Water storage while car camping
May 18, 2021 10:27 AM   Subscribe

Is there a better camping water storage and dispensing option than the big blue plastic cube?

I'm looking for a more durable water storage and dispensing solution for car camping than the 5 gallon blue reliance cube I've got.

This weekend, I went to use the cube and noticed a large crack in the white ring that holds the faucet nozzle on my 5 gallon water cube. The plastic has always seemed weak (and I have a tendency to overtighten) and now the thing doesn't hold water when tipped on its side for easy dispensing. I need a replacement but I'm not excited about replacing it with the same cheap plastic design.

There must be a better way. I'm looking for between 3 and 6 gallon capacity, durability, and ease of dispensing. I don't mind paying a premium for durability. I'll mostly be filling at spigots at campgrounds.

Any camping water storage and dispensing options that you love?
posted by msbrauer to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Gallon PET bottles from drinking water. So much easier to carry/pour from a smaller vessel, can still carry 4-6 gallons at a time, durable, easy to recycle and replace if needed.

The milk jug style bottles will crack much sooner, you want the ones made of plastic like that of a soft drink bottle.
posted by momus_window at 10:36 AM on May 18, 2021 [4 favorites]

This is pretty much the ultimate water storage I've found: the LifeSaver Jerrycan.

It's extremely rugged (although heavy), it has a high-end filter built in which is nice if the local water supply is questionable and it's pressurized (to get water through the filter) so you can use it with a spray hose, which is useful for dishes or rinsing things off like sports gear or whatever.

The other alternative I like is this water jerrycan which is way way cheaper but still pretty durable. The air hole cover on the back is a little loose though so I would be careful not letting it tip over.
posted by GuyZero at 10:38 AM on May 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you are often in areas where it's necessary to use bear lockers, jerrycans tend to be ideal for those because they are taller and skinnier and fit better with other items than the more squat designs.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:52 AM on May 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Collapsible cubes have handles from which you can hang rope, to hold the water jug from a branch or other object. They collapse to a much smaller size (when empty) which makes them easy to store when not in use. I've had no reliability issues or leaks with mine.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:06 AM on May 18, 2021

They sucked his brains out! - which one do you have? I've gone through a couple that started leaking from the folding points of the cube.. would love to know which one has held up for you.
posted by blueberrypuffin at 11:27 AM on May 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Hi, blueberrypuffin; I have the one from Reliance. My experience may not reflect others', YMMV etc.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:37 AM on May 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have a couple of the Reliance Fold-a-Carrier water things as well. Sometimes you get a bad one and it leaks. They are inexpensive enough that I have shrugged and replaced them when that happens, because I've yet to find a better product. Much more convenient than hard-sided cans for packing purposes.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:09 PM on May 18, 2021

I like the Jerry can style water carriers that GuyZero linked to. I have a 4 gal and a 7 gal. I got mine at REI in the USA.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 1:34 PM on May 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

I guess I should wait and report back on Monday, but I am headed out car camping on Thursday and taking a 5-gallon water cooler jug so I can use it with a USB-rechargeable spigot (the neck of my bottle also just exactly accommodates the pump on my rechargeable shower, but that's for a bucket and some warmer water). I have reusable caps for the water bottle, but I also don't anticipate carrying much water in it while it's being moved around. Probably a 3-gallon bottle would be smarter, but we already use these and so have an empty on hand for this. If you have any "water stores" nearby, they almost always have the 3gal bottles.

To ferry water to it in haulable quantities with my pandemic-feebled arms, I have water bags with handles, and I also have a 1-gallon food-safe commercial plastic jug I may or may not decide to bring.

If you have a wagon or cart or dolly you're bringing with you anyway and it can hold 40lbs, you could take the jug directly to the spigot. One of those fuel-type funnels with a hose might be helpful for jockeying the water into the jug.

My conundrum was the same as yours - the collapsible ones are all reported to be leaky and flimsy and they'll roll around on a table, while I want something extremely solid on site that can be used hands-free/without support and will accommodate the faucet. These commercial water cooler bottles are routinely stacked on racks on their sides for months at a time and reused indefinitely, so I have the utmost faith in them not falling apart on me any time soon.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:36 PM on May 18, 2021

I should note that we use those rechargeable faucets on these jugs constantly - one is next to our coffee and ice machines that aren't in the kitchen near water, and the other is my garden bench sink outside. The one for the coffee machine gets used constantly and needs to be recharged about every 13-15 gallons, but it's just mini-USB and would charge off a power pack.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:39 PM on May 18, 2021

My Scout Troop uses big Igloo water coolers because the are indestructible and easy to dispense drinks from.

We use a “bubba” brand 3 gallon cooler for our own camping, which is similar but has the advantage of a screw on lid and being easier to carry as it is smaller and has a bail handle.

For car camping, you will get better durability and ease of use out of an insulated water cooler than a flimsy camping water container. I find those always crack or leak from the spout.
posted by fimbulvetr at 4:05 PM on May 18, 2021 [4 favorites]

Detergent jugs are useful for water that will be used for washing; the scent stays around too much for drinking, but free and sturdy. I use them for watering plants; even stored outside, they last forever.
I use washed large OJ, iced tea, and juice containers and tuck them into corners of the floor or the car. 2 liter soda pop bottles seem indestructible, though I seldom drink soda. I use them to store emergency water; have never had a leak. And I freeze a couple for the cooler, I have fresh water as they melt.
posted by theora55 at 5:35 PM on May 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

We've used a Reliance 7 gallon Jumbo-tainer for several years without a problem. It's a modified jerrycan form factor, so it packs a bit more neatly and is easier to lug about. It's probably made from the same plastic that yours is, though. Reliance sells replacement parts, so it's possible that the best solution is just getting a new spigot assembly for your blue cube.
posted by mumkin at 11:57 AM on May 19, 2021

I've been thinking about ordering a few of these flexible Smart Bottle containers, they make large double-thickness ones specifically for outdoorsy uses.
posted by yeahlikethat at 1:49 PM on May 19, 2021

I like to get the 2.5 gallon single use bottles of water at the grocery store. Generally I like to bring 2 gallons for each person per day. The 2.5 gallons are light, square and easy to pack, and I usually have enough extra water that I can give away a container or two to campers who haven't brought enough water without worrying about getting it back. I bring some water in random reusable containers I have around, generally selecting based on what sort of car I'm driving and what sort of camping setup I have (I don't find the 5 gallon jugs useful unless there will be a surface to set them on). I also have a 3 gallon reusable jug which is much easier to fit in a car, and several reusable water bags that I have used around town but not tried out for camping yet. But the "single use" 2.5 gallon bottles are also very useful specifically because I don't need to have them returned to me, so I always bring at least one.

Also, it's very important to bring multiple smaller containers rather than relying on one container to hold all of your water! All containers eventually leak, will be dropped and spill half their water, etc, and you don't want to loose most of your water at once.

I'm not sure how useful my experience will be for you though, because:
I'll mostly be filling at spigots at campgrounds.
Is a sentence I'm not sure I'm really understanding. In my experience, campgrounds, with very rare exceptions, don't have running water. I guess it's different in other places. I suppose giving water away to other people doesn't come up much when there's running water available.

I imagine that the spigot must not be too close by if you are looking for 3-6 gallon containers. Note that it is much easier to carry a handled three gallon container in each hand than to carry a single 6 gallon container. Also, you may sometimes camp with people who find a 6 gallon container way to heavy to manipulate.

If you are filling the containers with non-potable water, make sure your potable water containers are well marked and that everyone knows not to try to be helpful by topping them off with non-potable water from the spigot.
posted by yohko at 1:10 AM on May 20, 2021

In my experience, campgrounds, with very rare exceptions, don't have running water.

That is interesting... I've never come across a park or campground with car-camping that did not have potable water spigots all over the campground. We just bring one or two empty containers and fill them up as needed.
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:32 AM on May 20, 2021

I'm in Maine, campgrounds have potable water, but it's heavily treated and tastes like it, so I always bring cooking/ drinking water.
posted by theora55 at 7:54 AM on May 20, 2021

Response by poster: In my experience, campgrounds, with very rare exceptions, don't have running water. I guess it's different in other places.

That's a sentence I have a hard time understanding.

I've camped in state and federal campgrounds in maybe 15 or 20 states in the US and there has been at least a single potable water source at probably 98% of them. It's usually too far to walk to, so I like to have a 5 gal container that I drive over to the pump or spigot to fill and bring back to my campsite. In cases where there isn't potable water handy, I fill up that 5 gal container at some town nearby.
posted by msbrauer at 1:43 PM on May 23, 2021

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