The Ideal Storage containers

Storage jars

image of Storage jars

Storage containers: We’re certain that the traditional Rubbermaid – Roughneck bin is still the greatest storage container after comparing seven other types of containers side by side and closely examining materials. Due to their durability, these polyethylene tubs won’t break when dropped or kept in a cold environment, unlike other bins. The Ziploc – Weathershield containers are water-tight, stackable, and allow you to view what’s inside if your demands are less demanding.

How did we choose?

Storage containers have been used by our test team to arrange almost every aspect of their diverse life, including their homes, farms, warehouses, and even their travels. Our testers have purchased a variety of storage container types and designs throughout the years for various uses. Some only lasted a year before breaking, while others dutifully served in storage sheds for decades.

At four separate locations, we thoroughly evaluated the materials and lids on every bin we could locate. We then compared our findings to internet evaluations from sites like Wirecutter, Art of Cleanliness, and Reddit.

The well-known classic

The majority of discussion board entries we examined concurred that the well-known original Rubbermaid – Roughneck containers are the gold standard for dependable and durable storage. They are composed of flexible, strong polyethylene.

The Roughneck’s drawback, which we noticed right away, is that many stores no longer have them on store shelves and now demand that you purchase sets of six or eight tubs in order to make the not-quite-free shipping acceptable.


One more reasonably priced polyethylene container that we discovered had some design compromises and greater in-store availability was the Sterilite – Ultra. Other knockoffs with construction more akin to Roughneck’s, but with the same availability problems and negative ratings, were disregarded.

We investigated sealed roto-molded containers from companies like Pelican and SKB, but the costs are prohibitive unless you often fly or carry delicate equipment. Although a nice idea, other large shipping containers suitable for freight are too pricey to store in a garage or a closet. To test just how much harder it is to explain the significant price increase over Roughneck bins, we did purchase a Rubbermaid – Brute commercial-grade container.

Important aspects to think about

Polyethylene vs. polypropylene as materials In contrast to stiff, inexpensive polypropylene (recycling group five), which is more flexible, low-density polyethylene (LDPE, stamped on the bottom, recycling group number four) won’t break as readily if you drop a loaded bin on the garage floor. Additionally, unlike polypropylene, it won’t crack or become brittle at cold temperatures.

Storage Jars:

Every substance has some benefits. Polypropylene may be manufactured transparent and is far more heat resistant than plastic, withstanding temperatures as high as boiling. LDPE is always more durable, although it dissolves in boiling water and becomes very soft over 110 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you would want to be extremely careful about how much weight you stack on an LDPE bin in a baking-hot attic. According to our testing, polypropylene bins fail in long-term storage significantly more frequently, particularly in cold areas.

Lids that latch – If you overfill your bin, a flip-up clasp will keep it closed, which is useful for storing items like puffy blankets and large sweaters. Latches are prone to popping out of the mounting holes if you exert too much force on them, too. Additionally, such holes represent a point of entrance for moisture and pests.

A watertight seal– With one exception, all of the lids we examined covered the edge of the bin, ensuring that rain won’t seep inside while rolling over the edge. This creates a watertight seal. A completely sealed lid (like our top option) can also keep out humidity, but if you don’t take care with what you place in the bin, moist objects will soon mildew.

Stackable patterns– Nearly every bin can be stacked on top of another, but certain designs allow you to carefully combine tiny and big bins to build a tower that won’t collapse over.

Single-size lids – Having containers with the same-sized apertures might be useful if you’re assembling a collection of storage containers to completely manage your life. This often implies that you may share lids between them and stack and nest containers of various sizes.

Roughneck Rubbermaid

Storage Jars:

Simply put, Rubbermaid – Roughneck bins are the greatest heavy-duty storage bins. They’re also great for closet storage needs that aren’t as demanding. The largest problem is reduced availability because it appears that most merchants are now stocking their shelves with products that will bring in more money. However, if you ask around, you might be able to get them at select Ace Hardware or True Value stores. You can still purchase them online in six- or eight-packs.

In many respects, roughneck totes are the industry standard. They are sturdy but affordable. They are available in sizes that are a good match for our preferred 18-inch garage shelf and totally seal against moisture and pests. They have been put to use by our tester for anything from sending medical supplies abroad to keeping livestock fed. (If you’re shipping them, just make sure to secure the lid by drilling holes and adding zip ties or binding wire, and place extra ties in the bin for inspection points.)

The following factors might increase the Roughneck’s adaptability: For some uses, tabs with locking holes might be useful, but the various sizes don’t fit together perfectly for wobble-proof stacking like others bins do.

The lids on Rubbermaid containers are almost too secure for their own good, which is their major flaw. To remove one side of the lid and compromise the tight seal, always takes a moment. That’s advantageous for long-term storage, but it might not be practical for many applications.

Ultra Tote by Sterilite

Storage Jars:

The Sterilite – Ultra Bag heavy-duty storage containers are the next-best option if you don’t want to purchase the Rubbermaid – Roughneck tote in a pack of six and you can’t find it locally.

In addition to being flexible and not becoming brittle in the cold as polypropylene does, the tub and lid of these Sterilite bins are similar to the traditional Roughneck bins in many other respects. We examined additional purportedly heavy-duty containers from shop names like Husky, Hefty, and Craftsman, and we were astounded by how frequently we even discovered shattered containers or lids on retail shelves.

The greatest difference between these bins and our top option, other than the thinner walls, is that the lids have locks. As a result, they are a little bit simpler to open and close (the Roughneck lids seal securely rather than latching), but if you overfill the bin, it’s frequently a point of failure. Furthermore, they aren’t as comfortable to carry because the latches are directly above the handle grips. The presence of latches also indicates the existence of holes beneath the handle, which might serve as a site of entrance for dampness and tiny insects.

ZIPLOC / IRIS USA – WeatherShield

Storage Jars:

You will have to settle for polypropylene if you want transparent storage containers. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still discover fantastic features: We put the IRIS USA/Ziploc – Weathershield containers through rigorous testing to see how well they kept moisture out. In contrast to the nearest rival, they also stack quite well and are offered in practical combination sets of various sizes.

A storage container with a latch is simpler to open and close than one with a tight-fitting cover. The latches are simple to remove, and you can easily take the top off the tub without having to pry at the edges and twist it until it pops off. That is perfect for a container that you will regularly open and close. The Ziploc containers feature more locks than the competitors; whether you value the added security or find it annoying is something to think about.

The transparent polypropylene utilized in these containers is too fragile if you need heavy-duty storage boxes for books or tools. If there are heavy objects pressing on the lid from the inside, the latches are also a weak spot. Although the WeatherShield design isn’t ideal for all uses, they are a nice option if you want to see what’s inside while keeping it dry.

Brut Rubbermaid

Storage Jars:

The Rubbermaid – Brute is a good option to consider if you believe you’d prefer something even more durable after seeing our #1 recommendation. These storage containers are almost probably excessive for whatever you’re putting on a shelf and are from the same line as the Brute garbage cans our contractor colleagues use for carrying tile and concrete waste. But there are occasions when excess is ideal.

This high-density polyethylene can withstand a wider temperature range than either LDPE or polypropylene, so it won’t droop in the heat of the summer or shatter in the winter. These have been used for years by friends when backcountry group is camping as dishwashing sinks.

The only true missing component for the Brute bins is a lock. The HDX – Tough Storage Tote is one polypropylene container that lacks this characteristic; nonetheless, drilling a hole in the handle won’t compromise the water-tight seal.

Gasket Box by Sterilite

The Sterilite – Gasket Box employs a foam seal within the lid, similar to the waterproof Ziploc storage containers, to keep things out of the box. These bins fall in a few spots in our lineup due to a few variations.

The main distinction we saw when employing a range of sizes is that they don’t stack tightly. Smaller bins move about in a stack because their bottom edges are just slightly longer than the indentation on the larger lids.

Storage Jars:

The Sterilite – Gasket Box employs a foam seal within the lid, similar to the waterproof Ziploc storage containers, to keep things out of the box. These bins fall in a few spots in our lineup due to a few variations.

The main distinction we saw when employing a range of sizes is that they don’t stack tightly. Smaller bins move about in a stack because their bottom edges are just slightly longer than the indentation on the larger lids.

These containers have fewer locks than Ziploc bins, which makes them easier to reach without sacrificing any waterproofing in our testing. Still, you might value the additional locks on the Ziploc if you’re seeking a completely secure storage container.

On the good side, though, these dumpsters are quite reasonably priced. These are so reasonably priced that we didn’t even investigate non-sealed lightweight bins if you require see-through bins but don’t want to spend extra money for greater stackability.

Under-Bed Sterilite – Ultra

Storage Jars:

The Sterilite – Ultra Under-Bed storage containers are a cheap option if you need under-bed storage.

Sterilite offers you a few advantages over conventional under-bed storage containers. Latches were added to prevent heavy objects like blankets from accidentally opening the lids. Additionally, wheels are built into the tub itself, reducing storage slightly but maintaining easy access beneath most bed frames. When the bin is loaded with blankets or linens, the wheels make it simple to transport it across carpet or hard surfaces.

We chose this alternative because of its characteristics, availability, and cost because we couldn’t locate any plastic bins that fit nicely under beds. You may purchase bed risers to add a few extra inches if you discover that these are too tall for your bed frame.

Tough Storage Tote HDX

Storage Jars:

These enormous, rigid totes have been on the rise recently, and it appears that they are at least partially to blame for the increased rarity of Rubbermaid – Roughneck storage containers. Although you can buy comparable black-and-yellow storage totes at virtually all of the big home improvement stores and bargain retailers, we picked the HDX – Tough Storage Tote because Home Depot offers the best pricing. An almost identical bin may be found at Costco.

Sadly, even from an above sprinkler, these tightly fitting lids might leak water due to where the openings are located. These tubs performed the worst in our tests to prevent rain. However, they stack neatly and are reasonably priced in big amounts.