Need a large air- and watertight storage container? Keep dog food, cat litter, spare baking supplies and more in heavy-duty buckets and storage bins, yet easily accessible with Gamma Lids.

Gamma Seal Lids

Here’s another option for bulk storage of things like dog food, cat litter, compost medium,  rice, pasta, or even as part of your ditch kit.  I had never heard about these — thanks to TBG reader Chip Lawson for letting me know about this great storage solution!

It’s called a Gamma Seal Lid and it fits on standard 5 gallon buckets to make a leak-proof container.  Actually, it will fit on any 12″ diameter bucket from 3-1/2 gallons to 7 gallons (Chip also said he’s found a smaller size for 2-1/2 gallon pails, see link in the comments).  NOTE:  the Gamma Seal Lid is only the lid, buckets are generally sold separately (although some are sold as combo packs).

It has a gasketed flange that attaches to the bucket — they recommend using a rubber mallet to ensure that it is fully seated.  That stays “permanently” in place.  Then there’s a screw-in lid, again with a gasket.

Chip has used them extensively and says they are “completely 100% water and air tight. . . . I can recommend them unequivocally.”

Possible uses:

  • Prepared compost material for a composting toilet (we use it for our coconut coir that’s broken up and ready to go)
  • Dry pet food and cat litter
  • Rice and pasta (I’d leave the food in smaller bags stacked inside the bucket so you can get out a small quantity at a time as well as mix what’s in the bucket)
  • Larger stocks of baking supplies if undertaking an extended voyage (ditto on storing smaller containers inside the bucket)
  • Storing containers of chemicals, paint, varnish, oil, epoxy and other things that you don’t want to risk spilling into the bilge.
  • Ditch bag

You can buy food grade buckets to use with the lids or less expensive work buckets, depending on how you’re going to use them.

While I love Lock & Lock-type containers, I think these would be even better for bulk storage of things such as get food and cat litter  on longer trips.  The Gamma Lids and buckets are just really tough and the carrying handles on the buckets make them easy to pull out and use on a daily basis.

Now that I know such a thing exists, I’ve discovered that you can buy Gamma Seal Lids (there are a couple of other manufacturers of very similar products, too) all over the place.  Most home improvement stores carry them, as do general online merchants such as Amazon and many “prepper” and survivalist sites.  You can buy them individually or in multi-packs, in a number of different colors, and with or without a bucket. The home improvement stores (Home Depot, Lowe’s, and others) generally have the best prices; you can get the lids for about $10 online.

In researching this article, I discovered that Gamma puts their lids on some other products that would also work well on a boat.  They make an entire line of “Vittles Vaults” ostensibly for pet food — but considering that it’s made of food-grade, BPA-free plastic, I’m sure you could use it for people food, too.  I’m thinking they’d be great for larger stores of flour, rice and pasta on extended voyages.

Need a large air- and watertight storage container? Keep dog food, cat litter, spare baking supplies and more in heavy-duty buckets and storage bins, yet easily accessible with Gamma Lids.While these are more expensive than the lids that fit on the 5-gallon buckets, the sizes and shapes seem a little more convenient to me (although they are all “large storage” options).  I particularly like the square containers as there is less wasted space.  You can see the Vittles Vaults on Amazon (one is pictured at right, but there are numerous sizes and shapes).  You can also find them at many big box pet stores, but — at least where I live — they are more expensive than Amazon.

Need a large air- and watertight storage container? Keep dog food, cat litter, spare baking supplies and more in heavy-duty buckets and storage bins, yet easily accessible with Gamma Lids.And there is a collapsible Vittles VaultSoftStore in 30 and 50-pound sizes, shown at right in blue.  Still airtight, they take up less and less space as the food inside is eaten . . . and since there is less air in the container as it collapses, the theory is that the food will still be crunchy all the way to the last bite.  The only disadvantage of these is that filling them is a 2-person job if you’re trying to pour something from a bag into the SoftStore unit (or you have to find a place to hang it by the handle so that the “bucket” stays open).  Buy them on Amazon, too:

If you’re storing dry pet food, flour, rice or other grains, be sure to stick a few bay leaves in with the food to keep weevils at bay.  And if it’s something with sugar, use a couple whole cloves or a sprinkling of ground cloves to keep the ants away.

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  • Candy Ann Williams on Facebook
    Posted at 22 April 2013 Reply

    Thanks for sharing…I had never heard of these before!

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 22 April 2013 Reply

    Ditto for me . . . and they’re so great! Some days I feel like it’s a great big dock party with everyone sharing tips and info so that we all walk away knowing more!

  • Candy Ann Williams on Facebook
    Posted at 22 April 2013 Reply

    For sure! We are grateful that you are here to share it all! Thanks again Carolyn!

  • Quinn
    Posted at 22 April 2013 Reply

    I use gamma lids on 5-gallon buckets for the mineral supplements I feed my goats. The minerals are expensive, and must be kept dry.
    I open these buckets 3 or 4 times weekly, and one reason I like the gamma lids is that I have arthritis in my hands, and being able to open the lid by just pushing with the heel of my hand instead of having to actually grip with my fingers is very helpful.

  • Kelley - Sailing Chance
    Posted at 22 April 2013 Reply

    We use the vaults for our dog food on board and they are great. We have two big ones and literally can leave them out on deck with the rain and salt water splashing on them and the food inside stays dry and fresh. I even found mine at two different TJ Maxx stores for $20 a piece.

  • Chip Lawson
    Posted at 22 April 2013 Reply

    Carolyn – here is a link to one source of the smaller Gamma plastic lids: . FYI, Basco is a great source for all types of containers, buckets, 5 gallon jugs, etc. Their speciality is industrial packaging but have an array of useful products for marine use – for example, industrial oil spill pads are inexpensive but are fantastic as oil absorbant pads under the engine and in the bilge. Basco sells multiple sizes and shapes of plastic jugs which are solvent proof. These are great for safely carrying thiners, etc on the boat and not in the original (rusting) metal cans and because they are transparrent you can see how much is left. A few minutes spent browing the Basco website will uncover some interesting ideas and real gems.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 22 April 2013 Reply

      Thanks Chip! I looked all over with Google and never found them . . . Basco looks like a great resource!

  • Rose Alderson on Facebook
    Posted at 23 April 2013 Reply

    These look great! What a nice variety of options! I love the idea of the collapsible ones!

  • Allan Cobb
    Posted at 02 January 2014 Reply

    You can find the Gamma seal lids at Home Depot in the paint section with the buckets.

  • Elizabeth Aristeguieta
    Posted at 03 January 2014 Reply

    Carolyn. ..I mentioned you and the Boat Galley in my radio interview that aired earlier today. Here’s the link of you’d like to hear it.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 03 January 2014 Reply

      Great interview! Love your story and thanks for the mention!

  • Jody Fortuna
    Posted at 30 May 2015 Reply

    We have two dogs and have a 40g with food in it. Works great!

  • Amber Amodei
    Posted at 31 May 2015 Reply


  • Josh Wilkinson
    Posted at 02 November 2016 Reply

    They work great. Have a nice rubber O ring seal.

  • Paula Richard
    Posted at 02 November 2016 Reply

    You always have the best finds! Thanks for sharing.

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