The best water storage container for emergency preparedness is the WaterPrepared 35 gallon tank. These are our top picks for both short-term and long-term water storage based on ease of use, storage capacity, quality of materials, and of course, value for money.
WaterPrepared 35 Gallon Water Storage Tank
WaterPrepared Blue 55 Gallon Water Storage Tank
WaterStorageCube BPA Free Collapsible Water Container
Hey there, forward-thinking homeowner! Welcome to our best water storage containers guide.
If you’re here because you want to wisely prepare for emergencies by keeping a batch of ready-to-drink water stored ahead of time, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve reviewed and compared some of the best water storage containers in our homes across the country.
Feel free to buy a cheap jerry can or stock up on bottled water – but neither of these water storage solutions offers the convenience of a smartly designed water storage container with a tough, thick construction and a built-in handle.
We’ve shared our favorite portable emergency storage containers and long-term storage containers. #1 on each list is our top pick, but we have top picks for small budgets, space-saving, and various storage capacities, too.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- Which 11 water storage containers we think are the best value for money in 2023
- How we selected and ranked the water storage containers in this guide, and factors you should consider before making a purchase
- Other important things to know before buying a water storage container, such as how to make water safe for storage.
Table of Contents
- 🥇 6 Best Portable Emergency Water Storage Containers
- 🥇5 Best Long-Term Water Storage Containers
- 📊 Comparison Chart of Portable Emergency Water Storage Containers
- 📊 Comparison Chart of Long-Term Water Storage Containers
- ⭐ Reviews – Best Portable Emergency Water Storage Containers 2023
- ⭐ Reviews – Long-Term Water Storage Containers 2023
- 🤝 Why You Should Trust Us
- 🧾 Storage Water Containers Buyer’s Guide: How we Selected and Shortlisted the Best Water Containers on This List
- 🚰 How to Store Water For Emergencies
- 💡 More Quick Tips on Storing Water
- ❔Best Water Storage Containers: FAQ
🥇 6 Best Portable Emergency Water Storage Containers
- Best Portable Container: WaterPrepared 35 Gallon Water Storage Tank
- Space-Saving Design: WaterStorageCube BPA Free Collapsible Water Container
- Budget Choice: Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Water Container
- Great Stackable Option: WaterBrick 3.5 Gallon
- Most Durable: Reliance Desert Patrol 6 Gallon
- Best Value for Money: Saratoga Farms 30-Gallon Stackable Water Container Essentials Kit
🥇5 Best Long-Term Water Storage Containers
- Best Long-Term Container: WaterPrepared Blue 55 Gallon Water Storage Tank
- Top Below-Ground Water Storage: Norwesco 325 Gallon Below Ground Cistern
- Best for Rain Collection: UpCycle 55 Gallon Terra Cotta Rain Barrel
- Large Capacity Above Ground: Norwesco 550 Gallon Black Plastic Water Tank
- Large Capacity Below Ground: Norwesco 600 Gallon Below Ground Cistern
📊 Comparison Chart of Portable Emergency Water Storage Containers
WaterPrepared 35 Gallon
Water Storage Tank
WaterStorageCube BPA Free
Collapsible Water Container
Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon
Rigid Water Container
3.5 Gallon Water Container
Reliance Desert Patrol
6 Gallon Water Container
|Capacity||35 gallons||5.3 gallons||7 gallons||3.5 gallons||6 gallons||30 gallons|
|Material||UV Resistant Plastic||Low Density Polyethylene||Tainer||Food Grade Plastic||Food-Grade, BPA-free HDPE Plastic||High Density Polyethylene, BPA-free HDPE Plastic|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||30″ x 20.25″ x 22.5″||11.61″ x 10.08″ x 4.53″||15.59″ x 11.5″ x 11.26″||9″ x 18″ x 6″||14.8″ x 6.3″ x 19.0″||15″ x 10″ x 12″|
|Certifications||FDA-Approved, NSF Compliant||–||–||FDA Compliant||–||–|
|Warranty||n/a||n/a||5 years||5 years||5 years||n/a|
📊 Comparison Chart of Long-Term Water Storage Containers
WaterPrepared Blue 55 Gallon
Water Storage Tank
Norwesco 325 Gallon
Below Ground Cistern
UpCycle 55 Gallon
Terra Cotta Rain Barrel
Norwesco 550 Gallon
Black Plastic Water Tank
Norwesco 600 Gallon
Below Ground Cistern
|Capacity||55 gallons||325 gallons||55 gallons||550 gallons||600 gallons|
|Material||High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)||Polyethylene||High Density Polyethylene||Foodgrade Polyethylene||BPA-Free Polyethylene Resin|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||22″ x 28″ x 30″||54″ x 54″ x 51″||38″ x 22″ x 22″||67″ x 67″ x 44″||101″ x 51″ x 42″|
|Certifications||FDA and NSF-Approved||NSF 61, FDA Compliant||–||NSF 61, FDA-Approved||NSF 61, FDA-Approved|
|Warranty||1 year (limited)||3 years||n/a||3 years||3 years|
⭐ Reviews – Best Portable Emergency Water Storage Containers 2023
WaterPrepared 35 Gallon Water Storage Tank
In our opinion, the best overall portable emergency water storage container is the WaterPrepared 35 Gallon Water Storage Tank. If you want to store a lasting supply of water while still benefiting from portability, this high-capacity, easy-carry container is best for you.
Why do we love the WaterPrepared storage container? It holds around triple the amount of water as most other portable storage containers on this list, it’s made with NSF-compliant materials, and it’s more durable and convenient to use than its close competitors.
- 35-gallon storage – If you’re looking for the most storage in a portable container, then this container is your obvious choice. It holds 35 gallons – that’s enough water for a single person for over a month, or enough for two people for two weeks.
- Mid-sized container – The WaterPrepared container isn’t small. At 20.25″ wide, 22.5″ tall, and 30″ long, it’s not designed for handheld carrying – more for using in your RV or carrying in the back of your truck.
- Convenient design features – This easy-use storage tank has an integrated cap and a hose spigot that make it quick and simple to fill and pour water on the go.
Best For: Folks looking for a tough, thick container that has a higher storage capacity than most portable water containers. We think this WaterPrepared container is ideal for everyone because it’s big enough for families and small enough to transport.
- Costing just $250, we think the WaterPrepared container is an exceptional value for money for its durable design and water storage capacity.
- The container is made from a rugged, resilient material, and didn’t show the slightest trace of damage in our drop and crush tests. We also tested the lid and seal and found them to be leak-free.
- We love the super convenient design of this container, with its tie-down grooves, front and back handles for two-person carrying, wide, 5-inch lid for easy pouring, and hose spigot. The WaterPrepared container is one of the easiest to use out of all the containers we tested.
- We read reports from customers who said their water had a strange smell.
- When full, this container weighs over 300 pounds. You’ll need two strong people to lift it off the ground.
WaterStorageCube BPA Free Collapsible Water Container
Based on our testing, the WaterStorageCube BPA Free Collapsible Water Container is our top choice for the best space-saving drinking water container.
If your priority is to store as much water in as little space as possible, you’ll love this container – it holds up to 5.3 gallons of water, but can be collapsed and flattened when not in use. It’s super affordable, too, costing less than $15.
- 5.3-gallon capacity – The WaterStorageCube holds up to 5.3 gallons of water. Despite its flimsy-looking design, we filled the container to the brim every time and never experienced an issue with breaking or leaking.
- Space-saving dimensions – With its small, compact size (11.61 x 10.08 x 4.53 inches), this storage container is smaller than most portable water containers even when it’s full.
- Collapsible design – The WaterStorageCube can be collapsed and folded between uses, so you don’t have to store a bulky, boxy container in your cupboard at home.
Best For: Anyone looking for a convenient short-term water storage solution. The WaterStorageCube is ideal for RVs and camping trips, but due to its flimsy design, it’s not a forever solution for emergency preparedness.
- Considering the price we paid, we were really pleased with this container. It’s easy to pop up and fill, our water had no funky smells, and the container didn’t leak.
- The obvious bonus of the WaterStorageCube is that you can collapse it down in between uses. If you live in an apartment and you have limited storage space, you’ll love this feature.
- 5.3 gallons is a decent capacity for temporary use. You should have enough water to only need one or two refills during a week-long stay at a campsite.
- We found the WaterStorageCube a little disappointing in terms of durability. The material is thin and flimsy, and a few customers complained about leaking.
- The spigot is a bit tricky to use, and there’s no vent to encourage water flow so you’ll need to keep pulling up the top of the container to let air in.
Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Water Container
he Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Water Container is our top pick for the best budget portable water storage container. This container costs around $20 (depending on where you buy it) – a fraction of the price of our top pick, the WaterPrepared container.
The catch? The Aqua-Tainer container only holds 7 gallons, but it’s ideal if you’re looking for a small, single-person container that will keep you hydrated for a week. Stock up on multiple containers, and you’ve got a convenient, portable water storage solution for your entire family.
- 7-gallon capacity – The Aqua-Tainer container holds enough water to supply one person for one week, or two people for three-to-four days.
- Small, rectangular design – This small water container measures 15.59 x 11.5 x 11.26 inches and has a rectangular design. We found it easy to carry, store, and stack (when it’s empty).
- On-demand water dispensing – We could access water easily from the reversible drop-down spigot on the underside of the container – ideal for sitting on a tabletop edge.
Best For: People looking for the best portable storage container that won’t break the bank. While the Aqua-Tainer container isn’t the most durable or rugged container we’ve tried, it’s still incredibly reliable for the price you pay.
- With gentle in-home use, this container is a long-lasting, reliable water storage option. The 5-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects is reassuring, too.
- You won’t find a better storage container if you’re on a tight budget. For $20, the Aqua-Tainer is an absolute steal.
- This water container has all the most important features of a good container: BPA-free materials, easy-grip hand, stackability, and compact design. It doesn’t have any particularly special or impressive features – but who needs them?
- You pay less for poorer quality. While the Aqua-Tainer is a reliable choice, don’t expect it to withstand dropping and crushing.
- The container weighs about 56 pounds when it’s full. That’s about one-sixth of the weight of the WaterPrepared storage container, but you might still struggle to lift alone.
WaterBrick 3.5 Gallon
We recommend the WaterBrick 3.5 Gallon as our number one pick for portable stackable water storage containers. This ultra-stackable container has a solid, rectangular design and can be stacked up to eight levels high – so it’s an ideal choice if you want to build up your stock of water storage containers over time.
Just under $40 for two 3.5-gallon water containers is a little more expensive than our top picks on this list, but considering the strength and durability of these containers, we think it’s a fair price to pay.
- 3.5-gallon capacity – Each WaterBrick container carries up to 3.5 gallons of drinking water. You get two containers per purchase.
- Small, brick-like design These containers are shaped like rectangular blocks, measuring 9 x 18 x 6 inches. They’re small enough to carry one by one and ideally shaped for stacking (like bricks!).
- Stackable design – The WaterBrick containers can be slotted on top of one another in twos, at 90-degree angles, to a height of eight containers. Buy and stack as many as you need for your circumstances.
Best For: People looking for a neat, portable water storage solution that’s both durable and versatile. The WaterBrick containers are some of the strongest we’ve tried, and we love that you can keep them stacked up in your home or use individual containers for short-term use.
- These storage containers are truly built to last. They’re made from high-density polyethylene, which is known for its rugged design. The containers easily passed our drop and crush tests and have a solid build even when they’re empty.
- When it comes to portability, these containers just make sense. You can’t carry 30 gallons at once – but you can carry 10 3.5-gallon filters separately. And when you stack them, they come together as neatly as a single container.
- We love the versatility of the WaterBrick containers. You can use them to store both food and water, and the lid opening at the top makes it easy to pull out the container’s contents by hand.
- They’re expensive (but we think the price is worth the high quality you receive).
- These containers don’t come with an included spigot. You have to buy one separately, which is annoying.
Reliance Desert Patrol 6 Gallon
Based on our testing, the best easy-use water storage container is the Reliance Desert Patrol 6 Gallon Container. This container is smartly designed to be easy to carry and pour from, and has a handy screw cap for the airflow vent, so you don’t need to fuss with a pin-style plug.
Why else do we love this Reliance container? It’s super affordable at just over $20, and it has a much sturdier, more rigid build than our top budget pick, the Aqua-Tainer.
- 6-gallon capacity – One person can use the Reliance Desert Patrol container for up to one week thanks to its 6–gallon capacity.
- Tall, slim design – This Reliance emergency water container is tall and slim, with measurements of 14.75 by 6.25 by 19 inches.
- Easy-use features – Some notable features of this container are the three-piece spout system, the angled handle, and the UV-resistent material.
Best For: People looking for a sturdy, short-use water container that’s super easy to use. We think this Reliance container is ideal for usability because it’s ligheweight, easy to carry, and sturdily built. Plus, it has a good pour.
- This Reliance water storage container is ideal for critical water needs. It carries a decent 6 gallons of water and is easy to take with you if you’re on the move.
- We love the sturdy build of this container. It’ll survive drops and earthquakes much better than its competitors. We appreciate the angled handle that lets two people carry the container at once.
- You’ll struggle to find any other portable water storage container in this price range that’s so well-built and functional. The 5-year warranty is just what you want to see.
- We noticed some leaking around the cap when we laid the container on its side. For products in this price tier, that’s not an unusual occurrence.
- You can’t really stack these containers without causing the sides to bow over time, so they’re best for buying in ones and twos.
Saratoga Farms 30-Gallon Stackable Water Container Essentials Kit
Our final pick in the best portable water containers list, the Saratoga Farms 30-Gallon Stackable Water Container Essentials Kit, is our top choice for people looking for the best value-for-money stackable water storage containers kit.
This kit features 6 stackable water containers (you can buy more or fewer containers to suit your situation) and the interlocking design makes them ideal for stacking up to three containers high.
- 5-gallon containers – Each container in the Saratoga Farms container kit has a 5-gallon capacity. This means you can store up to 30 gallons at a time in the entire 6-container kit.
- Compact storage solution – The Saratoga Farms containers slot together with an interlocking design, and each container measures about 15 x 10 x 12 inches, so their individual footprints are small.
- Includes essential equipment – All the important equipment is included in the purchase. The screw-on spigot makes it easy to serve water, the vent opening speeds up water flow, and the handle is good for one-handed carrying.
Best For: Anyone who wants to save money upfront and buy a complete stackable water container kit at a great-value upfront cost.
- The material quality of these containers is great. They arrived with good seals, and passed our leak, drop, and crush tests with flying colors. Pro tip: use the included wrench to tightly seal the caps.
- The Saratoga Farms containers are the only portable containers on this list to come with water preserver drops. Could you buy these yourself? Yes. But we think it’s super handy that you don’t need to make a separate purchase.
- We appreciate being able to choose the number of containers in the kit. The 6-container kit is a good option for most families. If you ever need to use or transport a container, you can do so one at a time, so you won’t put your back out.
- The manufacturer only recommends stacking these containers two high, which is a bit poor for stackable containers. We think it’s likely due to safety reasons – we stacked three high, but wouldn’t do any more than that.
- The product imagery is a bit misleading. Make sure you read the description so you know what you’re buying to avoid disappointment.
⭐ Reviews – Long-Term Water Storage Containers 2023
WaterPrepared Blue 55 Gallon Water Storage Tank
In our opinion, the best overall long-term water storage container is the WaterPrepared Blue 55 Gallon Water Storage Tank. Why? Because this container has one of the strongest, safest designs of all the storage containers we tried, and is one of the most highly-rated containers on Amazon today. It’s a great value for money, too, costing just $300.
- 55-gallon storage – You can store enough water for nearly two months for a single person in the WaterPrepared Blue 55 Gallon Water Storage Tank, or supply a family of four with enough water for two weeks.
- Strong, rugged design – This storage tank is made from an FDA and NSF-approved, BPA-free, food-grade material: high-density polyethylene (HDPE).
- Easy-access spigot – No need to lift a heavy container. The WaterPrepared model has an easy-access spigot that can be attached to your garden hose.
Best For: Anyone happy to invest a few hundred dollars in a sturdy, secure water storage container that won’t let them down in emergencies.
- The tank’s HDPE material is engineered to withstand the pressure of holding hundreds of gallons of water for decades, and the container held up well during our drop and crush testing.
- Although the container is 55 gallons, it doesn’t actually take up that much space. Some tanks of this size are too bulky to fit in a small storage basement, but this container slotted nicely between our other storage solutions. Plus, it’s stackable, so you can stock up with multiple containers if you have room.
- We truly felt reassured that this container would stand the test of time. It’s sturdy, UV-resistant, and well sealed, so the likelihood of bacterial contamination is incredibly slim
- Don’t fill the new container with water until you check for (and remove) plastic shavings inside the tub. Some people learned that the hard way.
- Emptying this container is a bit tricky. The last two inches of water get stuck in the tub, even if you tip it upside down.
Norwesco 325 Gallon Below Ground Cistern
Based on our testing, our top pick for the best value below-ground water storage tank is the Norwesco 325 Gallon Below Ground Cistern. We love this container because it costs just over $900 for a full 325 gallons of water storage. It has a simple, fuss-free design, and does exactly what you want it to.
- 325-gallon storage – A single person could live off the water in the Norwesco 325 Gallon Below Ground Cistern for a year thanks to its impressive 325-gallon capacity. A family of four could get by for about three months with a full container.
- Deep design – This container is designed to be stored underground, with a depth of 54 inches and a height of 51 inches.
- Open-top access – You access water from the top of the tank, via the molded-in elevated pump stand. You’ll need to buy your own pump with this container.
Best For: Anyone looking for an unobtrusive emergency water container that they can install below-ground and forget about unless an emergency situation arises.
- Norwesco has been in the business for a long time, so they know what they’re doing when it comes to reliable construction. This sanitized container is made from a 100% virgin resin that’s FDA-compliant and NSF 61-compliant for potable water.
- We were pleased with the sturdiness of this storage tank. It certainly seems capable of storing water for decades, and we love its versatility – you can connect it to 4″ plumbing if you want.
- The 3-year warranty tells you that the manufacturer trusts the quality of their product. It’s good peace of mind for you.
- There’s a bit of upkeep involved if you buy this container. You’ll need to make sure it’s always at least 1/4 full to prevent crushing from soil and floating (lifting up out of the ground near high water tables).
- The pump and fittings for underground storage aren’t included, so they’re an extra expense. Plus, shipping is really expensive due to the size of the container.
UpCycle 55 Gallon Terra Cotta Rain Barrel
The UpCycle 55 Gallon Terra Cotta Rain Barrel is our top pick for the best outdoor water storage container. This tank is made from heavy-duty high-density polyethylene that was originally used for overseas transportation, so you can guarantee no leaks, cracks, or wear and tear.
- 55-gallon capacity – The UpCycle 55 Gallon Terra Cotta Rain Barrel holds up to 55 gallons of recycled rainwater. For most families, that should provide up to one month of water in emergencies.
- Compact design – This container is a typical barrel shape, with a height of 22 inches and a weight of 32 pounds when empty. With its terra cotta color, it should blend in next to your home, shed, or outhouse.
- Eco-friendly build – This tank has been produced more responsibly than other water storage tanks – it’s made from pre-used overseas food barrels.
Best For: Any eco-conscious homeowner looking for a reliable, environmentally-friendly outdoor water storage solution.
- Because the UpCycle store containers are made from repurposed food barrels, they’re incredibly strong, durable, and designed to withstand a range of temperatures. The plastic fittings expand and contract at the same rate as the barrel plastic from season to season, so you can store these large containers outside year-round, even in icy winters.
- We love that these rain barrels have been repurposed from old containers. By buying an UpCycle tank, you can do your bit to reduce landfill and repurpose stormwater.
- We can’t fault the price of these UpCycle barrels – just $80! If your budget is tight but you still want guaranteed quality, you know where to look.
- Since this container collects rainwater, you’ll need to boil or treat water first if you plan to use it for drinking. Rainwater isn’t potable water.
- The container was previously used to store food, so you might notice your water has a funky odor during your first few barrel filling cycles.
Norwesco 550 Gallon Black Plastic Water Tank
We recommend the Norwesco 550 Gallon Black Plastic Water Tank as the best large above-ground long-term storage container. With its massive 550-gallon capacity, this container protects you in all circumstances, whether you’re preparing for a natural disaster or you live rurally and want to be savvier with your water use.
- 550-gallon capacity – You’ll never go without water with the Norwesco 550 Gallon Black Plastic Water Tank. It’s ideally sized for long-term water storage for a big family.
- Versatile use point – We love the versatility of this container. Use it for rainwater collection, bulk water delivery storage, or well water storage – whatever best suits your situation.
- Above-ground setup – This container is designed to be set up above-ground, so there’s virtually no installation required. Just roll the tank on its side to get it in place, no lifting required.
Best For: Folks looking for a long-term water storage solution that’s super easy to install above-ground, no digging needed.
- Costing just over $800, this container is a fantastic value for money (compare it to our top-pick WaterPrepared container, which costs $300 and holds only 50 gallons).
- The container passed our tests for UV resistance, strength, and durability – all essential for an outdoor water storage unit. The BPA-free plastic resin is FDA-approved, compliant with NSF 61, and resistant to cracks and ruptures thanks to its rotationally molded design.
- The 3-year warranty is exactly what you want to see when you’re spending hundreds of gallons on a water storage solution.
- There’s no way to hide an above-ground 550-gallon container, even if this Norwesco tank comes in the two most legitimate camouflage colors: green and black.
- Once you’ve filled this container with water, there’s no moving it – and it’ll take ages to empty, too. This truly is a long-term storage solution, so only buy it if it suits your long-term needs.
Norwesco 600 Gallon Below Ground Cistern
In our opinion, the Norwesco 600 Gallon Below Ground Cistern is the best below-ground storage tank for die-hard emergency preparation. This cistern stores a huge 600 gallons of water, so it’s ideal if you live off the grid or your water supply frequently runs short – or you just want to be as prepared as possible for any eventuality.
- 600-gallon capacity – The Norwesco 600 Gallon Below Ground Cistern is one of the largest residential-use water storage containers available today. If you have the mindset that more is better, this is the container for you.
- Underground storage – This container is designed to be installed underground, so it won’t take up valuable floor space (good, considering just how massive it is).
- Wide design – With a length of 101 inches, a width of 51 inches, and a height of 42 inches, this Norwesco tank has a wide, horizontal design, so you don’t need to dig hundreds of inches below the ground to install it.
Best For: Anyone living in a rural region where water is scarce, people who can’t rely on their well for water 24/7, or anyone who takes emergency preparation really seriously.
- Storing potable water in a huge, food-grade underground container is much more streamlined than storing bottled water or multiple jerry cans in your cupboards. We love that this Norwesco container is installed underground, so it’s completely clutter-free.
- Some underground storage containers end up cracking and leaking, but we feel certain of the quality of this cistern’s design. The container is made with FDA approved durable plastic and has been produced by rotational molding, which keeps the tank stable and has zero seams – so zero leaks.
- Like all Norwasco products, this container is backed by a 3-year warranty, so you’re covered against manufacturer’s defects if anything goes wrong post-installation.
- Unsurprisingly, you’ll need a good bit of space to store this Norwesco cistern, and that space needs to be underground. Not suitable for all situations.
- At just under $1,400, this container is cheaper than other large containers on the market – but it’s still not budget-friendly.
🤝 Why You Should Trust Us
In the run-up to producing this guide, we spent hours researching and reviewing tens of water storage containers, many of which didn’t make this list.
We combed through customer reviews, looked at industry data, and personally tested water containers in our own homes using our set criteria.
Working behind the scenes for one of the biggest water treatment review teams in the country, we know the importance of clean, potable water. We only recommend products that we have used, or would use, ourselves.
🧾 Storage Water Containers Buyer’s Guide: How we Selected and Shortlisted the Best Water Containers on This List
There are a few important factors to consider on your hunt for a water storage container for emergency preparedness. We used these factors as our criteria when choosing the water containers in this guide.
What is your intended use of a water storage container? Do you want a portable container that you can take with you if needed? Or do you prefer the idea of having a large container that will keep you hydrated over a period of months or years?
Your intended use for a water storage container is the first thing to consider, before you even think about your budget.
Both portable water storage containers and large, immobile containers have their benefits. It’s difficult to predict the types of emergencies you might need to prepare for, but consider which type of container you’d feel most reassured having.
If your funds allow, you could always keep a combination of the two on your property.
The average cost of a water storage container is $25-$1,300. Why is this price so varied? Because there are so many different sizes of water containers available, from 2 gallons to 800 gallons or higher.
Your budget should tie into the type and size of water storage container you want to buy.
📌 If you’re really serious about emergency preparedness, or you live in a region where the risk of being cut off from clean water is high, consider spending more money on a large container.
For most people, however, a smaller container of around 50 gallons is ideal, costing around $100-$250.
Capacity & Lifting Weight
The capacity of an emergency water storage container determines how much water it provides, and how long a single person could live off this water supply.
Capacity also affects weight. The bigger the capacity, the heavier the weight.
|Water Container Size||Empty Weight||Full Weight|
|5-7 Gallons||< 1 lbs||44 to 60 lbs|
|15 Gallons||7.5 lbs||133 lbs|
|30 Gallons||14 lbs||264 lbs|
|55 Gallons||23.5 lbs||484 lbs|
If you’re interested in portable water storage containers, you may want to look for a container that you can comfortably lift and carry on your own.
Even some portable water containers are too heavy and bulky to lift when they’re full. Consider whether this is a problem. How do you plan to use your container? If you can envision traveling with the container to a clean water source, then filling it up and using it in this location, being able to carry a full container might not be necessary.
Ultimately, it depends on whether you’d rather have a storage container that’s too heavy to carry but provides a longer-lasting water supply, or a storage container that you can take on the go but only provides enough water for a couple of days.
Ease of Storage and Use
There are many shapes and sizes of water storage containers, and not all of them are convenient for easy storage and use.
📌 Look for containers that have the best design for your needs. Stackable water storage containers are a good choice if you want to store a lot of water while still being able to carry each individual container. Or, you might prefer a large container that you can store out of sight underground.
There’s no right answer, here – it depends on what’s best for your unique situation.
With that said, there are a few features that should make your life easier regardless of your specific needs. Look for a carry handle and ergonomic design (for portable containers), a large lid for easy pouring, and a spigot to easily access water from the container.
Shelf Life and Safety of Storage
The longer a storage container can safely store your water, the less work you’ll have to put in emptying and replacing the water in the container.
📌 Look for a container that’s made from sturdy, safe, food-grade materials that won’t leach dangerous plastics or chemicals into your water. Avoid pale-colored, thin, or transparent materials that could cause your water to go bad. Dark-colored water containers are usually the best UV-resistant option.
Materials like stainless steel and glass aren’t the best choice for water storage containers. These materials are heavy and prone to breaking, so they’re not good for portability or emergency use.
The best water storage containers can keep your water fresh for at least 1 year, and are made from dark-colored, food-grade, BPA-free, thick, resilient, shatter-proof materials.
🚰 How to Store Water For Emergencies
Keen to become an emergency water storage pro?
Luckily, there’s not much that you need to know about safely storing water. Just make sure to follow the advice and guidance we’ve shared below.
How Much Water Should you Store?
📌 The EPA and the CDC agree that a person needs one gallon of water per day – half a gallon for drinking, and half a gallon for cooking and washing.
You should store at least three days of water per person for potential emergencies. Ideally, if you have the space, store two weeks’ worth of water for each member of your family – that’s 14 gallons per person.
How to Make Water Safe to Store
If you get your drinking water from a municipal supplier, it’s technically safe to store without pre-treatment.
However, if you use a private well, or you’re concerned about chemicals and heavy metals in your municipal supply, you can use the following methods to make your water safe to store:
- Water Purification Tablets: These offer a quick and easy way to purify your water. Just follow the instructions on the packet to add the right number of tablets to your water. You can add tablets straight to your water storage container.
- Chlorine Bleach Disinfection: If you don’t have water purification tablets, you can use chlorine bleach to achieve the same disinfection results. Add 8 drops of unscented household chlorine bleach to every 1 gallon of water, then store the water for drinking.
- Boiling Water: This is a good option for small batches of water. Bringing water to a rolling boil for three minutes kills viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and other disease-causing pathogens. Boil your water, then wait for it to cool before using it for emergency water storage.
- Distillation: A distiller adds an extra stage to boiling water. Water is boiled until it evaporates, then condenses in a separate container, leaving the impurities in the boiling chamber. Distillation can usually only be used to purify 1 gallon of water at a time.
- Reverse Osmosis: This process involves sending water through a semi-permeable membrane to remove contaminants as small as 0.0001 microns. Water is ready to store instantly after being treated by a reverse osmosis system.
Check out our top picks & reviews of the best emergency water filters in this guide.
|Purification Method||Kills Microbes||Kills Parasites||Removes Other Contaminants
(Heavy Metals & Chemicals)
|Water Purification Tablets||Yes||Yes||No|
|Chlorine Bleach Disinfection||Yes||Yes||No|
💡 More Quick Tips on Storing Water
You know the important stuff about emergency water storage. Here are a few other tips to keep in mind:
- Properly stored water can last 3-5 years, but recommend emptying, cleaning, and refilling your containers every 1 year.
- Don’t store water in a container made from 1, 3, 6, or 7 plastics. It’s safe to store your water in 2, 4, and 5 plastics, and #2 plastic is considered the safest.
- Store water containers on clean ground. Plastics are known to absorb chemicals.
- Avoid storing your water containers in direct sunlight or hot locations, and ensure the container is tightly sealed to prevent bacteria from entering the water supply.
- Store your water in a food-grade container designed solely for water storage. Don’t use old milk jugs or soda bottles, which are usually biodegradable and aren’t designed to last for a long time.
- If you store your emergency drinking water outside, make sure you’re prepared for potential freezing. Fill your containers only 85% full to prevent water from expanding and bursting the container.
How to Clean a Water Container
You’ll need to clean your emergency water storage containers every time you empty them out and refill them with water (about once every 6-12 months).
Here’s how to clean a water storage container:
- Empty out the old water.
- Fill the container with warm water and add a squeeze of dish soap.
- Close the container cap and shake the bottle. This might be a two-person job!
- Drain the water and rinse the container with clean, soap-free water.
- Fill the container about one-third full with water and add a teaspoon of unscented chlorine bleach.
- Close the cap and wait for 30 seconds. Shake the container to disperse the chlorine water, then wait another 30 seconds.
- Drain the container and rinse it off with cold, clean water.
- Let the container air dry before you fill it with your next batch of water.
❔Best Water Storage Containers: FAQ
Do I need to chemically treat water before or after storing?
No, you don’t need to chemically treat your water before and after storing – as long as you’ve got your water from a safe source. Just make sure you empty, clean, and refill your water tanks once a year. If you’re uncertain about your water quality, or you get your water from a well, you can treat your water with chemical disinfectants like chlorine. Water filters, distillation, and boiling can also clean and purify your water before storage. Be sure that your container, caps, lids, and hands are clean before filling the container.
How much water should I store for an emergency?
You should aim to store at least enough water to see you through two weeks in the case of an emergency. The general rule is a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day, or around 15 gallons per person.
What is the best container to store water long term?
In our opinion, the best container to store water in the long term is WaterPrepared Blue 55 Gallon Water Storage Tank. That’s because this tank is the ideal size for storing two weeks of water for a family of four, has a convenient spigot for easy access, and is made from durable, resilient, NSF-compliant, BPA-free plastic materials.
How long will water stay fresh in container?
In a container designed for water storage, water will stay fresh for up to one year before it needs to be replenished. Make sure to store water in a cool, shaded location away from direct sunlight, and make sure the container is properly sealed to prevent contamination.
What is the healthiest way to store water?
The healthiest way to store water is in a sterilized container. Make sure your chosen container is made from BPA-free, metal-free materials and has an airtight seal to prevent unhealthy contaminants from getting into the water.
How much does a 10,000-gallon water tank cost?
A 10,000-gallon water tank costs between $6,000 and $12,000, depending on the brand and the design.