Homesteading Survival Water

Simple & Cheap Water Storage

Buying containers for water storage should not break the bank and should also not clutter your home.  The key to water storage is laying out a simple plan based on your needs, and then proceed to finding the right container at the right price.  In this article, I’ll explain a simple plan for water storage, and some cheap ways of obtaining containers.  The three categories we’ll be looking at are:

  1. Portable Water Carry (on your person)
  2. Mobile/Vehicle Water Carry
  3. Home storage

Portable Water Carry (on your person)

Aside from general water bottles or Nalgene containers, there are two other containers that might be of use for on foot water carry.

  • For large volume (>500ml) and comfortable carry, a camelbak or other water reservoir is your best friend.  Remember, you can purchase the reservoir separate from the back pack and simply stuff it in your existing bag.
  • Water will be on of the heaviest items on your person when you are hiking by foot.  As such, weight is a limiting factor during travel.  However, that should not stop you from having containers on hand when you are not traveling (e.g. – setting up camp).  Platypus containers are roll-able (and highly durable) and lightweight containers.  You can stuff multiple containers in your bag and deploy them when you set up camp.


Mobile Vehicle (or home)

I’ve heard (and seen) many individuals prepare by buying 24-48 packs of 8 oz water bottles.  While this is not necessarily bad, it’s not ideal in terms of portability or cost.  Instead, buy yourself some 5 gallon jugs of water that are normally used for water dispensers.  In fact, places like Krogers have stations that allow you to use the same jug and refill them on the cheap.  If you are in a bug out scenario, it’s much easier to grab one handle and run rather than have a bulk cardboard case of bottles which will rip and fall out all over the place.



Home Storage

While a cistern is ideal in terms of bulk storage, most Americans do not have the land or funds to support such a project.  Some cheap alternatives are as follows:

  • A Water BOB is a plastic reservoir that conforms to the size of your bathtub.  In an absolute emergency, you can put this in the bath tub and fill up with water.  The water will stay segregated from the bath surfaces, so you do not need to worry about sanitary issues.  This is a good backup option for apartments.


  • 50 gallon barrels are common place for water storage.  However, if you look online, they run for about $70-90.  Instead, look on Craigslist for these barrels for about $15-40.  However, you need to ensure you are purchasing the right kind of barrel.  It must be food grade.  Food grade barrels are typically blue or white.  Black barrels are typically used for chemicals.  After you’ve determined that it is food grade, you should ensure that the barrel is still labeled with its previous contents.  Depending on what was stored in it depends on whether you should store potable water.  Some of the best barrels are those that are food grade and have been used to store dry food.  Even better, ones that store dry food and had a liner in place while they were used.  After you’ve filled up your barrel, about 2.5 tablespoons of bleach will keep the water sanitary.


  • Even cheaper than a 55 gallon barrel, do a craigslist search for 275 gallon water tote.  The same principles apply as with barrels.  Make sure they are food grade and that you have labeling or other confirmation of what was in it.  These run around $120 to 180 and are the best above ground storage for water if you have the space.

275 GAL Tote Med


As a final note, if you are using the water barrels or totes outside for rain catchment, you will need to drain them before winter comes.  This is the nice thing about a cistern that is below the frost line – no drainage required.

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