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Best Trash Bags for Security, Survival, and Prepping

You use trash bags every day, but people often don’t think of them as a survival and emergency necessity. They have many uses well beyond just storing trash, but that primary use is even more important when infrastructure can’t keep up. There are plenty of brands and types of bags to consider, but they don’t all perform the same.

This is where we come in. We’ve researched the best trash bags, tested them, and now the results are in: the overall best, a budget option, and a contractor option. If you need garbage bags that are tough and reliable, one of our picks is up to the task.

Contents (Jump to a Section)

  • The Best Trash Bags
  • Budget Trash Bags
  • Contractor Trash Bags
  • Everything We Recommend
  • The Bags We Compared
  • What to Look For
  • 17 Survival Uses for Trash Bags
  • Who Needs Trash Bags?

Glad ForceFlexPlus Black Large Trash Bags

The Best Trash Bags

Glad ForceFlexPlus

Flexible, Versatile, and Durable

A little ingenuity goes a long way with the best flexible bag outperforming the pack and getting us great versatility.

$17* at Amazon

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

Glad is a well-known household brand, but we were surprised to see how well their advancements translated to durability and survival versatility. For starters, we appreciate the blackout for trash security, but these bags are actually two layers. This gives them their flexibility, and they call the different layers LeakGuard and RipGuard- but you can actually separate them.

As you can imagine, this gives these bags some amazing versatility. Plus, they kept up with the contractor bags with rip and tear tests despite being a third of the weight, which makes them ideal for mobile survival kits.

Here is what you get with the ForceFlexPlus:

  • 25 bags, 30-gallon size shown
  • Black, unscented
  • 0.9 mil, dual-layer
  • Drawstring closure
  • 1.9 pounds

These flexible, versatile, and durable bags ran laps around the competition- so it’s easy to see why the Glad ForceFlexPlus Trash Bags are the best.

Amazon Basics Multipurpose Trash Bags

Budget Trash Bags

Multipurpose Trash Bags

Inexpensive, Durable, and Effective

With above-average thickness at a below-average price, they’ve hit the sweet spot of trash bag value.

$13* at Amazon

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

Nothing fancy here, just solid trash bags at a good price. The 1.1 mil thickness is slightly above your average trash bag, but these are sold at a good value.

This makes it easier to stock up in your pantry to make sure you won’t run out in an emergency.

Here is how these cheap bags measure up:

  • 50 bags, 30-gallon size shown
  • Black, unscented
  • 1.1 mil
  • Drawstring closure
  • 4 pounds

If you need proven trash bags that fit your budget, the Amazon Basics Multipurpose Trash Bags are what you need.

Hefty Load & Carry Contractor Trash Bags

Contractor Trash Bags

Hefty Contractor Bags

Thick, Handled, and Reliable

Toss whatever you want in these bags and they’ll keep up reliably each and every time.

$22* at Amazon

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

Hefty, hefty, hefty actually turns out to be pretty hefty! This one surprised us a bit since we assumed that some of the hardware store bags would perform better than this big-name brand, but that just wasn’t the case.

It’s not your typical trash bag- it’s about three times thicker and comes with integrated handles to make toting it easier and tying it off simple.

Here are the full specs:

  • 26 bags, 42-gallon size shown
  • Black, unscented
  • 3.0 mil
  • Handle closure
  • 8.5 pounds

If you are looking for thick heavy-duty trash bags, you’ll want to pick up Hefty Load & Carry Contractor Trash Bags.

Everything We Recommend

Glad ForceFlexPlus Black Large Trash Bags

Glad ForceFlexPlus

A little ingenuity goes a long way with the best flexible bag outperforming the pack and getting us great versatility.

Where to Buy

$17* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing

Amazon Basics Multipurpose Trash Bags

Multipurpose Trash Bags

With above-average thickness at a below-average price, they’ve hit the sweet spot of trash bag value.

Where to Buy

$13* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing

Hefty Load & Carry Contractor Trash Bags

Hefty Contractor Bags

Toss whatever you want in these bags and they’ll keep up reliably each and every time.

Where to Buy

$22* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing

The Bags We Compared

Our research narrowed the field down to several brands and types of garbage bags that we compared: Hefty, Glad, ToughBag, Amazon Basics, ProGrade, Ultrasac, Ultra Tuff, Pami, 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 considered a wide range of trash bags but leaned towards blackout bags for security and heavier weight (higher mil) bags for our testing. We did examine a wide range of sizes since bag capacity doesn’t necessarily affect tear and puncture resistance. Most of the bags we tested are available in a range of sizes and package quantities for your specific needs.

We’re always looking for new and better solutions, so if you have some trash bags that you swear by, let us know in the comments. We review most of our tested supplies annually so we can try to get it in the next roundup round and see if it will beat out our top picks.

What to Look For

The best trash bags have a few features to look for:

  1. Value
  2. Tear Resistance
  3. Puncture Resistance
  4. Thickness
  5. Versatility

When you get the right blend of these, you can find a plastic bag that will reliably keep your trash sealed. Below, we break down what each of these features means for the garbage bags that truly set themselves apart.

Value: Cost vs. Benefit

The amount of money you spend on something like trash bags shouldn’t blow out your entire budget. Trash bags are cheap and aren’t the best place to overspend if you don’t have the budget.

You never want to spend too much money on one resource when it comes to emergency kits. It’s better to diversify your spending to make sure you are covered for a wide range of scenarios.

Tear Resistance

If you’ve ever had the good fortune of not having a trash bag tear on you, you are blessed. It is one of the most frustrating things to deal with since the bag is failing its one purpose- to hold trash.

A bag’s tear resistance is usually a function of its thickness, but it can also be a function of its design and flexibility (for bags designed to stretch).

Puncture Resistance

Puncture resistance is important when sharp objects are inside the bag, or if the bag can get poked by sticks or corners from the outside.

Like tear resistance, it is usually a function of thickness, but flexibility can help.


We’ve already talked a lot about thickness, which is measured in mils when it comes to plastic. A ‘mil’ is not a millimeter, it is one-thousandth of an inch. Here are some standard mils in plastic you’ll find:

  • Grocery store bag = 0.5 mils
  • Traditional trash bag = 0.7 mils
  • Heavy duty trash bag = 2 mils
  • Lightweight tarp = 5 mils
  • Heavy duty tarp = 20 mils

Thickness is one of the main drivers of tear and puncture resistance, but it isn’t the whole story. Flexibility and advancements in trash bags over the years have made some bags very functional despite being on the thin side.


While a durable, tear and puncture-resistant trash bag is what you need first and foremost, having the trash bag be versatile is a close second.

Trash bags that are thicker can work for a variety of functions and survival uses. You can also get creative with some components of trash bags, using drawstrings and ties for other purposes.

17 Survival Uses for Trash Bags

There are countless uses for trash bags when it comes to survival. As long as you are resourceful, you can find a way to use a garbage bag in a pinch. Here are some of the most common survival uses:

  1. Rain Poncho: Cut a hole for your head and one for each arm to wear a trash bag as a makeshift poncho to handle wet weather.
  2. Emergency Shelter: Cut a trash bag down the seams to make a larger shelter to protect from rain, wind, or the sun.
  3. Ground Sheet: Lay trash bags on the ground to insulate yourself from cold, wet, or uneven terrain.
  4. Pillow: Fill a trash bag with foliage to make a makeshift pillow.
  5. Waterproofing: Stash anything you want to keep dry inside a tied-off trash bag.
  6. Food Storage: Stash food in a trash bag to keep moisture and pests out.
  7. Cordage: Use drawstring or cut trash bags into strips and braid them together for cordage.
  8. Rainwater Collection: Use trash bags as a rain catchment system.
  9. Solar Still: Purify water by putting a trash bag over a container of non-potable water to collect the evaporated water.
  10. Tourniquet: Twist a trash bag into a tourniquet or use a trash bag drawstring.
  11. Signal Flag: Wave a trash bag to signal for help. In the right conditions, you can even make a kite.
  12. Patching Gear and Clothes: Repair clothes, gear, or your shelter with a trash bag (you may need to melt it on).
  13. Flotation Device: Fill a garbage bag with air to use as a buoyancy aid.
  14. Sanitation: Use a trash bag to contain and dispose of humane waste (important for bucket toilets).
  15. Fishing Net: Develop a net or trap by cutting holes or strips into a trash bag.
  16. Gaiters: Wrap trash bags around your lower legs to keep your feet dry.
  17. Protect Plants: Drap a bag over a small plant to protect it from pests, early frost, or other extreme weather.

Last but not least: TRASH. Storing and managing trash is extremely important even in emergency and survival situations. Unmanaged trash attracts pests and diseases.

Who Needs Trash Bags?

Trash bags belong in a surprisingly high number of survival kits. They are versatile, lightweight, and have a ton of survival uses as we showed above.

We consider trash bags essential for:

  • Car Survival Kit
  • Bug Out Vehicle

Because you may have them around the house, we don’t consider them essential but suggest them for these kits:

  • Home Survival Kit
  • Bug Out Bag
  • Get Home Bag
  • INCH Bag

Some people consider them for these kits:

  • Everyday Carry

Unless you’re living in an isolated area, you’re probably using trash bags every day. Why not stash some away for emergencies?

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 trash bags are 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 survival experience:

Pandy, A. (2021). An innovative low-cost personal protective equipment gown made by biomedical trash bags. Indian Journal of Child Health. Volume 8. Issue 2. Pages 73-77. (Source)

Petro, A. (1993). Space Station trash removal system. Patent: NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Houston, Texas. (Source)

Saibuatrong, W., et al. (2017). Life cycle assessment focusing on the waste management of conventional and bio-based garbage bags. Journal of Cleaner Production. Volume 158. Issue 1. Pages 319 – 344. (Source)

The Final Word

Trash bags may seem simple, but they are important for storage and sanitation in emergency situations. That’s why you’ll find them in almost every type of survival kit.

Here are a few other guides and reviews our subscribers have found helpful:

  • Best Duct Tape for Emergencies and Survival
  • Best Bucket Toilet for Prepping and Emergencies
  • Home Survival Kit Guide, Gear List, and Checklist

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 Glad ForceFlexPlus Trash Bags to be the best option given its value, tear resistance, puncture resistance, thickness, and versatility.

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.

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The Best Trash Bags

The post Best Trash Bags for Security, Survival, and Prepping appeared first on TruePrepper.

By: Rusty Collins
Title: Best Trash Bags for Security, Survival, and Prepping
Sourced From: www.trueprepper.com/trash-bags/
Published Date: Sun, 10 Sep 2023 10:34:13 +0000