From what I can tell, this is pretty much an American problem. As of January of 2009, all new portable fuel containers in the US must meet new Mobile Source Air Toxic regulations based on the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) regulations, and they must meet the requirements of the Children’t Gasoline Burn Prevention Act. Now, clean air and children not being burned by gasoline seem like good things, but the these new rules have inflicted us with a plague of vile gas cans outfitted with maddening, useless spouts. Why?
As is typical of political, board-derived solutions, the actual implementation of these regulations has been a disaster. These new cans have caused more gas to spill and more fumes to escape than any gas can in history. At least in my history; I don’t have any statistics to report about spills outside of my own garage. Suffice to say that everyone I’ve talked to about these new cans hates them, and reports similarly alarming spill statistics from their own experiences in their own garages.
I could regale you with tales of spilled gas when filling the damned things, or tales of spilled gas when the spring-loaded safety nozzles malfunctioned. If you’re reading this, then you probably have similar stories to tell, so I’ll cut to the chase, and tell you how I’ve dealt with the modern scourge that is the CARB-regulated gas can. And no, I didn’t just drill a vent hole in the back.
For my needs, I decided that I would have four smaller cans and five larger cans. Yeah, that’s a lot of cans, but after Hurricane Sandy, I bought a thirsty generator and my goal was to have 5-7 days worth of gas. Having been in an area that first had no gas for three days, and then had weeks of gas rationing, I decided that I’d never go through that again.
2.5 Gallon No-Spill Gas Cans
It is important to note that in that picture, no gas is flowing from that can. In order to make the gas flow from the can, the green button must be depressed, and held down. This is both a benefit and a bane to my ongoing sanity. First, it’s nice because as the name of the can would imply, no gas is spilled when positioning the spout.
I will say that for dispensing gas, these cans live up to their No Spill name. Sure I’ve made a mess once or twenty times filling them, but even then I like that they have very large openings. Also, all of the No Spill cans under five gallons have neat strips of translucent plastic up the front and back so you can tell at a glance how full they are. The five gallon models have an extra handle on the back which helps with pouring, especially since they pour so damn slowly. Because of this handle, the 5-gallon models aren’t square and don’t stack as cleanly as the smaller cans.
One more thing I like about these cans is that the company sells spare parts for them! Break a spout? Contact No Spill and order a new one. They even sell them on Amazon.
As much as I like these cans above the other plastic crap-cans out there, they still don’t hold a candle to the real deal. For the big cans, I went old school and managed to get some good old fashioned Jerry Cans.
20-Liter NATO Jerry Cans
I was surprised to find that not only were Jerry Cans still being made, but that NATO had a standardized version in use. I set out to buy some, and that’s when I discovered that they cost a LOT of money. Some of my preciously listed complaints with the CARB-cans include the facts that they’re plastic, they suck, and they cost too much. The 2.5 gallon cans I showed above cost almost $40 a piece. That actually helped me to rationalize the Jerry Cans, which were close to $80 each with shipping. Besides, I told myself, these cans should last for damn-near ever. I ordered five (yes, five), and eagerly awaited their arrival. It’s true; stuff like this excites me.
As you can see, I can fit five of these cans side by side in the back of my Acura – a car not built for hauling things. Actually, I could have fit another row of them! These cans are tall, unlike all the CARB-cans out there which tend to be wide. In the space where I store my gas, I used to have three of the regular modern 5-gallon cans. These were a mix of CARB and pre-CARB cans, but the point is, I could fit only three.
Be careful if you shop for Jerry Cans. There are a few types out there, and some are better than others. Beware of NATO-Like cans, as they are often inferior. My advice is to look for actual NATO 20-liter cans. The similarly shaped cans from Blitz and Wedco, but buying NATO cans seemed to make more sense to me. In my Googling, I got conflicting reports as to whether or not the Wedco cans were actually NATO spec or not. There are some out there with screw-on plastic caps, and I wanted nothing to do with those. Sadly, it appears as if Blitz may be folding due to excessing litigation against them.
I bought mine at CampingMaxx, but I bought them through Amazon.com because the shipping was cheaper. Here are the links I used:
- Amazon.com: 20-Liter Red NATO Gas Can
- Amazon.com: Spout for NATO Gas Can
- Amazon.com: 2.5 Gallon No-Spill Gas Can
- Camping Max: Jerry Cans
Oh, and the spouts I bought were supposed to be green, so I was quite pleased to see that they were black.
So yeah, I have a lot of gas cans, but for the first time in 30 years, I’m pretty happy with them all. Every time I bring the Jerry Cans to the gas station, I get asked where I got them, because everyone hates the state of the modern American gas can.
The little no-spill can in the last picture is 1.25 gallons, and is used only for my 2-cycle motors and will be marked accordingly. And yes, I’ve already bought three more spouts for the Jerry Cans so that they all match.