Some people are naturals at camping. For those who are still new to these adventures, you’re probably wondering how to refill fresh water tanks during camping trips.
Caravans and RVs don’t have huge fresh water tanks – they typically carry up to 202 gallons. A huge fresh water tank supplies you with water to shower and wash clothes, but it can empty out quickly. Your water will likely run out fast if you are boondocking.
To learn how to keep water stocked, continue reading this guide.
Why You Should Only Fill With Fresh Water
Before we dive in and share the best ways to fill your tank, it’s important to know why to keep the tank filled with fresh water only. Filling your tank with potentially contaminated water from sources like a dam or a river isn’t a good idea due to the following three reasons:
Contaminated Drinking Water
While you might be able to use this water for washing, you won’t be able to drink any of the water in your tank. Drinking contaminated water can result in all sorts of terrible diseases.
Water Tanks Are Hard To Clean
The most important reason to only use fresh water is to take good care of your water tank. Water tanks in RVs and campers are not easy to clean. These tanks are most likely built-in and can be hard to remove for flushing or washing.
When you fill your tank with dirty water, these microbes will spread to other parts of the water system such as the taps. Even if you add fresh water to your tank, your water source will still be contaminated.
Bacterial Growth Can Result From Impure Water
Dirty water can also result in bacterial growth inside your tank. Growths like black mold or fungi can have serious health consequences for humans. These growths can also be very hard to kill inside your tank or hoses.
Many chemicals are needed to kill bacterial growth. These chemicals can render your drinking water unsuitable until the tank has been cleaned.
Let’s Learn How to Refill Fresh Water Tank During Camping Expeditions
There are a few different ways to refill your water tank during your camping expeditions. Depending on how you can access water, this determines how you can fill your tank.
If you have access to city water, you can refill from a faucet. Otherwise, you may need to refill your tank from reserve water containers. Here is a quick look at some of the best ways to fill your tank so you can stay comfortable and hydrated on your camping trips.
Refill From the Faucet
This is the easiest way to refill your tank. A lot of dry campers and boondock campers tend to travel to a nearby town to fill up their tanks before heading back out into unknown territories. Here are the steps for refilling your tank with a faucet:
Step 1 – Get the right hose
To fill your tank using a faucet, you will need a hose that you can connect from the faucet to your tank.
You can build your own hose by investing in single valve connections, but it is easier to buy a hose that is designed for refilling water containers. What makes these hoses a better option is because it comes with connectors compatible with taps.
Step 2 – Locate a pure source of water
Don’t fill up your tank anywhere. You need to specifically look for someone who can supply you with drinking water. Restaurants are an ideal source of clean drinking water as most of these facilities have water purification systems.
Step 3 – Connect your hose
To fill your tank, you need to connect one end to the faucet or tap. The other end of the hose should be connected to your RV or campers’ water tank. These connections are often labeled as ‘portable water only’.
Step 4 – Fill your tank
Once your hose is connected, you can open the faucet and fill your tank. Keep a close eye on your tank while you fill it so you can close the tap when your tank is full.
You should also check the water pressure level. Some companies have high-pressure water systems that might cause damage to your water tank or the hoses connected to it.
Refill Using a Pump
Some boondock sites are a bit far from water sources. If you don’t have access to city water or campsite water, you might need to fill your tank from water containers. The easiest way to do this is with a water pump. Below are brief instructions on how to fill your tank with a pump:
Step 1 – Get a quality pump
A water pump is a small device that you can connect to your battery. The pump will transport water from an exterior water source into your tank.
There are quite a few different types of portable water pumps on the market, look for a pump that can operate on a low 12 voltage so you can use your battery.
Step 2 – Get fresh water containers
You will need to fetch fresh water containers. Some boondock campers like to invest in large water containers that can be loaded on the back of their pickup. This method is ideal if you prefer to boondock for an extended time without having to travel to the campsite.
Step 3 – Use your pump to fill the tank
Place your water containers close to your RV or camper tank intake. Set up your water pump so you can connect the container with the camper tank. Some water pumps have their own set of hoses whereas others require you to use a faucet connector hose.
Once this is done, connect the pump to your van’s 12V battery with alligator clips.
Always keep an eye on your tank while you fill it up. You might need to switch between water containers to fully fill your tank. Be sure to turn off your water pump before you switch it over to a new water container.
Use Gravity to Refill Your Tank
If you don’t have a water pump or access to a supply faucet, you can use gravity to refill your tank.
This method takes a little bit of time but can be just as effective. You don’t need much gravity to refill your tank when you use the power of gravity. Here are the steps for filling your tank with the help of gravity.
Step 1 – Get mobile water containers
Get some fresh water by buying water bottles from a local store. You can also get a large water container that you can load on the back of your pickup that allows you to fill it up before you head out to the campsite.
Step 2 – Get to higher ground
To fill your tank, you need to pour the water from a higher height than your water tank. You can climb up on a ladder to get a better view and pour the water, or get a stand that helps you hold and place a heavy mobile container properly.
Step 3 – Fill your tank using gravity
If you are pouring the water into your tank manually, you might need to get a funnel.
Place the funnel inside the tank opening, and climb the ladder then tilt the mouth of your water container into the funnel. Keep pouring your water bottles into the tank until your tank is full. Keep in mind that this one can be quite a challenging task.
Optional: Step 3 – Fill your tank by siphoning the water
If your mobile water tank is too heavy to lift then it’s best to prop the tank up on a stand as the mobile water container should be lifted to a higher level than your RV tank.
Insert a funnel into your camper tank-opening and then place one end of the hose inside the mobile water tank opening. Hold the dry end of the tube over the funnel. The dry end should be at a lower level than the end that is connected to your mobile water source.
Suck on the hose until water comes out of the end you are holding. Once the water starts pouring out, you can drop the hose into the funnel. Gravity will now do the rest of the work and automatically fill the tank.
How Much Fresh Water Does An RV Hold?
The water tanks on RVs or campers can differ based on the size and brand you have.
Small campers usually have tanks with a capacity of 18 to 40 gallons of water. Fifth-wheel trailers and Class A motorhomes are often fitted with 50 to 100 gallon tanks. Large RVs and big caravans can have tanks with a water capacity of 100 – 200 gallons.
You can also add your own water can to your camper. Here is a quick look at some of the most popular camping water containers to get:
Jerry cans are some of the most common containers. These containers hold 5 to 7 gallons of water. They are usually mounted on the outside of 4×4 Overlanding vehicles, campers, or trailers. While these cans are pretty durable, they can take up a lot of space when they are empty.
Collapsible water container
A lot of people prefer collapsible water containers because they are easier to store when they are empty. These containers usually contain about 5 gallons of water. When they are empty, you can fold them flat for easy storage.
Bladder-style containers like the popular Aquatank are ideal for storing lots of water. Some of these bladders can hold up to 30 gallons of water and should be enough to fill up your entire camper water tank. These bladders can also be folded when they are empty for easy storage.
The only problem with these bladders is that they can be very heavy to move when they are full. They are also pretty challenging to transport.
Likely Places to Find Fresh Water On Dry Camping Trips
If you are camping for a few days, then you will need to fill the watering tank up eventually. If you don’t have access to fresh water on your campsite, you should look for alternative spots to fill up. Here is a quick look at some of the best spots to fill up your tank.
- Fuel stations
- Forest service or ranger stations
- Rest stops
- National Parks
- City parks
- Country parks
- State parks
- Grocery stores
- Buy bottled water
Any other business you patronize on your journey could be helpful for filling up your tank. If you buy groceries, visit a local store or make friends with local residents where you can ask around on how else you can possibly fill up your tank.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a little bit of help. You never know when you might make a new friend.
With the right accessories at hand, there is always a way to get fresh and clean drinking water in your camper tank. One of the most important things to keep in mind is to find a reputable water source. The last thing you need is to get your camping expedition cut short because of tummy issues.
We hope this guide helped you learn how to refill fresh water tanks during camping. If you are looking for more camping advice, or if you are in the market for some of the best camping gear – we welcome you to take a look at some of our other guides.