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Water Capacity and Usage


It is easy to take water for granted, but having the ability to carry a sufficient amount of water in an expedition vehicle is the single biggest factor in the ability to camp remotely for extended periods of time and be comfortable. So why doesn’t every expedition vehicle have a large water tank? Primarily because water is heavy and many smaller expedition vehicles have a limited cargo carrying capacity (CCC). With one gallon of water weighing 8.35 pounds, smaller 10–20 gallon (84–177 pound) tanks are feasible, but as soon as the tank size is increased to a meaningful 85 gallons or more, the weight of the water quickly exceeds the carrying capability of smaller vehicles.

Water Requirements

Water needs in an expedition vehicle includes drinking, cooking, washing, showering and toilet flushing. At an absolute minimum, a person could carry just enough for drinking. Depending on factors including amount of exercise, temperature, altitude, humidity, weight and sun intensity, a single person typically requires .5–1.0 gallons of water per day to stay healthy. Many smaller “expedition vehicles” have tanks as small as 10–20 gallons which means that a couple using water only for drinking would have a 10–40 day supply, which is probably more than long enough for a couple that is not showering!

At 8.35 pounds per gallon for water, carrying the 10–20 gallon bare minimum amount of water required to stay alive is easily accomplished with almost any vehicle. But what happens when cooking, washing dishes, and showering are added into the equation? Cooking and washing dishes can be easily accomplished with 1–4 gallons per day, but a typical 5 minute home shower uses 7–8 gallons and conservation minded camper could probably make do with as little as a 1 gallon shower. Toilet flushing is variable, but .25–.5 gallons should be enough for a typical flush.

Water Usage Breakdown

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Days Until Empty

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