Buy Large Water Containers
One of the easiest, yet most important things you must do to prepare is store at least two weeks of water in your home. The majority of Americans have less than 12 hours worth of water in their home, yet humans die after just three days without it. We spent 34 hours researching and testing all of the popular small containers to find the best one for emergency water storage. We recommend the Reliance Rhino 5.5 gallon Water Container and Scepter 5 gal Military Water Can.
buy large water containers
The Rhino was one of the easiest to carry among all the containers we tested. It pours well and has a better screw cap for the airflow vent, rather than the cheap push-pin style plugs found on many other similarly-priced containers.
No searching for water, no filtering, no boiling, no filling the bathtub, no running to the store to buy cartons of bottled water, no depending on the 30 gallons in the water heater. Any extra stuff you have like water filters in your bug out bags, on-site wells, the bathtub, or your long term water purifiers are just bonus backups.
Many people think about a rotating system, where they buy a carton of bottled water, drink it for daily use, and just keep replenishing the stock so that they always have two weeks worth on hand. Most survival experts and teachers agree that while this sounds nice in theory, real life gets in the way and you could easily get caught off guard without enough water.
If you want to err on the side of caution, you can add a little bit of water preserver. We might do a full chemical lab test on water preservers in the future, but for now you can pick up the popular Water Preserver product or just use five drops (1/8th of a teaspoon) of unscented basic household bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) per gallon.
Be careful about putting contaminants into the water. Wash your hands before touching the equipment. Wash the lids, caps, spouts, and inside of the container with soap or chlorine.How we pickedWe started by researching as many legitimate product reviews, forum conversations, and guides on water storage as we could find. Combined with personal experience, we defined the most important qualities and what we were and were not looking for.
We noticed inconsistent pricing and availability in the water container category. Manufacturers tell us that large orders from the military and rescue efforts after the 2017 hurricanes and wildfires have created a backlog.
We did this primarily because you might need to move the containers in these short term situations. Maybe you bring it up from your flooded basement, lift it from the ground to a countertop, or carry it to your car to bug out.
A common mistake is looking at a water container and underestimating how heavy it will be. We have found in practice that even seven gallon containers are getting very heavy (56 pounds) for most people to comfortably move with one hand.
Many plastics can absorb chemicals and even scents from whatever they touch. For example, if a plastic jug is sitting on a cement basement floor and a bottle of cleaning chemicals spills nearby, those chemicals can be absorbed into the plastic water container.
The safest plastic containers to hold water are polyethylene-based plastics, or plastics #1, #2, and #4. All food-grade plastics are made of High-density polyethylene (HDPE) #2. But be careful, because something made out of HDPE #2 might not necessarily be food grade.
Some of the containers had existing product reviews that complained about not draining all of the water without some gymnastics. So we tested how well they drain water in their natural resting position and how easy it was to use one hand to maneuver the container and/or spigot while using the other hand to hold a cup for filling.
We also wanted to see how well they prevented outside debris and liquids from getting inside. We did this by submerging a container in a full bathtub for 10 minutes while looking for any bubbles. We also added a dark brown gardening chemical to the bathtub water so we could see any coloring or foul taste in the potable water.
We then cleaned the outside and checked the internal water for any signs of coloring against a control sample.Crush testsSome of the commonly bought containers on Amazon are surprisingly flimsy. Even some of the ones we purchased for our field test (after weeding out the obviously bad ones during research) already had dents and dings in their plastic walls from shipping.
Our choice: Reliance Rhino 5.5 Gallon ContainerTop PickBest container for most people:Reliance Rhino 5.5 Gal Water ContainerToughest container in the middle tier price class. Somewhat stackable for short term storage. Comes with everything you need. Survived our drop and crush tests. Buy from Camping World
Check price on Walmart
Our pick for the best emergency water container for most people is the Reliance Rhino 5.5 gallon can.
It uses the common reversible water cap and spout, and everything was included in the purchase. The short spout rests inside the can while closed, which you then remove, flip around, and tighten down with the neck ring. This is not our favorite method because each time you touch the spout and then put it back inside the water, you increase your chance of contamination. But only the more expensive USGI and WaterBrick options avoided this problem, and the Rhino spout was much more sanitary than the Scepter 5 Gallon spout.
Because of its relatively smaller 5.5 gallon capacity and tall, narrow frame with topside carrying handle, the majority of our reviewers found the Rhino to be the easiest to carry out of all the containers tested (except for the lightweight 3.5 gallon WaterBrick). It fits naturally against your thigh while carrying, compared to bulkier containers like the 7 gallon Aqua-Tainer cube.
The seven gallon capacity might seem like a bonus over the other 5-6 gallon options, but in practice, most of our reviewers noted that they wished it was a smaller six gallons. That extra 8-10 pounds of weight and extra storage space needed for the extra gallon made a meaningful difference in terms of ease of carrying and use. It also contributes to the larger side walls that can bend or break.
It comes with a reversible spigot. When stored, the spigot is screwed to the inside of the cap, sitting in the water. You remove the cap, unscrew the spigot, flip it to the other side, and rescrew. We like that Reliance made a screw cap style cover for the airflow vent.
You put your hands all over the spigot while twisting it on or off, which then sits back into the water when stored. Another possible contamination issue is that when the spigot is stored inside the cap, the internal tube of the spigot is exposed to the outside world. Dirt and bacteria could get inside the tube, which would then flow out of the spigot when you use it.
As a result, you end up playing musical chairs with some of the pieces. If you have a stack of four WaterBricks filled with water and you want to use one, you have to attach the carry handle, remove the container from the stack, stand it on its vertical end, remove the carry handle, remove the storage cap, and install the water cap.
The spigot itself is mediocre. The container does not have a separate airflow vent to help with pouring, so the spigot is designed to let out water and let in air at the same time. This creates an odd chugging noise and water flow.
The spigot sits halfway up the container when in use. This means that once the water level is below 50% you have to tilt the brick with one hand while operating the spigot or holding a cup with the other. There are no built in handles or practical places to hold on to, so this can get a little awkward.
When looking at the water cap and spigot, we were concerned about some of the seals. Particularly the seal between the plastic cap and the spigot housing that seats through the middle of the cap. The assembly of pairing the cap and spigot together is not nearly as nice as similar options on the much cheaper $20 Reliance Aqua-Tainer.
The WaterBrick shines when used as designed: to stack multiple containers in the most space efficient way. It is inch-for-inch the best way to squeeze 15 gallons of water into the smallest space possible.
The spout is also flexible, with accordion folds in the middle. While nice for flexibility, we dislike it for long term storage because all of those nooks and corners are hard to clean and can harbor bacteria. We also prefer a shorter spout, because with these reversible designs, every time you remove, use, and return the spout, you run the risk of touching it with your hands or other contaminants, which then get dipped back into the water.
Though most systems operate silently, read reviews to make sure that the model you're considering is noiseless. Specific models can make a lot of noise."}},"@type": "Question","name": "How much energy does a water cooler use?","acceptedAnswer": "@type": "Answer","text": "Energy Star Ratings are used to compare water coolers and their brands. Water coolers that have received the Energy Star Ratings use up to 50 percent less energy than water coolers without the certification. For reference, to be labeled an Energy Star-rated unit, it uses less than 0.16 kWh per day.","@type": "Question","name": "How much does using water from the tap line cost versus buying gallon jugs?","acceptedAnswer": "@type": "Answer","text": "If considering a bottle-less system, on average, filtering tap water will cost you $1.50 per 1,000 gallons, costing only a fraction of a cent per gallon. Meanwhile, a 5-gallon jug's average cost can run $10 or $2 per gallon."]}]}] .icon-garden-review-1fill:#b1dede.icon-garden-review-2fill:none;stroke:#01727a;stroke-linecap:round;stroke-linejoin:round > buttonbuttonThe Spruce The Spruce's Instagram The Spruce's TikTok The Spruce's Pinterest The Spruce's Facebook NewslettersClose search formOpen search formSearch DecorRoom Design
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