Long term review – Aqua-Tainer

Some pieces of gear should be simple and not something you should think about all that much.

But that is not always the case.

LED lights have forums to discuss which light lights up the best.

People debate the merits of which sub-3oz stove boils two cups of water the best.

And water containers for camping often, well, suck.

They leak. Or are a pain to use. Don’t store easily. And aren’t efficient.

I tried various types of containers. From the collapsible cubes to re-purposing 2.5-gallon water jugs from the grocery store.

Nothing worked too well.

Then, over five years ago, I purchased a Reliance 7-Gallon Aqua-Tainer.

Over the course of the years, and used almost daily since November 2017, I have made use of this simple but well-designed product through a lot of different terrain, temps, and places.  Desert camps, roadside meals, secluded mountain pull-outs, and the occasional established campground is where I extensively used my trusty water container.

The container is a cube design. Meaning it is more stable than the traditional Jerry-can style water jug.

Put it up on its side, and you have a very useful water dispenser for cooking, cleaning, or filling water bottles.

The Scamp experiment ended up being short-lived. My friend wanted it back for the summer. 🙂 But here is a photo of how I typically use the Aqua-Tainer.

The Aqua-Tainer fits quite well with my homemade cargo shelf.

And easily tilts on the side for when camping directly out of my car with no picnic tables or other amenities.

Back in #arizona and lots of easy dispersed #camping!

A post shared by Paul Mags (@pmagsco) on

At $15, this simple item is a bargain, too.  Additionally, this product is handy for disaster preparedness

If there is a downside to the product, the Aqua-Tainer does not make for as easy pouring when using it as you would a traditional Jerry-can style water jug.

However, that is a minor problem considering how I use the product.

Another issue is that 7-gallons may be too heavy to handle for some people. If so, a similar 4-gallon version is made that is lighter when full.

Most outdoor products end up being over-engineered, expensive, and have a short life.

The Reliance 7-Gallon Aqua-Tainer is not such a product. It just works.  I wish all outdoor gear could be similar!

Note: Based on Amazon reviews, it looks like there was briefly a batch of these containers that leaked from the valve around 2015. I never had this problem directly. I did have a person turn the valve too much, broke the tap, and that caused a leak. 🙁  A  $5 “improved” spigot assembly is available and that took care of the issue, however. YMMV.

UPDATE MAY 2020:  Joan and I use the 7-gallon one for longer trips. For quick getaways or stashing in the car at the end of trips, we’ve been using the 2.5-gallon version quite well. Similar design, just easier to handle. Perfect for short trips or even stashing in the car for the end of backpacking trips.

Disclosure: I purchased this item with my funds.

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5 years ago

It’s about time the Aquatainer gets some love. Thanks! Aquatainers are the standard and have been for more than a decade among my crowd of outdoor aficianados. However, I do think there is room for improvement, or disruption as they like to call it these days, in the water container market. It seems to me like water containers are one of the most important and ubiquitous gear items, but none are really a product of much deep thinking and few, if any, seem to be targeted at our crowd of car campers, rafters, etc. Personally, I’d like a water container… Read more »

was on BPL years ago
was on BPL years ago
5 years ago

Thanks for the write-up. Being an IT infrastructure guy, I obsess about eliminating single points of failure, having back-ups and having redundancy. So in my paranoid pessimist mind, if after some use, abuse and UV rays, the plastic cracked, and a slow leaked went unnoticed. That’s a problem. Or possibly that the water in that container somehow got contaminated or just tasted weird. I prefer to have multiple smaller containers, than a single point of failure. Also if going with a trail buddy, and we need to separate for a reason, I can part with 1 gallon jug. I wasn’t… Read more »

5 years ago

I’ve got a couple of the four gallon containers that I’ve had for years. I’ve never had any problems with them.

5 years ago

I rotate two in my off-grid home for drinking and dish rinsing water. (Rain catchment for everything else.) My only complaint is the spigot, which throws water everywhere instead of a nice narrow stream. It’s annoying when refilling water bottles. Looking for a replacement valve/spigot!

James S Nickel
James S Nickel
4 years ago

We rotate three for daily potable water, refill at the spring every 2 weeks or so. Absolutely love the containers, have held up for over 7 years. Love that they stack well. But every spigot has failed after about a year or two of admittedly heavy use. The outer molded part of the downspout where the twist valve is press fit splits along the seam and no longer maintains a watertight seal. At 5 bucks for a replacement, it’s not that much of a burden, but I wish I could come up with a more durable solution with the same… Read more »

4 years ago

I think that the spigot is a standard drum faucet, which you can get in several styles at McMaster-Carr Supply.


3 years ago

Hot water for hot cocoa? Can this be used?

Colorado Jones
2 years ago

Reliance water jugs are definitely a tried-and-true, classic, inexpensive but reliable gear choice, not unlike the ubiquitous green two burner Coleman propane camp stoves. I own two of the cubes as well as a 1970s era 7 gallon jerry-can style plastic container that my parents purchased for family camping trips–still going strong. The spigots on the newer cubes have proven to be a bit fragile but, also, convenient and inexpensive to replace, so no complaints here.

Last edited 2 years ago by Colorado Jones