The concentration of dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) in rivers can change intermittently within minutes depending on the weather and water discharge (Q), or activities in the watershed. Accordingly, accurate estimation of the annual DRP load requires frequent sampling or even continuous monitoring, which is laborious and cost-intensive. We present the design and laboratory evaluation of a new, robust, low-cost, low-tech device based on passive samplers (P-traps). The traps use Fe-(oxy)hydroxide coated quartz sand as an adsorbent enclosed in a vertical grid of individual cells separated from the river water by filter membranes. They are inexpensive, easy to handle, resistant to repeated desiccation and immersion and exposable for several months. They permit estimation of discharge dependant time weighted average DRP concentrations (C–Q relationships) and annual P loads of rivers characterized by highly variable DRP concentrations with a relative accuracy of ± 3%.