Water System: What should I do and what did you do?

Andy

Adventurist
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Founding Member
#1
I am starting to do some refinements to my vehicle (2010 Tacoma Access Cab with a Go Fast Camper) now that I have fixed most of the small maintenance issues that have had me considering a new platform. One area that I don't have much experience in is the water system. Currently I have 2 5-gallon military water cans from LCI (link here) along with 2 1-gallon jugs that stay in the fridge for thermal balancing (and cold water). This is combined with assorted Nalgene containers, camelbacks and of course some adult beverages. Over many trips I have found that this volume of water is sufficient for me and the mutt on a 4 day weekend trip in hot weather, making this my baseline for water storage requirements (10 gallons minimum tankage). So, if it has been working for the last 8 years why change it? First, I want to remove the cans from the truck bed to clear up space. Second, I want to have easy access to the water supply at the tailgate (my kitchen). Third, I want the option to include a filtration system before the water goes into storage. Last (and most importantly) I can't leave anything alone.

Right now I am considering three options:

1: Keep using jerry cans for storage and add a faucet/pump to the cans. Use a camping filter on suspect water sources to purify water before it goes into the cans.

Pro: Simple and cheap. Bulk water is portable (fill a radiator or refill a can without moving the vehicle). Cans can be moved to optimize load plan and/or vehicle weight-balance. Two cans are redundant, a leak won't lose all stored water.
Con: Cans still take up valuable space in the cargo area. Access to water requires cans to move from storage location to where they are used (unless a long-hose pump system is used). Will need a way to pre-filter water (I have a one gallon gravity filter already).

2: Purchase a Front Runner flat tank and mount it against the front of the bed.
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Pro: Doesn't take up much space (less than 3 inches thick). Moves the water CG to the front of the bed for weight distribution. Can be gravity fed to the tailgate if the tank is mounted a few inches above the bed floor, or can use a pump.
Con: Tank costs over $200. CG of the water will be higher than when using jerry cans. Will need a way to pre-filter water. Filling water tank requires moving the vehicle. A system leak will lose all stored water.

3: Build a system from parts and mount it under the bed in the spare tire location. The system will have a 10 gallon tank, an electric pump, fill spout and hose system to reach the tailgate. Amazon links to a Pump and Tank

Pro: Does not use any space in the load area. Total system cost depends on components but should be close to $200. On-demand, pressurized water. Lowest possible CG for the water.
Con: Complex system that can fail. Tank is vulnerable under vehicle (will need some type of skid plate). Filling tank means moving the vehicle. Any leak means all water is gone. 100+ lbs behind the rear axle.

Right now I am leaning towards option 2 but I need to examine how to mount the tank and if the gravity feed idea will work (or if the tank can be pressurized slightly). I don't want to add the water storage in the cab as I have the interior built out the way I want it already and that would also require a system to pass water from the interior to the tailgate.

So, what are your thoughts? What do you use for your water system?

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Dave

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Founder
Senior Staff
Editor
#2
“Systems” can be a pain in the ass, and if you ever sell the truck they don’t always cross over.

My thoughts are to keep it simple. Jerry cans are mobile, durable, and easily cleaned. If one dies you don’t lose all your water. Add a whale pump or this bullet proof spout by Scepter and you’re good.

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#4
I use and run the two 5 gallon Scepter cans one with the pump installed.
https://www.livingoverland.com/2011/07/inexpensive-on-board-water-system.html

With my new GX build I was going to install a larger single tank. But last fall in Namibia the experience we had with a large tank was a major deciding factor. The tank on our rental Land Cruiser was low on the first day, fortunately our camp had potable water. Prior to departure that morning we filled up. I inserted the hose in the tank, as water filled the tank displacing the air, fumes rushing out had noxious sewer like smell. As the days passed the water tank leaked for several days after. The water system on our rental Cruiser was essentially useless. It was supposedly for bathing, cooking and general camp use.

Large single tank system are harder to maintain and keep sanitized add complication and if it springs a leak what infrastructure needs to be removed to gain access.

I like that I can remove one of my Jerry cans walk into any store and fill it with filtered water for about 2 bucks. If I need to fill from a natural water source it can be filtered using any system of your liking.

Just my experience, your mileage may very.
 
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Doug

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#5
I bought a large tank similar to what you describe in option 1, although more rectangular. I could not get past the taste it imparted to the water. This only got worse the longer the water was in there, especially in warm weather.

If I were you, I'd go to one Jerry can and a Waterport shower for washing. Adding a hand pump vs. a simple spout to the Jerry depends if it is hard-mounted in its location or easy to tip 90 degrees for use for drinking/cooking. The Waterport is great as a faucet for washing and hold nearly 4 gallons. I haven't tried drinking the water from my Waterport but suspect it would not be good. You could use your second Jerry for emergencies, tucked away somewhere out of the way, even in cab but I doubt you'd ever use it.
 
#6
Instead of Jerry cans, we use four 3-1/2 gallon WaterBricks for potable water. They are stackable and flexible in storage options. Four is more than two if something goes wrong, too. We have a 12V shower pump that drops in for use. And, at $19 each, they are very affordable. Don't bother with their spigot cap, though, as they are unreliable. I trust them enough that I've taken two in the rear seat footwell across country several times in the Outback and 4Runner without leaking a drop.

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We also had a RoadShower 2 (3+ gallons @25 PSI - my review) and now a RoadShower 4 ( 7 gallons @ 65 PSI) for washing and around camp/exploring use. We use the WaterBricks more than the RoadShower.
 
#12
Our traditional go-to is the same beige water cans, plus a case of bottled water that we circulate through the fridge to have a few cold ones. I have a second cap for the water-can with a spigot. That works well, and allows us to just set it on the tailgate for use at camp. We have also used the 7-gal. Blue plastic cubes with spigots. Those work very well, but are a not as good in the trailer just because they are heavier and harder to lift in and out when leaning way over the fenders. I have three of the 5-gallon cans, and a couple of the 7-gallon cubes, but have rarely needed half that much on trips in the U.S.

I've been considering the same flat Front-runner tank in Andy's post above for years. But for us, it's definitely a case of fixing something that ain't broke. I don't really need additional capacity, and don't want the additional plumbing and electrics. If I get to the point where I can do a lot of longer trips, then it starts to make sense, but for the 1-4 night routine that we are in now, water cans are easy, reliable, and simple.
 

Haggis

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Founding Member
#13
We have two water systems depending on the length of trip we are going on. For longer runs we use a home brewed RV potable 20 gal water tank with a Shurflo pump. Been running variations of this set up since ‘09. Tank is 8” wide by 18” long and 38” long, so it’s set up to be tall and narrow to minimize the space it takes up. It washes dishes, washes the salt off on beach trips, supplies a Triton on demand water heater for showers and serves as the wash down station for carcasses on remote hunting trips. It adds weight but has served us well. 20 gals usually last the two of us for a week if we use it judiciously. This is version 3.0 I think...

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On overnight or weekend trips we throw in a Front Runner jerry can with the spout in the bottom. While the plastic spout that comes with it is a piece of crap switching to a brass spigot is easy.

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We set it up on the tailgate for gravity flow to wash dishes or what not or hang it in a tree with a small hose for a quick wash down (I wouldn’t call it a shower by no means). Works well enough and 5 gals seems about right for a long weekend.
 
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