Why yes, it is! A very cool (and useful!) feature of the AEV JK Rear Bumper is that it also provides water storage; read on to learn more.
One of the reasons I wheel is to find awesome camping spots away from the noise and clamor of daily life. And if you spend any time in the wilderness, you know you need to carry your basic needs with you – the first of which is plenty of H2O.
When I was contemplating modifying my stock bumper to something with more heft, I discovered many options. JCR and Poison Spyder (among others) had quite a few different bumpers, all with something to offer. What I liked about the AEV JK Rear Bumper (plus tire carrier, fuel caddy, high-lift mount, etc. – all these items can be installed and work together, or you could just get the bumper) is the quality behind the brand. I knew I’d get something that’s useful and safe (bumper safety is extremely important to me because my wheeling Jeep is also my daily soccer mom ride as I chauffeur my 6-year-old around to all his activities).
I left the installation of the water bumper up to the guys at Northridge 4x4 since I wanted to ensure it was installed correctly (and let’s face it, I am so NOT a mechanical chick although I can check my 710 [that's a blonde checking the "OIL]"). They did a great job as always.
Filling Your Bumper
The first time you fill your water bumper it’ll seem like it doesn’t hold much. That’s because half the water is stored on the driver’s side of the bumper (where you fill it), and half is stored on the passenger side and the two tanks are connected with a hose that runs under the bumper to the bottom of each tank. When you fill the bumper tank on the driver’s side it will take a few minutes to drain over to the passenger side tank, so let it sit for a bit and you can pour more in. (Note: the AEV description of this bumper says it holds 5 gallons but it doesn't seem to hold quite that much. The tanks are supposed to be 2.4 gallons each, but it's difficult to get all the water out due to the design and short pump hose. However, it serves its purpose which is to provide some spare water if needed).
AEV says the bumper water is potable, but I’d rather use it for washing hands or dishes – I do carry a water filter in my Jeep, and if I were to drink my bumper water I’d filter it first just to be safe.
Using the Pump
To use your bumper water, you’ll attach the pump (purchased separately). Make sure the hose that extends down into the water tank is pushed on to the pump all the way. If you don’t check it before every use (and sometimes, even if you do check it) it may come off while the pump is being attached, and then you won’t pump any water (duh!). An easy fix is to buy a $2 forceps
from Jax Outdoors military surplus. I keep those in my Jeep and they work like a charm to reach into the water tank and retrieve the hose if it comes off the pump. Finally, attach the spout and you’re in business!
Draining Your Bumper
If you live in an area where temps descend below freezing in the winter you’ll want to empty (or mostly empty) your water bumper before it gets too cold so it doesn’t freeze (and possibly crack). To do this, pump all the water out, or as much as you can. (I’ve not yet done this but I think parking with the driver’s side tank tilted lower would help get most of the water out [need an excuse to flex?]. You could also get a longer hose at any hardware store, to reach the bottom of the tank).
Unfortunately even though the AEV website says that the connecting hose under the bumper can be disconnected (there are no built-in drains), that doesn’t seem like a good option to me. The hose connection is super tight (as it should be) and to loosen it would run the risk of leakage in the future (in my opinion). One person on the AEV forums had a plumber install a valve within the tube that connects the tanks so he could drain the water (and use it from that point, thereby negating the need to pump it out from up top).
Other Water Options
There are many other options for carrying water with you when adventuring in the wilderness. The possibilities range from racks beside your spare tire to just putting a five-gallon jug behind your seat (as I do also) and everything in between. The most important thing is to work with the space you have and make use of it! For a family of three plus large dog 8-10 gallons of water will get us through a three-day camping trip if we watch our usage. If there’s a Zombie Apocalypse, 8-10 gallons would be just a start, but at least I’m making good use of space with water in my bumper.
Wheeling Tip: always take more water than you think you’ll need. In addition to the bumper water and 5-gallon water jug (when camping) we also always take numerous Nalgene bottles full of water and CamelBaks, just in case. I’d rather not die of thirst. Happy Trails!