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A guide to 4WD water tanks for your next trip

When you can turn the tap on at home and get all the water you need, you often don’t realise the  importance that 4WD water tanks play in remote areas. If you have ever spent time driving in the outback, you will know that water, food and fuel are the three essentials to survival, along with reliable communications and good recovery gear. 

A lack in any one of these items and your survival is jeopardised, unless you can find help quickly. A lack of water however, can result in your demise within about three days, which is why 4WD water tanks are so vital for trips in remote areas. It’s all fair and well however, to say that you need to carry your own water, but how much do you need to carry?

How much water do you need to carry in 4WD water tanks?

Generally, most of us need between 2 to 3 litres of water each day, but in the hot, dry remote areas of Australia you should double this amount.

So to be conservative, it’s best to take the 3 litres and double it to give each person 6 litres of water per day, but don’t forget that this includes water for washing and cleaning your teeth. The absolute minimum amount of water you should hold in your 4WD water tanks is 2 litres per person per day, which doubled gives you 4 litres per day, but that is the worst case scenario.

As an example, based on 6 litres per person per day and 4 people in your vehicle for a 7 day trip in the outback, you will need to carry 168 litres of water. Based on the minimum of 4 litres per person per day, you need to carry 112 litres in total. So throwing a few bottles of springwater into your vehicle and hoping for the best, isn’t the best idea when you are heading off-road and into the centre of Australia.

What’s the best way to carry all this water?

Clearly 4WD water tanks are your best option, as these can carry a lot of water in one receptacle. These water tanks are usually made from stainless steel or hard plastic and are often fitted permanently underneath your 4WD, but can also be temporarily fitted into the cargo area. However, the best spot is usually underneath your vehicle, as this frees up space elsewhere for everything else you need to carry for your trip.

If you decide to install a water tank underneath your vehicle, you will usually find an off-the-shelf tank that suits your needs. Capacities that will be suitable for 4 people on a 7 day trip are 200 litres, based on 6 litres per day per person or 120 litres for the minimum 4 litres per person per day.

Always remember however, not to put all your water in one place, because if the tank springs a leak, you will have lost all your water.
The other safe option is to store water in jerry cans, either as an additional source of water or because you don’t want to install a water tank. You can also fill up plastic milk containers or purchase boxed springwater from supermarkets, but for an outback trip into remote Australia, 4WD water tanks and jerry cans are your best bet.