Use a common folding water container to collect used wash water while camping in your Westfalia
- Durable flexible high-grade polyethylene
- Integrated on/off spigot design
- Comfortable handle w/ metal clips
- 2.5 gallon (9.5 liter) and 5 gallon (20 liter)
Whether camped in an established campground or in the backcountry, it’s important that “gray” water—used dish and hand washing water—not be dumped on the ground. The food particles and detergents, even biodegradable camp soap, can contaminate local water sources and attract wildlife. Instead, such gray water should be disposed of at a sanitary dumping station or in campground toilets.
But how to collect it?
Large RVs often have built-in gray-water storage tanks, and smaller versions are available for Vanagon campers, but a quick and easy DIY solution can be improvised from a common bag intended for carrying drinking water while camping.
The Reliance Fold-a-Carrier is a collapsible water container with sturdy fold-down handle and On/Off spigot. Made of durable polyethylene, the bag easily unfolds to its full size for use, then collapses down for storage when empty.
To use it as a gray-water bag, simply slip a snug-fitting length of flexible hose over the end of the outlet of your Westfalia sink drain.
When my outlet broke several years ago, I replaced it with an ABS plumbing flange fitting, a short stub of 3/4″ ABS pipe, and an ABS nipple with “garden hose threads” (3/4″ diameter straight thread, 11.5 TPI pitch). This allows the easy attachment of a short (10″) section of garden hose with a female fitting.
Setting up the gray water bag in camp is a simple matter of attaching the short hose and sliding the folding water carrier under the van, tucking the hose into the bag’s neck.
NOTE: If wildlife are about (mice, raccoons, and bears, oh my), bring your gray water bag inside the van at night to avoid attracting unwanted campsite visitors.
The Reliance Fold-a-Carrier is available in both 2.5 and 5-gallon sizes. Depending on the number in your camping party and your cooking & cleaning habits, the 2.5-gallon bag will hold 1-3 day’s worth of waste water before requiring emptying into a campground dump station or toilet.
Once empty, the bag easily collapses to a space-saving size, easily stowed under the Westfalia bench seat.
To keep your gray water bag relatively clean and odor free, rinse after each use, and periodically clean with dishwashing detergent. Allow to thoroughly dry before stowing between camping trips.
In The Long Run
We’ve been using such folding gray water bags for many years of camping in everything from rough backcountry campsites, conventional state park campgrounds, to hoity-toity RV parks which especially frown on dumping one’s slop water on the manicured lawns. These bags hold up well for several year’s worth of camping, though repeated folding/unfolding may eventually stress the plastic and cause a pinhole leak, usually along the fold lines, requiring periodic replacement.
Overall, it’s an affordable solution to a common need, is easily deployed and stowed. And using this DIY gray water bag will help preserve the great outdoors we all enjoy …
Hits: affordable, compact, lightweight, very easy to deploy and stow
Misses: flexible plastic may eventually leak and require periodic replacement