Camping Off the Beaten Trail: Backwoods Survival Tips

4 Good Reasons to Buy Some Jerry Cans for Your Next Camping Trip

by Edward Bailey

The jerry can dates back to 1930s Germany, where it was originally designed for the military to carry fuel. And, while it's undergone a few transformations in the years since then, the basic design isn't all that different to the first models. The reason for that is that, essentially, it's pretty much ideal for its intended purpose.

Nowadays, jerry cans are still widely used for carrying fuel or water and can be bought relatively cheaply. If you're going camping, picking up a few can be really useful, but not just for the obvious purposes. When you know how, there's plenty you can do with one of these handy containers to help your camping experience.

Water dispenser

Using a jerry can to store and pour water is fine, but you can make it a lot more useful by adding a small tap. Some types of can are designed to fit a tap that screws on, which makes the whole thing a bit easier. If you have a normal can, however, you can still add a tap yourself if you're handy. You can also buy taps that can screw on in place of the lid, so you can simply prop or hang the jerry can upside down for dispensing water.

Food storage

Small food items can be stored directly in the can, preventing animals from getting to them, and also stopping the smell from attracting unwanted attention. Put the food inside a plastic bag and use the lid to hold it in place when you screw it on.

For larger food items, it's quite easy to adapt a jerry can to have an opening door. Just cut out a section on the front, add some hinges and a padlock hasp and you can secure edibles inside.


Filled with water, sand or just about anything else you can find, a jerry can makes an excellent weight. And there are a number of ways you can use a weight around a campsite.

First, you can use weights to secure a tent in place when you can't use pegs for some reason – for example if you're camping on sand or particularly hard ground. You can also weigh ground sheets down to stop them blowing away.

Another use for a weight is keeping food off the ground. Put food in a bag, tie it securely, tie one end of a rope to the bag and loop it over a high branch. Tie the other end to your weighted jerry can and the food will be well out of the reach of animals.

Waste disposal

When you have food waste, it's difficult to deal with if you're camping out for a few days. Using jerry cans to store it in until you can dispose of it properly means you're less likely to attract pests or have to put up with a rotting smell.

Check out army gear stores near you to find jerry cans and other camping supplies.