One of the most frustrating things about long-term vanlife or overland travel is finding clean, safe drinking water. I cannot tell you the number of times we've been in a service station (or campsite!) which is supposed to offer drinking water… only to find out that it isn't clean.
It's a problem.
Also, we're trying our hardest to be more conscious about the environment and the effect we have on it. Buying and drinking constantly from plastic bottles goes against everything we are trying to achieve- so we really wanted to find a better solution.
What is the Lifesaver Jerrycan?
Enter, the Lifesaver Jerrycan. It literally is a jerrycan… with a whole lot more.
This 18.5-litre tank is capable of taking the murkiest, most disgusting water… and turning it into something safe to drink almost immediately. No boiling, no chlorine, no fuss.
It can remove 99.99% of parasites, viruses, bugs, cysts(!) and many other water-borne pathogens. It has passed military-spec testing (NSF Protocol P248 Military Operations – Microbiological Water Purifiers) and will remove anything bigger than 0.0.15 microns from the water stream. (It's also made in the UK, in case you were wondering…)
Lifesaver has a filter which inserts easily into one side of the tank… and a tap which allows you to get the water out easily, while the jerrycan is either standing upright or lying on its side.
It also has a shower attachment, which might be the best bit of the entire thing- but we'll get to that shortly.
There are 2 versions of the Lifesaver Jerrycan on the market- one which filters 10,000 litres and one which filters 20,000 litres. As a guide, the WHO recommends using 3 litres of water a day per person for drinking and cooking. Therefore, two people would need to filter 6 litres per day.
20,000 litres used at 6 litres a day (not including showers etc) would last 9.1 years. There's also a failsafe in the filter- once the filter membrane is fully used, it blocks the water flow, so the user can't get any contaminated water from the tank.
How do you use the Lifesaver Jerrycan water filter?
Ok, this is really complicated, so pay attention…
- Step 1: Fill the Lifesaver Jerrycan from any water supply you find, including rivers, streams or lakes.
- Step 2: Pump it baby! At least 15-20 decent pumps will build pressure inside the tank
- Step 3: Turn the tap and drink lovely, clear, fresh water.
Yeah, it really is that simple. Even I could do it.
Don't forget, the tank stores the DIRTY water. So you'll need something else to store the clean water- or just filter it as required.
We use it to refill our water bottles and also the bigger water bottle which we keep in the motorhome kitchen for cooking/ making coffees etc. That way we are only filtering what we needed to use as we needed it.
Lifesaver Jerrycan Review- what we thought
I'll be honest, I was a bit sceptical about this product. I couldn't really see the potential… until the third night of our trip to the Italian Dolomites, where we were camped up a mountain and running low on water. Being able to refill and use the jerrycan from a convenient stream was AMAZING and allowed us to continue our adventures in the wild.
Also, you don't need to add ANY chlorine. We always add chlorine to the tanks on our motorhome when we refill the water tank, just in case something is wrong with the water supply (we use this Chlorine religiously). Even though it's really good and I can never taste it, I know it's there and I LOVE the fact that we didn't need to add any chlorine to the water which we are drinking.
The second time I praised the Lifesaver was when our dog, Mac, decided to roll in a puddle. A disgusting, wet, muddy, smelly, horrible puddle. (Get a dog, they said…)
I dreaded taking him back to the van- what on earth was I going to do with him? I hated the thought of putting him into our bathroom to wash him off and there wasn't a convenient shower anywhere near.
Until I remembered the Lifesaver Jerrycan.
The shower attachment was PERFECT to wash off the dog outside the van. A few pumps and there was enough pressure to do an excellent job. He was squeaky clean afterwards and it only used about a third of a tank.
We never used the shower attachment to clean ourselves (are you kidding? It was October, in Europe, in the mountains. Brrrrrrrr…..) but I am confident on a warm day by the beach it would be the perfect thing to rinse off salt or sand. We know several surfers who use the lifesaver after every swim.
Lifesaver Jerrycan dimensions
Many of you reading this need to be concerned with size and weight in your vans, so here are the dimensions you need to know:
- Height: 51cm
- Width: 36cm
- Depth: 18cm
- Capacity: 18.5 litres
- Filter capacity: 10,000 or 20,000 litres
- Weight (empty): 3.9kg
- Flow rate: 3 litres/ minute
- Minimum operating temp: 0ºC (if it's below freezing, the water will be frozen too!)
- Max operating temp: 50ºC
- Made from: Heavy duty, food grade plastic
Why should you buy a Lifesaver Jerrycan?
I'll be honest, if you're just using your motorhome or campervan for a few days holiday, or spending most of your time at nice campsites with pools and activities, you probably don't need a Lifesaver Jerrycan.
BUT- if you're like us and prefer to stay off-grid, wild camping in the middle of nowhere for as long as you can, or just want a perfect shower for yourselves or a muddy pup, then I strongly recommend getting one of these!
Lifesaver for vanlifers
If you don't have a shower at all in your van, I would say the Lifesaver is an essential road trip accessory. Being able to filter your water so it's safe, and then use it to have a decent, pressurised shower, is a MASSIVE deal.
Indeed, many vanlifers choose to do away with a water system at all and just use the Lifesaver Jerrycan for all their water needs.
Where to buy a Lifesaver Jerrycan?
You can buy these from a variety of outlets but, as usual, I prefer and recommend Amazon.
If you're based in the UK:
Based in USA/ Canada or elsewhere?
(Don't forget to grab the shower attachment too!)
A word of caution. You can find cheaper copies of this system all over the place, but honestly, I don't recommend trying them. It may sound dramatic, but this is about safe drinking water- one of the most basic daily necessities. Don't muck around with that for the sake of saving a few pounds.
It's one of those things which doesn't seem important… until it becomes the most important thing in the world!
* We were given a Lifesaver Jerrycan to try. Our review and all opinions are entirely our own. We never, ever recommend products we don't think are worth your time and money.