Man running water from RV outdoor shower

What is an RV Water Bladder & Do You Need One?

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You’ve found the perfect spot for your dry camping; it’s off the grid and looking great! But you’ve got a problem, your water storage can only last a few days. Unless your RV is a class A RV with large holding tanks that can last for more than 10 days, that will limit your movement. You can’t afford to run out of water in the middle of a desert! A significant problem most RVers face is the water storage problem! It’s a bigger issue if you like to take boondocking trips frequently. This is where an RV water bladder can come in really handy. With it, you can carry extra storage of portable water. 

So, what exactly is an RV water bladder? And do you need one?

What is an RV Water Bladder?

RV water bladder from AquaTank2
RV water bladder from AquaTank2. Photo from Amazon

An RV water bladder is a water storage container with a collapsible and durable outer shell. The water bladder can be expanded to hold a large amount of water. 

The outer shell is usually a lightweight material like durable nylon or food-grade plastic. If it’s lined with an inner shell, the inner shell may be polyurethane or polyethylene. However, not all RV water bladders have a food-grade inner liner. That is something to be on the lookout for if you intend to drink or cook with the water bladder’s water.

When Do You Need an RV Water Bladder?

RV water bladders are used to hold and store water. So they come in handy when you’re going on a long trip or boondocking in an area without water refill stations. RV water bladders are also great to have if your rig has a smaller fresh water capacity.

They also come in smaller sizes that serve as an extra/emergency stash of water in your truck.

Types and Capacities of RV Water Bladders

RV water bladders come in different sizes and shapes. They are usually shaped like a square or a rectangle. In general, the higher the bag’s capacity, the more it will be shaped like a rectangle.

RV water bladder from AquaTank2
RV water bladder from AquaTank2. Photo from Amazon

The sizes can be anything from 1 gallon to 300+ gallons. Depending on the capacity, an RV bladder can weigh anything from a few ounces to several thousand pounds. 

How Much Will A RV Water Bladder Weigh?

Most RV water bladders usually weigh only a couple of pounds when empty, so you can easily fold and tuck them away. However, it’s another case when the bladder is full of water.  

Keep in mind that water weighs about 8.3 lbs per gallon. Suppose you want to store an extra 150 gallons of water, be prepared to carry an additional 1250 lbs around. Make sure your truck or RV can carry that extra weight around safely.

Why Do You Need an RV Water Bladder?

There are several reasons why you might need an RV water bladder.

Emergency Water

Water is a vital resource to have at all times. It’s a great idea to always have an emergency stash, especially if you’re going boondocking. 

In cases of emergencies, the RV water bladder can come in very handy. For example, you can’t leave your camp to look for drinking water in the middle of a storm.

Save Space

Storing water in big hard-sided containers requires a lot of space in your vehicle or RV. Plus, you still need space to keep the containers even when they’re empty.

But thanks to the flexible design of the RV water bladder, you can fold and tuck it away when it is empty. This saves you valuable space in your RV!

Portable water reservoir bag.
Portable water reservoir bag. Photo from Amazon.

Extend Boondocking Time

Most times, running out of water is why you have to leave an excellent dry camping site or limit your traveling.

But with your RV water bladder, you can carry extra water to refill your fresh water tanks when you run out. That extra refill can significantly extend your camping time and allow you to enjoy a camping spot more.

Saves The Stress of Moving Around for Water

Driving around in your RV in search of a water refill can be a real bummer, especially if you’re camping far from town. An RV water bladder can save you some of that stress and eliminate the drive.

How to Get Water out of Your RV Water Bladder

For smaller bladders, you can easily pick them and pour water directly into your fresh water tank. A clean funnel can reduce the water spillage when pouring. 

But if you’re dealing with a large water bladder, then you can’t simply pick it up and pour the water out. For big, heavy bladders, here are a couple of ways to get the water out:

  • Gravity: If your RV water bladder is stored in your tow vehicle or on a higher level, you can simply use gravity to get water into your tank. In this case, you need a drinking-water safe hose to connect your tank to your bladder.
Portable water reservoir bag on the back of an off-road vehicle.
Portable water reservoir bag. Photo from Amazon.
  • Transfer Pump/Drill Pump: Depending on the size of the bladder and volume of water, you can either use a transfer pump or drill pump. For smaller bladders, use a drill pump to get the water into your tank. 

A drill pump may not be ideal for bigger bladders because of its limited battery power and speed. In this case, use a transfer pump with the same fitting as a freshwater hose.

  • Spare Fresh Water Pump: If you’d like a cost-friendly, DIY method, then you can use your RV fresh water pump. You’ll need to create the hose for attaching the bladder yourself.

RV Water Bladder Options for You

There are a variety of RV water bladders available in different types, capacities, and materials. Before you choose your RV water bladder, make sure it’s durable and can suit your needs. 

If you want to store drinking water in the bladder, make sure the water bladder is designed to hold drinking water.

Here are some great options for you to check out:

  • AQUATANK2 Water Bladder: The Aquatank2 water bladder can hold up to 30 gallons of water. The inner lining is 100% food-grade TPU meaning there is no funky, plastic taste.
  • IVY Bag Portable Water Reservoir: If you have a bigger vehicle and want more water storage, this is an excellent option. It can store up to 100 gallons of water. However, this single layer PVC bladder is not suitable for drinking water.

An RV water bladder can make your camping and boondocking life easier. Instead of spending time looking for water, you can kick back and enjoy your camping and traveling. 

The best part is that they are available in different shapes and capacities. And they are durable and appropriate for any type of camping style. 

8 thoughts on “What is an RV Water Bladder & Do You Need One?”

  1. I prefer gallon jugs, keep them (full or empty) in a storage space. Also easy to collect rain water, and purify it with a still (either solar, or fuel heat). Composting toilet, so no water use there. Paper plates, bowls, cups, only, so little or no dishwashing. Do not need potable water if you wash clothes, either don’t wash at all, have spare clothes, or use whatever clear water you can get. Simple if you do your own homework, and don’t count on what someone else says is the way to go. Remember: It ain’t what you’re told, it’s what you know.

  2. Great job with the water bladder. Now about my question, I travel in a small (25ft. motor home) how and where would I carry the water bladder? I would probably only a 30 gal. but that would weigh about 250 Lbs.

    Thank You and God Bless you
    Bob
    [email protected]

  3. these bladders though, lay flat and that takes up a lot of room. Should it be on the carrier on the back, anyone can come along and cut a hole in it.

  4. Jennifer Jennings

    Hey Nancy! Good question! I guess in a similar fashion as your fresh water tank, you could clean the bladder with a bleach solution to keep it clean and mold free.

  5. Jennifer Jennings

    Hey Bob, I’m not sure – maybe in your storage provided you’re within weight restrictions.

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