Taking lots of water with your lightweight off-road camper trailer adds a lot of extra weight. You can travel with less water with a Kimberley between filling stops using our integrated water system.
As well as Batteries, the other heavy items on-board an off-road camper trailer are the water tanks full of water.
Water weighs 1 kg per litre, so carrying 200 litres of water adds 200kg to your weight. Yet water can be the scarcest commodity at times and we should always carry more than we think we need.
Most travellers carry multiple water tanks. One for pure drinking water and one for showers and washing up. The second tank may be filled with whatever water can be sourced on the way. Additional tanks can be fitted for additional water.
This can lead to a challenging problem of carrying so much extra weight – so we asked ourselves “Is there an alternative to this?”
Yes – there is a third option to help you reduce the amount of water weight you need to carry on your camper trailer.
Pump from a stream or billabong.
What this does is expand your available water to potentially an endless supply while camping. Yes, endless hot showers! (assuming your run off is outside!). This significantly changes the effective on-board capacity when camping.
It also means that if you are travelling to a location with known available water, you don’t need to travel with as much water on board. You can travel lighter!
Is there a catch?
The problem with pumping from a stream or billabong is that you will need to filter the water and pass it through a heat exchanger. This can’t be done reliably with traditional gas (LPG) or electric water heaters.
But it can be done with the Diesel Hot Water system used in Kimberley off-road camper trailers!
This is a diagram of the type of diesel burner used in the Kimberley Diesel Hot Water System. Heat Storage Fluid (Glycol- the aqua coloured path) flows into the unit and passes through a heating jacket. This hot Glycol is then passed through a heat exchanger unit where it heats the water.
The other issue is that you don’t want to be filling a tank in one operation from the stream and then using the tank. This is laborious. A single switched system is far easier to use. With the use of heat exchangers, not only is the hot water virtually instantaneous (55°C in less than 5 minutes in most cases) but to switch to a stream or billabong is simply a matter of turning 2 valves and dropping the hose in.
With the Kimberley system you can park near a creek and run endless hot water using the outside shower to clean down nearly anything… preferably it is all natural material!
Separate or Connecting Water Tanks?
We have to report the terrible story of a camper trailer customer who were on a long trip off the beaten track. They had “taps” fitted to the drain of both water tanks. After an overnight stop and a brief hike during the day, they returned to find both taps had been turned “open” by mischieveous visitors.
At Kimberley we now only fit a “tap” to the drain on one tank and require a spanner to remove the “bung” on the second tank. The 2 tanks are not connected!
Our principles of water storage:
Dual tanks, dual water fillers, dual hoses
Lockable and secure water fillers
Separate town water or stream water inlet that can bypass the main water tank
Water for hot water tank to be stainless water tank/ hot water tank/ buffer tank. The tanks can be rinsed with town water if they become contaminated.
Can pump (potable) water out of a stream
Sink drains through small outlet so a drain hose can be connected if desired
Hand water pump on 70 litre drinking water tank (for offroad camper trailers only)
Your typical water use pattern may be:
Keep the 70L water tank with good drinking water as full as possible.
Carry only enough water in the second 110L tank as you need from filling point to filling point (this may be bore water) – typically from 30L to full.
Always carry an emergency Jerry Can of water on the front.
Use hot shower generously when available bore water
“Navy wash” when bore water is limited
Use hot “shower” drain water for washing clothes when bore water is scarce.
Check water meter levels daily
There are some other items you should look for on an off-road camper trailer:
Is there a water filter?
YES – Most Kimberley camper trailer models are fitted with a filter on the cold water supply. The unit we provide has the silver eliminating bacteria system. It is only provided on the cold water so that there is sufficient water flow in the hot system for the heat exchanger to work.
Why is there only a manual hand pump on the 70L drinking water tank?
For convenience and safety. We have heard many stories of the automatic tap/water pump being left open and the water pump switch accidentally turned on. If this happens on your drinking water tank, it would be devastating to lose this water.
Secondly, the hand pump can be easily accessed at a roadside stop without having to open the gullwing and turn the water pump on.
Thirdly it limits wasting this water.
How can I fill up from a local stream?
There are 3 steps:
Attach a long enough hose (we recommend a 20mm hose with a small in-line foot valve) with the valve in the stream
Turn the water source valves to bypass the water tank and take the stream water into the pump and hot water heater.
Turn on the tap!
The water pressure and flow will reduce. At a 3.5m lift, we found the pressure and water flow to be approx half that from the tank. It was still a quite acceptable 5 litres/min
What if I suddenly discover the stream water is unclean or non-potable?
You have to flush the hot water tank and the lines but do not have to worry about the tank. You have to flush the lines before turning the valves back to the tank to prevent backwash into the tank.
For more helpful information about lightweight offroad camper trailers download our FREE guide below:
Cameron Johnston | Kimberley Group