In an emergency situation, such as in the wake of a natural disaster, you can find yourself without a reliable source of water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and bathing. To be prepared, many choose to keep clean, potable water on hand in one or more water storage containers. Take a look at the top products below to get a better idea of what some of the best water storage containers have to offer.
- BEST OVERALL: Reliance Products Jumbo-Tainer
- RUNNER UP: Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: WaterStorageCube BPA-Free Collapsible Water Container
- BEST SMALL STACKABLE: WaterBrick Stackable Emergency Water and Food Storage
- BEST LARGE STACKABLE: WaterPrepared Blue 55 Gallon Water Storage Tank
- BEST WATER STORAGE BAG: Extra Packaging Corp. Water Storage Bag – AQUATANK2
- ALSO CONSIDER: Scepter 05935 Military Water Container
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Water Storage Container
Water storage containers come in a variety of forms.
- Water storage drums or barrels are great for homes and shelters. These barrels typically hold about 55 gallons or more.
- Standard water storage containers come in two broad categories based on their shape. Stackable water storage containers range in size and can be placed on top of one another, saving storage space. Non-stackable water storage containers can also range in size, but these containers can’t be stacked on top of one another.
- Water storage bags or bladders are designed for portability when empty but can have an impressive water capacity equal to a drum or barrel.
You can find water storage containers made of plastic, glass, enameled metal, or fiberglass. The most commonly used material is plastic, because it’s lightweight, durable, and inexpensive. You also won’t have to worry about rust and corrosion. Note that the material in your water storage container should be food grade.
Size and Water Capacity
Before deciding on a water storage container, figure out how much water you will be storing, where you will store it, and whether you want it to be portable. To be prepared for emergencies, the rule of thumb is to store approximately 1 gallon of water per person per day. With this base recommendation, you can calculate how much water to store for your family and determine the storage container size that best suits your needs.
Keep in mind, a container is significantly heavier when it is full of water than when it’s empty.
Ease of Use
It can be easy to use a water storage container or it can be frustrating, depending on a few important features.
- Spouts might come with a water storage container to help direct the flow of water when you are pouring.
- Spigots are simple, effective, and convenient, which is why they’re the most frequently used method of expelling water from a storage container. A spigot can either be built-in or attach to the container only when needed. To get water, just open the spigot, and close it again when you are done.
- Hoses can be attached to a siphoning pump on a large storage container or used with a water storage bag or bladder to pull water.
- Caps seal the water storage container, preventing water from being contaminated or leaking.
Small, portable water storage containers can be moved with relative ease and stored in a closet, in a cold room, or inside your vehicle. Typically, one large container takes up less space overall than a series of small containers storing an equivalent amount of water. However, once large containers are full, they cannot be moved without considerable effort.
If portability is important to you, you may not want to rely solely on a barrel or drum, as such vessels can weigh more than 400 pounds when full. Standard water storage containers don’t take up as much space and typically weigh around 50 to 100 pounds when full.
Small water bags are also a good portable option, but they don’t have the same storage capacity as standard water storage containers. Large water bags, meanwhile, can be very difficult to move once full of water.
Water storage containers are designed to keep your water sealed away from possible contaminants, but you need to take the container’s shape and weight into account before you begin stockpiling water. Only stacking containers are designed with the strength, durability, and interlocking shape required for effective and safe stacked storage.
Once a container is filled and sealed, be sure to store it in a cool, dark location.
Our Top Picks
Made of BPA-free plastic, this water storage container features a hideaway spigot that can be concealed within the container or placed on the outside to draw water. The spout on the spigot is wide, so it easily lets through plenty of water, but if the flow seems too high you can just adjust the flow rate down with the tap-style spigot control.
This water storage container is a great portable option that can hold up to 7 gallons of water despite its compact size and can easily fit in the trunk space of the average car. The container has a jerrican design, enabling it to sit horizontally or vertically, with a handle at the top and side so you can lift it in either position. This versatility allows you to store the container in a variety of positions to suit your water storage space.
With a capacity of 7 gallons, this option from Reliance Products can hold a large volume of water in a container designed to be carried over short distances. The container features a wide top grip, so you can move it around your storage area, take it to your vehicle, or carry it away on foot if necessary. This water storage container can be stacked, but only when the containers are empty. When filled they will weigh too much to stack safely.
The spigot that comes with this container can be attached for access to the water inside or reversed to hide inside the container, so it doesn’t get broken off during transportation or while in storage. The container is made of recyclable, BPA-free plastic and includes measurement markings on the side to help you see the amount of water within the container.
Keep a spare water storage container like this one handy if you need a way of transporting clean water away from a larger barrel, drum, or bag. This flexible container has a firm handle positioned on the top, while the sides of the container can fold down to a quarter of the size when the container is empty.
Transport up to 5.3 gallons of water in this portable water storage container, and use the adjustable spigot to draw water when you need it. If you are planning on setting out to go hiking, fishing, or camping, then this storage tank is a great choice. The flexible material and small size allow it to fit easily in a car trunk, and the lid has a gasketless design, so you won’t have to worry about losing a rubber gasket when you fill the container.
At only 3.5 gallons, this is a modestly sized storage container that’s designed to be stackable. Each container is made of food-grade, BPA-free plastic and weights about 25 pounds when full.
The blue plastic on this 55-gallon storage tank is BPA-free. It’s also UV-resistant, so your water remains protected even in direct sunlight.
If you need to keep more water in storage for your family, then a second container (purchased separately) can stack on top of the first, doubling your water capacity without taking up additional floor space.
At the bottom of the container, a garden hose-sized spigot allows you to quickly access your stored water, while at the top there is an extra-large cap and opening for quick refilling.
This well-made water storage bag has a pillow-like, puncture-resistant nylon shell that covers a food-grade, BPA-free polyurethane inner lining. When full, it measures 36 inches by 48 inches by 16 inches. The bag has a 60-gallon capacity but weighs less than 5 pounds when empty. Fill the bag up using the garden hose thread connection and empty it from the same connection.
The Scepter costs more than some water storage solutions, but the upgrade in durability is worth it if your containers tend to take a beating when you use them. The container measures 13.7 inches by 6.8 inches by 18.8 inches and features a 4-inch wide opening. It also has a smaller, secondary opening in the cap that can be used to fill small water bottles.
This water storage container is made of military-grade LDPE and HDPE plastic, which is BPA-free and boasts superior impact resistance. It has a 5.2-gallon capacity and a firm top handle, making it easy to pick up and carry when empty. The dark color of the container resists degradation in direct sunlight and weighs 44 pounds when completely full.
FAQs About Water Storage Containers
Before deciding on a new water storage container, consider these frequently asked questions and answers, so you can be confident in your purchase.
Q. How do you store emergency water?
You should store water in a cleaned and disinfected water storage container made of plastic, glass, enameled metal, or fiberglass. The water storage container must be sealed to prevent dust, bacteria, and other contagions from finding their way into your drinking water. Once it is sealed, label the container with the storage date and keep it stored in a dark, cool environment away from toxic substances. Be sure to change the water every 6 months.
Q. How much water should you store per person in an average household in case of an emergency?
Among your other essentials for an earthquake or disaster kit, it’s recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to store at least 1 gallon, or 4 liters, of water per person per day for drinking, food preparation, washing, and personal hygiene.
Q. How do you clean a water container?
You can clean and disinfect a water storage container with these simple steps.
- Wash the storage container with warm water and dish soap, rinsing thoroughly when complete.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of liquid bleach with 1 quart of water (0.25 gallons) and pour this solution into the container.
- Cover the container opening, then begin shaking the container to distribute the disinfecting solution. Ensure that the solution thoroughly soaks every part of the interior, so you don’t miss any contaminants.
- Dump out the sanitizing solution and rinse the water storage container with clean water.
- Once clean, you can pour water into the container before sealing the lid and storing it.
Q. How long can you store water in a container?
While you should be able to store water indefinitely if the seal is adequate, it’s recommended to switch the water out every 6 months to mitigate the risk of contamination. Make sure to wash and disinfect the container before refilling.