Water is the source of life, and in developed nations such as ours we seldom pause to consider just how dire our circumstances would be without it.
And yet, there may come a time when you find yourself in a situation where water, or the quality of it, cannot be guaranteed and then what?
Developments in recent years have brought extraordinary advancements in water filtering devices, and now they’re better than ever: they’re portable. Perfect for hikers, campers, or those wishing to safeguard themselves against a possible water quality compromise, portable survival water filters are truly a godsend.
Water filtering devices are designed to remove nearly all waterborne bacteria and parasites from drinking water. Available in an endless assortment of models, survival water filters are most popularly carried either in the MSR Guardian make or LifeStraw component, depending on one’s needs and space capacity. While the MSR Guardian is slightly bulkier, it offers optimal water filtering by volume, making it ideal for extended treks and multiple traveling companions. The LifeStraw is much simpler, and designed for the individual in a less perilous environment, with the ability to filter up to 1000 litres of water for one person over the course of a year.
Regardless of the make you choose, survival water filters are a must-have in every man’s kit. Outdoorsmen or metropolitan dweller, a reliable water filtering device is insurance against the unexpected, as well as a welcome convenience when the situation calls for it. Portable water filters are also a perfect gift for the frequent traveler, and a worthy investment when going abroad.
We can’t always be certain that the modern conveniences we enjoy today will be readily available tomorrow, but we can prepare for the worst in the most ingenious way possible.
My personal favorites:
The MSR Guardian water purifier is number one in my book (and bag). Yes, it costs and arm and a leg. If you can’t afford it, then consider the Katadyn Pocket water filter. If your budget is even less, then you can’t go wrong with a Sawyer Mini. Worst case scenario, go with the Lifestraw. It’s better than nothing and does offer a certain level of protection. The price is attractive for what you get and it’s affordable for pretty much everyone out there.
With that said, go ahead and explore the top 20 best survival water filters below. Just keep in mind, while they are in no particular order, I can assure you all are excellent choices.
1. Grayl Ultralight
An award-winning water purifier, the GRAYL eliminates 99.999 of disease-causing viruses, bacteria and protozoan cysts from your drinking water. It does not break a sweat doing so, considering it takes 15 seconds to deliver 16oz/ half a liter. Compact yet light, its three-level cartridge technology makes this filter ideal for disasters, international travel, and outdoor adventures. It weighs 10.9 ounces.
2. Katadyn Gravity Camp 6 Liter
This high quality 6 liter bag has an indicator to show the water level so that you know when to replenish stock. That’s not all; however, its 0.2micron Ultra filter technology handles 2L/ minute and can provide 1,500 liters of water that has the disease-causing bugs taken out. The Katadyn Gravity comes in a 2-pound backpack that is hung for the water to flow through a sediment trap before the cleaning.
3. Katadyn Hiker Microfilter
Touting itself as the lowest maintenance filter, this baby has a knack for coming up tops in a challenging environment. From the newbie to the rugged warrior, its appeal has been constant. Featuring a 0.2 micron glass fiber micro-filter and activated carbon in its core, the Katadyn micro-filter might weigh 1 pound but does a big job. It provides great-tasting water with the chemicals filtered out. Fill your water reservoirs at the stream without a worry.
4. Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter
Designed for hikers, this filter is easy to use and ultralight. Bacteria, algae, protozoa, and cysts will be kept out of your water by its glass fiber, 0.2-micron filtration system. It also filters out chemicals and odors, giving your water a great taste. The filter weighs 8 ounces and filters 1 liter per minute up to 13,000 gallons. Connecting it to a hose is a breeze as is cleaning.
5. Katadyn Pocket
Handling 13,000 gallons at the rate of a liter/quart per minute, this filter should be a friend to everybody who likes a life outdoors. This pocket filter weighs a paltry 7.4 ounces, but no microorganism greater than 0.2 microns gets through this tough cookie. If you purchase this filter, you will be in good company as it is beloved by the US military and international travelers for the clear fresh water it delivers.
6. Katadyn Vario
This filter ranks high for versatility because it can be adjusted to two modes, depending on how much of a hurry you are in. The three-tier cleaning system will take care of water clarity, bacteria, and chemical residue in your water at a rate of either 1 or 2 quarts per minute. Being a bit bulky at 1.4 ounces at shipping, this product is ideal for a group of hikers or campers. The pleated fiberglass micro filters work at 0.2 microns.
7. Lifestraw Go
As the name suggests, this straw is for hikers. You simply stop at the nearest stream or water body, fill your leak-proof bottle that comes with it then drink. The hollow membrane technology eliminates 99.99% of waterborne bacteria and protozoa, including e.colli. The straw filters at 0.2 microns and will handle at least 1000 liters/264 gallons at 1.7 liters per minute. Once you finish drinking, blowing through the straw unclogs its system. It weighs 7.8 oz.
8. Lifestraw Personal
Used the world over by NGOs, this ultra-light straw has served with distinction in emergencies, including the Haiti earthquake. Weighing a mere 2.0 oz and with a 0.2-micron filtration, it eliminates 99.99% of the protozoa and bacteria that cause disease. With a flow rate of 1.7 liters per minute, it is designed so that you can drink directly from source if you are in survival mode. You can also drink from a container with it in use.
9. MSR Guardian Purifier Pump
Used by the US military and in a backwater, this filtration pump is a big boy that does not shirk duty. Viruses, bacteria, and sediment scuttle out of the way when the MSR goes into action. Its robust frame allows it to work in freezing weather and withstand rough treatment yet continue to deliver a fast 2.5 liters per minute. Another chevron on its sleeve is its self-cleaning at every stroke. It weighs 2.19 pounds and handles 10,000 liters.
10. MSR Miniworks Ex Microfilter
As an adventurer, you don’t want your water filtration tools to give up on you. The MSR mini works will not. Built with durability in mind, its carbon/ceramic element withstands heavy and frequent use. This filter works at 1liter per minute and does not require any tools to clean. Furthermore, it will serve with dedication to eliminating 99.9 of bacteria and protozoa while clearing the water of chemical and odor. The cartridge handles 1,000 liters.
11. MSR Sweetwater Purifier System
Sweetwater has no odor or unpleasant taste. This filter eliminates 99.9% of harmful waterborne bacteria and protozoa. It also inactivates 99.99 of viruses through the 0.2-micron filter. Campers will not find it difficult to tote its compact 14 ounces weight, bearing in mind it’s easy to use lever action. Although the 1 liter per minute flow is not high, the pump has a lifelong guarantee. Its cartridge lasts through 750 liters.
12. MSR Trailshot Micro Filtration System
As a hiker, extra baggage like packed water can be substituted for this micro-filter at 5.4 oz. You squeeze it gently to fill the bottle at a flow rate of 1 liter per minute or drink directly from the source. Its 0.2-micron filter eliminates most bacteria and protozoa with a success rate of over 99.9%. You will also find it easy to clean.
13. Platypus Gravityworks 4 Liter
If you are out camping or hiking in a group, this gravity assisted filter should accompany you. It works fast too at 1.75 liters per minute. The cartridge processes 1,500 liters while it can be cleaned in 4 seconds through backflush. It also passes the EPA guidelines for the elimination of over 99.9 percent of protozoa and bacteria. The Platypus holds 8 liters of water and weighs a pound. It has o.2 micron filters.
14. Sawyer Products 0.1 Micron
This double bag system uses gravity where the reservoirs contain dirty and the other clean water. Suitable for emergencies, backpackers, and campers, this filter can clean 2 liters of water in 1.5 minutes. At 1.5 pounds, it is easy to carry. Another positive is that the system comes with a lifetime guarantee. Like other top filters, it eliminates 99.9% of bacteria and protozoa through the 0.1-micron filter. However, it does not eliminate viruses so extra treatment might be necessary.
15. Sawyer Products Mini
With filters of 1 micron, this filter is made in the sawyer tradition of using the most advanced technology. It fits into the palm and weighs 2 oz. The filter is rated at 100,000 gallons. Though it does not filter chemicals or viruses, more than 99.9% of bacteria and protozoa cannot go through it. It is ideal for the outdoors and travelers. You can attach it to various water holders or drink directly from the source. Cleaning your filter is easy using the backwash method. The manufacturer also recommends that you sanitize your filter after every outing.
16. Sawyer Products Select Series
These select filters pack power and speed in their performance. They come in bottle shape with 0.1-micron fiber filtration and will provide all the clean water you need whether traveling in the backcountry or internationally. The filter will eliminate over 99.9% of bacteria and protozoa. It also does a great job of blocking chemicals and viruses. Replaceable membranes are used in the filtration process, and each can be used 800 times.