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When it comes to use of plastic, none of us should be holier than thou. Plastic is in us, among us, and found in the farthest reaches of the earth. There are plenty of situations where it’s superior to other materials, but still, for years I’ve been doing my best to avoid plastic, especially when it comes to water storage. For small quantities of water, I use the plastic-lined Sea to Summit Watercell soft containers, but for larger and for emergency storage I use the five-gallon stainless steel jerry can from Dinuba.

Actually, I’d been hunting for a stainless steel storage option for a long, long time. Plastic jerry cans are easily found, and some are food grade, but, well: plastic. I found a stainless steel version in Europe, but it was a small fortune to buy and ship and was usually out of stock. Eventually, I came across Dinuba’s jerry can, but it was out of stock and then in redevelopment as the company made improvements. I placed a back-order, set my expectations to some time in the distant future, and finally, earlier this year, my Dinuba arrived.

It is gorgeous. It’s a work of art. The stainless steel glistens and shines. The welds are flawless. If I could mount it on the wall and admire it all day, I would. Instead, I washed it several times with baking soda, screwed on the spigot nozzle, filled it with filtered water, and started enjoying plastic-free camp hydration.

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The design is based on the traditional jerry can, which was developed in pre-war Germany and reverse-engineered by Americans. In 1939, American engineer Paul Pleiss built a vehicle to drive to India with a German colleague. After building the car, they realised they didn’t have any storage for emergency water. The German had access to the stockpile of jerry cans at Berlin Tempelhof Airport and liberated three of them. They drove across 11 national borders without incident until Field Marshal Göring sent a plane to take the German engineer home. Before he left, he gave Pleiss the full manufacturing specs for the can. It took some convincing, but the American military eventually adopted the design and it became so important they were using 19 million cans by 1945 in Europe alone.

The three handles are intentional. I will likely never carry more than one of these jerry cans at a time, but they’re designed for a single person to carry four empties or two fulls. Two people can grab the outside handles, and they’re easily passed from one person to another fire-brigade style. The X you see on the side of the Dinuba is more than an embellishment-added by the Americans to distinguish from the German version, it also stiffens the sides.

At $270, Dinuba’s can is for folks who are serious about safer water storage than plastic. That’s me, and I’m also not afraid to buy products that will outlive me and get used by my kids and maybe grandkids. Dinuba, the company says, is owned “by a small group of Americans who grew up in the 1950s and 60s. We’ve seen a lot of changes during our lives: some have been incredibly good, while others were major disappointments. We all agree, however, that we really hate the downward trend we have seen for household products. Today, many of the items you use every day are made as cheaply as possible, and frankly, they look and act the part. Some are little better than disposable quality. We don’t like this. We believe that even the most common items found in your home, items you use every day can and should enhance your life, but they should not waste resources. Your water container should be one of these items.”

Amen, brothers and sisters. I’ll drink to that.

Available for order, here.

Photos: Dinuba


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