Emergency Water Container: The WaterBob

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We’ve written several articles on water storage. Read about water storage in a suburban setting here, and read about the WaterBrick here. So needless to say water storage is on our radar and an important part of our preps. Last week we came across the waterBob, a product we’ve heard a lot about, at a local store so we thought we’d give it try. (During natural disasters, Amazon tends to sell out of these, so you may have to check different links to find one)

Emergency Water Container: The WaterBob

During a hurricane or tropical storm, water main breaks and storms surges can interrupt or even contaminate the public water supply. I’m sure you’ve seen the news footage of people emptying store shelves of bottled water in the days leading up to a storm. Today we review a device that will give you a pure water supply during emergency situations.

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The waterBOB is a basically heavy-duty food grade plastic bag that can hold up to 100 gallons of water. You fill it in your bathtub before an emergency strikes, and can then pump out the water as you need it. Sure, you could just fill your tub without the waterBOB, but then your drinking water becomes loaded with soap scum and whatever else might be in your tub! According to the manufacturer, water inside the waterBOB will stay fresh for up to 16 weeks, depending on temperature and humidity.

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To use the waterBOB, you unroll it and place it in the bottom of your bathtub with the nozzles near the faucet end. The waterBOB is designed to be used in a standard sized bathtub; I’m not sure how it would work in a larger oval “garden” style tub, or if your water faucet is more towards the middle of the tub.

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Next, you’ll screw the fill sock onto the water bladder.

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Then place the open end over your water faucet. The instructions then say to hold it firmly in place with your hand while you slowly turn the water on, but I found this difficult – it takes a while to fill the waterBOB, and it’s hard to keep a tight seal around the faucet to prevent water leaking out.

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Instead, I used a small bungee cord to seal the sock to the faucet.

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Here’s a side view of my bungee cord set-up.

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The waterBOB needs to be filled with cold water, and will take anywhere from 20 – 60 minutes to fill. Our tub is designed with a single handle, so in order to keep the water from getting warm we had to leave it at a slow trickle. As the bladder starts to fill you’ll want to make sure it’s expanding properly inside your tub; you may need to adjust it a bit before it gets too full and too heavy. This is another reason for not holding the sock onto the nozzle yourself. Turn the water off when the water is just slightly below the top edge of your tub. We had a few wrinkles left in the top of the bladder since we don’t have an extra-large tub; if I did the math right we wound up with about 60 gallons of water.

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Once the bladder is full, you replace the sock with a cap, and keep the waterBOB sealed until you need it. When you’re ready for water, remove the center cap and screw in the siphon pump. This works like siphoning water out of a fish tank – you squeeze the bulb, and water starts to flow. As long as the output end of the hose is lower than the input, water will continue to flow.

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You stop the flow of water by loosening a vent cap on the top of the pump, allowing air into the system and breaking the syphon.

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Pumping the water was where we had the most problems with the waterBOB. The hose is in two pieces, joined where it screws into the bladder. The first time we tried to pump, the end of the hose that is inside the bladder popped off and was floating around inside the bladder. It took several minutes trying to reach through the small opening to retrieve it. We eventually were able to reconnect it and get the water flowing, but it was difficult to maintain a constant flow – air kept getting into the line and breaking the siphon. It wasn’t terribly hard to get it going again though, and we were able to fill a water pitcher in under a minute.

Unfortunately, the waterBOB is designed for a single use. There’s just no way to get the last trickles of water out, so if you stored it after using it, you’d run the risk of bacteria growth. The manufacturer just slitting the side to let the remaining water drain out.

So, would we use the waterBOB? For us, the answer is probably no, but we’re not the target audience. We have a pair of 55-gallon drums that we keep filled, several WaterBricks, and various filter systems. We don’t live in an area that’s subject to hurricanes or tropical storms, so if we were to experience an interruption in our water flow, I think we’d have much less advance notice – the water would probably go out before we had a chance to fill the waterBOB.

However, for folks who do live in areas likely to be hit by a storm, I think this is a great idea. The unfilled waterBOB takes up about the same amount of space as a loaf of bread, so it’s easier to stash away than a big drum of water. This would be a great gift for someone who thinks storing 55-gallon drums of water is a bit crazy; at least they would have something. It’s a lot less intimidating too, it’s akin to gifting a fire extinguisher to a friend.

  • Misty says:

    Thanks for the honest review. I’ve heard good things about this, but kinda wondered if it was really the right fit for our family. But I think you are right. It isn’t, but only b/c we aren’t the target audience either. Pinned this!

  • Mike the Gardener says:

    I own one of these … although I have not had to use it. I won it in an online contest. I understand that they can only be used once, which is why I did not want to open it up and see if it works.

    Nice tip on the bungy cord. I was thinking of an adjustable clamp, but that may cause a tear. A bungy cord is a much better solution.

    I have read elsewhere similar reviews on the pump. This leads me to believe I would be better off with a 3rd party pump that works much better.

    I believe the retail price on this item is $20 to $30 (last I checked), so it’s not a bad deal to get 60 gallons of water for emergency purposes. It will be worth its weight in gold if, God forbid, you ever need it.

    Thanks for the review! Well done!

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