Saturday, September 23, 2023


The canvas water bag: A classic way to carry water while RVing

When it comes to preparing for a camping trip or managing the boondocking necessities, water is always a major concern. Nothing will ruin a boondocking experience faster than the realization that you are running out of drinkable water.

A very handy way to increase water carrying capacity is this potable water jug

There are several practical ways to ensure an adequate supply of fresh, cool, potable water for drinking and cooking in camp. I tend to look to the most basic and least complicated solutions; some of them are very old classics. I therefore have and use a few (very) old-fashioned canvas desert water bags.

Canvas water bag

The canvas water bag is pure genius and near perfection as a means of carrying water. The best ones are made in Scotland, using canvas made of Scottish flax. They’re getting hard to find, whereas every hardware store used to have piles of them and some hanging on hooks near the bucket and shovel department. They were inexpensive—$2—whereas today they are expensive, e.g., $50–$100. Every farm vehicle had one strung over a hook somewhere, construction machinery was always adorned with one or more wet water bags, and no camping trip was started without the water bag being slung around the hood ornament of the car.

The canvas water bag will hold about a gallon. The genius of it is that the canvas is soaked to saturation for a day or so before use. The cloth fibers swell and hold the water in the bag while allowing evaporation, which cools the water. To me, there is nothing sweeter than a long, cool drink from a water bag cooled over the open road.

You can find them on eBay, or Mercari, or elsewhere online here.

When headed to a boondocking spot for an extended time, or if at all uncertain of having access to water, I also use one or more of the special six-gallon BPA-free cans and purpose-made for carrying potable drinking water.


Randall Brink
Randall Brink
Randall Brink is an author hailing from Idaho. He has written many fiction and non-fiction books, including the critically acclaimed Lost Star: The Search for Amelia Earhart. He is the screenwriter for the new Grizzly Adams television series and the feature film Goldfield. Randall Brink has a diverse background not only as a book author, Hollywood screenwriter and script doctor, but also as an airline captain, chief executive, and Alaska bush pilot.


  1. I saw these when I was in the Air Force stationed in California. They would hang them on the front of vehicles to cool the water while driving.


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