14 Best Alternatives To Sandbags For Flooding

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With the increasing change in climate, floods have, of late, become a more common occurrence than they were before. With changing times and with many areas of the world witnessing heavy floods, the relief measures for preventing flood water have also seen a shift.

In the recent past (even now, sometimes), it was very common for people to use sandbags as a means of preventing floodwater from entering their homes. Though sandbags are capable of preventing a lot of water, they also have some serious demerits and water may leak through them in cases of heavy flooding.

In addition, lifting the sandbags is a back-breaking task and once the flood is over, disposing of them becomes very difficult. To overcome the problems posed by sandbags, many alternatives have been designed which have come up as a better and more reliable replacement for sandbags.

Though the modern sandbag alternatives are better, they too suffer from some demerits, or let’s say, not every alternative may suit your need. To guide you as to which alternative is best for you, we have prepared a list of all sandbag alternatives along with their pros and cons. 


14 Best Alternatives To Sandbags For Flooding

1. Inflatable Dam

This might sound crazy to you but some amount of floodwater can actually help you tackle huge amounts of floodwater.

Wondering how?

Well, with the help of inflatable rubber dams.

Inflatable dams are made up of rubber fabrics that are cylindrical in shape. These fabrics are multi-layered and are usually made using synthetic fibers like nylon. They have a rubber coating on one or both sides to make the fabric even stronger.

Inflatable dams are usually around 100 m long, 200 m wide, and less than 5 m high though some special dams may have a height of about 10 m. Though these inflatable dams can be filled using both air and water, in cases of flood, water-filled inflatable dams are preferred.

For other purposes, air-filled dams are preferred since they can be inflated and deflated with ease and are not much affected by weather conditions. To protect your home from flood water, you may cover all the sides of your house using the inflatable dams.


These dams are very durable and will not allow floodwater to escape and enter your house. Also, you may set up these dams around your home quickly and without much fuss. These are a far better alternative than the conventional sandbags if you have enough money to spare.


Irrespective of the advantages the inflatable dams offer, the reality remains that these are expensive and not everyone can afford to buy them. Covering your home with these dams can be very costly since you will require many such dams.

2. Garbage Bags

For those of you who don’t want to spend much money on floodwater prevention, garbage bags are just the perfect thing. You just need to fill up the garbage bags with trash and use them in replacement of sandbags.

If you already have garbage bags, you need not spend any money. Even if you don’t have them, they would be very inexpensive. Though garbage bags are easily available, you will need a lot of them for the purpose of flood prevention. So, you will need to prepare your garbage bags well in advance if you rely on this method.


The biggest advantage that this method offers is money saving. There is a high probability that you already have required garbage bags for creating an effective flood barrier. Therefore, you need not go anywhere to buy stuff for flood water prevention.

Garbage bags are a DIY alternative to sandbags and you can make these bags from the comfort of your home and that too at a very nominal price.


Though this method will not cost you much, it is highly time-consuming (keeping in view an emergency situation like a flood). You will need to fill a lot of garbage bags with trash and therefore you cannot use it in cases of emergency.

To make use of this method, you will have to make preparations prior to flood since filling so many bags with garbage may take quite some time. Not only is this method time consuming, but it also requires effort on your part since you need to fill garbage in the bags manually and not with the help of any machine.

3. Portable Flood Fence Barriers

As the name suggests, the portable flood fence barriers have to be fenced around your home in order to prevent the floodwater. Since these are portable, they are light enough to be placed around the home by a person with average strength.

You could place them at any place you wish to. You could also easily move them from one spot to another. It is preferable that you create a fence around your house with these portable flood fence barriers so that there is no chance of water peeping into your homes.

However, you must keep in mind to place them at the requisite spot before the flood actually happens since making a boundary around your home using these fence barriers is going to take up some time and therefore you cannot place it immediately at a time when flood water has already reached your home.


It is not at all complicated to set up flood fence barriers around your home. Also, these barriers work really well even in case of heavy flooding. Sandbags cannot effectively prevent heavy water flow and therefore for those of you residing in areas of heavy flood, portable flood fence barriers are just the perfect alternative.


Despite the benefits these barriers offer, the truth remains that they are expensive and therefore not everyone can afford to buy them. Moreover, unlike sandbags, these barriers cannot be used in cases of emergency and you need to do prior preparation in order to use them in an effective manner.

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So, in case the flood water has already reached your home, this method won’t be of much use to you.

4. Plastic Poly Tube Flood Barrier

These are yet another superb alternative to traditional sandbags. These plastic poly tubes are around 50 feet long. Just like garbage bags, these tubes need to be filled with either sand or trash. So, in case of an emergency, if you can’t find sand, you can always fill up the poly tubes with garbage.

Since the plastic poly tubes are large in size, they effectively prevent the floodwater from entering your home. The way poly tubes function is pretty simple. It is somewhat similar to the way garbage bags and sandbags function. You just need to fill the poly tube barrier with trash and place it in front of your entrance so that it creates an obstacle and doesn’t allow the flood water to pass through.

However, in the case of garbage bags and sandbags, it is easier to place them wherever you wish to without much fuss but plastic poly tubes are not as easy to lay. They may require a few people to place them in the requisite position.


It is very easy to fill up the poly tube with sand or trash. Moreover, since the tube is very long and large, it can very effectively prevent water from entering the home even in cases of very heavy flooding. 


Though it is easy to fill up the tube, it can be a bit time consuming to fill up such a long and large tube with trash. Also, it is quite a tough task to place it in a proper position because the tube becomes heavy and a bit unmanageable once it is filled.

Therefore, a single person cannot set it in the required position and a few people may be needed for this purpose.

5. Absorbeez

Absorbeez is a strong and well-designed water-absorbent bag that provides a great alternative to sandbags. Many of you might confuse sandbags with Absorbeez because they both look very similar. However, the main difference between the two is that Absorbeez is not filled with sand, unlike sandbags.

Absorbeez is well suited for protecting both small spaces like doorways and large spaces like garage etc. When it comes in contact with water, it expands and creates an obstacle for flood water. Absorbeez is available in various sizes and they work exactly like sandbags, the only difference being that Absorbeez is more preferable since they do not contain sand and therefore can absorb a large amount of water.

Since Absorbeez has lightweight, they can easily be lifted and put in any place and in any position in which they are required.


Absorbeez are available in a wide range of sizes, therefore, you can decide which size is best suited for your purpose. They can also be stored very easily in your homes. They are very light in weight, therefore, a single person can lift them up with ease.

Moreover, since they do not contain sand, they have a great water-absorbing capacity and therefore, are eligible for preventing floodwater from entering in small as well as large areas. Also, they are not very expensive.


It would require effort on your part to keep the Absorbeez at the required spot. Moreover, it may take you some time to bring the Absorbeez and put them at the requisite position.

6. NoFloods Barriers

NoFloods barrier is an inflatable dam that involves the prevention of floodwater by using water itself. It is a large tube kind of structure that is filled with air initially. Flood water then replaces the air gradually.

These barriers are filled with water instead of air for the simple reason that water provides more stability to the tube and has a greater capacity to prevent floodwater. Not only do these barriers prevent floodwater but they also reduce the amount of floodwater accumulated around your home by absorbing water.

In this way, they help you fight water with water only. These barriers can be deployed in 200 meters and may also be extended. It does not take much time to install the NoFloods barrier. It is usually deployed to protect large areas from floodwater. These barriers were used during the France floods that occurred in January 2014.


NoFloods barriers are not only light in weight but also quite flexible. It is easy to configure these barriers into a variety of shapes and sizes. They are not only useful for protecting homes but they are also suitable for other large areas such as river banks. Moreover, they can be put up very quickly around your home and hence can be used in situations of emergency.


Though these provide an effective barrier to prevent floodwater, they are quite costly. Many people might not make use of this alternative despite its merits, simply because they cannot afford to buy it.

7. AquaFence

AquaFence provides easily transportable flood barriers. These barriers are made up of marine grade laminate panels. After installation, these barriers utilize the flood water to stabilize themselves and thereby prevent water from entering the protected premises.

Its unique design allows it to tackle rising water levels very conveniently. The AquaFence barriers do not require a lot of manpower for installation. A team of about 12 people may very easily install about 100 m (328 feet) of the AquaFence barrier in an hour.

It is also quite flexible therefore, it may cater to different lengths and shapes and heights of up to 9 feet. AquaFence was felicitated with the highest level of ANSI certification in the year 2013 by the US Army Corps of Engineers apart from parts testing and production review by FM Global. 


AquaFence can be easily transported at the requisite place in custom made crates. It is environment-friendly and can be safely cleaned and removed once it is used. Since it is flexible, it is available according to the requirements, that is to say, its height and length may differ as per the volume of water it is required to prevent, the size of the space where it is placed, etc.

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Also, AquaFence can be reused and not much manpower is required for its installation. Therefore, it may be installed quickly and without any difficulty.


It is not inexpensive. Despite its benefits, it may not be a very lucrative option for many people because of its cost.

8. Sorbarix A20

Sorbarix A20 water-absorbent cushion is a thin kind of pillow that has a brilliant water-absorbing capacity of 23 liters. It has the capability of absorbing water or polluted liquid within 180 seconds, with the first 14-18 liters being absorbed within just 30 seconds.

Not only does it absorb water but it also acts as a floodwater barrier. Sorbarix cushions have a tear resistance cover on their outside and the super absorbent polymers on the inside. These cushions are very light in weight and therefore easily transportable.

They weigh around just 400 g when they are dry which also makes it easy for you to place them wherever and in whatever position you want. These cushions are very durable and have a shelf life of around 5 years. Sorbarix A20 is also perfect for protecting the stuff of museums, archives, libraries, heritage buildings, etc. 


Sorbarix cushions have not only water-absorbent capabilities but also the capacity to act as a water barrier. They are easily manageable because of their negligible weight. This alternative is best suited to people who find it difficult to manually put up heavy flood barriers (for instance, elderly people).

It is also environment-friendly and prevents pollution by absorbing oil-based substances. It also safely absorbs chemical spills and solutions that might be hazardous.


It might not be the best alternative for preventing floodwater from large spaces though it can excellently prevent water from small spaces.

9. FloodSax

FloodSax is a type of sandbags but they are modernized and better versions of sandbags that do not actually have sand inside of them! These bags do not require any back-breaking manual labor, unlike sandbags. FloodSax is very light in weight (around 1 lb.) and therefore they can be quickly positioned in requisite spots. FloodSax is made up of a tough white fabric which helps to absorb water.

The white color of FloodSax helps in detecting any contamination that may occur, so that you may quickly and safely dispose of the bag. On the inside, it contains polymer crystals that have great absorbing power. It may absorb up to 5.8 gallons of water (50 lbs.) in just a few minutes.

It also has the capability of absorbing hazardous chemicals. After the FloodSax bag is fully filled, it offers great and unmatched stacking capability for the strongest and highest flood barriers. 


FloodSax can be deployed very quickly thereby saving time. This makes them an attractive alternative in cases of emergency since they can be used even without any prior flood water prevention preparation. The large size of these bags makes it possible to protect even large areas without any ado.

Also, unlike sandbags and other alternatives, the special design of these bags allows them to be stacked in a stable manner. Moreover, it is very easy to dispose of these bags after use. The cleanup cost is very low.


In the case of heavy floods, there is a danger of water leaking through FloodSax bags.

10. HydraBarrier

HydraBarriers are tubes that are made of vinyl that is 22 mils thick. A HydraBarrier weighs only about a pound (when empty) as opposed to a sandbag which weighs about 50 pounds! This makes it easy to handle and carry. HydraBarrier tubes are 6 feet long, 8 inches wide and 4 inches high.

You can always fill it up using the standard garden hose. HydraBarriers have the capacity to hold up to 7.5 gallons of water weighing around 60 lbs. After you are done using it, just empty it, fold it up and store it safely for next use. HydraBarriers are available in different lengths of 6 ft (best for standard doors and other small spaces), 12 ft (best for single-car garages and sliding doors), 24 ft (best for large garage doors and other large spaces).

Also, they are available in different heights of 4″ (standard height), 6″ (helpful in more severe flood) and 12″ (very heavy but essential for large water protection).


HydraBarriers are very lightweight when empty and are therefore easy to store. They can be reused for a long time, unlike sandbags. Also, HydraBarriers are available in different lengths and heights thereby making it feasible for protecting both small spaces and large spaces.

These barriers can effectively prevent spills and contaminated water from entering the protected area. If you are looking for a durable, reusable and easy to use and handle alternative then HydraBarriers might be the best alternative for you.


These barriers are not very pocket-friendly and filling up large-sized HydraBarriers may take some time.

11. Flood Bags

Flood bags are made up of sodium acrylate, which is a non-hazardous super absorbent polymer and weighs only about 600 grams. Its lightweight makes it easy to handle and use and you need not break your back by carrying them to the required place. You do not need to fill it up since it is ready to use.

All you have to do is to lay them at the required spot and leave the rest of the work to be done by the bag itself. When flood bags come in contact with water, they automatically get activated and start absorbing water. Within minutes, flood bags have the ability to grow to a height of about 3.5 inches, thereby protecting your premises.

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Each flood bag has a brilliant water absorption capacity of 4 gallons of water. It is best to stack the bags in a ratio of 1:3 if you need a solid base, that is, for every 1 ft of height you need to extend the base by 3 ft. 


Flood bags are ready to use and do not require any labor or effort on your part (except keeping them at the required place). They are extremely lightweight and therefore suitable for people who live alone or are elderly. Because of their lightweight, flood bags are also easy to store.

They are environmentally safe, non-toxic and even safe for your pets. Food bags are flexible and can be easily curved or wrapped.


Unlike many alternatives, flood bags do not have the capability to absorb salty water, lime, calcium or any chemical spills for that matter. In case these bags come in contact with these substances, they may deflate. Moreover, in case you expect heavy water flow, you need to pre-soak these bags or else there are chances of a water leak.

12. Stormbags

Stormbags are made up of heavy-duty 18-ounce burlap bags. On the inside, they are filled with a white, granular crystallized polymer which has great water-absorbing power. The polymer can absorb water about 300 times its weight.

Dried storm bags weigh only about one pound. Because of their lightweight, they are easily transportable. These bags have the capacity to absorb around 4 gallons of water in just 3-5 minutes. After absorbing water, their weight may increase up to 30+ pounds.

They also act as a water barrier when they are stacked on top of each other. These bags are also helpful in absorbing massive spills. It is a completely green-friendly alternative to sandbags. Once used, they must be carried for disposal. You may discard hydrated polymer in garden soil or lawn as a water retention aid. It is certified by Homeland Security and under the AEL list for federal government use.


The storm bags are highly portable. 1 small box of 50 bags is equivalent to 1600 pounds of sand. It has great water absorption capacity. These bags meet standards specified by the military. It is much more efficient and effective as compared to sandbags and other alternatives. Stormbags are environment-friendly green products, unlike other alternatives.


You will need a lot of these bags in case you want to protect a large area. Covering a large space with a lot of storm bags can be time-consuming and therefore some prior preparation needs to be done in case you opt for this alternative. 

13. Aqua-Sac

Aqua-Sac bags are also known as self-inflating bags because of their ability to get activated as soon as they come in contact with water. These bags are biodegradable and are made up of heavy-duty jute with polymer inside of them. These bags are around 54 cm long and 10 cm high.

Not only do they absorb the flood water but they also act as a water barrier. Each Aqua-Sac bag is of a consistent size thus enabling them to be stacked in a way so that they may effectively prevent water. One used and water-filled Aqua-Sac weighs around 13 kg and is thus lighter when compared to traditional sandbags.

Its lightweight facilitates easy lifting and disposing of. When it is not inflated, it weighs only 440 gms (11 kgs for a pack of 25), thus making it a viable option for elderly people and others who can’t lift heavy weight sandbags. Aqua-sac bags are available in sealed packets thereby giving them a shelf life of more than 5 years.


These bags are lightweight, unlike many sandbag alternatives. Because of their lightweight, no special transportation is required which helps you save labor costs. They are very easy to store and save a lot of space. 1000 Aqua-Sac bags may be stored in a pallet as opposed to just 25 traditional sandbags per pallet. 


These bags cannot be used in chemical spills and contaminated water.

14. HydroSacks

HydroSack is another kind of sandbag that does not contain sand in it. HydroSack consists of a blue-colored hydrophilic non-woven polypropylene along with handles made from the same material. The handles facilitate convenient handling of the bags and make it easier to lift and dispose of them.

A Hydrosack is 600 mm long and 480 mm wide. Each Hydrosack can absorb up to 20 liters of water. It then crystallizes and this weight can be retained by HydroSack for up to three months. Like Aqua-Sac, HydroSack also needs to be soaked in water for about 3 minutes, after which they get inflated and start acting as a water barrier.

Its unique design helps to have a controlled spread over all its 3 sections and prevents the contents from moving side to side with handles. Because HydroSacks are environment-friendly, after use, they are suitable for disposing of by way of landfill and incineration.


Because of its unique handle design, it is easy to use and carry. Each bag has a water absorption capacity of 20 liters as opposed to the lower capacity of traditional sandbags. Because of its negligible weight, they are a lucrative option for people who can’t or don’t want to lift the heavyweight of alternative flood barriers.

These bags are environment-friendly and can be easily incinerated or landfilled, unlike many alternatives. They can be easily stored and are therefore best for emergency situations.


They are small in size when compared to traditional sandbags and therefore you will need a lot of these bags to protect your premises.

With this, we come to the end of this list. So, if this time flood hits your town, leaking sandbags and the stress to carry them and dispose of them will no longer bother you. We hope that now you will be able to choose the alternative that best suits your purpose and pocket.

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