4WD MODIFICATIONS - STORAGE
Regardless of how you carry water in your vehicle or trailer it’s important that you have sufficient and that it’s stored in several independent containers. Don’t put all your water into one tank.
There is no fixed formula for calculating how much water you need to carry. Your requirements will vary greatly, depending on the time of year, where you’re going and for how long. On some trips – notably in the Victorian High Country – you can rely on top-up water from clear, mountain creeks, if you have a quality water filter, but in the desert there’s no reliable water anywhere.
Water weighs around one kilogram per litre, so you don’t want to cart around more than you need.
The bare minimum you should budget for is two litres per person per day. That’s assuming you’re travelling in cool weather; you’re not doing any hiking and you’re not using water for washing. Baby wipes and ethanol-based hand cleaners are fine for personal hygiene and save lot of water.
If you’re travelling in hot weather and you’re doing a lot of bush walking as well as driving you’ll need up to five litres per person per day.
Serious bush travellers install water tanks in their vehicles. You can buy hard plastic or stainless steel tanks that fit in ute trays or wagon cargo areas, or behind wagon front row seats. Collapsible containers are attractive, because they can fit into awkward spaces and because they shrink as they empty, making valuable storage space for the results of souvenir shopping sprees!
Back up your main tank with one or two emergency 10-litre spring-water casks.
Whatever your method of water storage it’s vital that the containers are secured, so they can’t become missiles in the event of an accident.
Stainless steel containers don’t impart a ‘taste’ to the water, but plastic containers and hoses can make water taste horrible. It’s possible to minimise the unpleasant plastic taste by flushing them with sodium bicarbonate solution, or by rinsing with a vinegar solution, or using a little Listerine in the water.
Don’t forget to drain and flush the contents before filling with clean water.
However, even after pre-treatment of plastic tanks a ‘taste’ can develop, for no apparent reason. We’ve found over many years of travel that a cause of plastic taste is sunlight on the tank, or on the delivery hose. If you keep your plastic water tank and all delivery hoses under cover or in the shade you shouldn’t have a taste problem.
Some of our regular site visitors have told us that they’ve had great success in eliminating taste by keeping their plastic tanks full when their caravan or camper trailer is being stored, then draining and refilling the tanks with fresh water when getting ready for the next trip.
A more significant issue than ‘taste’ is your health. Water whose quality can’t be assessed should always be dosed with purifiers such as WaterPure®, BioMagic®, Aquatabs®, Puritabs® . Water taken from creeks or dams should be passed through a carbon filter before being poured into your water containers.
Camping and adventure stores sell filters with varying capabilities and the best ones are unfortunately quite expensive, but well worth the outlay.
When you return home from a trip, make sure you empty portable water containers and store them dry. If you’ve used your water filter, dismantle it, dry it and repack.