To Tote Water Or Not

We prefer to carry a full tank of fresh water as possible as we travel and I’ll tell you why in a bit. I’m asked often do we andhow much water we carry while traveling. Every RVer has their reasons why they do or do not. I have met RV’ers who have never put water into their freshwater tank, some say its because they only travel park to park and never boondock so there is no need.

Like any mechanical device or system, if you don’t use it, it will likely fail or not work properly when you do try to use it. Think about this as it applies to when you want to trade it in or sell the unit.

Some have said they don’t want to have to deal with the sanitation process. Most report that they just don’t want to pay for the additional gas/fuel it takes to carry the weight it adds to their RV going down the road. For some, those being bumper pulled trailers it is also a matter of weight distribution. Too much weight on the hitch or too much weight aft of the axle(s) can cause control issues, the latter causing uncontrollable oscillation.

Two things come to mind as to why a tank of water so adversely affects trailer handling. If its one that is cheaply designed and built to meet a low-end price point. Or, the vehicle used to pull it is at or beyond its realistic load capacity. In other words…too little of a truck/van/SUV for the task regardless of what the published specs are.

The bigger the rig, the less difference the weight of a full tank of water has on the overall performance as it applies to fuel mileage. Yes, if you’re constantly climbing up and down steep mountain grades, weight overall is a factor, especially when you try to force the vehicle to maintain posted speed limits instead of allowing the rig to climb at its preferred and most efficient RPMs and speed ratio.

Our 2004 Holiday Rambler Ambassador 38PDQ with its 330hp Cumins diesel gets the same mileage whether or not the water tank is full or empty. What really makes the difference in mpg is how heavy my foot is on the throttle while cruising down the highway and whether I make jack rabbits starts or not.

Why We Carry Water

More than once we have arrived at an RV park or campground to find that the local water is so nasty (smell/taste) or not available at all. This could be due to some sort of problem with their well/pumps. Let’s not forget the times that the local health department issued a boil water order before consuming due to the water source being contaminated for some reason known or unknown. There are places where the water is known to be contaminated with lead or other substances that you shouldn’t consume, cook or bath with.

You’d be surprised at what lengths you’ll go through to get or how much you are willing to spend for water when you don’t have any.

One good reason to carry water

If the situation arises that your vehicle whether motorhome or pickup/SUV/van overheats and overheats and vents out coolant forcing you to stop along side of the road. A place where you could find out that no one will be able to come to your aide for some time. Some of us carry bottled water to drink and cook with which typically isn’t enough, but if you are traveling with a full water tank you are likely carrying sufficient quantity to refill your vehicles cooling system a couple times over.

Being able to refill the cooling system with water from your onboard tank, could allow you to make progress down the road to get you closer to help or mechanical services to troubleshoot and repair the issue causing the problem. Our freshwater tank is more than ample enough to refill the cooling system of our coach several times. Or a traveling companion’s rig you are traveling along with us.

In a matter of minutes, I can hook up a hose to the spigot in my wet bay and stick the other end into the coolant fill, switch on the water pump, open the spigot and refill the rig’s coolant system. While it isn’t a permanent repair, it does give one more options.

Some say they NEVER boondock or dry camp. But…”stuff happens” while traveling. It could be weather or a mechanical issues that forces you to stop for a day or several someplace without amenities. This is when you wish, you had filled the water tank.

Sometimes it is just more convenient and easier to not have to hook up the hose to the faucet…cold weather…fatigue after a long day on the road. Departures are easier too by not having to disconnect anything not necessary.

Simple decision…do you plan for the unexpected and carry water or do you just take your chances? Its an individual decision based on personal choice and/or equipment limitations.

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Gerald Voigt

Gerald's interests are wide and varied. His work career started in the United States Air Force and since then has worked in logistics management, retail & service management as well as manufacturing. He's an author, photographer, pilot, radio show host and marketing consultant who enjoys RVing which allows him greater freedom to explore, meet new acquaintances and serve his clients.