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Best Water Storage Containers for Emergencies [Tested]

Looking to store water for an emergency? We hands-on review the most popular water containers, purification methods, and effective water filters out there.

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
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

  1. Best Overall Storage Solution

    5 Gallon Stackable Containers (4-Pack)

    These containers are stable, portable, and simple. When combined with a preserver, it is a tough combo to beat.

  2. Best Portable Storage Solution

    Emergency Water Pouch (64 Pack)

    These small purified packs can be stashed anywhere from a pocket, to a car, to a work desk.

  3. Best Large Storage Solution

    Augason Farms 55 Gallon Water Storage and Filtration Kit

    This kit has everything you need to store a large amount of water while keeping it easily accessible and ready to drink.

  4. Best Water Preserver

    ION Alkaline Water Storage Treatment Drops

    These take little to no space and just a few drops can ensure shelf stability of water for up to 5 years.

  5. Most Affordable Emergency Purifier

    LifeStraw

    The LifeStraw is afforable and takes up very little room. It should be a staple in any car or emergency bag.

  6. Best Portable Water Filter

    Katadyn Water Filters

    These can filter enough water to easily support multiple people are extremely reliable.

Table of Contents

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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
117
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

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

Readers' Ratings

5.00/5 (910)

Your Rating?

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.

25
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

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.

35
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

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
33
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

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.

99
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

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
153
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

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.

Best Water Preserver
17
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

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).

9
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

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
15
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

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
87
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

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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19 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Chuck Cochran

    Since we have really Alkaline Municipal Water in our town, I've been using purified water for a very long time. I keep 10 5 gal bottles on hand, and only use 2 empties to refill at a nearby water/ice machine. $0.25/Gallon for buffered and Reverse Osmosis filtered water.
    The 10 sealed are dated and rotated to ensure freshness.

    October 5, 2022 9:29 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    range rat

    How about this.

    I went to Lowes the other day and purchase four 5 gal water jugs - they did not ask for an exchange so it was only $6.99 for each. They are totally sealed and very re-usable.

    I still have that I heart kittens patch for ya.

    October 4, 2022 12:49 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Andy Oakley

    One source of water few people think about is via a dehumidifier. When I run mine I get gallons per day if the humidity is high, like 70% or so. Even on not so humid days I can still get a good bit. The water it pulls out of the air is always crystal clear as well. I would not drink it without purifying it, but I don't think it would take much filtering, if any. Of course you need electricity to run it, but if you are really prepared you will have at least a small generator (or batteries and an inverter) and that is all you need. These things don't draw all that much current. It's as good a reason as any to get a dehumidifier and small generator to make water from thin air. Essentially converting electricity into water.

    September 30, 2019 4:59 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dale

    I have an in home water purification system that uses salt to purify the water throughout my entire house. Would i still need to use the water purification solution when storing it?

    October 25, 2018 12:12 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      The salt is probably taken out before drinking (or if it's a soft water system it's different salt ions)...I'd still purify for storage.

      October 30, 2018 11:43 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Russ

    I've used 1-2 gallon containers that use to contain juice or bottled water; the stiffer plastic ones, not milk jugs that dent and wrinkle easily. The purpose wasn't drinking water but water to be used to flush the toilet; if your water is out of order then the toilet isn't refilling automatically. The cost is basically FREE because you were going to recycle or throw those jugs out anyway and they don't also need purification. The only issue is space to store them where they won't freeze. Tip: make sure you have a newer toilet that doesn't need much water. An older 5+ gallon toilet will go thru your water much quicker.

    October 23, 2018 11:06 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      I was going to say nooo, don't reuse those bottles for drinking water! But that's a good point with toilet use.

      October 23, 2018 11:50 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    marcia mason

    Open rain barrels collecting off the roof or into a below-ground cistern should be the first line of practical storage, as has been since the beginning of barrel-making. You must boil it first, but it's water with little fuss. Our well has a lot of sulphur. But what you smell is only a few ppm since it is so odorous. Let it vent off by stirring or pouring, then drink. Don't really need a softener.

    October 14, 2018 8:34 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Thanks for sharing, Marcia...that's pretty hardcore!

      October 14, 2018 11:43 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Matt

    You guys are awesome. I just want to say thank you for all the great articles and reviews. Great work!

    October 14, 2018 6:50 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Thanks Matt!

      October 14, 2018 11:42 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Matt

    Full honesty. I only browsed the article plan to read it all later. I didn't see Berkey filters mentioned but that's what i invested in for water purification.

    October 14, 2018 6:19 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Hey Matt, thanks for mentioning Berkey. I used one for a few years as a better Brita. When we update with best water purifiers they'll definitely be in there. This article is mostly for emergency containers and some portable on-the-go filtration.

      October 14, 2018 6:35 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Rich

    I'm confused...you say the aqua-trainers are more expensive that the 5 gallon stackable?
    4 stackable = 20 gallons and costs $76.
    4 aqua-tainers = 28 gallons and costs $64 (4 x $16).
    The aqua-tainer wins, hands down...almost 50% more capacity at about 80% of the cost...

    October 14, 2018 5:50 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Hey Rich, thanks for doing the math! I must have remembered incorrectly when I did it a few years ago...or the prices have changed a bunch. Fixing article now!

      October 14, 2018 5:53 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Kent

    Why not just go with 36 packs of bottled water? It’s inexpensive. From the research that I’ve done, they say bottled water will last indefinitely if stored correctly.

    October 14, 2018 4:28 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Mike

      Like Kent, I've been stockpiling the 36 packs of bottled water. They stack on top of each other for storage. Probably not an ideal size of hygiene, but for drinking and cooking, I think they are more convenient than using a large container to draw from.

      October 14, 2018 4:46 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Hey Kent, good point. I usually have some Costco water bottles for regular drinking and rotate through them. You can certainly keep them for long term as long as they are out of the sun and in a good temperature range. But I'd still rotate them every 6-months since I've definitely had some older water bottles that tasted...off.

      October 14, 2018 5:52 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Mike

      Those mini water bottles are great for winter. Don't have to worry about thawing them, just cut open the bottle and drop in the pot for backpacking meals or whatever.

      October 16, 2018 3:03 pm
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