The survivalist’s manual says that shelter and water should be your first two priorities in remote wilderness settings. We’ve covered lots of options for small RVs, camper vans, and truck campers, but today we’re going to focus on the best overlanding water tank solutions for your off-grid travels.
Having one of the best water storage containers for overlanding is an important component of this kind of adventure travel. That said, it’s also important to know how to get water and how to store it properly. So we’ll also provide some tips to help you treat water and save space when overlanding.
Let’s get started!
The Best Overlanding Water Tanks
Some of these water containers are portable options that you’ll need to secure on or inside your overland vehicle. Portable options are nice because they are easier to fill regardless of what your water source looks like. But they do require bungee cords or ratchet straps to secure so they don’t leak while you’re driving.
Others come with their own mounting systems that allow you to retain space for other gear storage. Roof-mounted systems are great for maximizing interior storage space and storing hot water for overland showers, but they require a little more consideration when you need to fill them.
Let’s take a look at some of the best overlanding water storage options.
The Yakima RoadShower
- Liquid Capacity: 7 gallons (26.5 liters)
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 55″ x 7.4″ x 5.4″
- Weight (empty): 26.7 pounds
The Yakima RoadShower overlanding water tanks are a great option if you’re looking for a way to carry water on the roof of your vehicle. This model comes with a 7-gallon capacity, which is the most popular size. Originally, Yakima manufactured two other sizes: a small 4-gallon tank and a large 10-gallon tank.
The RoadShower is easy to mount to an existing set of crossbars on your roof and you can fill it with a garden hose designed for drinking water. This overland water tank comes with a short 55-inch hose and a spray nozzle. Plus, there are two outlets on either end of the container so you can attach the hose to either end.
Among water storage solutions, this is kind of a two-for-one because it can also help you carry hot water on your overland vehicle. The tank’s powder-coated black finish heats up in direct sunlight and it comes with a stick-on temperature gauge to help you monitor the water temperature.
RoadShower water tanks can also be pressurized to provide a more steady stream. So even as the water level drops below half, you’ll be able to pressurize it for more effective showering or cleaning. You’ll just need a small hand pump or bike pump to pressurize it manually.
In my personal experience with RoadShower overlanding water tanks, they are best used for personal hygiene on a long trip where you won’t necessarily be camping in locations with shower facilities. But it’s also useful for rinsing outdoor adventure gear like mountain bikes, surfboards, hiking shoes, and more.
Keep in mind that you will need to store an extra length of hose in your vehicle to use when you fill this overland water tank. And if you want to avoid creating a puddle right next to your vehicle, pick up a longer hose to connect to the RoadShower so you can shower or rinse gear further away.
The Lifesaver Jerry Can + Water Purifier
- Liquid Capacity: 4.9 gallons (18.5 liters)
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 13.78″ x 7.09″ x 20.08″
- Weight (empty): 8.6 pounds
The jerry cans from Lifesaver are a great solution if you need a water storage container and a filter in the same package. The tall and skinny design of the container allows it to fit in tight spaces or secure to the outside of your Jeep Gladiator camper with a jerry can rack.
The Lifesaver Jerry Can has a durable handle on top that makes it easy to carry around and the container itself is made of BPS and BPA-free polyethylene. Because it comes with an internal filter, you can fill it at virtually any water source. This overland water tank’s Ultra Filtration (UF) system removes 99.99% of viruses, 99.9999% of bacteria, and 99.9% of cysts and parasites.
It boasts a quick filtration rate of about two liters every 30 seconds and a push-button tap and spout for easy pouring. The filtration element itself is a hollow-fiber membrane and it comes with a replaceable activated carbon disc that removes chlorine and other undesirable tastes to provide clean water that actually tastes good.
With nine pounds of pump force, you will need roughly five pumps to add one liter to your water supply. Plus, this water container is compatible with a shower attachment (not included) that makes it easier to use clean water for dishwashing, first aid, or other uses.
The WaterPort Weekender
- Liquid Capacity: 8 gallons (30.3 liters)
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 50″ x 9″ x 9″
- Weight (empty): 26 pounds
Your next weekend camping trip will level up with a water storage container like this one. The WaterPort Weekender overland water tank is very similar in design to the RoadShower, but it offers a few elements that set it apart.
For starters, it comes with a 16-foot coiled hose that makes it much easier to use for rinsing outdoor gear. One of the many benefits of a longer hose is that you can take showers further from your vehicle instead of ending up with a mud puddle right next to it.
The Weekender’s mounting system attaches to crossbars or a platform-style rack. Instead of being made from aluminum, the tank is made of thick plastic and both it and the hose are considered food-grade and safe for drinking water.
It also comes with a standard hose spray nozzle and it can be filled using a garden hose rated for safe water consumption. Just like the RoadShower, this 8-gallon overlanding water tank can be pressurized using your hose or via a Schrader valve on top if you have a manual pump or an air compressor in your vehicle.
The Front Runner Outfitters Overlanding Water Tank with Mounting System
- Liquid Capacity: 11.1 gallons (42 liters)
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 20.8″ x 14.6″ x 14.6″
- Weight (empty): 12.8 pounds
This Front Runner 11.1-gallon water tank is made for very specific applications. The mounting system is designed for the Front Runner Slimline II roof rack and the brackets it comes with are only for mounting the tank at the sides of the rack. If you wish to mount it away from the sides either parallel or perpendicular to the rack slats, you’ll need to purchase additional mounting brackets.
That being said, this Front Runner overland water tank is made with food-grade, BPA-free polyethylene and it comes with brass pipe fittings on the tank and the hose kit. The hose length is just over 59 inches, but this water tank also comes with a spigot-style tap for easy pouring.
The fill opening for this overlanding water tank is on top, which means you will need an extra length of hose to refill when it’s empty. But this is true for most water containers designed to mount permanently on the roof of your overland vehicle.
Its capacity, however, is one of the largest on our list, and black powder-coated steel mounting brackets ensure it won’t vibrate loose even when it’s topped off. In spite of its larger capacity, its shape means it doesn’t take up an entire side of your roof rack or vehicle’s roof like the RoadShower or the WaterPort Weekender.
The Reliance Aqua-Tainer Water Tank
- Liquid Capacity: 7 gallons (26.5 liters)
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 11.5″ x 12″ x 16″
- Weight (empty): 2 pounds
If you are looking for one of the most affordable water tanks for your overland vehicle, look no further. Sometimes, it pays to just keep it simple and the Reliance Aqua-tainer most certainly gets credit for doing that.
With a 7-gallon capacity, it still holds plenty of water for weekend camping trips. This overland water container can easily be moved to wherever you need to carry it in your vehicle. Plus, the plastic fittings for the spigot and spigot cap are about as simple to use as they come.
The spout includes On/Off functionality for intermittent use and the spigot cap is reversible to ensure the container doesn’t leak during transport. It even boasts a liquid level indicator to tell you how much water you have remaining and a screw-on vent cap makes it easy to fill and allows water to flow smoothly when you’re collecting drinking water in a mug or camping pot.
This plastic water container is made of rugged polyethylene and a durable handle on top makes it easy to carry. If you purchase multiple of these quality containers, you’ll be able to stack the tanks when they’re empty to save space until your next trip.
The Front Runner Outfitters Footwell Overlanding Water Tank
- Liquid Capacity: 10.6 gallons (40 liters)
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 9.8″ x 47.2″ x 7.1″
- Weight (empty): 11 pounds
Front Runner makes our list twice because they offer one of the widest collections of water containers for overlanding water storage. The Front Runner 10.6-gallon footwell water tank is a unique design that’s made to rest on the floor of your vehicle behind the front seats.
One benefit of this location is that your water storage system isn’t constantly exposed to UV radiation and other environmental elements. That means this plastic tank is durable and less likely to wear down over time, even if it does take up foot space in the rear of your vehicle.
The cut-out in the middle of the tank spans the transmission tunnel on most vehicles. Once it is installed, the top of this Front Runner overlanding water tank provides a non-slip surface for stacking other camp cooking or cleaning supplies in your vehicle.
If you are going to have passengers in your vehicle with this durable plastic tank installed, Front Runner makes it so that you can use standard ratchet straps to secure the tank down to the front seat mounts in your vehicle before driving.
Front Runner makes this water tank with food-grade plastic and it is also BPA-free. There is only one fill cap located on top of these containers, but it can be installed in your vehicle so that the fill cap is accessed from either the passenger or driver’s side, depending on your preference.
Despite there being only one fill cap, Front Runner did place plastic pipe fittings on both sides of the tank for connecting the water tank hose kit. That kit comes with a quick-release attachment that makes it easy to pull water from the tank on either side of your vehicle.
Just be sure to check compatibility with your vehicle before you go for one of these Front Runner water tanks. We know for sure that they Do Not fit the Toyota FJ Cruiser, Lexus GX 470, or three-door Jeep Wranglers.
RotopaX Water Pack
- Liquid Capacity: 2 gallons (7.6 liters)
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 17.25″ x 13.25″ x 3″
- Weight (empty): 4 pounds
This water pack from RotoPaX is one of the thinnest options out there if you’re looking to maximize space in your rig. It’s made of rotomolded plastic and includes a sure-seal gasket to guarantee it won’t leak. It’s as close as you can get to a one-gallon storage container for shorter trips.
The RotoPaX is both EPA and CARB compliant and it comes with a spout for easy filling and pouring. RotopaX also offers a variety of mounting hardware so you can secure this tank wherever is most convenient on your overland vehicle.
Ironman 4×4 Roof Rack Water Tank
- Liquid Capacity: 13.2 gallons (50 liters)
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 47.2″ x 23.6″ x 3.34″
Designed for vehicles with roof racks or cargo baskets, this flat Ironman overlanding water tank offers quite a bit of holding capacity in a really thin package. With a cargo basket, you can lay it down flat and you’ll still be able to secure other lightweight gear on top.
The container is built with food-grade, BPA-free, UV-stabilized polyethylene that maintains excellent water quality. In addition to being compatible with roof racks and cargo baskets, you can mount it in the bed of your pickup truck or on a flat surface in a fifth-wheel toy hauler or travel trailer.
The tank features a recessed barbed outlet and comes with a barbed fitting that’s 5/8″ in diameter. You can also choose to add the compatible water pump kit that includes a 12-liter water pump and two water hose kits.
How To Store Water in an Overlanding Water Tank
Let’s be honest: the main way you’re going to store water when overlanding is to choose one of the water storage solutions above. In addition to that, however, here are a few water storage tips to consider:
- Security is essential. Take the time to make sure your water container won’t shift while you’re driving.
- Consider the application. The main way you’ll use water when overlanding should dictate the style of water container you use. For example, roof mounting systems are great for showers but not as good for serving drinking water or doing dishes.
- Know how much water you need. On average, we should be drinking 3-4 liters per day. Then you’ll add water for dishes, cooking, personal hygiene, and anything else you’ll use it for. As a rule of thumb, plan to carry at least one gallon of water per person per day. Make sure your overlanding water tank carries enough water to meet your usage demands.
- Make sure it’s durable but safe. Metal and plastic are the two materials used in most of these water containers. Food-grade polyethylene is also a healthy choice if you’re looking for a balance between durability and making sure your water quality remains safe to consume.
- Maximize storage space for other gear. Only you know the ideal storage setup for your overlanding vehicle. Make sure your water storage solution fits and doesn’t compromise your ability to maintain easy access to the rest of your gear.
- Consider water quality. If you know you’ll be sourcing from lower quality streams or stagnant ponds, consider water storage containers with some type of filter to remove parasites, bacteria, and other elements.
- Park your vehicle strategically. If you get a roof-mounted storage system that is also designed to heat water, you’ll want to park so that the tank gets as much direct sunlight as possible throughout the day. If you want to keep water cool, however, you’ll need to do the opposite.
How To Get Water When Overlanding
Finding places to refill your overland water tanks is critical for your next adventure. So let’s discuss a few ideas that will help you stay hydrated between trips into the rugged backcountry.
- Get it when you get fuel. Many fuel stations also offer a water spigot somewhere on the property for refilling your tanks.
- Stop by an RV park. Even if you don’t park your vehicle there overnight, most parks will allow you to refill your overlanding water tank before your next adventure. Some may just charge a small fee.
- Look for RV dump stations. If you can’t find a park, many RV dump stations also have a source of freshwater. Just make sure you use the water that is marked by a sign that says potable water so you know it’s safe for cooking and drinking.
- Utilize rest stops and city parks. While overlanding is somewhat about going remote, supply runs often require coming back to a more populated area. On these runs, spigots at city parks or rest stops offer a free way to refill your water supply.
- Find a drinking water safe hose. To fill a roof-mounted system, you’ll need a hose that’s designed for drinking water. This is the type of hose that RVers use and can be found at retailers like your local Camping World.
- Make sure your hose is long enough. It’s impossible to predict every water refill stop on your trip. And you won’t always be able to park your vehicle right next to the spigot. Get a hose that’s at least 25-feet long so you can fill your water storage system no matter where your trip takes you.
- Use an inline water filter. If the system you choose doesn’t have a filter, this is your sign that you should get one. Connect a filtration element to the spigot before attaching your hose to remove chlorine, bacteria, and other chemicals and improve the overall quality of your drinking water. If water is murky or white coming out of the tap, it’s a sign that a filter should be used. Check filter instructions for recommended replacement intervals.
- Get a backcountry water filtration system. These systems allow you to source water from lakes, rivers, and streams anywhere along your overlanding route. Once water is run through your filtration system, you can then add it to your portable container or mounted storage system. Sawyer, MSR, and Katadyn are some of the top brands when it comes to filtering large amounts of water in the backcountry.
Conclusion on The Best Overland Watter Tanks
The world of overlanding requires a level of self-reliance that other kinds of camping simply do not. But once you are confident in your ability to capture and carry enough water, you’ll be able to focus on your next needs, such as food or epic hiking locations.
If you are relatively new to the overlanding world, check out our top 25 picks for the best overland gear. You might also like this story about what it’s like overlanding Baja in a Truck Camper.