Pros and Cons of Gravel Bags and Standard Sandbags

Pros and Cons of Gravel Bags and Standard Sandbags

When it comes to flood control, construction, and erosion prevention, sandbags often emerge as a top choice.

Recently, gravel bags have emerged as an alternative, offering some unique advantages and drawbacks.

Should you choose gravel bags over sandbags? Or regular sandbags are better than their new alternative?

Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of gravel bags over regular sandbags will enable you to choose the solution that best suits your requirements.

In this context, let’s walk through the benefits and disadvantages of each type.

What Are Sandbags?

Standard sandbags are typically made from woven polypropylene and filled with sand. They are widely used for flood control, erosion prevention, and temporary barriers in construction sites.

Pros of Sandbags


Sandbags are generally inexpensive and readily available. The materials used to make sandbags are affordable, making them a cost-effective solution for many projects.

Easy to Handle:

Because they are comparatively light, empty sandbags are convenient to move and arrange. They can be stacked and adjusted as needed once they are full.


Sandbags can be used in a variety of situations, including flood control, erosion prevention, and even as weights for holding down tents and other structures.

Effective for Flood Control:

When properly used, sandbags are highly effective at diverting water and creating barriers to protect property from flooding.

Cons of Sandbags


Filling and placing sandbags is labor-intensive and time-consuming. It often requires a significant amount of manpower, especially for larger projects.

Short Lifespan:

Sandbags, however, are likely to deteriorate over time, particularly when exposed to the weather. The bags can become brittle and tear, reducing their effectiveness.

Environmental Impact:

Disposing of used sandbags can be problematic. The sand and bag materials can cause environmental issues if not disposed of properly.

Limited Reusability:

Once a sandbag has been used, especially if it has been exposed to water, it is often not suitable for reuse. This can lead to increased costs and waste.

What Are Gravel Bags?

Gravel bags are similar to sandbags expect but there’s one difference. They are used to fill with gravel instead of sand—hence called gravel bags.

They are often used for erosion control, drainage, and ballast in construction projects.

Pros of Gravel Bags


Gravel bags are generally more durable than sandbags. The gravel does not compact as sand does, allowing the bags to maintain their shape and effectiveness for a longer period.

Better Drainage:

Gravel bags offer superior drainage compared to sandbags. They are ideal in circumstances when a barrier that permits water to pass through is required because of this feature.


Gravel bags are often more reusable than sandbags. The gravel can be easily emptied and the bags can be refilled and reused multiple times, reducing waste and cost.

Less Labor-Intensive:

Filling gravel bags can be less labor-intensive than filling sandbags. Gravel is easier to handle and does not compact as much as sand, making the filling process quicker.

Cons of Gravel Bags

Higher Cost:

Gravel bags are generally more expensive than sandbags. The cost of gravel is higher than sand, and the bags themselves may also be more expensive.


Gravel bags are heavier than sandbags when filled, making them more difficult to transport and position. This can make it useless for projects where mobility is crucial.

Limited Availability:

Gravel bags may not be as readily available as sandbags, depending on your location. This can make them harder to source promptly.

Potential for Damage:

While more durable, gravel bags can still be damaged by sharp objects or heavy machinery. Once damaged, the gravel can spill out and reduce the effectiveness of the bag.

Comparing Sandbags and Gravel Bags

Choosing between sandbags and gravel bags depends on your project requirements.

Here are some factors to consider:


Flood Control:

Sandbags are traditionally used for flood control due to their ability to create a solid barrier. However, in circumstances where drainage is required, gravel bags might also be useful.

Erosion Prevention:

Gravel bags are often better for erosion control due to their superior drainage capabilities. They can act as a barrier to stop soil erosion while letting water pass through.


Both sandbags and gravel bags can be used in construction projects. Sandbags are useful for temporary barriers and weighting down materials, while gravel bags are often used for drainage and as ballast.



Generally cheaper, making them a cost-effective option for large projects or temporary solutions.

Gravel Bags:

More expensive, but their durability and reusability can offset the initial cost over time.

Ease of Use


Easier to handle and transport when empty, but more labor-intensive to fill and place.

Gravel Bags:

Heavier and harder to transport when filled, but easier to fill and less labor-intensive overall.

Environmental Impact


Can create more waste and environmental issues if not disposed of properly. Limited reusability also contributes to waste.

Gravel Bags:

More environmentally friendly due to their reusability. The gravel can also be repurposed for other uses after the bags are no longer needed.


There are benefits and drawbacks to both gravel bags and regular sandbags. Which option is best for you will depend on the particulars of your project, such as cost, convenience of use, durability, and environmental impact.

  • For Flood Control: Sandbags are traditionally preferred, but gravel bags can be effective in certain situations where drainage is also needed.
  • For Erosion Prevention: Gravel bags are often the better choice due to their superior drainage capabilities.
  • For Construction: Both types have their uses, but gravel bags may offer more durability and reusability.

By carefully weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each choice, you can decide which option best suits your needs and ensure efficacy and efficiency in your project.

Whether you decide to use gravel bags or sandbags, getting the right results requires careful planning and execution.

At iSell Packaging, we offer high-quality sandbags and gravel bags for your project needs. If you are not sure which one to choose, get in touch now and we will suggest the right one.

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