Best Emergency Water Pouches and Bagged Water

by Tommy Grant

You need to stay hydrated and there is nothing that will keep you there on the go quite as effectively as bagged water. Sure, you might have a Camelbak, stainless bottle, or other containers- but you can’t fill those up and let them sit for years until you need them. Bagged water provides fast, mobile hydration in small convenient amounts. The best emergency water pouches do all of this and take whatever you dish out at them- including extreme temperatures. There are several options to consider when it comes to bagged water: pouch material, size, quality, etc.

This is where we come in. We’ve researched the best water pouches, tested each of them, and now the results are in: the overall best, a budget option, and an upgrade option. If you need fast water that will keep you hydrated in a survival situation, one of our picks will keep you going.

Contents (Jump to a Section)

The Best Emergency Water Pouches

Datrex Emergency Drinking Water

Inexpensive, Durable, and Proven

A long-time player in water pouches takes the top spot with an affordable cost and durable pouch.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Datrex has been doing this emergency water and emergency food thing here for a while. It shows in that they have an affordable cost, but can still hit good temperature ranges. If you are looking to store these in a mobile kit (which is what emergency drinking water pouches are designed for), then these pouches are the best option. Here are the specs that set it apart:

  • 64 pouches
  • 4″ x 6″ (10 x 15 cm)
  • 0.3 lbs, 4.227 fl oz., 125 ml
  • 0 F to 210 F tolerance (-18 C to 99 C)
  • 5-year proven shelf life
  • Notched foil pouch

With good temperature tolerance and a price that doesn’t break the bank, it’s easy to see how Datrex Emergency Drinking Water is the best choice out of all of the competition.

Budget Water Pouches

Mayday Emergency Drinking Water

Cheap, Simple, and Easy to Open

This cheap and effective bagged water is great for splitting up in communities and for those on a budget.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

The cost of these pouches is hard to miss, as they are easily the best deal available. They still have a 5-year shelf-life and have earned all of the accreditations most other pouches have earned, but cost at least half as much. The main limiting factor is their burst potential and temperature range. The weld on the pouch is thinner than other models, making these pouches not as tough and less durable through freezing, etc. We didn’t have any issues with them freezing during testing, but they do not advertise that they are meant for that temperature range.

If the limitations are not a worry for how you store pouches, then these are the best pickup. Even if you lose a few pouches, you have plenty of replacements at this cost. Here are the specs:

  • 100 pouches
  • 4″ x 6″ (10 x 15 cm)
  • 0.3 lbs, 4.225 fl oz., 125 ml
  • 40 F to 230 F tolerance (4 C to 110 C)
  • 5-year proven shelf life
  • Serrated top foil pouch

Pick up Mayday Emergency Drinking Water to keep hydration covered, and under budget.

Upgrade Water Pouches

72 Hrs Emergency Drinking Water

Tough, Burst-Proof, and High Quality

If you are looking for the best quality then you have found it with these ridiculously strong pouches.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Have you ever wanted to run over a water pouch with your car? Me neither, but with these, you can. I wouldn’t suggest it- but it does go to show just how durable these pouches are. If you want pouches that are sure to not leak, then these are the upgrade you have been looking for.

Here are the full specs:

  • 96 pouches
  • 3.15″ x 6.7″ (8 x 17 cm)
  • 0.3 lbs, 4.227 fl oz., 125 ml
  • -40 F to 210 F tolerance (-40 C to 99 C)
  • 5-year proven shelf life
  • Notched polymer-foil pouch

If you are looking for the best of the best, pick up 72 Hrs Emergency Drinking Water for your mobile survival kits.

Everything We Recommend

The Water Pouches We Compared

Our research narrowed the field down to the several pouches that we tested: Datrex, SOS, Mainstay, Mayday, 72 Hrs, and more.

You can see our full list of review criteria below in the What to Look For section, with an explanation for each.

We focused on water pouches and excluded bottles, cans, treatments, and refillable containers. Those have their own review roundups, and are great for serving similar purposes:

We’re always looking for new and better equipment, so if you have bagged water that you swear by let us know in the comments. We review most of our tested gear annually, so we can always get it in the next roundup round and see if it makes the cut and we can see if it will beat out our top picks.

What to Look For

The best emergency water pouches have several important features to look for:

  1. Value
  2. Pouch Material
  3. Size
  4. Weight
  5. Quality

When you get the right blend of these, you can find a reliable pouch that keeps you hydrated in a range of conditions. Below, we break down what each of these features means for the bagged water that set themselves apart.

Value: Cost vs. Benefit

The amount of money you spend on something like a few water pouches shouldn’t blow out your entire budget. Don’t go overspending or overdo it. Budget according to your risk and your needs rather than just spending lavishly.

On the flip side, you don’t want to go too cheap or just plain get the wrong thing. If the water pouch freezes and ruptures, it’s not going to do much good when you go to drink it.

You never want to spend too much money on one resource, especially something like water pouches. It’s better to diversify your preparedness gear to make sure you are covered for a wide range of scenarios. There is a sweet spot where you get high value with not too high of a price, which is where our top pick sits.

Pouch Material

Most water pouches (and most of the ones we suggest) are made out of foil or plastic and then filled with purified water.

The foil pouches do not stretch and also have less leaching than plastic pouches. This makes them ideal but can also make them more prone to leaking when freezing water expands inside of them. In other situations, the foil pouches can be much more durable against abrasions and unintentional tearing.


There are a few size options to consider with bagged water, but we focused on the pouches that hold a little over 4 ounces for a fair comparison. This size is extremely convenient for bug out bags, car kits, etc. Since they are single-use having larger sizes can be wasteful.

The pouches themselves can vary in size slightly as well by a few inches. Larger pouches with the same amount of water or more welding on the edges can fit into packs and kits better. They also have less burst pressure exerted on them since force is distributed over a larger area.


As we mentioned with the size, lower weight tends to be better for bagged water since it is single-use. Almost every pouch we considered and tested was 4.225 ounces of water, which is convenient for carrying, distributing, and monitoring rations.


Quality covers a wide range of water pouches. The quality of the water being bagged is important- any contaminants and germs could flourish at the right temperature, limiting its potential use.

The quality of the material and thickness affect the pouch’s durability.

Lastly, we found that the quality of the welds on the edges of the pouch has a huge effect on the durability.

How Long is Bagged Water Good For?

The length of time that bagged water will remain safe to drink will depend on a number of factors, including the quality of the water when it is packaged, the conditions in which it is stored, and the materials used to make the bag. In general, though, you should be able to safely drink bagged water that has been stored in a cool, dry place for up to 5 years. After that, it is best to discard the water and get a fresh supply.

Water itself does not go bad, but it can become contaminated over time by microorganisms or other substances that can make it unsafe to drink. For example, if the water was not properly treated or purified before it was packaged, or if the bag is not properly sealed or is made from materials that allow bacteria or other contaminants to enter, the water can become contaminated and pose a health risk if consumed. Additionally, if the water is stored in warm, damp conditions, this can also promote the growth of bacteria and other contaminants, which can make the water unsafe to drink.

This is why it is important to go with trusted producers that focus on quality since they will have less risk of contamination in the bagging process and use higher-quality pouch materials.

Who Needs Water Pouches?

Water pouches are a necessary resource in several kits. You will need water in every single survival situation, and pouches are a conveniently mobile solution.

We consider water pouches essential for your mobile kits:

They can be considered for:

You can always drink them if they are getting in the way, so it is very unlikely that you will regret adding pouches to your kit.

How We Review Products: We research thoroughly before selecting the best products to review. We consult experts in the field for a better understanding of what makes the gear great. Hours on end are spent field testing gear in stressful conditions. We assign performance criteria and impartially rate each tested item. You can support us through our independently chosen links, which can earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. After our review process, some of the items reviewed end up in our giveaways.

Sources and References

All of our experience and the testing we do to determine the best water pouches is useless without listing our research sources and references. We leaned on these for the book knowledge that we paired with our hands-on testing and practical military and prepping experience:

Driver, G. (1993). Evaluation of Pureau Water For Use as Emergency Drinking Water For ADF Aircraft. Materials Research Labs Ascot Vale (Australia). (Source)

Loo, S., et al. (2012). Emergency water supply: A review of potential technologies and selection criteria. Water Research. Volume 46. Issue 10. Pages 3125-3151. (Source)

Quinlan, S. (2005). Designing of a prototype heat-sealer to manufacture solar water sterilization pouches for use in developing nations. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering. (Source)

The Final Word

Water is foundational for survival, and a good on-the-go solution is important for mobile survival kits. There are a few options that can fit your specific needs, but be sure that you are packing enough. Our Water Storage Calculator is an invaluable tool that can help you plan this.

Here are a few related articles our readers have also found helpful:

We presented quite a lot of information, but as always: if you have any questions let us know and we would be happy to help. Our research and testing found the Datrex Emergency Drinking Water to be the best option given its value, pouch material, size, weight, and quality.

If you pick up one of our suggested water pouches- make sure you are familiar with its limitations and how many you need. You don’t want to encounter a disaster just to find out your pouches leaked, or that you didn’t pack enough of them.

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.

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