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Storing generous supplies of clean, drinkable water isn’t just a cautious prepper’s whim, but a must-have for every household. Even a local natural disaster can affect our water utilities, not to mention large-scale catastrophes such as nuclear blasts and other calamities. To store water safely, you need proper water containers – clean, large enough to hold ample supplies, dependable enough not to break or spill out their contents.

But why bother stockpiling large containers and topping them up with water so that it takes a Hercules to lift them? You can simply buy commercially bottled water.

In fact, it’s recommendable to do so, since it is properly inspected and sealed to avoid contamination. But I like to be super prepared and have both options, in case something happens to one of them.

So, this guide will teach you all you need to know about water containers – how to choose and use them, and which ones are best on the market in terms of both quality and price. 


In essence, most if not all water containers are simple jugs that contain a few gallons of liquid. How hard can it be to choose the right option?

You’d be surprised! 

You need to choose wisely because if anything goes wrong, it’s as if you poured your very sustenance down the drain.

So, here are some considerations you need to factor in when buying these plain but vital items.

1. Make sure they are food-grade

There are gazillions of options on the market, and not all of them are meant for storing clean, drinking water. It’s up to you to make an informed choice. Read the fine print unless you want to end up with motor oil jugs!

And make sure to only buy dark-colored or non-transparent containers so that they don’t let any light. Some bacteria thrive on it!

2. BPA or not?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you must have heard of BPA when it comes to plastics. The abbreviation stands for Bisphenol-A, a chemical substance that imitates estrogen.

When or if it enters your body, the least it can do is cause sterility, but also affect your immune system or cause cancer. This topic has stirred much controversy since BPA alternatives are understudied and could potentially be as dangerous.

However, one thing is clear: BPA is bad for your health. Even worse, it’s soluble, which means it could easily transfer from your container to its content.

3. Durability

How rugged do you need them to be?

Naturally, it depends on their purpose. If you are storing tap water in your basement as a backup for water shutoffs, you probably won’t have much to worry about.

But if you are a camper or off-grider who often fills up their ride with portable jugs, you don’t want them to break because of a few road bumps.

Since water containers are typically made of plastics, note that some cheaper options will weaken if exposed to direct sunlight for longer periods of time.

4. Capacity

Make sure your jugs hold at least a few gallons of water. Sure, they will be hard to lift and carry around. But they will save you some serious space when stacked against each other.

Exactly how much water do you need to store? You should always plan one gallon per person per day as a bare minimum, and that’s if you live in a temperate climate.

Since it’s best to secure food and water supplies for at least two weeks, do your math and purchase an adequate quantity of containers.


API Kirk Containers Samson Stackers 6-Pack (5 Gallons Each)

water storage containers

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If you need 30 gallons of water, this should be your most convenient choice. They are made of High Density PolyEthylene (HDPE), which is FDA compliant. Translated to simple English, it means you can safely use it to store drinking water.

But why exactly is it better to buy this 6-pack instead of six different 5-gallon jugs? Because these are stackable three containers high.

What singles them out from other options on our list is a dust plug that will protect them until you start using them. They also have a breakable lock ring as evidence that nobody used them before, which is paramount when it comes to water containers.

You’ll get a single spigot and a single cap wrench with every kit. When done with one container, just move them over to the next.

Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer Rigid Water Container (7 Gallon)

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Say hello to the most cost-effective product on our list! It features a screw-on vent for easy filling and a reversible spigot that allows you to pour water into a bottle.

Apart from emergency preparedness (which is our main concern), you can use these jugs during camping, picnics and other outdoor activities such as fishing and hunting.

A single container can store enough water for the entire family if your outing doesn’t last more than two days. Get a dozen and you’ll be good to go for an entire month!

Apart from capacity, these jugs make for an awesome purchase because they are among the cheapest you can find. In fact, we’ve come across some cheaper options, but their quality was so lousy that we would never even contemplate recommending them to anyone.

It won’t exactly melt from the sun, but the plastic will become brittle.

Truth be told, the manufacturer clearly states this risk. So, if this is your preferred option, make sure to store them in a shady or dark place. (In fact, you should do it with ANY water container, if at all possible.)

Also, they aren’t really stackable on top of one another when full. The plastic isn’t thick and sturdy enough, so it may bulge and start leaking eventually. If you’re aiming for heavy use and much wear and tear, scroll down to the other options!

Scepter Portable Water Storage Container 2-Pack (5 Gallon)

water storage solution

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These vessels come with both a screw-top cap that will keep your liquid right where it belongs, and a small, handy spout. The latter will allow you to easily pour water into smaller bottles. It has an airlock, which means no sudden splashes all over your shoes!

Needless to say that they are BPA-free, which means safety as well as no foul odors or awkward taste.

But what about their strength?

Suffice it to say that these are military-grade products made in Canada. That means they should withstand any weather conditions, as well as accidental (or non-accidental) drops.

Overall, these jugs are the sturdiest option we’ve come acros!

The only possible con is that they are a bit on the pricier side. But if you decide that they fit your budget, you’ll certainly be happy with the purchase.

Coleman Jug With Water Carrier (5 Gallon)

water carrier

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Tough construction is one of the best features of this water jug. However rough the conditions, it won’t dent or suffer any damage.

Another benefit is a very handy spigot that enables fast flow without tipping. Plus, it won’t leak in any position, which means you don’t have to fret over wasting your supplies.

One happy camper even suggests transforming this container into a washing station, which is a great idea. You can do the same by combining it with other containers. Store your supplies in bigger jugs while using this one for rinsing your hands, dishes, or even as an improvised douche.

Some users complain that their spigot broke easily. Ours works just fine.

But in case you’re worried, you can buy those spigots as a replacement.

The product is made of polyethylene, which is not only BPA-free but bacteria repellent.

Legacy Emergency Water Storage Barrel (15 Gallon)

emergency water storage barrel

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Don’t want to hassle with dozens of smallish containers? A couple of these barrels will do!

Even though they hold twice to thrice as much water as the jugs on our list, they are still portable. Well, you do have to be a person of significant stature and strength to carry them when they are full. Still, it’s possible.

There’s no reason to worry about safety either.

These are made of BPA-free, food-grade polyethylene plastic. Even though the plastic is relatively thick, I wouldn’t expect it to perform as well as some sturdier options from this list.

But then again, you probably won’t drag it around on every single camping trip. So it should be just fine as a tool for emergency survival!

When empty, they are lightweight enough not to rip you off with shipping fees. So, it’s way more affordable to get a few of those than a single 55-gallon barrel.