Water solutions in campers is an important question especially if you plan to go remote.
This is part of our Land Rover Defender Series: Episode #3 Water solutions in campers.
How to become autonomous when traveling overland with your equipped 4wd?
Is it necessary to carry water to travel except the one you are going to drink?
Equipped campsites or free camping
It all depends, once again, on your way of traveling. If you travel with an equipped 4wd, but you mainly stop on campsites for the night, I would tend to tell you that carrying water is absolutely useless since water facilities are available. On campsites, you can shower and wash your dishes at night without any worries.
If in between the campsites overnight staying you plan to drive into wild places and going more remote for a little while, I advise you to carry at least a jerrycan 20L of water in addition to your drinking water.
We always travel with a Katadyn water filter so we can filter unsafe water in case of a complicated situation.
So if you have to travel long distances in very hot environments as we did in Australia, you will still be able to filter the water from your jerrycan reserve even if it is filled with non-drinking water. If you decide that you only want to have some water to wash your hands from time to time a simple jerrycan of 20L is enough.
The 20 liters jerrycan
This is what we have always used for years. Some jerrycans, including Australian ones, allow to have a fixation at the bottom of the jerrycan or you can mount a small open/close valve that acts as a tap. This way you can use your jerrycan as a water fountain without damaging your back when you use the water.
Now, for those traveling in autonomy several days in a row, without stopping on campsites, it may be rather desirable to consider a water reserve a little more consistent.
What do you eat?
For our part, it was after our last trip where we started to cook that we discovered the interest of having an easily accessible water source available. Indeed, before that, we didn’t cook because we found it less convenient than a picnic. This one doesn’t require any cutlery, no pans, no stove, no gas, and less need for water. However, you have to stop buying food more often since the fresh food also degrades faster and take up more space, so either you increase your storage capacity (fridge) or you opt for the choice of food to cook.
As long as you opt for cooking foods such as rice, pasta, or vegetables you will need water. And since it is useless to waste your drinking water since you are going to boil this water for cooking, you can consider creating a water reserve dedicated to the washing and the cooking.
You now have two options left
Either several jerrycans with the disadvantages you can imagine. Jerrycans take up space so if you have to take several jerrycans of water in your vehicle, you will quickly find yourself running out of space.
There are so many clever systems designed by 4wd pros to fix your jerrycans outside of the vehicle either on the body or on the roof rack. However, as clever as these systems are, it will not dispense you with the handling to get them off the roof. And 20L of water will never weigh less than 20kg which can quickly become tedious.
After using jerrycans to wash the dishes, we decided to give up this method. I still keep a jerrycan dedicated to water since it can be convenient to have a container of this type to get water or transfer water into a larger tank. Reason why I don’t fill it with water but I keep it on the roof ready for use.
So I opted for a 60L water tank which corresponds to a reserve of water more than enough for our needs.
Being concerned about our health, I first opted for the idea of a metal tank to avoid the contaminants of plastic. However the metal is much heavier and can also rust depending on the alloy used. But, especially for my part, it was difficult to integrate a tank of this capacity outside of the vehicle.
In addition, I find that the water tanks under the chassis are often more exposed to the elements in shocks in all-terrain. The risk of water contamination in case of a problem of tightness during watercourse drive-throughs and damages to the reservoir in case of impact with pebbles when crossing fields was too high.
It’s again up to you to assess your needs.
If you rarely cross rivers and stay on small roads without real risk, you can opt for an external water tank under the side part of the chassis. Moreover, by placing it low you keep the stability of the vehicle.
There are tanks that you can put on your roof rack but personally I didn’t want to put a 60L water tank on the roof. Mainly because the water moves from one side to another and from front to back like in a cistern. It can relocate your center of gravity in comparison to an inert object placed on the same roof rack.
So I opted for a 60L BPA-free plastic container from Frontrunner.
This is the most basic model because it is rectangular and has an interesting format. With some adaptations, it can be placed quite easily in a vehicle without losing too much space.
I had to move equipment that I stored in my interior wooden layout and make a hatch to install or remove the tank later. Then I had to cuddle the tank so that it doesn’t move in the box once filled with water. To do this, I used wooden blocks and an aluminum bar.
My installation has been tried on rough terrain and everything is properly maintained.
In terms of connections, I decided to get the water out under the left rear wheel because we have our tray/table from Rough Parts on this side. And also because there is the outlet of compressed air on the right side.
I opted for two metal outlets with an open/close valve. One of these valves is connected directly to the tank and allows the water to come out without pressure other than gravity flow.
The tank is placed in the trunk so the outlet under the wheel arch works very well and is ideal for washing hands quickly. I still took the trouble to install a screw cap to protect the valve from dirt.
The second valve is connected to a pump that I also bought at Frontrunner. This allows pumping the water from the tank and putting the circuit under pressure. Once pressurized it switches off and only triggers automatically in case of depressurization of the circuit, which means as soon as you open the valve to get water.
So I connected a conventional tip for gardening pipes which allows you to connect any garden hose. Once the pump is activated via the switch on the dashboard, your water circuit is ready for operation. All you have to do is plug in your flexible elastic hose and use it as a classic garden hose for washing dishes or anything.
The flow rate of the pump makes it possible to empty the tank of 60L in approximately 6 minutes in a continuous flow which is largely sufficient.
You still have to find a system to vent the filler cap if you do not want to have to open it every time you need water.
This point is still in its experimental phase because I am not satisfied with the simple vent pipe. I will keep you informed of future improvements.
Finally, to finish, if you want to use this tank for drinking water you will regularly clean and purify it with pellets.
I use this tank only for cooking, for the dishes, and the washing or in the worst case as water to filter to make it drinkable. That way I do not have to worry about cleaning the inside of the water tank.
There we are!
I hope this post is helpful for you and that it leads you to choose the best water facility solution for your use.
Would be absolutely pleased to hear from you! Reach out below to let us know your choices and your questions.
Check out our youtube video! It is part of a series dedicated to our Land Rover Defender equipment. And you will clearly see our water facility installation and gear for a day out, or while overland and traveling.
Talk to you soon & take care!