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Filled sand bags vs unfilled sand bags: which one should you buy?

Sandbags come in different forms. Two of their common forms are filled and unfilled sandbags. As their name suggests, a filled sandbag already contains sand, gravel, or any other material that can make it heavy, while an unfilled sandbag is empty from the inside and filled by the buyer later.

Since both forms of sandbags are totally different from each other, it often becomes difficult for people to pick one from them.

Do you want to know more about this topic? We also have an article talking about a simple guide to purchasing sand bags.

Filled sand bags vs. unfilled sand bags

What is a filled sandbag?

Filled bulk bags or bags of sand already have sand, soil, or a similar material mixed with gravel filled inside them. You will not have to add anything to them and will be able to use them as it is for different purposes, such as ballast, flood control barriers, flood-protection walls, or erosion-control sacks.

They are pre-filled, meaning you will not have to use your energy and effort to fill them yourself. It will help you save time and use the tool for emergencies as it is.

These bags are heavier than unfilled bags because they contain heavy material. That is why their transportation cost is more than the other form of a sand bag. They are heavier to lift. If they are big, the user may have to use a forklift to carry multiple poly bags from place to place.

They also require more storage areas. But, if you are working on a construction site and have unused sand that you want to keep uncontaminated, you can store the sand in the sandbag or even use sand inside the burlap bags for other purposes.

Plenty of white sandbags are put together to prevent the road sign from falling down.

What is an unfilled sandbag?

This form of the bulk bag has nothing inside it and comes empty. It means you can fill it when the need arises with sand or any other material that you find more appropriate.

These bags are available in different materials and can be found in the form of tote bags, jute bags, woven polypropylene bags, non-woven fabric bags, PP woven sacks, reusable polyethene bags, jumbo bags, recycled PVC sacks, etc.

Since they are empty, they require less area for storage. You can stockpile them for emergency use. If you keep them dry and properly folded, they will be useful even after years.

They are lightweight, and even one person can carry dozens of bags himself without needing the help of a transportation vehicle or another person. It helps save transportation costs. They are also more economical compared to the filled hessian bags.

However, you must either fill them out yourself or hire workers to do the task. These heavy-duty woven bags may also have straps and pouches that you can use for multiple purposes.

Orange sandbags made of PVC material with black strings to fasten the bags

Which is better – A filled or unfilled sandbag?

Both forms of sandbags have their own benefits. However, unfilled sandbags have more pros than cons. They are cost-effective and can be reused for years if manufactured of sturdy material.

You can store hundreds of sandbags in the corner of a room as they do not take up much space. Their transportation is also simpler and easier. You do not need any vehicle to move them from area to area.

Since they come empty, you can use them as packaging solutions such as potato sacks, wine bags, compost bags, feed bags, and even garbage sacks.

They are sold in different non-woven or woven fabrics, including biodegradable muslin cloth, PVC plastic, polyester fabric, patented polypropylene fabric, laminated fabric, linen fabric, jute fabric, etc. This gives buyers plenty of options to choose from.

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      How to fill an unfilled sandbag?

      Sandbagging is an efficient technique that people have been using for years for many different purposes. If you have purchased an empty tubular burlap sack, you need two people to fill it.

      Follow this step-by-step guide to fill sand in an empty sack bag.

      Step 1: Wear gloves to protect your hands. If possible, wear safety goggles as well.

      Step 2: Ask the other person to open the burlap bag such that its mouth is wide enough to allow the entry of sand. They should place it in front of their feet or between them.

      Step 3: Ask the other person to fold the opening of the woven bag so that you can empty a shovel full of sand easily into the bag. Make sure the knees of the other person are slightly flexed and their face is away from the sand-filled shovel.

      Step 4: Empty the shovel inside the bag. Make sure it is done carefully so that spillage does not occur. Otherwise, you may have to spend time collecting the spillage as well.

      Step 5: Fill the sandbag to half its full capacity. Leave a little room empty so the bag does not feel too heavy and can be stacked easily. Close its mouth with a zipper, rope, or anything else available with the bag.

      A hessian sandbag is being filled with sand.

      Reasons to buy a sandbag

      Sandbags have been used since the 18th century for different purposes. There are many uses for sandbags.

      You can buy them for any of the following uses.

      • Sandbags are used to hold down traffic management or construction site signs that risk moving away or falling under heavy rain or wind pressure. Sandbags are placed on the feet of the sign. They do not let it move from its original place until it stays on its feet.
      • Sandbagging is done for flood prevention as well. National weather service providers inform people about the expected drought, tropical storms, rainfall, and flash floods so that people can build flood walls using sandbags to prevent damage caused by flood water or stormwater.
      • They may also be used around a levee or a landfill as a boundary. Sandbags around a levee do not let the water come out of the water body when its level rises.
      • Burlap sacks and sandbags are laid on the soil, which has a risk of soil erosion. They prevent contact between water and soil and, thus, control erosion.
      • During sandbag training, a strength coach uses this weightlifting tool in a garage gym for core strength improvement and muscle building. Strength coaches make bodybuilders lift these tools during strength training when they do squats or other exercises.
      Many white sandbags stacked together to prevent flooding, and some white sandbags are holding black wire mesh to prevent falling down.


      Filled and unfilled sand bags are two popular forms of sand bags. Filled sand bags have pre-filled sand, soil, gravel, etc., inside their empty space, making them heavy.

      In contrast, unfilled sand bags have empty spaces and nothing inside the bag. The buyer has to fill them himself or hire labourers to do the task.

      Unfilled sand bags can easily be transported to the site because they are lightweight. You can also store them in a small space after folding them properly. Safe storage allows people to store sandbags for years and use them whenever possible.



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