Best Water Storage Containers for Emergencies [Tested]


You can survive for roughly 3 days without water.

Fine during normal days in civilization…but what happens during an emergency?

Water Storage & Purification for Emergencies

We’ll cover a few of the easiest ways to store & purify water at home and in your car. Plus some alternatives for purifying on the go.

So you’ll have that peace of mind for your family the next time a natural disaster or other emergency strikes.

Summary of Our Top Picks

Table of Contents


Best Water Storage Containers for Emergencies

Now…how much water should you store?

Survival Water Requirements, WHO
Survival Water Requirements, WHO

The rough rule of thumb is 1 gallon per person per day. You can go less (like in the chart with 2-3 liters, a gallon is roughly 4 liters), but unless you’re really rationing…it’s gonna suck.

1. 5 Gallon Stackable Containers

For me, with a wife and young child…I’m storing around 30 gallons of water. I’m not prepping for the end of the world…just up to 2 weeks.

I like these 5-gallon stackable containers ($117) because they are affordable, save space, and aren’t too heavy.

Water Storage, Food, & Ammo
Water Storage, Food, & Ammo

It’s great to have bigger containers, but keep in mind water is about 8 pounds a gallon.

My wife isn’t going to like it…but she can move it if she has to.

Plus, since you’re buying in multiple packs…you can spread them around your property.

Best Overall Storage Solution

What’s your take on these stackables? Rate them below!

2. 7 Gallon Aqua-Tainer

Slightly more capacity but will weigh more than 56 lbs when full. The Aqua-Tainer ($25) is also more robust, so you can use it for camping.

Water Storage Containers
Water Storage Containers (L to R: 7 Gallon Aqua-Tainer, 5 Gallon Stackable)

The bad news is you can’t stack it easily if space is an issue. But…per gallon, it’s a better deal than the stackables.

What I did was get the 20-gallon 4-pack of stackables and also two of the 7 gallons Aqua-Tainers in case we need to move with water.

3. WaterBOB

There’s always going to be that person that says they’ll just fill up their bathtub. Great for a little while…but it’s not sanitary and not covered.

That’s where WaterBOB ($35) comes in.

It’s a giant plastic bag with a nozzle where you can fill up to 100 gallons from your tap. Great for when you are able to anticipate an incoming emergency.

I’m going to get one as a backup…though my major threat is an earthquake which doesn’t necessarily give me a heads up!

If you’d like more reviews on plastic water containers, check out here.

4. Emergency Water Pouches

How about for the car or your office?

You aren’t going to carry around 40+ lbs of water, so that’s where these emergency water pouches ($37 for a 64-pack) come in.

Best Portable Storage Solution

I first found out about them since they were in my old go-to car emergency kit. They are so convenient, I ended up getting a bunch more for the office.

5. Larger Water Containers

These previous three choices are probably all you’re going to need, but if you have that true prepper mentality…I’ve got some bigger containers for you.

Best Large Storage Solution

Keep in mind these get heavy when filled and will not be going anywhere…

If you read enough prepping stuff, you might know you can use your water heater if it has a tank — but I’d still suggest having emergency containers!

How to Purify Your Water

Now that you have the correct amount of water containers, you can’t just throw tap water in there and expect it to last a long time. You’re going to need to purify it somehow.

The easiest is with Water Preserver ($17), which is essentially bleach. Sure, you can use some household bleach…but there are different strengths and other ingredients. Use this Department of Health site to do your research if you go that route.

I’ll stick with Water Preserver, which is an easy 8 drops per gallon and should keep it good for up to 5 years.

After you do it…remember to mark down the date on the container or cap, so you know when to refill with new water.

Best Survival Water Purifiers

What if you’re on the go and need to purify some water?

Water Purification, LifeStraw and Katadyn
Water Purification, LifeStraw and Katadyn

One way is what I use sometimes for backpacking — Water Purification Tablets ($9).


at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Or there’s the LifeStraw which lets you suck water from sources and gets rid of all the bad stuff that can make you sick.

Great for a go-bag or car kit where you don’t want all the extra weight of actual water.

Most Affordable Emergency Purifier

And if you’re an avid hiker or need something more reliable and with more volume for your family, I really like Katadyn. Mine has filtered a lot of scummy water for me and my friends.

The all-metal versions like the one I use aren’t cheap, but the plastic ones are still great for emergency situations.

Best Portable Water Filter

Final Thoughts

There you have it — the easiest ways to store water for your family during an emergency.

My personal favorite is the 5-gallon pack of stackable containers combined with the water preserver drops, but everyone’s needs are different, so choose accordingly.

Simple tarp shelter that feeds caught moisture into a bucket
You don’t want to have to collect water like this if you can help it. Staying prepared is the first step to avoiding tarps and buckets.

No matter what you go with, remember to purify, keep the containers in different locations, and swap them out every 5 years.

Any other ways you currently store water? Let us know in the comments below. And if you want to go more hardcore, our Essential SHTF Gear List is for you.

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