Every prepper knows that having a supply of water on hand is crucial for surviving any emergency situation. What they might not know it’s just how much water they and other members of their family or survival group will go through over time during a long-term survival situation.
Drinking, hygiene, and cooking concerns will gobble up water at an alarming rate and though you might feel like the king of the prepping world with your throne made out of 25 cases of bottled water, for a situation that lasts six months, a year or even longer that amount of water is a figurative drop in the survival paradigm bucket.
For situations like that preppers are correct to turn to mass storage of water.
Filling your own containers holding several or even dozens of gallons of water that you supply yourself is a great way to maximize storage and minimize the likelihood that you’ll get caught short and have to resort to collecting water in any capacity, water that will then require treatment for safety.
In this article we are bringing you a list of the best water storage containers for the purpose.
Long Term Survival Demands Substantial Stored Water
How much water do you think an adult uses in a day? And the course of day-to-day life between the constant washing of hands, drinking, cooking and hygiene concerns it is likely dozens of gallons.
Under no circumstances should you be that wasteful with water in the middle of a genuine survival situation, but even when you start heading into water miser territory an adult can expect to use or consume a couple of liters and likely a gallon of more a day.
And that is for only one person. Multiple adults will use multiple gallons per day in total.
Drinking, basic but rudimentary hygiene and any water that is required for cooking. It adds up fast. Compare that multiple gallons of consumption per day against the water supply you have on hand.
How fast would it be consumed? How much faster would it be consumed in a dry, hot environment, or when you and others are exerting yourselves heavily? Probably pretty frightening, no?
You need a lot more water than you think, and you need a lot more water on hand if you want to survive a long-term survival scenario without being forced to gather water.
Chances commercially sold bottled or jugged water you buy at the grocery store is only going to be a convenience option at that scale.
Cost and storage space inefficiencies add up quickly when you need to keep many dozens or hundreds of gallons of water on hand just in case.
Storing Water in Containers isn’t Like Stacking Bottled Water
There are some things you should know before you set out filling up every container great and small with water for the long haul.
Compared to factory produced, bottled and sealed water filling your own containers with water has several potential setbacks. Failing to account for them can end up with you sitting on a ruined supply.
First, microbial contamination is always going to be a factor. Either there will be germs present in the containers that you are filling, due to a lack of cleaning or improper sterilization, or the water you are putting into the containers will already have microbes in it.
Over time, microscopic life can flourish in your water ruining the taste at best or making it dangerous to drink at worst.
Ask anyone who has cracked open a drum of water that they have stored only to find it swarming with algae or other colonies of interesting specimens. This necessitates thorough and careful procedures when filling and an ongoing treatment routine in most cases.
Next, evaporation is a factor. It is also a factor for factory sealed containers but not to the same degree as user-filled containers.
No matter how tightly you stopper it up, you will lose a fraction of your water every month to evaporation, and over time, without periodic maintenance and refreshment, you’ll be sitting on a greatly reduced supply.
Lastly, filling up larger containers with water means that you are not likely to be moving them since they will weigh so much. Water is extremely heavy, weighing a little more than eight lbs. per gallon.
Large containers holding tens or dozens of gallons can easily weigh several hundred pounds. This means that you won’t be toting it around if you need to run out the door, and also as importantly it means that you might need to structurally reinforce the area where you are storing it if keeping it inside your home.
Multiple large vessels of water placed in the same area can easily compromise load-bearing members!
All this being said, these challenges are easily overcome with a little proper planning and diligence. Time to get on to our list.
Top 10 Best Water Storage Containers
Disclosure: This post has links to 3rd party websites, so I may get a commission if you buy through those links. See my full disclosure for more.
Baytec makes all sorts of containers for all kinds of purposes, but they’re most ubiquitous, and one of their most popular, offerings is the classic 55 gallon, blue water storage barrel.
This is the first size category where you are getting into serious capacity for stashing water, and a couple of these, properly maintained and rotated, can easily keep you and your family supplied with water for months.
Made it from BPA free food grade plastic, these barrels feature two tapped ports on top suitable for equipping them with a variety of attachments for filling or dispensing.
Weighing only 23 lbs when empty, this is an easy to in place solution that will be ready for filling in no time. For economical mass storage of drinking water, this is one of the best and most convenient options.
However, once full of that precious water these barrels effectively become immovable, weighing several hundred pounds each.
If you are storing more than one, this could also present a significant load hazard to a structure, so make sure you locate them on concrete or another place that can bear the weight. Also don’t forget that taps and faucets are not included, and will need to be purchased separately.
This convenient jumbo jug by Reliance Products is another solution that fills the gap between portable, bottled or jugged water you buy from the store and extra large, ultra heavy mass storage like the barrel above.
These seven gallon, rigid, blue HDPE containers are affordable, convenient and easy to store in a variety of ways, making them a perfect readiness option for many Preppers.
You can sit these containers flat on the ground, stack them two by two, or even stack them one atop another in the corner to maximize storage in a small space, saving room for all of your other vital preps.
The containers have a molded, heavy duty handle to assist in carrying and also feature flip out, hideaway spigots for easy dispensing of water and a screw-on event to prevent vapor lock.
As with other containers of this type, these are nominally portable when full but 7 gallons of water weighs in excess of 50 pounds. This will make them difficult or impossible for children or infirm adults to move with any certainty.
However, for adults who are in good shape this will allow you to reposition and inspect your supplies as necessary and even take it with you in a pinch. Versatility, cost-effectiveness and modest weight make these an ideal option for any prepper.
A container that will undoubtedly be familiar to military veterans, scepters 5 gallon portable water storage container mimics the appearance and size profile of classic military fuel cans, colloquially known as Jerry cans. this allows them to be easily transported using any rack or carrier designed for cans of that nature, and are a perfect complement to a well-equipped off-road rig.
Made of BPA free plastic, these cans can easily seal tightly using a standard cap wrench and also feature a venting nozzle to help release a stubborn cap. Both nozzles will also accept a variety of attachments if you don’t want to pour or feel directly through the main cap.
Reasonably affordable, these are nonetheless the ideal solution for a prepper who wants on hand water storage but is planning on going road mobile, and the heavy duty, built-in handles along with the standardized form factor means they are easy to pick up and maneuver, even if they weigh a ton and don’t stack.
Something of a different take on the problem of water storage, this 53 gallon water storage bladder gives you the best of both worlds, dependable capacity and extreme convenience and moving and setup.
This is the ideal option for employing as a bathtub basin that can be filled quickly when trouble is brewing, just in case.
Made of extraordinarily strong and bacterially resistant TPU material, this bag is reinforced at all corners for strength and has double welded seams to prevent leaks and blowouts.
A dead simple and convenient built in spigot with valve handle means you’ll be accessing your water painlessly when you need it.
For use at home as a bathtub basin, or operating out of the back of a truck bed, trailer or other vehicle this bladder is tops, and once it is empty you can simply fold it up and stash it away, unlike some big, bulky barrel which will gobble up all of your cargo room even when it is out of water.
This is perhaps the perfect gateway container moving from smaller, portable cans to larger, fixed site mass storage tanks.
A multifunctional, adaptable 20 gallon storage tank that is conducive to living in small, cramped spaces while giving up nothing in the way of functionality, this is the ideal container for a prepper on the go or just living on a budget.
Made from BPA free, food grade blue plastic and manufactured in the United States, this container is stackable, adaptable and easy to fill. Equipped with a preformed bunghole that will accept a variety of spigots and other attachments this is a space and weight saving option that allows you to expand in place as your water demands change.
Measuring only 24 inches in diameter and 14 inches tall, this container can easily fit into most closets, laundry rooms or other out of the way places and even when fully filled will not present a significant structural hazard to any floor in good shape.
Water Prepared 35 Gallon Water Storage Tank
A compact but spacious water tank for on-site or mobile, vehicular storage, this 35 gallon container is designed for durability and ruggedness. Food grade BPA free HDPE construction means it can stand up the bumps, jolts and dents even when full and the body of the container is festooned with handles, tie down grooves, a hose spigot and large, 5 inch filling port for ease and security and transport.
Though extremely heavy when full, this container is still capable of being moved by a few strong men when absolutely necessary, though as mentioned it is intended to be used in place or mounted to a suitable vehicle.
Another facet that helps its performance in outdoor settings is it’s completely UV blocking construction. UV is the enemy of stored water because it leads to algae blooms, and that is something you don’t want to deal with in an emergency.
If your primary plan is bugging out using a large vehicle or convoy vehicles, or you need a compact water storage tank that is still suitable for indoor use, this is a great option.
WaterBrick 3.5 Gallon Stackable Water/Food Storage Container
Water brick is well regarded for their utilitarian, strong and tightly stacking containers suitable for both food and water. One of their most popular offerings is there three and a half gallon, tan stackable water and food storage brick. With a slightly reduced payload and correspondingly less weight compared to competitors containers, these make a great option that are easier to handle and Hull when required while giving up nothing in the way of convenience.
Ideal for shelter in place or bug-out applications, these multi-purpose containers may be purchased as an all-in-one solution both for your water and your dry goods, although you cannot store them in the same container obviously!
Type 1 food grade and BPA free high density polyethylene plastic construction means these will keep anything stored inside them for a long time without fear of leaching harmful chemicals or accelerated degradation.
it should be noted that while the wide lids are easy to open and easy to reach inside with an average sized hand, the eccentricities of the container body designed to yield its strength when stacked high means that pouring the last remnants of dry goods or liquids out of them can be a bit tricky.
However, that is a small price to pay for the strength and compact form factor that these water bricks offer.
Ozark Trail Desert Patrol 6-Gallon Water Jug
For transportable mass storage done that simply, look no farther than the Ozark Trail Desert Patrol 6 gallon water jug. Made from attractive BPA-free gray plastic, and featuring a sturdy, oversized cap these are ideal for a long-term storage of water with no fuss, and no muss.
A built-in, heavy duty handle makes these easy enough to grab, haul and stow if you’ve got the muscle, but tipping the scales at almost 40 pounds when full means you’ll need to put your back into it
The spout of these cans is compatible with a variety of accessories, but unfortunately it seems to be of an uncommon, non-standard size which will necessitate you having to look a little bit harder to find spigots, nozzles and so forth. Aside from that gripe, they work as well as models costing more than twice as much.
Also, note that these cans do not stack, although they’re thin form factor measuring just a little over 6 and 1/4 in wide, means you can easily get several in a common closet on the floor.
If you are forced into ultra minimalist storage, you might want to look into a stacking water can but for anything but the most space restricted applications these are a fine option.
WaterPrepared Emergency Water Storage Tanks, 160/320 Gallon
The first of the extra large capacity emergency water storage tanks on our list, these dual 160 gallon tanks from water prepared can easily furnish a half years supply of water for a family of four.
Especially made from UV resistant, BPA-free HDPE to FDA/NSF compliance standards, these containers are strong and hassle free.
Depending on your application and storage site, these tanks can be stacked one atop another or just sit next to each other on the ground for a lower profile.
An integrated spigot means you are ready to dispense water as soon as they are filled with no additional tasks or modifications necessary, and either will connect to standard garden hoses to maximize the mobility and usefulness of your water.
The most obvious drawback with a system like this is it is practically completely immovable once they are full, and will bring tremendous weight to bear on any surface they are placed upon.
This means they are only really suitable for placement outside or on a concrete pad such as in a garage. So long as you have the right spot picked out, these are an excellent option for mega capacity water storage.
Saratoga Farms 5-Gallon Stackable Water Containers
Saratoga Farms produces one of the best and the most common designs of water storage container on the market.
If you have paid attention, you will have likely seen these ubiquitous, bulky blue containers at the site of every kind of relief effort, outreach and humanitarian mission. There is a reason for that, as they are just plain efficient!
Made from food grade, non-toxic high density polyethylene, these containers each hold 5 gallons of water and feature convenient, built-in handles and large, wide mouth spouts with sturdy caps.
However, their best attribute for our purposes is there elegant design. Each container has a flat bottom and suitably flat top that allows them to be nestled closely together or even stacked one atop another to maximize storage space and make it easy for you to access them.
These containers are just as at home hanging out in your supply room as they are stashed in the back of a car or truck for a bug out situation or just a family road trip as an insurance policy.
5 gallons of water is quite heavy, but this is just about the largest footprint that is easy for a fit adult to move and lift in a pinch, meaning with some time allowance you could take your emergency stash of water with you when the time came to hit the road.
Water storage is a critical component of any survival plan, especially for long term survival situations where access to safe, potable drinking water supplies will be anything but certain. You can rely on bottled water for the task, but this is expensive and space inefficient.
A better option is to use a variety of larger containers that you fill yourself, maximizing your supply and the loss of space due to container inefficiencies. You have 10 great options on the list above, have a look and you are sure to find some that will work for you!