You build a transport system, of course!

No matter your transportation needs, a transport system can help you, and I’m here to show you how to build one, depending on your needs.

Not all transport systems are created equally: some are cheaper than others, some are great for longer distances, while others are best suited for only short distances.

Also, block elevators are great for transporting items up or down, while things like channels are great for transporting things horizontally.

Don’t worry, though. I’ll cover everything below in this Minecraft tutorial.

So let’s dive in and look at some modes of transportation in Minecraft – from the simple solution to more complex builds.

You might like this guide: How do Minecraft Comparators work?

Method #1: Use Water Channels to Transport Items Horizontally in Minecraft

How to build water channel Minecraft 1
Here I have created a small water channel to transport items.
(Image credit: Mojang).

The first method available to transport items across a fair distance is to use water channels. Water channels are great if you only need to go a short distance, it is incredibly time-consuming to create the channels, so it isn’t the fastest way.

Thus, if you need to transport objects longer distances, use a different method, such as ender chests, donkeys, or llamas. These methods come with their shortfalls but can provide a way to transport materials over long distances easier.

So, how do you create a transportation water channel? It is a simple process but very time-consuming, especially if you do not live near a cold biome. 

Materials needed to build a water channel in Minecraft:

To build a water channel in Minecraft, you first need to get your dirty hands on these items:

  • Shovels
  • Packed Ice Blocks
  • Signs
  • Water Buckets

How to build a Water Channel in Minecraft:

Here’s how to build a water channel for automatic transportation in a few simple steps.

1. Dig a 1×7 channel in the ground.

The first step is to dig a 1×7 canal in the ground on a flat piece of land.

How to build water channel Minecraft. Dig 1x7 channel
(Image credit: Mojang).

2. Empty a water bucket at the channel’s beginning.

Next, empty a bucket of water at the beginning of the canal to get the water flowing.

How to build water channel Minecraft. Fill channel with water.
(Image credit: Mojang).

3. At the end of the water stream, break the next block and the one beneath it.

Now, at the end of the water stream, break the next block in line and the one beneath it.

How to build water channel Minecraft. Destroy the last bottom block
(Image credit: Mojang).

4. Place a packed ice block in the hole

Place an ice block, packed ice, or a packed blue ice block in the hole you just made.

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How to build water channel Minecraft. Place a block of packet ice in the hole.
(Image credit: Mojang).

5. Put a sign on top of the packed ice block.

How to build water channel Minecraft. Place a sign on the ice block.
(Image credit: Mojang).

Now, place a sign on the ice to divide the canal into sections. A sign is a non-collision item that won’t stop the water flow.

This is important to keep the water streaming in one direction. If you don’t do this, the waters will merge, and your items will get stuck between the two water sources.

You can also use a pressure plate, a top-half slab, or a button because the water can travel past them.

Rinse and repeat for as long as you need the channel, and place new water source blocks every seventh block.

How to build water channel Minecraft. Rinse and repeat till you have a water channel at the desired length.
I know it doesn’t look like anything can pass the sign because it looks like it blocks the water. Though, items will travel past the sign from one water section to the next.
(Image credit: Mojang).

Using water to transport items has been tried and tested throughout human history to great effect. So, of course, you can also use it in Minecraft.

If you want to know more about what you can do with Minecraft water, check out this article.

Method #2: Use Hopper Elevators to Transport Items Down in Minecraft

The next means of automatically moving items in Minecraft involves using hoppers. A hopper catches or transfers items into and out of containers. To get a hopper, you can mine it with a pickaxe or create one using the hopper recipe below.

There are two methods available when transporting items with hoppers:

  • hopper elevator – transports items downward
  • hopper chain (which I’ll cover later) – transports items horizontally.

Both of these methods are automated, but they are costly. 

So you want to transport items straight down to your secret underground base easily but don’t want to use a water channel or railroad. How do you solve this problem without revealing your base to bands of griefers?

By using a transportation method known as a hopper elevator. This easy-to-build item elevator will transport all your items into a chest, keeping your hidden base secret from others.  


Here’s a list of items needed to build a Hopper Elevator in Minecraft:

  • 5 iron ingot per hopper
  • 1 chest per hopper
  • 1 additional chest for items to go into

How to Make the Hopper Elevator

Let’s look at how to get those hoppers hopping with your items in three simple steps:

1. Create a hopper

To create a hopper, place the iron ingots around a chest on a crafting table, as shown in the screenshot below.

Make sure to create enough hoppers to reach where you want to transport your items.

Hopper recipe Minecraft
Hopper Recipe. Place five iron ingots around a chest on the crafting table.
(Image credit: Mojang).

2. Place a chest on the ground

Place a chest on the ground. This will work as the bottom of the elevator.

Place a chest on the ground
(Image credit: Mojang).

3. Place a hopper on top of the chest

Standing on top of the chest, hold Sneak (Left Shift) and jump. As you jump, place a hopper beneath you on top of the chest.

Stand on the chest and place a hopper while crouching
Stand on the chest and crouch jump to place a hopper on top.
(Image credit: Mojang).

Here you can see the chest resting at the bottom of the hopper. The first step of the hopper elevator is complete.

Hopper on chest
(Image credit: Mojang).

Repeat step 3 until you have stacked hoppers to your desired height.

Multiple hoppers placed on top of each other to create the hopper elevator
(Image credit: Mojang).

Optional: Place a chest on the top hopper to place items in to be transported down.

Optionally you can place a chest on top of the elevator as well.
(Image credit: Mojang).

Now you can place items in the top hopper, which will be transported down to the bottom chest.

A hopper elevator is probably the simplest way to transport item entities up and down, making it the most efficient mode of transport in the early game. It’s also cheap to build and within reach for players just starting out on a new survival campaign.

Method #3: Use Hopper Chains To Transport Items Horizontally Over Short Distances

Perhaps you want to use hoppers to transport items horizontally for a short distance instead of a water channel. In that case, I recommend you look at hopper chains, aka hopper lines.

Water channels take a long time to create, and hoppers look fancier. 

Like water channels, hopper lines must be placed on a flat plane to make it work.

Thus if you are in a mountainous region, I recommend you use one of the other transportation methods, such as llamas and mules. I’ll get back to these later in this post. 


To build a hopper chain, you need the following items:

  • 5 Iron per hopper
  • 1 chest per hopper
  • 1 chest at the end of the hopper chain

How to Create a Hopper Chain

Here’s how to create a hopper line in a few simple steps:

1. Craft hoppers

Craft enough hoppers for the distance you wish to transport items.

Hopper recipe
Hopper recipe.
(Image credit: Mojang).

2. Place a chest on the ground

Place down the chest in front of you. Find a flat piece of land so you don’t need to excavate first.

Place chest on flat land
(Image credit: Mojang).

3. Attach a hopper to the chest

Attach a hopper to the side of the chest in the direction you want your hopper chain to go.

Attach the first hopper
(Image credit: Mojang).

Attach additional hoppers

Go behind the first hopper (in the opposite direction of where the bottom is pointing). Hold Sneak (Usually Left Shift) and then attach another hopper.

Attach additional hoppers
Crouch to attach another hopper.
(Image credit: Mojang).
Rinse and repeat to make the hopper line as long as you want
(Image credit: Mojang).

Rinse and repeat

Repeat step 6 for the distance you need to transport items. A long line of hoppers looks awesome.

A hopper line
(Image credit: Mojang).

Optional: Place a chest on top of the beginning hopper to place items.

Chain hoppers are great for the automatic movement of items across flat land. Plus, they look cool!

A hopper chain with a chest on top
(Image credit: Mojang).

Method #4: Bubble Elevators, aka how to transport items up in Minecraft

The previous methods mentioned so far have all been about transporting items on a horizontal plane or straight down, but what about up?

There is another option if you do not want to use a complicated dropper system or a railroad. 

What is that option, you ask? Well, it is Bubble elevators. It seems complicated initially, but following the steps below will create bubble elevators for everything.

It is one of my favorite ways to get about Minecraft. Nothing like shooting straight up at the speed of light.

This design is somewhat similar to the water elevator (which works in different directions – up AND down) I’ve covered here. If you want to see how to transport items up in Minecraft, a bubble elevator or water elevator is the way to go.


To build a bubble elevator, you’ll need the following items:

  • Water buckets (one for every block high you make the elevator)
  • 1 soul sand
  • 1 magma block
  • 1 door

How to Make a Bubble Elevator.

Here’s how to get those bubbles rising in a few easy steps:

1. Make a 3×3 tower as tall as you need the elevator to be.

Create a 3×3 tower and leave the middle 1×1 section hollow.

How to create a bubble elevator in Minecraft to move items up step 1
(Image credit: Mojang).

I recommend using glass as the main building material because you can see the enclosed column of water sources. Those soul sand bubble columns look so soothing.

Leave the center column hollow
Remember to leave the center column hollow.
(Image credit: Mojang).

2. Place soul sand at the bottom

Remove the bottom block of the 1×1 section. Place soul sand in the hole instead.

Place soul sand at the bottom of the bubble elevator
(Image credit: Mojang).

3. Place a door at the bottom of the tower

Place a door in the 2×1 opening where you will enter the elevator.

Place a door at the bottom of the bubble elevator
Even with the door opened, the water won’t escape the elevator.
(Image credit: Mojang).

4. Fill the enclosed hollow column with water buckets

Fill the center column with water on block at the time
Fill the center column with buckets of water one block at a time.
(Image credit: Mojang).

Standing on the soul sand, place water buckets on each block going upward.

This creates a system of standing water blocks. You can also use kelp to create standing water source blocks, which I’ve described here.

Standing water blocks in a bubble elevator
(Image credit: Mojang).

It’s important that each block of water is a water source block, or else the upwards effect won’t work.

If you do this correctly, you will see bubbles going upwards. To use the elevator, step inside and get shot up to the top of your elevator. You can also throw items into it for them to be shot up to the top.

If you’re worried about shooting out of the tower and taking a nasty fall, you can place slime blocks around the top of the elevator to prevent damage.

Method #5: Dropper Tower

The next method I’d consider is building a dropper tower, also known as a dropper elevator.

There are several ways to build dropper elevators depending on how noisy you want them to be.

I mention these as the last transportation system because they’re quite expensive to build. For an average Dropper Tower, you need:

  • 2 chests
  • 10 droppers
  • 19 observers
  • 1 hopper
  • 5 Redstone dust
  • 1 Redstone comparator
  • 1 Redstone

These are not the first things you can access if you play survival.

Dropper Elevators are also a rather complex build. You need to understand such as how a Redstone comparator clock and a Redstone signal work.

So while they are great fun when playing creative, it’s not the best way of transportation when playing survival mode.

I don’t want this article too long, so below, I’ve shared an excellent video from Kmond’s YouTube channel that shows three different dropper towers. There’s even a cool, old-school design where you also take advantage of the Redstone torch.

Method #6: Railroad Systems

The final system for transporting items over long distances uses a railroad system. Railroads are also a most efficient way of transporting items up over longer distances – fx over mountains.

While it can be expensive to create a railroad system, it is a great way to transport mass amounts of valuable items over mountains, lakes, rivers, and other terrains.


To build a railroad track that can automatically transport important items over a large distance, you’ll need:

  • Regular Rails
  • Powered Rails
  • Detector Rails
  • Activator Rails (optional – but good if you want to eject mobs or prime TNT minecarts)
  • Redstone dust
  • Redstone torches
  • Button

I find the best way to quickly access a lot of rails is to venture into abandoned mineshafts and mine them from there.

If you want to create them yourself, you need a LOT of iron ingots and sticks for regular rails. You’ll also need a lot of Redstone dust and stone pressure plates for detector rails. For activator rails, you need a lot of Redstone torches. And for powered rails, you’ll need to double down on gold ingots.

As I said… suit up in your best armor and visit those abandoned mineshafts instead. Hey, you might even make friends with a spider.

Now, there are several ways you can use to create a rail system depending on what you want to achieve.

In the great video below from ScrawnyGames, you can see the fastest method to create a railroad system that can be used to transport all your crap automatically.

How to transport items over larger distances in Minecraft

The above methods all work great for item transportation over shorter distances. And they work automatically, which is cool.

But even though you can build them as tall or long as you want, it takes a lot of time. It’s also incredibly expensive – especially when playing survival where you don’t have an endless supply of resources.

If you need to transport items over longer distances, here are some ways to do that.

Donkeys, Mules, and Llamas

Use donkeys mules and llamas in Minecraft to transport items over great distances
Here I have tamed a donkey, mule, and llama and equipped them with chests to carry all my wealth.
(Image credit: Mojang).

Donkeys, mules, and llamas are the pack animals of Minecraft and come with the ability to have chests placed on them. Once you have placed chests on them, you can use them to store additional items.

Even better, you can get a train of llamas to follow you. Have the first llama on a lead, and then all other llamas will follow it.

Donkeys, mules, and llamas are your best bet when transporting items up and over a distance in Minecraft, fx in mountainous biomes.

The bad thing about using these critters is that the transportation isn’t automated.

I recommend using donkeys, mules, and llamas whenever you can, as they are cheaper and easier to acquire than ender chests. Speaking of which…

Ender Chests

Minecraft Ender chest example
Here is my first ender chest in a random desert.
(Image credit: Mojang).

Ender chests are typically a late-game method of transporting items over long distances. They can be created with eight obsidian and an eye of ender.

You will need two chests for this system to work, as anything you place in one chest will show up in the other. 

Second Ender chest
My second ender chest is in my desert temple home.
(Image credit: Mojang).

This makes it a great option if you have two bases and want to transfer food, materials, weapons, and armor between them. 


Knowing how to transport your necessary items in Minecraft is important. After all, the Minecraft world is immense, and sometimes you spend more time running between areas than you spend gathering resources.

I hope this ultimate guide to transporting items up and down and horizontally in Minecraft has helped you. Happy mining, everyone.

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Jan has played video games since the early 1980s. He loves getting immersed in video games as a way to take his mind off stuff when the outside world gets too scary. A lifelong gamer, the big interest led to a job as a lecturer on game sound at the University of Copenhagen and several written articles on video games for magazines.

Read more on the About Page.