I don’t know about you, but I searched for a long time for the best way to carry significant volumes of water when kayaking. The container must conform to the shape of the kayak and then must collapse completely when empty and take up no volume. It was a 12-year fight with MSR Dromedary Bags before I finally gave up. Wine bladders seem to be the only way to carry volumes of water that is palatable to drink and cook with.
When paddling, water should always be stored in or immediately next to the cockpit. The cockpit is best especially if the container leaks but pose an issue in an capsize. My favourite places are a. In front of my feet (my cockpit is very large and there is a lot of space here). b. immediately behind my seat. c. immediately next to the cockpit in either hatch but use the back hatch first for much better weight distribution. With MSR Dromedary bags I could carry 36 litres of water (3 X 10 litre + 1 X 6 litre) and another almost 7 litres in all my other carrier possibilities.
This is how I carry water when kayaking:
1. .5-litre Bottle. For use around the tent to brush teeth primarily and for drinking during the night.
2. 1-litre Bottle. This fits between the seat and side of my kayak. Often I mix powdered drink mixes in it (Gatorade, electrolyte mixes, lemonade). Because of sugar, it accumulates black mold if not cleaned regularly.
3. Water Bladder. Especially in bad weather where easy access to water is necessary, a 1-litre bladder in a holder on your PFD is indispensable. Less functional is having the bladder under bungy cords on your deck.
4. 2-litre Juice Bottles. Two recycled containers fit perfectly behind my seat in my cockpit. These provide water around camp especially for cooking. They are handy to pour and use space that would otherwise go unused. There can also provide water easily when paddling.
5. 4.5-litre Wine Bladders. They are the only container I have found that impart no taste to water , are fairly strong and carry a reasonably large volume of water. Obviously they conform to any space and collapse completely. But they are prone to damage and easy puncture. The valve is not completely secure. In some destinations, like Baja Mexico, one would need 8 of these to carry enough water.
To solve issues, I have made nylon bags to hold my wine bladders. Some features are mid-weight rip stop nylon, 6 grommets for a thin nylon strap strung along the edges for carrying, a large Velcro closure, and a custom hole for the valve. And they were a lot of fun to make.
6. MSR Dromedary Bags. These are perfectly designed for carrying water in a kayak. Made of tough nylon, they are indestructible. A thin nylon strap is strung along the edges for carrying and easy handling. There are 3 ways to pour water, all very secure. A separately purchased shower hose attachment works great.
But no matter what you do, it is impossible to get rid of the plastic taste imparted to the water. Apparently this is due to the antibacterial treatment given to the plastic coating on the inside of the bag.
Here is my story about my life with Dromedary Bags. About 15 years ago, I purchased three-ten litre and one-six litre bags (total value $150). No matter what I did, it was impossible to get rid of the plastic taste. I stored them with baking soda for months. About 8 years ago, I phoned MSR in Seattle and was told to return my 4 bags. A week later, I received a very irate phone call from a manager asking who authorized the return of the bags. He mailed my old bags back to me with no advice on how to deal with the taste issue, other than simple time. Since then, MSR’s customer relations have improved. 3 years ago, I contacted MSR again and they agreed to replace my bags (implying to me that the taste problem had been solved) and I mailed them to Seattle at my cost. There was a big delay and the bags arrived when I was gone for 6 months and returned by the post office to MSR. After some complaints, I was finally told to simply go to a local retailer and get the bags. But the water is no better – as heavy a plastic taste as ever that makes the water unusable even for cooking. It could be used for dishwashing.
I have purchased the shower attachment and think they will make great solar showers. I am happy to sell some barely used Dromedaries.