A topic that came up recently, among a few of us that tend to camp in places that don’t have conveniences like toilets and water, was the different ways we all carry enough water. I thought I’d share some of those ideas with you and hopefully see what some other people are doing, too.
One thing to keep in mind, if you are just starting out on this family camping adventure, is that you are going to need a lot of water. Kids get dirty (one of the reasons they love camping!), which leads to lots of washing, and everybody should be hydrating a bit more than usual – even in cold weather.
Another important consideration is the collection of dirty water. With a hat-tip to Adam Shake at Twilight Earth (a great resource on environmental issues – check it out!), you can’t just dump your dirty, soapy water in the woods. It needs to be collected in another water container for proper disposal in either a restroom facility or a site within the campground specifically for “gray water” disposal.
5-Gallon Collapsible Water Containers
We use 5-gallon collapsible water containers ($6 at your local superstore) for both fresh water and gray water storage. These tend to get a bad rap, because they are easy to puncture and a bit cumbersome to fill and carry.
They are cheap, though, and provided you take care of them, you won’t have any problem with leaks. Ours have lasted two seasons with no problems. We marked one of them “gray water” so that we don’t mix them up!
4-Gallon Water Container
Another popular option is a rigid container, like the Aqua Clear ($35 at your local superstore). They’re a lot more durable than the collapsible containers, and they have a nice, wide, 4-inch cap for easy filling. The pour spout is easy enough for the kids to use, which is a real plus over the collapsible containers.
6-gallon Jerry Can-Style Jug
The ubiquitous “jerry can style” water jugs ($16 at specialty stores) have always been popular for camping, as their narrower vertical profile makes them easy to store. Their narrow base means that they’ll tip over easy too, and 50 pounds of water jug can be painful on little fingers and toes. Still, it’s an efficient way to carry a lot of water.
Packing enough water is something that new campers don’t always consider when they head out on a trip. Even if you are going to be in a campground that provides water spigots, it is important to have water containers in your campsite, to reduce the number of trips you have to make to get water. Also, be sure to collect the dirty water, for proper disposal.
I think a lot of people who are just starting out are surprised by how much water weighs. Your typical water spigot at a campground is about 3′ high and you have to hold the valve open with one hand (it doesn’t stay on by itself). That leaves you with one hand to hold the water container, which is pushing 30 pounds by the time you get 3 1/2 gallons in it.
That’s where a wide lid is really helpful, because you can set the container on the ground and still get the water into it. You should see me filling the 5 gallon collapsible – it’s almost a dance!
Good post. Water is very, very important – can’t live without it!
Well done with pointing out the pluses and minuses of the larger storage containers. I’ve used the five-gallon collapsibles before; they don’t have stiff sides, which means they are bit more difficult to transport.
I often use the one-gallon plastic water jugs. (But I fill them with tap water; I avoid buying bottled water for environmental reasons.) If you go with these, get the ones with screw caps. The snap-on lids can easily “snap-off” with any significant pressure to the sides.
It’s also a good idea to have a water filter in the car, just in case…