It’s easy to overlook the basics of overland travel. Something as simple as water storage can often fall a distant second to gear selections with a little less utility and a bit more pizazz. I will tell you this much; if you run out of water in the middle of a hot day on the trail, it will be the only thing on your mind until the situation is remedied.
The collapsable water container is nothing new and goes back centuries to the days when animal skins and innards were used to portage water. Thankfully, materials have evolved and we now have options like the Water Tank made by Platypus. I have been using Platypus containers for more than a decade and have tortured them from the beaches of Baja to the remote wilds of Alaska. I’ve used them to store everything from potable water to my famous margaritas, of which 6 liters never seems to be enough.
What makes the Water Tank so useful is the full-length Big-Zip™ opening along the top of the bag. It opens wide enough to allow me to fill the bag full of ice, or get my hand deep into the corners for a good cleaning. Once zipped shut, I’ve never had so much as a drop of water escape the heavy duty seal.
My second favorite feature is the pleated base which allows the Water Tank to stand upright whether filled to the max or nearly empty. Other soft containers tend to flop around like a baby seal. Lastly, the large reinforced handle affords ample control when pouring water out of the small-mouth opening welded to the side of the container.
Other less overt features include a Silver-ion antimicrobial coating to reduce the growth of unwanted funk, and durability that belies its appearance. Don’t be fooled by what appears to be humble clear plastic. These things are tough as nails. I’ve dropped full Water Tanks off the top of an SUV and not suffered a lost drop. They resist abrasion better than expected and just don’t seem to have any appreciable weaknesses.
As a primary or secondary water storage solution, I don’t think I’ve found anything better. And, they’re even made in the USA. $40