Good Gear: Surplus Swiss 20L Water Bag

I have used several different types of plastic water storage containers over the years and all of them have had significant downsides. Most of them have sprung leaks at the seams. They are difficult, especially when full, to dispense water from without spillage. They also take up a ton of space even when they are empty. I still have and use several of these plastic jerrycan style containers because they were the only way I had to carry a large amount of water to the range or when camping with the family but I have ceased using them to store water.

A friend of JTT recently told me about Surplus Swiss 20L Water Bags as an alternative to rigid plastic containers so I gave them a try. These water bags are black rubber bladders with heavy rope handles at each end. They have a large fill port and a push button spigot that makes dispensing water a snap.

The bags seems to be extremely durable to the extent that they can be dropped from head height or stood on when full without bursting – I have done both. The welded seems are massive and, given what I see and what I have read in reviews from others, it is difficult to imagine them leaking even with abuse. These have seemingly solved the durability issues that I have experienced with the rigid plastic cans.

The form factor of these bags provides some interesting functionality. First, because they are made from black rubber, they can be laid in the sun to heat the water and this is surprisingly effective. This ability to heat the water along with how easy they are to hang by the rope handles makes them very effective as a solar shower bag. The rope handles have a bit of plastic tubing on them that makes them very comfortable to carry even when full. Finally, they fold completely flat when empty which is a very welcome change if you are used to rigid cans.

Apparently, these bags used to be far more plentiful and inexpensive. That is never the case for long with good surplus items. There are now retailers charging $20+ for a single bag and the shipping is also quite expensive. After shopping around a bit, I purchased a few of them from MidwayUSA who had the best price I could find by a mile, especially when you factor in the shipping.

2 Responses to Good Gear: Surplus Swiss 20L Water Bag

  1. Gatman May 18, 2016 at 07:13 #

    I bought a buch of these as well, but had to stop using them due to the insane burnt rubber taste they impart to water after just half an hour of being filled. The water tastes absolutely awful. You really can’t use it for drinking or cooking. I’ve tried to get it out with bleach, vinegar, baking soda and just letting water stand in them for months, but the taste is still as strong as ever.

    Any ideas? Anyone else have the same issue?

    • Matt May 18, 2016 at 07:53 #

      Mine impart a taste for sure but it hasn’t been overwhelming. Hopefully others will chime in.

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