Dominique and I were looking into buying a camping water bag such as the Sea to Summit Kitchen Sink to use for taking mini baths while camping and backpacking. Now that I’m married, I’ve had to up my game when it comes to cleanliness on the trail. If you’ve read my Appalachian Trail journal, you know that I was often one dirty bird. I carried an ice cream bucket on my first long trek that worked well, but it added several ounces to my load so I left it home on the next trip.
Ever frugal with money and loath to carry extra gear in my pack, I put
off purchasing a store-bought solution until my brain had time to work
on the problem. The light bulb moment finally came when I realized that
the vacuum seal bags that I packed my daily rations in made perfect camp
I cut my vacuum seal bags eleven inches wide by twelve inches deep – perfect for holding a day’s rations or three liters of water.
One side of a vacuum seal bag is clear plastic and the other side has mesh fiber running through it. To turn it into a camping water bag, you poke two holes in the mesh side near the outer edges and about an inch from the top. Run the top half of a hiking pole or stick through the holes to support the weight of the water. Attach a carabiner to the pole before filling with water.
The pole or stick makes it easy to hold the bag open when filling it from a water source and comfortable to carry away to your secret bathing spot. You can also store extra water to use in camp. Three liters will fill about two-thirds of the bag. If you put much more water than that in the bag, the plastic could give way at the holes.
Pick out the spot where you want to hang your camping water bag before you go fetch the water. Run some cord over a low hanging branch and tie a loop in the end at the height that you want to hang the bag. Then all you have to do is clip the bag to the loop with the carabiner when you get back with the water. The weight of the water keeps the balance steady and I have had no problems with the carabiner sliding away from the center.
It is easy to rig this to the end of a picnic table if you have enough space between the boards to loop a short length of cord.
With the bag full, there is plenty of room to slide your hand and a cloth in to take a mini bath. For extreme luxury, you could fill two bags – one for soaping and one for rinsing. For storing extra water to use in camp, cut a piece of plastic off another bag, run the cord through a hole in the center, and position the plastic cover over the top of the water bag to keep out debris like pine needles, caterpillars, and owl pooh.
The drawback to my little invention is that it has to hang. That rules it out for using in the vestibule of a tent where you would have some privacy for taking a mini bath. As I said, I was mostly a dirty bird when hiking alone.