The Ultimate Guide to Water Storage Containers for 2023

Storing water is one of the most important things a prepper can do. It should be the first thing on your list or at least close to the top!

Historically, water services are one of the first things to go during a disaster. It only makes sense that discussing water storage containers is something we do!

Many people claim to be preppers but haven’t stored water drops. They have freeze-dried rations for months and enough guns and ammo to wage war single-handedly, but they’ve ignored the most important thing for human survival…water.

Before we take a closer look at water storage, let’s talk about a couple of common misconceptions people believe to be true about water and water storage.

Common Misconceptions About Storing Water

When they first decide to store water, the number one question is, “How long does it take until my water goes bad?” This isn’t a concern at all! When water is properly stored, it doesn’t ever go bad.

You’d only have to worry about this if you believe an outside source has somehow contaminated your water. Other than that, your water should be clean and ready to drink when you need it.

I also get asked how often I should rotate my water. This goes along with the first question.

You don’t need to rotate your water at all. If you’re storing bottled water that you drink anyway, you should use that oldest water first to preserve the taste.

Many people try to say that you need special water storage containers to store water. That isn’t the case.

Even though we’re reviewing several of the best water storage options later in this article, any food-grade plastic container can store water. This is especially important to know in case a storm is coming and you need to do some last-minute water storage.

When you’re first starting, you can fill 2-liter soda bottles, empty water bottles, or anything else that used to contain consumable liquids.

Milk jugs aren’t the best option since they’re very thin, tend to break and leak, and can fill your water with bacteria if they are not washed out well.

Be sure to rinse out any container that you may be reusing completely!

Some people will tell you that you don’t need to store water if you have something like a Big Berky water filter.

If you live on the shore of a lake, then this could very well be true. Still, suppose you live in the middle of the desert or somewhere like California that relies on modern infrastructure to supply you with water. In that case, you will want plenty of water available for emergencies.

Another thing I keep seeing pop up on other prepping websites is the ridiculous idea that you should only store water in the perfect container. A bucket of nasty swamp water is 1000 times better than no water.

Store water in a way that makes sense for you and your family. If that means you use 2-liter soda bottles, then so be it. You’ll be good to go if you understand that you may need to run that water through a filter before you drink it.

How Much Water Do You Need to Store?

It takes just three days to die without water. To put that into perspective, a person can go for weeks without food!

When storing water, you should try to store 1 gallon per person daily. That may not seem like a lot, but it adds up really fast, making storing water more difficult than it may first appear. That’s one of the reasons that people often skip over water storage.

As a baseline, I’d recommend storing enough water for you and your family for two weeks and then adding from there. That means you should have around 56 gallons of water stored at a minimum for a family of 4.

Other Considerations

Choosing the right amount of water for you and your family isn’t the only thing to consider when storing water.

Should you buy large or small water containers?

It depends on your situation. If you live in an apartment, you’ll probably want something on the smaller side. If you own a home or have access to a garage, then you can go for a combination of large and small containers.

Small containers are the easiest to store since they can fit just about anywhere and can be moved easily if needed. The downside is that it’s expensive to buy a lot of smaller purpose-made containers.

Large containers allow you to store a ton of water easily. Just a few 55-gallon containers will put you lightyears ahead of most people. The downside is water is extremely heavy; once you find these containers, it can be really difficult to move them. It can be pretty much impossible to do larger containers without heavy machinery. They also take up a lot of space, making them less accessible to some people.

I prefer a combination of the two. I use large water tanks in my garage and backyard, a 55-gallon barrel, and WaterBricks in my basement.

I know the water in my basement is clean and can be used immediately in an emergency. The water in my tanks outside and the garage should be okay to drink, but I would probably run it through a filter or boil it just in case. Either way, I have plenty of water.

Can I fill water tanks with secondary water?

Before you fill your water tanks or barrels with a hose in your yard, you need to know whether you’re using secondary water. If the water source comes from the secondary water, you should filter it or boil it before drinking it.

Secondary water is allowed to have more contaminants in it than primary water, and the EPA standards are non-enforceable. This means you’re better off assuming it isn’t safe to drink.

A simple water filter like the Big Berky will make getting that water to a drinkable place easy.

What We Looked for in Our Recommended Containers

Cost: We evaluated cost because it’s important for most of us.

Durability: This is one of the key things you should consider when choosing containers for water storage. If the container breaks, at best, it will leave you without water. At worst, it will flood your entire basement and leave you with expensive water damage to repair.

Storage: How the container stores, stacks, etc.

Features: Each container we looked at has something different to offer. We did our best to sum those up in the description and gave them a rating based on the overall usefulness of those features.

We also decided to divide the containers into two groups, portable and non-portable. It didn’t make sense to us to compare a 3.5-gallon container to a 250-gallon water tank, so we didn’t.

Portable Water Storage

Portable water containers are those containers that can easily be moved around when they’re filled. In this case, they range from 3.5 gallons to 5 gallons.

WaterBrick 1833-0001 Stackable Emergency Water and Food Storage Container, 3.5 gal of Liquid, 27 lb of Dry Food Products, Blue
  • Portable: comfort handle makes it easy to carry and secure in cars, boats or ATV's
  • Stackable: unique design securely stacks to maximize limited storage space
  • Customizable: perfect disaster relief container for storing food, water or anything you want to keep...
  • Convenient: Stack and store anywhere you need it or grab and go
  • Made in the USA for everyday use and emergency preparedness

The WaterBrick is one of the market’s best-known purpose-built water storage containers. It’s durable, stores extremely well in almost any situation and is small enough that it isn’t overly heavy when full.

Its small size is also one of its downsides. At only 3.5 gallons, you’ll need to buy more of these to meet your water storage requirements, and they cost about as much as many of the 5-gallon containers out there.

API Kirk Blue 5 Gallon Samson Stacker Water Storage, Sturdy, Stackable
  • Portable (approximately 11.25" x 10" x 14.25")
  • Stackable. Water NOT included
  • White BPA free Food-grade Plastic; container resin USA sourced
  • Includes one 70mm cap with gasket and center threaded 3/4 FPT with cut-away membrane.
  • Made in USA

The API Kirk 5 Gallon Samson Stackers are another purpose-built, stackable water container. They’re durable, but less so than the WaterBricks, and can be stacked up to 3 high (5 high if you brace them or stack them in the corner).

This particular kit consists of four 5-gallon containers, a wrench to secure the lids in place, and a spigot.

Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Water Container, Blue , 11.3 Inch x 11.0 Inch x 15.3 Inch
  • Rigid, 7-gallon rectangular water container with molded contour grip
  • Space-saving design for easy storing and stacking when empty. Spigot cap is reversible for safe...
  • New and improved screw-on vent; hideaway spigot for on-demand water dispensing
  • Suitable for outdoors activities and emergency water storage
  • NOTE: Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will cause the water container to degrade and become...

The Reliance Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Container was the least expensive container we felt was still strong enough to trust our water storage. It can’t be stacked when it’s full, limiting your ability to store it in certain situations, but its low price kept it on our list for this year.

Non-Portable Water Storage

Our non-portable water containers are those containers that are meant to be filled in place and not moved again…at least not easily moved. If you’re looking for the best way to meet your water storage needs quickly, these are probably it.

The downside is they usually can’t be placed in apartments, and some cities have ordinances against outside water storage.

The Legacy Premium Food Storage, 15 Gallon Emergency Water Storage Barrel, is here because it can be used by those people that need to store water in an apartment. If you don’t have a size restriction like that, we don’t recommend purchasing this barrel as it’s more expensive than it needs to be for only 15 gallons of water storage.

Augason Farms Water Storage Barrel 55-Gallon Drum
  • Stores up to 55 gallons
  • BPA-free water drum
  • Made with food-grade polyethylene
  • Measures 22.95" diam. x 35.13"h
  • Weighs 18.2 lb.

The Augason Farms Water Storage Barrel 55-Gallon Drum is a well-made water barrel. It will suit you well if you’re looking for a no-frills way to store water for an emergency.

There are other, less expensive barrels similar to this, but we’ve had bad luck with no-name brands. If you’re willing to take a chance, you can save $5 or $10 on a different brand.

Blue 55 Gallon Water Storage Tank by WaterPrepared - Emergency Water Barrel Container with Spigot for Emergency Disaster Preparedness - Stackable- Includes 5 Year Water Treatment
  • ALWAYS BE PREPARED: Be ready to face any water emergency or water shortage by safely and...
  • HYGIENIC & SAFE DRINKING WATER: The WaterPrepared barrel is reinforced with a specially blended...
  • STRONG, RESILIENT CONSTRUCTION: Manufactured with a rugged high-density polyethylene material...
  • HASSLE-FREE ACCESS: With the spigot integrated right into the design, accessing your emergency water...
  • STACKABLE, SPACE-SAVING DESIGN: With WaterPrepared's unique stackable design and dimensions of 22" x...

We found our new favorite water storage container during this review. The 55 Gallon Water Storage Tank By WaterPrepared. It’s replaced our traditional 55-gallon drums and saved a lot of space.

This unique design allows you to stack them up to three high, saving you a lot of room compared to placing 55-gallon drums side by side. It’s also extremely well made.


Having the right amount of water on hand for an emergency should be a top priority for everyone. Hopefully, this review helped you find the best water storage containers for home use.

Don’t overlook the importance of water storage. Containers and tanks of all kinds are invaluable resources for preppers.

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