Finding the right water jug for holding water for use during an emergency is an integral part of being prepared for less than ideal circumstances. Water containers are widely available at many stores across the US, but not all of them are created equal, and many are cumbersome in an emergency.
Some water containers include features such as stackability, spigots, easy to fill caps and carrying handles. Many of them are rigid, but collapsible versions are available for those who are looking to save space once the containers are empty.
Keep in mind that most water jugs are made from plastic, and you should never use your water containers to store other liquids when not in use. When you use them to store other liquids, those flavors could leach back into the clean water that you refill the container with later.
You can purchase a water jug in a variety of different sizes, but the most common size is 5 gallons. These containers can be quite heavy when they are full, so it's worth making sure the container has a sturdy carrying handle. Smaller containers such as Nalgene bottles are also a good choice.
How We Chose Our Ratings
When looking at water jugs, we gathered information from a variety of sources and cross-referenced the data with real customer reviews and testimonials. Our ratings also take into account the reputation of the brand selling the product, and the feedback from buyers who have used it in real-life scenarios.
It is worth noting that many water containers suitable for emergency purposes are also used for other activities such as camping, but the reverse may not be true. Although many of the vessels on our list are multi-purpose, our ratings are based on how they perform in an emergency situation and the feedback from buyers that have used it in that scenario.
Top 7 Best Water Jugs for Emergency Survival
The best water jug for a survival or emergency scenario will be made from sturdy materials and be easy to use in less than ideal circumstances. Water containers should be able to hold water for several months at a time and should also come with features that allow the water to quickly be removed from the container for use when and where it is needed.
Our recommendations feature various sizes of water containers, and also different features and designs that make them ideal for different applications. Some water containers can also be used for leisure activities such as camping, while others are more adept for long-term water storage and use in emergency situations.
Samson Stackers, 5 Gallon, 8 Pack
- PORTABLE: Drums are great but you can't take them with you. Compact storage in handy 5-gallon units. Garage to pickup to...
- STACKABLE: Geometry on the top of each container aligns with contours on the bottom for convenient stacking (ref...
- SAFE: High Density PolyEthylene (HDPE) is a preferred polymer. HDPE is not a candidate for BPA, a reassurance for those...
This six pack of water containers from Samson are designed to stack easily, even when full, and are suitable for emergency water storage, camping, and other outdoor activities. The contoured ridges at the top of each container correspond to indentations in the bottom of the vessels which ensure convenient and safe stacking.
The containers are made from food-grade HDPE polymer which is a kind of plastic compliant with FDA "food grade" standards. The material is sourced from the USA and is completely BPA free. These stacking containers also feature a dust plug that is factory installed, a gasket cap that is reusable, and a tamper evidence lock ring.
The caps can easily be replaced with your choice of a spigot, and each kit includes one spigot and one wrench for use in fitting the caps onto the containers. The containers are industrial grade and are sturdy enough to ship when full.
Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Water Container
- 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 storage and transport
- New and improved screw-on vent; hideaway spigot for on-demand water dispensing
The Aqua-Tainer is a large cube-shaped water container made from rigid plastic that is BPA free. This container features an improved vent design and a spigot that hides away when not in use.
This container can be used for both emergency water storage and other outdoor activities such as camping, picnics, and hunting. It comes with a 5-year warranty and features a sturdy contoured handle for easy carrying.
This container measures 15.75 inches high by 11 inches wide, and 11 inches deep and is both recyclable and stackable when empty. Users report the size of this container being about as large as an individual would want to carry, and that their water did not leach any flavors from the plastic as with other vessels.
WaterBrick Stackable Water and Food Storage Container
- 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 dry
The WaterBrick container is a unique stacking container that is suitable for both emergency water and food storage. It can hold 3.5 gallons of liquid or up to 27 pounds of dry food. The containers measure in at 18 inches long, 9 inches wide, and 6 inches deep, which makes them a manageable size for one person to move on their own.
The containers are made in the USA from polyethylene, metal, and plastic which is BPA free. Their unique design makes them able to lock together when stacked, so they are secure and make the most of limited storage space. The comfortable handle also helps make the container easy to secure in boats, ATVs or cars.
The one thing that users note is missing from these containers is a spigot which would help with getting the water out of the container. The handles on these containers are well received, and the positioning of them makes it easy to both carry and maneuver the containers around into various locations.
Coleman Jug with Water Carrier, 5 Gallons
This water container is the more traditional design that many have come to expect, and the Coleman brand which many justifiably trust. The container is manufactured in the US from high-quality polyethylene material that is both scratch resistant and impact resistant.
The design features a contoured handle with a comfortable grip for carrying and an adjustable spigot that doesn't require you to tip the container for the contents to flow out. The drip-resistant spigot is also part of a leak resistant lid that easily screws on.
This container is very durable and is excellent for a variety of activities including boating, camping, hunting, and outdoor events. It is also an excellent choice for storing emergency water and other liquids.
Reliance Rhino Pak 5.5 Gallon Water Storage Container
The Rhino Pak is a heavy-duty water container that is shaped similarly to a large gas can. It features an incredibly thick and durable plastic exterior and a premium pour-style spigot. The design of the side panels allows for multiple containers to be stacked on their sides and lock together for a secure fit.
These containers measure 14.75 inches long, 6.25 inches wide, and 19 inches high. Each container weighs 2.87 pounds. To get the water out of this container you have to lift the container and pour it out which is aided by the use of the included premium vent cap.
This container is not for those who want to avoid lifting heavy containers of water. Each time you want to extract the water, you'll need to tip it over or lift the container to pour it out. This container is excellent for emergency water storage but may not be practical for activities such as camping or boating.
Boli 10 Liters Collapsible Water Container
- Approx.10 Litres Collapsible Folding Water Container,Convenient, durable, reusable, space saving, and non-toxick.
- Made of clear non-toxic plastic.Large spout for easy filling and pouring.Constructed to hold both saltwater or...
- Food Grade- BPA FREE
On the smaller end of water containers for emergency survival is the Boli collapsible water tank that can hold a total of 10 liters. This water container is durable, reusable, made from non-toxic BPA free plastic. The container features a large spout so that it can be quickly filled, and a handle that makes it easy to carry.
This container is designed to hold a variety of different liquids including both fresh and saltwater. The leak-proof cap screws on and when not in use the container can be air-dried and folded flat. At 3.52 ounces, this container is lightweight, and users report being able to hang it from the handle even when full.
Coleman Water Carrier, 5-Gallon
- Folds flat for compact storage and transport (hook and rope included)
- Heavy-duty polyethylene carrier resists dents and cracks
- On/off spigot removes easily for quick refilling
The Coleman Water Carrier can hold a respectable 5 gallons of water but can also fold flat for storage and transportation when empty. The container is made from 50% EVA, and 50% polyethylene which is fully FDA compliant.
The opening of this container is large enough to accommodate ice cubes which makes it an excellent choice for leisure activities where beverages are needed. The heavy-duty plastic that makes up this container is also resistant to cracks and dents with prolonged or rough use.
The container features a water spigot that can easily be removed, and it comes with both a hook and rope for use during transport or for securing it when full. This container would be great for storing emergency water, camping, RVing, hunting, fishing, and outdoor events.
How much food, water, and other emergency supplies you should keep on hand will vary depending on the source of information, but generally speaking it's a good idea to have at least three days of food and water tucked away for emergencies.
Food and water will both need to be replenished on a recurring schedule to make sure that the water is drinkable, and the food items remain safe to eat. Different organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all have emergency supply checklists available.
The problem with these checklists is that they can be lengthy and are frequently intimidating to those just looking to have simple supplies on hand. When searching for the best water jug for your emergency kit, you'll want to keep the following in mind:
Many collapsible water containers will not be sufficiently durable for a survival situation where rugged and unpredictable use will be involved. While the materials that are used to build these containers are consistently improving, a rigid container is made from a thicker material that will better meet your needs.
You’ll also want to make sure that other components such as the spigot, and caps are made from a thick plastic material that is unlikely to break. Check to make sure all of these areas are well sealed and do not leak water on a regular basis.
The minimum requirements for water are about one gallon per person for three days, but this is likely not going to feel like enough. Its recommended you keep more on hand, particularly if there are small children, elderly family members, or anyone with a health condition or who needs to have water to take medication.
It's never a bad idea to have a little bit more water than you think that you need. Also, remember that it's a good idea to rotate your water stores and have some kind of purification method on hand. Water may eventually taste stale, but it doesn’t expire and can technically be stored indefinitely.
Ease of Use
If you are looking to store a more substantial amount of water, 5-gallon containers are a manageable size, and many can easily stack for more compact storage. If you are looking for smaller containers to avoid lifting massive jugs of water, you can also use reusable water bottles such as Nalgene bottles.
Large barrels of water may seem like a good idea, but they are incredibly heavy when full and can make moving water from one location to another almost impossible. You’ll also want to make sure that you have some way to purify the water should the one barrel become contaminated.
Smaller bottles are more comfortable to move, and it's easier to ration out water over a period to keep track of your supply. Smaller bottles or containers can also hold other food items such as dry goods, or other liquids, in reasonable sized quantities.