Best plastic storage containers heavy duty

Storage Containers for Emergency Preparedness

Best plastic storage containers heavy duty

Storage Containers go hand in hand with emergency preparedness. Preppers collect all sorts of survival gear and survival food, and they (we) need storage solutions. Storage containers fulfill that need!

We use all of these:

70 Quart Ultra Latch by Sterlite
30 Quart Ultra Latch by Sterlite
18 Quart Ultra Latch by Sterlite

Why? They’re heavy duty compared to many others. They’ve held up well over the years!

I have settled upon a variety of methods for storage of extra food and survival supplies. For the most part, we use plastic storage containers of one size or another.

Some containers are see-through while others are opaque. Some are large 70-quart containers while others are small 18-quart containers.

We also use lots of smaller storage containers for day-to-day use of various foods so that we can keep them air-tight and fresh. Rubbermaid makes lots of these.

Look for heavy-duty plastic. That means plastic that is thick compared to the cheap ones. The thin, soft, pliable plastic will not support much weight when stacked on top of each-other, especially if they contain canned foods and other heavy items. Thin plastic will deteriorate quicker and will become brittle over time, especially when cold.

Containers with flip-over latches that snap over on top of the cover (see picture). Many containers do not have this style latch and the covers will annoyingly fall off when handled or twisted in any way.


Storage containers that are rugged enough to stack well (up to a point). The cover needs a unique design to not only hold the container above it, but also to secure it if the stack is jostled or tipped. Some styles are better than others in this area.

Whether or not to use see-through containers (or opaque – non-see-through). For much of our food storage and gear, we now use see-through because it just makes it so much quicker and easier to know what’s inside when we’re looking for something. Some may wish to use only opaque (out-of-sight, out-of-mind), but you should think that through… You may realize that the advantages of see-through outweigh the desire for privacy.

Another advantage of storage containers over other methods, including shelving, etc. is that it makes for easy and quick mobility. You can easily move your ‘stuff’ or rearrange it. Moving or packing individual items on shelves is tedious at best.

So, in summary, when considering storage solutions, give some thought to the the notion of storage containers for your food storage, survival gear, or other emergency supplies.


  1. Go to the Walmart Bakery section and buy Food Grade 5 gal buckets, lids have rubber gasket seal, for $1 each. I purchased 30 last month great!!!

  2. large clear plastic jars of nuts or other edibles work fine for storing other products like noodles or beans once the original product is consumed. I use our large rubbermaid coolers for storing dry goods when they are not in use. The coolers are BPA free and keep out bugs and rodents. No use having something sitting around empty.

  3. Beware of light damage when using transparent containers – many food items deteriorate when exposed to light. These items must be in light-proof containers.

    Also be aware that UV damage from sunlight can damage the containers themselves. I had the misfortune of moving some containers of gardening equipment from my shed which had had a section of roof ripped off in a storm last year and we had not got round to replacing. (Hence emptying the shed so we could replace it). Many of the plastic containers, plastic bags, and even plastic flower pots, crumbled in my hands!

    Admittedly UV levels in the US are nowhere near those here in New Zealand, but if your storage areas have windows, be aware of the potential for light damage.

    1. This exact thing happened to me as well. I had been keeping a few plastic storage containers outside which held some outdoor related items, and when we recently moved, these few containers cracked into pieces when I stressed them. They happened to be a few of my ‘cheaper’ bins which were thinner than the heavy-duty variety.

      1. In New Zealand we get great quality 20/40 liter plastic rectangular Fish bins. Some are available with lids but not air tight. Great for storing odd shaped items as they are stackable and U.V. proof. Pretty sure they are available world wide. NOT cheap, but they have to be strong for intended purpose.You can even 1/2 fill them and have a spritz bath if desperate.
        Peace and Love..

  4. I have found the one brand I will no purchase in larger sizes is Sterlite. I purchased many to store fabric and craft iTMS an found that there lids do not hole up. Some have just fallen apart while in storage. I have never had this problem with Rubbermaid. Rubbermaid makes great glass containers too.
    I have no association with either mop any except as a consumer

    1. @Karen604, I too have had some problems with the cheaper models of many brands, but I have had great success with the heavy-duty series Sterlite (the one’s with the white covers and titanium-gray colored flip-over handles). Rubbermaid makes good products – I agree.

    2. Karen604, you are right about Rubbermaid. My cattle water trough is made by Rubbermaid, it has held up well against freezing winters, hot summers, and rowdy cows.

  5. Plastic containers may be expensive but they do last long. It’s also water proof (accidental splashes and alike but not submerging) and locks moisture out. Definitely more durable and can be stacked with no problem unlike cardboard. A good thought would be making sure you buy ones which are made from recycled plastic

  6. Ken, I have noticed that on some boxes with the flip style handle locks, you can drill a 5mm hole through them and the actual container and put a ‘zip tie’ through it to ensure that the contents are secure and aren’t tampered with…

    I’ve done this with some of those resealable zip ties, which have a little tab on the inner tongue that lets you open a zip tie and then reseal it when done. Most people dont know that its a resealable zippie, so you will know if its been tampered / replaced when cut.

  7. The plastic containers sound fine, but won’t they get crushed in an earthquake? What do you recommend for that? Will an army locker be strong enough?

    1. @ confused
      They’ll only break if something lands on them. Not being faceitous just pointing out that unless you have a bomb-proof, earthquake-proof, fire-proof, 100% water tight storage unit buried underground (the recent tornado in Oklahoma showed that if you get a direct hit then there is nothing much left above ground) then you’re not going to be able to guarantee anything. i.e. few (affordable) things are guaranteed to be strong enough to withstand anything that may be thrown at them – and if you do have something, then that’s where I suggest you place yourself as this is assuming YOU survive whatever it is that has razed your home to the ground with such ferocity that it has destroyed everything other than your super-reinforced storage area. And that your underground storage isn’t sitting under 10 feet of water/rubble so you can’t get to it anyway.

      So it’s best to accept that you may lose at least some of your stores and plan accordingly: keep your stores in different places, inside different things, above ground, below ground, very high up above likely flood levels. etc. If you live in an earthquake area (I don’t so can’t really comment) then you should know as a matter of survival where the most likely crush resistant places are in your home. If you don’t then find out. Also find out what your local government recommends as being suitable crush resistant frames/cages. Note the word “resistant” not “guaranteed” – just get the best you can afford (don’t bankrupt yourself) and keep stuff in different places, you’d have to be very unlucky to have all your storage areas hit.

      Thinking about a likely earthquake scenario (I don’t live in such a place so am only speculating) your biggest threat will be heavy stuff falling, so you’re probably looking at a re-enforced cage over the top and on two sides (to support the re-enforced top and make sure it stays up and square-ish). I’d not have anything that encloses completely or with doors as even re-enforced metal frames will bend a little and you may end up being unable to open the doors to get access to your food! That would be a cruel irony! I seem to recall seeing an article about fire stations having their doors open automatically when an earthquake alarm goes off as they discovered that if the quake distorts the doorway they can’t open the doors and the fire trucks are stuck inside and totally useless…

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