How to Store Emergency Water in Your Car | Build a Stash

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Key Takeaways

  • To store emergency water in your car, use water pouches, water containers, boxed water, canned water, stainless steel water containers, water bladders, plastic water bottles, or reusable water bottles.
  • Be mindful of freezing temperatures, rotate your supply every 6 to 12 months, avoid single-use plastics, and use durable containers.
  • As a backup plan, keep a form of water purification in your vehicle at all times.

Roadside emergencies happen when we least expect them, which is why preppers like to keep a supply of water in their cars at all times.

To store emergency water in your car, use water pouches, water containers, boxed water, canned water, stainless steel containers, water bladders, plastic water bottles, or reusable water bottles. Be mindful of freezing temperatures, choose durable containers, and avoid single-use plastics.

After extensively researching food storage techniques and survival preparation, I have gathered enough information to determine how to store emergency water in a car. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the most effective storage methods for keeping water in your vehicle for emergency use.

Table of contents


How to Store Emergency Water in Your Car

Whether you are creating a sophisticated food storage system, or simply like the idea of being prepared for roadside emergencies, having a reasonable supply of water in your vehicle at all times is a great way to be prepared for unexpected events.

You never know when your next breakdown is going to be, but you can be prepared for it when it does. There are plenty of items that you should include in your emergency roadside kit, with water being a top priority.

However, storing water isn’t always as simple as it seems. You need to consider the types of water containers that you want to keep in your vehicle. Some storage options are great for quick, affordable solutions, whereas others will be much more reliable in the long term.

In addition, you also want to keep the climate and external environment in mind. Hot and cold temperatures can affect the condition of your containers, and they can even interfere with your ability to drink the water you have stored, especially when temperatures drop below freezing. Let’s dive into the best ways to store emergency water in your car.

1. Water Pouches

Water Pouches
Water Pouches

Water pouches have become increasingly popular around the globe. They are considered to be one of the most reliable options for safely transporting and storing emergency water, which is why they are often used for humanitarian aid.

Keeping a stock of water pouches in your vehicle will ensure that you have water in your car when you need it the most. Water pouches are inexpensive and are designed to withstand a decent amount of impact before rupturing.

One of the best things about storing water pouches is that you can create a system based on the amount of water that you want to store in your vehicle. Since they are individually packaged, this makes storing and consuming water very convenient during an emergency.

So long as you keep the pouches away from sharp and jagged objects, you do not need to worry about leaks. Although water pouches will freeze during extremely cold temperatures, they are quite easy to defrost given that they are individually packaged.

Pros Cons
Affordable Easily damaged
Easy to thaw (when frozen)

2. Water Containers

Water Containers
Water Containers

Water canisters are a classic solution for storing emergency water, and they are as reliable now as ever. The best thing about water containers is that you can keep a large quantity of water in your car at all times.

Keeping one or two 5-gallon water containers in your car will set you up for virtually any short-term emergency. You need to consider the type of containers carefully, as there are a lot of different options out there.

Collapsible Water Containers

If you want a quick and easy solution for your water storage needs, buying a collapsible container is going to be your best bet.

These containers are designed for outdoor camping trips and emergencies. The key selling point of this storage method is that the container is lightweight and can collapse on itself once the water is finished.

This makes storing and reusing the container very convenient, given that the material is soft enough to be folded. Keeping a couple of these containers in your car will give you at least 10 gallons during an emergency.

However, one of the biggest drawbacks of collapsible water containers is that they are not very durable. For light impacts, you should not run into any issues. On the other hand, if the container makes contact with a sharp object, this could cause it to burst, resulting in a massive 5-gallon leak in your trunk.

Pros Cons
Affordable Easily damaged
Collapsible Plastic taste

Durable Water Containers

When dealing with emergency supplies, you want to ensure that you can count on them when you need them the most. If the container that you choose is likely to break, you may want to consider something more heavy-duty.

A durable water canister that was designed to withstand impact will guarantee that you have water during an emergency. Products such as the Scepter 05177 are military-grade and are designed to take a beating.

You never need to worry about your container breaking or bursting, regardless of what it comes in contact with. The only real downside to using this type of storage method for your emergency water is that the container is a bit heavy and may be more challenging to maneuver.

Pros Cons
Durability Weight
No plastic taste

Boxed Water

Boxed Water
Boxed Water

Boxed water is becoming a more popular water storage method among preppers and survivalists. Unlike other single-use containers such as plastic water bottles, boxed containers do not carry any harmful chemicals and toxins such as BPA.

You can safely store boxed water in your trunk for months or even years without worrying about the water becoming contaminated in any way. In fact, many responsible brands are hopping on the boxed water trend and designing containers from eco-friendly materials.

A plant-based box ensures that you are not harming the environment with your emergency storage supplies, and many products are made with recycled materials. With that said, boxed water is not the most reliable option if you want a durable solution.

Unlike stainless steel and quality plastic, boxed containers can easily rupture from even minor impact. You need to consider your storage method carefully if you are planning on keeping boxed water in your car.

Pros Cons
No chemicals (BPA-free) Easily damaged
Environmentally-friendly materials

Canned Water

Canned Water
Canned Water

If you are looking for durability and convenience in one package, you should consider storing canned emergency water in your vehicle. Cans are great for keeping water in your car given that they are made out of aluminum and can withstand most types of impact that you would encounter on the road.

Buying a 24-pack of canned emergency water will give you plenty for most emergencies. They are incredibly easy to store and they should not take up too much room in your trunk if you box them up.

I find this is a particularly reliable storage method for preserving the taste of water. Unlike a lot of plastic containers which tend to add an unpleasant aftertaste over time, cans will ensure that the water is unaltered.

In addition, aluminum cans are BPA-free and do not contain any other harmful chemicals, so you can safely store water in your car for months or years without worrying about any potential health risks.

Pros Cons
Durable Single-use
No plastic taste

Stainless Steel Water Containers

Stainless Steel Water Containers
Stainless Steel Water Containers

Reusable water bottles have become very popular. They limit the amount of waste caused by single-use plastics and they are much more durable as well.

Stainless steel water canisters are particularly popular among preppers given how reliable they are for storage. You never need to worry about spills, leaks, or foul tastes entering the water like you would with plastic containers.

There are a lot of great stainless steel water canisters on the market, but I would highly recommend opting for a bottle that is vacuum insulated. If you live in a region with excessively cold temperatures, you need to consider that your water may freeze in these conditions.

A vacuum-insulated bottle may not completely prevent your water from freezing but it will certainly mitigate the effects of cold temperatures. That said, if you know for certain that your car will remain in a mild climate, then most stainless steel containers will suffice.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you want a quality stainless steel container that will not leak. It’s quite common for cheap stainless steel bottles to leak around the lid or for seals to deteriorate over time. Go with a reputable brand or a quality design, as this will ensure that your emergency water is secured indefinitely.

Pros Cons
Durable Expensive
Resistant to freezing temperatures

Water Bladders

Water Bladders
Water Bladders

Many hikers and backpackers can’t go anywhere without their bladders. These are essentially reusable water pouches that are convenient for storing water on camping and hiking trips.

While they were initially intended for outdoor activities, many preppers have been incorporating them as part of their survival strategy. You can buy a quality bladder which usually holds around 1 gallon of water.

Water bladders are designed with a hose and mouthpiece, making them very easy to drink from. While the materials used in these products are quite tough, they are by no means puncture-proof, so store them carefully.

One of the biggest drawbacks to backpacking bladders is that they do not always hold enough water to make them reliable for legitimate emergencies. There are plenty of bladder-design water containers that hold upwards of 50 to 100+ gallons, but these are intended for home use.

If you want to keep more emergency water in your car than just a gallon or two, you should consider a 32-gallon bladder, as this should be plenty for most roadside emergencies.

Pros Cons
Foldable container (when empty) Easily damaged

Plastic Water Bottles (Single-Use)

When all else fails, plastic water bottles are always there for you. Sure, they are bad for the environment, and yes, they are not always BPA-free, but they do work. At the end of the day, it's better to have some form of water during an emergency than to be stranded with nothing.

Buying a pack of bottled water is straightforward and affordable. You can find them at any grocery store or convenience store, making this the go-to option for anyone looking for a quick solution.

However, keep in mind that single-use plastic bottles may not be very reliable if you want to store water long-term. Hot temperatures can have a negative effect on cheap plastic materials causing them to leach harmful chemicals into the water. This will affect the taste of the water, and potentially even your health.

Pros Cons
Affordable Contain BPA
Convenient Easily damaged

Reusable Plastic Water Bottles

Reusable Plastic Water Bottles
Reusable Plastic Water Bottles

If you want to use plastic water bottles that are more sustainable and reliable, I recommend going with a quality reusable plastic water bottle like a Nalgene. Reputable brands like Nalgene use BPA-free plastic when designing their bottles and they can last a lifetime.

The plastic material is incredibly durable, and it can withstand a considerable amount of abuse before breaking or showing any signs of wear. Although these water bottles are more expensive, they are designed for longevity, so you can count on them for years, or even decades.

Pros Cons
Durable None
BPA-free containers

Tips for Storing Emergency Water in Your Car

It can be very hard to predict the next emergency, but you can always be prepared for it by having adequate emergency supplies handy in your car. Surprisingly, drinking water is one of the things that many people forget when creating an emergency system in their vehicles.

A basic water supply is necessary for any emergency, which is why preppers and survivalists tend to keep this as a top priority item. Choosing the right containers for your car storage is essential to ensure that your drinking water is there when you need it.

With that said, I recommend taking some additional steps to guarantee that your water supply is secure during an emergency. Keep the following tips in mind for storing emergency water in your car.

1. Be Mindful of Freezing Temperatures

Cold climates can be a major issue for storing water in your car. If you live in a region with extreme winters, you can expect your emergency water supply to be frozen when you go to use it.

While you cannot control the outside temperature, frozen water can be avoided if you place your water in an insulated cooler in your trunk. Alternatively, a water container that is insulated will also be much less likely to freeze in the winter.

2. Avoid Single-Use Plastics

Single-use plastics are convenient, but they are made with dangerous chemicals that can have damaging effects on your health. If you place a plastic bottle in direct sunlight or store it in very hot climates, the container will leach chemicals into the water.

I recommend using non-plastic containers or buying BPA-free plastic bottles that will not pose any potential health risks.

3. Use Durable Containers

Durability is an important factor to keep in mind when storing water in your car. Your emergency water supply is not going to be of much use to you if the containers break easily.

While some peppers may recommend using glass containers/bottles for storing water, these are incredibly fragile and will likely get damaged in your car, resulting in the container breaking and water spilling all over your trunk.

Durable containers such as stainless steel and hard plastics will last much longer and can withstand impact. If you decide to go with a more fragile container such as boxed water, storing the water in an insulated cooler will prevent potential wear and tear.

4. Rotate Water Supply

Although water technically has an indefinite shelf-life, you should still rotate your water supply every 6 to 12 months. Over time the taste of water can become less pleasant to drink and cheap containers will leach harmful chemicals into the water.

5. Water Purification

Given how unpredictable emergencies can be, it never hurts to be extra prepared for them when they happen. If you are in a seriously dangerous situation that requires you to use all of your car’s water supply, it would be wise to have a backup plan.

Most people will resort to finding a nearby water source. However, you need to be careful when consuming water from unknown sources as it could be dangerous to drink. Keeping a form of water purification in your car will ensure that you can always safely consume water during an emergency.